Should Small Businesses Have a Marketing Department?


Marketing is an investment for any organisation, and it can be hard to measure its impact. For that reason, some small businesses may question its relevance when budgets are tight. Then again, if you don't market your brand, how will you sell your product or service? 

This article will look at why marketing is essential and how you can structure your marketing department to suit your resources and requirements.

Do small businesses need a marketing department?

Every company needs a marketing capability because that's how you identify, communicate with, and retain customers. In short, marketing is how you sell yourself.

The questions you need to ask yourself in today's world are: 

  • What marketing functions need to be within the organisation
  • Which ones need to be close to it? 
  • And which ones should be outsourced?

On balance, marketing capabilities fall broadly into two categories: thinking and experiences.

'Thinking' marketing experts

Thinking is the top-level marketing expert or leader who brings the overarching marketing strategy and ensures it aligns with business goals. This might be your full-time CMO or, as the most expensive individual on the marketing payroll, you may find it more cost-effective and strategic to seek out a fractional CMO or interim marketing director.

'Doing' marketing capacity

By experience, we're referring to the creators and the executors in your team. They are the people who execute the strategy day in, day out. They will range from the marketing manager to your copywriter, graphic designer, and Facebook marketing expert. 

What functions do you need in or near your marketing department?

Most companies need to have the capability for daily marketing tasks, whether sending e-newsletters to potential customers or managing social media. In today's world, you can outsource lots of these tasks, whether it's to an individual freelancer or an agency (outsourcing). 

You don't have to have the creators in-house. Still, you need someone to own the strategy, think about how each function will influence the sales funnel, and make sure daily managers and individuals execute tasks under very clear objectives.

The strategic role of a marketing expert or marketing leader is essential. Still, most small businesses, and some large ones, find the costs of a full-time marketing director to be prohibitive. Many can afford to have several junior team members or task-specific specialists on staff (within the company), but many cannot justify the overheads associated with a full-time CMO. There is the option of big marketing consultancies, but these tend to be more costly than a full-time recruit. This gap is where the concept of having a marketing expert 'near' the company could be the ideal solution in the form of a fractional CMO.

Why hire a Fractional CMO

A fractional CMO is neither part-time nor interim. They are marketing experts on hand to create and oversee strategy and strategic capabilities, either ongoing or concerning a particular project, issue or phase of business development. 

As a result, you get the expertise you need, when you need it, but without the cost of an ongoing C-Suite salary. They bring an outside perspective to your company, possibly from different sectors. By bringing them on board in this capacity, you can engage your capabilities to execute the strategy.

What you get with gigCMO's Fractional CMOs

All of that said, some fractional CMO’s, much like freelancers or even a full-time CMO, is just one person, and while those methods of working have their benefits, they can also create a 'key person’ issue where you're dependent on one person. If they disappeared tomorrow, then their knowledge and experience would be lost and perhaps the “owner” of the strategy as well.

This is why gigCMO operates a little differently:

A team of marketing experts

We give clients access to not just one Fractional CMO but a team. While your point of contact might be one individual, your strategy has been informed by a whole team of marketing experts, including our CEO, who is involved and familiar with each client we work with. That means that you benefit from more than one outside perspective from multiple industries. It's the fighting power of a team of people at the top of their game.

No 'key man' issues

As gigCMO gives you a marketing expert who works with a team, you never have the business risk associated with the 'key man' issue. If there's a change in personnel or one person leaves, the company has a collective knowledge of your business. It can continue to provide support, thereby giving your organisation a greater level of resilience.  

Knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer is also an essential difference provided by our team of Fractional CMOs and not by a typical marketing consultancy. We see our role as being in part to mentor your in-house leadership team, both directly and by osmosis, creating awareness throughout the organisation regarding the critical marketing issues that they need to be aware of to grow the business and drive sales.  

However you choose to structure your marketing capability, you need a solution that can provide you with marketing leadership in good times and in bad. Marketing, done well, is critical to growth, success and resilience. So, in short, yes, small businesses should have a marketing department, but it's how you structure it that makes the difference.

If you would like to explore the gigCMO way of working and find out how we can help your business grow, contact us at any time.


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