Should You Outsource Marketing? How a Fractional Marketing Agency Can Help

Outsourced marketing is the practice of contracting an organization’s marketing functions to a third party. This approach allows companies to delegate marketing responsibilities to a partner with specialized expertise and tools. A wide range of marketing functions can be outsourced, including:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Market Research
  • Branding
  • Content Creation
  • Website Design and Development
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Marketing Automation
  • Analytics and Reporting

Firms across industries, both B2B and B2C, rely on different degrees of outsourced marketing, ranging from handling everything in-house to outsourcing every function. The extent of outsourcing depends on various factors, such as the firm’s size, resources, and marketing expertise.

Outsourced marketing offers firms the flexibility to select the level of support that best suits their needs, whether it’s a specific function or a complete marketing solution. By leveraging the expertise of a specialized marketing partner, firms can enhance the quality and consistency of their marketing efforts while focusing on their core competencies.

Optimal Cases for Outsourced Marketing

Limited in-house resources and a desire for improved marketing quality

Many firms are only able to allocate a few hours each week to critical marketing tasks. In such cases, outsourcing improves the quality and consistency of marketing efforts by providing dedicated professionals who can focus solely on the firm’s marketing needs.

Small firms lacking the budget for a full-time marketing staff

Outsourcing allows smaller companies to access professional marketing services without the expense of salaries, benefits, and overhead associated with in-house staff. This approach also frees up valuable time that can be spent serving clients and generating revenue.

Large firms recognizing the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing specific functions

Even companies with fully staffed marketing departments understand that outsourcing to specialized agencies can be more efficient and yield higher-quality results than attempting to handle all tasks in-house.

Outsourced marketing offers firms the flexibility to select the level of support that best suits their needs, whether it’s a specific function or a complete marketing solution.

Marketing departments seeking to focus on strategic tasks

In many cases, marketing departments outsource routine, repetitive, or tedious tasks to external partners. For example, a marketing department may outsource email campaign design and management to dedicate more time to developing comprehensive marketing strategies and analyzing performance data.

Firms wanting access to top-tier marketing expertise and tools

Outsourcing to a reputable marketing firm provides access to a team of highly skilled experts across a wide spectrum of marketing disciplines who are skilled in cutting-edge martech. This expertise can be particularly valuable for firms looking to elevate their marketing efforts and stay ahead of industry trends and best practices.

Need for accountability, measurement, and reporting

Some firms struggle with investing in marketing because they cannot get a clear understanding of the results they are achieving. Outsourced marketing firms can provide analytics reporting and dashboards that increase visibility into the performance and ROI of their marketing initiatives.

Leadership seeking fresh ideas and strategic guidance

When a company’s leadership team feels that their marketing department is out of fresh ideas, they may turn to an outside firm for strategic guidance and creative input. An external marketing partner can bring new perspectives and innovative strategies to the table.

Is Outsourced Marketing Right for Your Firm?

To determine if outsourcing is a good fit, firms should carefully evaluate the suitability of outsourcing for each marketing function and assess the potential benefits of partnering with an external provider. When reviewing a marketing program, it’s essential to examine each component and ask the questions around five key areas: how it affects the business, how hard it is to staff it, how complex and difficult it would be to take on, whether it aligns with current capabilities, and whether it makes financial sense.

Connection to core business

  • Is this activity central to what we do?
  • Does it directly impact our core services or value proposition?

Ability to find and manage required talent

  • Do we know how to find and manage the talent required for this function?
  • Can we effectively recruit, train, and retain the necessary expertise in-house?

Learning curve and affordability

  • Does this function have a steep learning curve?
  • Can we afford the time and resources to develop the required skills internally?

Even companies with fully staffed marketing departments understand that outsourcing to specialized agencies can be more efficient and yield higher-quality results than attempting to handle all tasks in-house.

Natural fit for management

  • Does managing this function feel natural for our organization?
  • Do we have the necessary processes and infrastructure in place to support it?

Fixed overhead costs

  • Can we justify the fixed overhead costs associated with handling this function in-house?
  • Is it more cost-effective to outsource this component?

If after performing this evaluation, it appears a function would be highly difficult, time consuming, distracting, or expensive, outsourcing is generally the smarter route.

What is a Fractional Marketing Agency?

As the demand for outsourced marketing grows, a new type of service has emerged: fractional marketing agencies that provide clients with access to a team of marketing experts on a part-time or as-needed basis. The term “fractional” refers to the idea that clients can leverage the expertise of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or other high-level marketing professionals without having to hire them full-time or commit to a long-term contract.

Fractional marketing agencies assemble teams of experienced marketers with diverse skill sets, allowing them to provide a wide range of services tailored to each client’s specific needs. These services may include strategy development, content creation, digital marketing, social media management, and more. Fractional teams are built specifically to integrate with in-house marketers quickly and seamlessly.

There are several scenarios in which partnering with a fractional agency can be particularly beneficial, offering the expertise, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness needed to achieve marketing goals:

Startups and small businesses with limited resources

Small organizations may not have the budget to hire a full-time marketing team or the capacity to manage multiple freelancers. In such cases, a fractional marketing agency can help them establish a strong marketing foundation and build brand awareness without overextending their limited resources. And, as these organizations grow, they can easily scale their engagement with the fractional agency to accommodate evolving needs.

Firms experiencing rapid growth or expansion

The demands of managing growth can make it challenging to focus on building an in-house marketing team. Partnering with a fractional marketing agency provides the extra bandwidth needed to support growth initiatives without diverting attention away from core business activities. Fractional agencies can quickly ramp up marketing efforts, develop targeted strategies for new markets, and provide the expertise needed to navigate the challenges of rapid expansion.

Businesses undergoing significant changes or rebranding

When firms undergo significant changes, such as mergers, acquisitions, or rebranding, their marketing needs can shift dramatically. Fractional marketing agencies can provide objective insights, help develop new brand messaging and positioning, and ensure that marketing efforts effectively communicate the firm’s evolved value proposition to target audiences.


Hanlon’s fractional marketing teams are custom assembled to fill gaps, integrate quickly with organizations from across a wide range of industries, and start generating a return on marketing investment fast. Contact us today to learn more.