What Are Fractional Services?

For some context – I offer fractional marketing and revenue services. If I had a real elevator pitch for what I do, I’d share it…but in my experience, and for the way I work with clients, the real benefit of this relationship is that it includes strategy, implementation, data analysis, team coaching and mentorship, product management and so much more.

It is intended to be a more longform partnership than simply an exchange of “you need A and I offer A” services. 

The best explanation I’ve come up with for what I do is that I come in as the head of marketing, revenue growth and overall impact. Together, we lay out the big goals, map an action plan to reach those goals, hire or LEAD your full-time team of the future…

…and then YOU as the senior stakeholder gets to move to and stay in your zone of genius.

PLUS – my goal is always to exit. Not quickly, and not before we’ve set a  path for sustainable growth and success. But to exit, leaving your team better than when I arrived, with all gaps filled.

Every fractional service provider is different, of course, but I will also say that for my services, most of my clients are already generating revenue in the mid-6 figures to the low 7-figures. Clients who are still in startup stage, or haven’t yet become profitable, can certainly benefit from a fractional leader, but as someone who has boostrapped and worked for bootstrapped businesses before, I want to be really candid and share that this type of relationship isn’t necessarily one that makes sense for everyone.

So, what can fractional services include? I’m going to focus on my space, which is marketing, sales and revenue operations. Fractional services can apply to other C-Level roles, of course, but those are outside of my work.

In any given engagement, my services might include:

  • High level strategy sessions – where are we going? How will we measure success? What does FULFILLMENT feel like? What is currently giving us stress or dissonance?
  • Marketing implementation – updating and optimizing email and text message funnels, organizing a user-generated content campaign or setting up new products, landing pages and more.
  • HR and team development – working with the leadership team on updating org charts, reviewing performance of current team members, mapping out the hiring plan to build the team of the future…
  • Content marketing and content creation – blog posts, newsletters, social media content calendars and more
  • Affiliate and referral program setup and implementation.

That’s not nearly the complete list, of course, but it gives you an idea of why this is NOT the type of engagement where the list of deliverables is super clear on Day 1. Plus, with a growth-focused organization, things can change in an instant – for good reasons or because of a crisis. My job is to support, lead and even steer things in those times of change.  

If you’re interested in contracting with a fractional service provider, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Unless your agreement entails a level of commitment that legally requires you to make the fractional service provider an employee, this is likely a contractor role, which means you don’t necessarily incur the same expenses that you would if you brought in an in-house staff member for the role. I am an independent contractor, so I don’t receive a salary or benefits from my clients.
  • That also means, though, that you and your fractional service provider should be totally clear on who is actually doing the work! While ALL of the strategy and high level services come from me as the principal, I do have a graphic designer, a copywriter, a video editor and other contractors on MY TEAM who may assist me on projects, if my client doesn’t have the team or ability to execute and implement on their own. In my agency, my team’s hours are all covered under my main retainer – and no work gets shared or passed on without my approval. In fact, my clients very rarely interact with my team…all of the communication is through me.
  • Your service provider will likely be working with other clients and on other projects. Your agreement should make clear that any work done by your service provider under the terms of the relationship belongs to you – it’s your work product – but you should review any non-compete or non-solicitation concerns before moving forward. I work, for example, with a number of clients in the wellness space. I use my best judgement and integrity to prevent any OBVIOUS conflicts on my end, but if you want to be the ONLY personal trainer or ONLY life coach or ONLY creator that your service provider works with…that may not fit with this partnership model.

If you’re interested in becoming a fractional service provider, a few things to keep in mind:

  • This role requires you to be diligent about communication, both with your main stakeholder and with everyone that you lead. Remember – if you move into a fractional role in the C Suite, you are on the leadership team. You may find yourself on the receiving end of or delivering difficult discussions, and that’s part of the job.
  • Expectations are high! When an organization hires you, they’ve decided to trust you, your experience and your expertise, KNOWING that you may not be part of their 3-year plan. Don’t consider this type of engagement if you aren’t ready to move quickly, measure and REPORT on your own performance and the ROI you bring, or if you do better when being led by someone else 100% of the time.

And let me pause – that is NOT some snarky or underhanded message that you have to HUSTLE HARD or be flashy, loud or aggressive in this role. And it’s also not an indictment on those of you who may prefer being the #2! I spent some of the best years of my career not being in senior leadership, and I know the value of my work and the services I provided while in the weeds helped my team and my bosses grow and grow quickly.

In fact, the reason I like fractional services so much is that it allows me to get my hands dirty, and implement as much as I strategize. I often don’t have a large or experienced team to work with – so even as I delegate and mentor, I still often do, and that’s my sweet spot.

But not everyone likes the high-low lifestyle of being in charge and yet also being on the ground-level for execution. So keep in mind what YOU need and want, and what YOUR zone of genius is, before trying this model out.

  • Also, while I know that some of you may be absolute rockstars, even though you’re earlier in your career, I find that this fractional role is best suited for someone who has, say, 15 or 20 years of experience – even if that experience has crossed different departments or titles – than it is for someone who has fewer years in the game. 

I love the growth of fractional service roles that I see in the marketplace right now, and while it isn’t a new concept – is it one that seems to be getting more attention and more interest, since so many organizations are moving into remote-first work and asynchronous working hours.

I’ll explore this in more detail in future episodes but for now, I hope I’ve given you something to think about, whatever stage of business you are in today!