Making the Case for a Fractional Head of Content

Making the Case for a Fractional Head of Content

By Mike Teeling

These are tough times for enterprise technology startups. If you don’t have “AI” in your company name, VCs aren’t interested. With interest rates still high, money remains expensive. B2B tech startups have had to tighten their belts, lay off excess staff, make available funding last longer, and cut out all the extras to weather this challenging business climate.

Most marketing teams are running lean and mean this year. Maybe your company’s recent layoff made sure of that?

In talking with fellow technology marketing consultants about the current state of the industry, most of us agree that 2024 is feeling an awful lot like 2001. At least, it does here in Silicon Valley, where I am located.

However, in these days of tight budgets and tighter headcount, the one thing that should not be sacrificed in your cost-cutting is your content marketing strategy.

Now more than ever, marketing leaders need to keep their content creation engine humming. Many companies opt for a full-time content marketing manager who writes, edits, publishes, and measures. Content professionals at this level think like managing editors when working with freelance writers, creative agencies, and subject matter experts. This means they primarily keep content production humming. These days, CMOs expect their content manager to be very familiar with using generative AI tools to streamline and optimize the content creation process.

A good content manager is a workhorse. If you have a great one, they are invaluable.

However, if you are running a bit too lean in your content creation this year, there is a compelling case to be made that engaging a fractional Head of Content – that is, a more seasoned executive who operates at the director or VP-level – can be an affordable way to raise your content game. Especially when compared to the cost of a full-time employee, at any level.

The fractional CMO role is now a widely accepted engagement model that brings executive marketing experience on board without the full-time cost. This same model makes sense for leveling up your content marketing.

Here’s why…

A senior content marketing executive fulfills multiple roles and responsibilities that a mid-level marketer cannot. These include:

1.     Expert consultant – can drive the effort to codify sales personas, buyer’s journey(s), key messaging, and more – facilitating the entire process with all stakeholders

2.     Advisor to the CMO – elevates content marketing to an equal function and peer with demand generation, product marketing, investor relations, and communications

3.     Seasoned storyteller – lends a “been there/done that” perspective when planning content strategies and tactics that are sure to convert prospects faster

4.     Brand strategist – can speak the language of creative directors and designers to elevate your brand’s singular voice

5.     Executive editor – thinks like a publisher, not like a managing editor, and so talks to C-level management, the board, industry analysts, and sales execs with equal aplomb

6.     Production chief – makes the trains run on time, but also knows how to scale your content operation globally

7.     Project / Team leader – understands how to mentor and develop all your content creators, efficiently manage your agencies, and get the best work out of everyone

8.     Performance analyst – knows how to track and grow both content consumption and engagement over time, and which metrics really matter

9.     Writer / Creator – at the most tactical level, every Head of Content should be able to “walk the walk”, especially if you are replacing a manager-level resource

10.   Professional networker – senior-level consultants thrive because of their network, so you get the benefit of their connections to resources and vendors that aid rapid execution

The right fractional Head of Content will bring a wealth of experience, a proven methodology, and a track record of success. Rest assured that fractional executives are self-starters who can hit the ground running. Many arrive pre-armed with insights, strategies, plans, and tools that slash onboarding time and accelerate their learning curve.

Like a fractional CMO, your fractional Head of Content will collect a fee or retainer for a fixed block of hours or days dedicated to your company. They can drive either discrete projects or manage full programs longer term. Many prefer to work hybrid or fully remote. You’ll save time and money while reducing related risks.

Recently, one company realized the benefits of this model. Pipe17 is a Seattle-based ecommerce startup that is riding the waves of TikTok Shop. Pipe17 offers an order-to-fulfillment automation solution for online merchants and brands. For a monthly investment of around $10,000, the company retained a fractional Head of Content for just 10 days per month in 2023. Their results demonstrate how successful a senior-level approach to content marketing can be:

·   Within the first 30 days, compelling content helped grow the company’s LinkedIn follower count 386%

·   Within 6 months, content-driven campaigns enjoyed an 86% CTR and were ultimately responsible for 63% of closed deals

·   Within 9 months, the constant flow of new content contributed to a 304% increase in lead flow among targeted merchants and brands (Pipe17’s “Ideal Customer Profile”)

·   By year’s end, sales-ready leads had jumped 119% and sales-accepted leads by 150%

·   Pipe17 realized a 65% increase in Annual Recurring Revenue from all marketing activity, quarter over quarter

If your content marketing effort is running lean and mean this year, consider retaining a fractional Head of Content to improve your game!

Transform your content marketing with expert leadership at a fraction of the cost. Reach out to Aventi Group today to learn more. 

Written By

Mike Teeling

Now entering the third act of a successful career, Mike continues to advise enterprise software and service startups on how to plan, produce, and measure the impact of compelling content marketing. Over the course of his career, Mike has advised 60+ companies – from venture-funded startups to publicly traded corporations – running programs and campaigns that persuade others and spur action. He is a frequent guest blogger, executive coach, and distinguished alumni of the Content Marketing Institute.