Jocelyn Brumbaugh September 2, 2022 3 min read

Fractional Marketing vs. Interim Marketing Support in Law Firms

two people shaking hands, discussing fractional marketing strategies

Just as attorneys were reinvigorated about their business development plans with COVID lockdowns in the rearview mirror, the Great Resignation hit law firm marketing departments hard. Fractional marketing or interim marketing, however, can help ease some of the burden.

Nationwide, resignations have remained abnormally high since peaking in April 2021. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 4.4 million Americans quit their job in February 2022. This trend doesn’t show any sign of slowing down with almost 11.3 million job openings at the end of February 2022. 

These national trends are hitting close to home in the professional services industry. Law firm marketing departments – perpetually asked to do more with less – now have numerous open positions, fewer prospective candidates, and less bandwidth to support the initiatives that can move the needle. 

Most law firms have lifted their hiring freezes and now face a daunting combination of active, open roles and a disinterested candidate pool. With nearly 150 open marketing positions posted on the Legal Marketing Associations Career Center, law firm marketing departments are feeling the pressure of attorneys who want help with marketing but only have a skeleton staff to support them.  

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What is Fractional Marketing?

Two people shaking hands, like they agreed on the fractional marketing strategy. One of them standing slightly above the other

Many in-house marketers struggle to find interim and contract help when scaling up for large projects – or to cover the roles of employees going on parental leave who want their attorneys to stay in good hands. 

Freelancers may bring limited help unless that person brings national or global law firm marketing experience. There are too many nuances, too many rounds of approvals, and too many opinions for someone without the gravitas gained through years in big law to get projects off the ground and to fruition.

Fractional marketing is outsourcing a piece – or a fraction – of a marketing department or project to part-time experts. Part-time professionals fill the gaps that members of the marketing and business development departments don’t have the bandwidth to cover, allowing in-house teams to focus on strategic projects or, just as importantly, avoid burnout from wearing too many hats. 

When this resource understands law firm marketing, a fractional marketing solution can be an ideal temporary or long-term fix.  

Leveraging Fractional Marketing Support 

Contract and fractional marketing support for AmLaw firms can serve up the strategic and day-to-day services needed to keep the trains running on time – or to help conceptualize the next big idea that chronically overworked marketers wish they had time to create. While one of the more obvious benefits of fractional marketing is the significant cut in costs, it also presents the firm with the benefits of an experienced team. Fractional marketing coverage provides the option of working with veteran marketing leaders without hiring them full-time.

A key component to hiring the right contractors is to look for a senior team who grew up in AmLaw 100 marketing departments. Only professionals who understand the importance of showing hard-charging practice group leaders quick progress on firm initiatives – and use a process-driven approach – will be able to deliver results.  

The right team delivers the appropriate marketing solution for each law firm and situation: a strategic-minded director to drive change, an experienced manager to bring disparate parts into a whole or a mix of senior and junior-level staffers to conceptualize and execute.

Identify the Right Support

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Fractional and contract marketing support comes in many forms, including temporary replacements for open marketing positions, such as:

  • Stop-gap solutions for firms struggling to fill a full-time director, manager or specialist role
  • Contract cover for leaves of absence, including parental leaves and FMLA coverage
  • Practice-specific assistance for launches and signature events
  • Fractional marketers to bridge gaps in a team without the risk and overhead of an FTE

One of the takeaways the Great Resignation has shown us is that law firms need to be willing to adapt. The marketing and business development departments that succeed in the post-COVID job market will be the ones that find creative solutions to filling gaps in service. 

This article was provided by Jocelyn Brumbaugh, the founder of Builden Partners, a consulting firm that creates marketing strategy exclusively for law firms. Brumbaugh spent 20+ years in top marketing and communications roles at law firms Baker McKenzie, Foley & Lardner and in financial services. Brumbaugh and team provide marketing strategy for law firms – from boutiques to the best-known global brands – raising their profile, managing rebrands and serving as an outsourced marketing department.

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