Monday, April 22, 2024

Weekend Favs April 20

Weekend Favs April 20 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but I encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one I took on the road.

  • RobinizeRobinize enhances your content creation with AI, enabling you to quickly research and write SEO-friendly articles. This tool boosts your content’s search engine ranking, making your articles more visible and engaging to your audience.
  • CloseClose offers advanced, high-speed sales software tailored for forward-thinking businesses. This powerful CRM enhances your sales process by integrating outreach, engagement, and automation into one user-friendly platform, making it easier for you to boost your sales efficiency.
  • ReflectReflect harnesses the power of AI to elevate your writing, streamline your thoughts, and become your ultimate brainstorm buddy. Their mission? To revolutionize how you think, one delightful note at a time.

These are my weekend favs; I would love to hear about some of yours – Connect with me on Linkedin!

If you want to check out more Weekend Favs you can find them here.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Gain Freedom With The Hands Off CEO Blueprint

Gain Freedom With The Hands Off CEO Blueprint written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Mandi Ellefson.

Through her company “Hands-Off CEO”, she rescues agency owners from the daily grind, transforming million-dollar agencies into self-sustaining enterprises. With her expertise, she’s boosted hundreds of agencies to millions in revenue, attracting premium clients willing to pay 50-600% fees. As a former business exit advisor, she crafts exit strategies, adding up to five figures to clients’ net profit monthly so they can focus on growth. She shares her wisdom as a published author of

“The Hands-Off CEO: Triple Your Fees and Profitably Scale an Exceptional Consulting Agency that Grows Without You” and host of the Hands-Off CEO Podcast, helping consulting agencies triple fees and scale without less reliance on the CEO.


Key Takeaways

Mandi Ellefson, founder of Hands-off CEO, shares her journey from overwhelming debt to multimillionaire status by transforming consulting agencies into self-sustaining enterprises. She stresses the importance of building systems that allow businesses to thrive without the constant presence of the CEO. Mandi distinguishes between growth and scale, highlighting the need to create capacity and systems for consistent results. She advocates for productizing services based on outcomes and emphasizes the mindset shift required to embrace delegation and empower teams.


Questions I ask Mandi Ellefson:

[01:45] Tell us about the frustration you encountered earlier in your career, not being able to have a company run without you?

[04:47] How does the Scale to Freedom framework differ from other types of processes?

[08:20] Is a mindset shift a necessary step in undertaking this process?

[09:00] How do you balance working with a passion for the project and embracing the need to scale?

[09:13] Why are service businesses hard to scale?

[16:21] How do you help people differentiate between growth and scale?

[22:16] Where can people connect with you and obviously find a copy of the hands-off CEO?


More About Mandi Ellefson:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Porkbun

Go to to get a .BIO domain name for your link in bio page for less than $3 at Porkbun today.


Testimonial (00:00): I was like, I found it. I found it. This is what I've been looking for. I can honestly say it has genuinely changed the way I run my business. It's changed the results that I'm seeing. It's changed my engagement with clients. It's changed my engagement with the team. I couldn't be happier. Honestly. It's the best investment I ever made. What

John (00:17): You just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It's time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM World slash scale.

(01:03): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Mandi Ellefson , and he went from a hundred thousand dollars in debt to multimillionaire status by revolutionizing consulting agencies through her company Hands-off, CEO e. She rescues agency owners from the Daily Grind, transforming million dollar agencies into self-sustaining enterprises. She's also the author of a book we're going to talk about today, the Hands-Off, CEO, triple Your Fees and Profitably Scale, an exceptional consulting agency that Grows Without You. So Mandy, welcome to the show.

Mandi (01:41): Thank you so much for having me again, John,

John (01:44): Since you put it in your bio. Let's talk about the frustration perhaps that you felt in having a previous business that didn't run without you necessarily to leading you to creating what you do for your life's work now.

Mandi (01:59): Yeah. So can we tell about that experience? You're saying that led?

John (02:02): Yeah. We want to hear frustration and embarrassment that every entrepreneur goes through.

Mandi (02:07): Yes, yes. There was definitely plenty of that and what it looked like as I was nine months pregnant and I had a 4-year-old daughter. My husband lives in a demanding graduate medical program. I had moved across the country. So you're painting a picture of I had. It was a pretty challenging situation, right? Yeah,

John (02:23): Yeah,

Mandi (02:24): Yeah. And my business at the time, I was trying to close up shop for me to have maternity leave because it was not set up in a way where it could run without me at all. And that was a frustration just because I had managed another company before this. I was the manager and I was able to get this company to run without me as the manager. So I was pretty frustrated that I couldn't do this within my own company. And weeks before I was about to give birth to my second daughter, all the stress of trying to make all these things work on my timeframe, it was so stressful and my health was breaking down. So I literally had my arms not being able, I couldn't move them more than just a small amount, and I had to go and get some treatments. Thankfully, I was able to heal my arms from this, but this was not a good time.

(03:16): Just weeks before giving birth to my second daughter, and we could have used that income in our life. That was one time we really could have used it. And again, anyway, I had to shut the business down. But what that led me to look at what is actually stopping me from having this. So then I went out and I started talking to other entrepreneurs after I had my maternity leave, after I took that time and I took some time to slowly start back up to just, I wanted to make sure I got it right this time. So I started interviewing other people and I knew that if I could solve the problem for someone else, I could solve it for myself. So I just started helping other people because I knew I could break down the system and figure it out. I could reverse my engineer back into it because I'm pretty good at that.

(03:59): So I knew I'd be able to figure that out. And before I knew it, I started a consulting company. I didn't mean to, but I started a consulting company because people asked me they wanted to pay me, help them with this, and I started seeing the patterns and the trends for what it takes to be able to take a service business, especially service businesses are very difficult to scale and remove yourself from. So I started seeing the patterns and I helped other people be able to solve this before I was actually able to solve it for myself.

John (04:26): So a lot of books consulting around this idea of scaling, making a business run without you really all come down to systems and process and operations. And I think you dive a little deeper than maybe there's even, I've had Gino Wickman on the show, but EOS and Traction. How would you say that your system, which you call scale to freedom, is that right framework? How would you say that you go beyond the typical systems and processes?

Mandi (04:56): Right. So EOS and other frameworks, they're great. They're really effective and they can help you bring your company to a level of order. But here's the thing is I talk to CEOs almost on a weekly basis who have implemented all of that and still have a company that's not profitable. They may even say it's profitable. Oh yeah, well, you know what, we're profitable. But what they don't tell you is that they're not taking anywhere near a market rate salary for what they would get paid somewhere else. So they're actually losing money every year if you look at it that way. So the thing is, those frameworks, it helps you organize a working and functional business model, but it's not a business model and it's not a profit model, and it's not your pricing model, and it's not the structure for what agreements you create with your team, with your clients. It's not going to give you the positioning in the market. It's not going to tell you who your profits fleet spot client is, who's going to pay you the most. It's going to contain those things, but garbage in, garbage out. So you to get that right first if you want to have a sustainable company.

John (06:01): You mentioned something in the very beginning that you were able to manage this company to run without you, but when you, maybe it was your own business, the CEO, and I'm curious, there's if there's something like instructive in that idea, right? It's like as the CEO, you're very married to what it's doing, you're emotionally attached maybe, and in some cases it's hard to step back and give yourself the distance that it requires to properly delegate and let your people do the work that they're there to do. Do you think there's something, I guess I'm really talking about mindset probably. Is mindset a key role to even start embracing this idea?

Mandi (06:39): Absolutely. And there's two different aspects of it, and I'm glad you brought it up because there is a system and then there's a mindset. And here's the thing is you can build the system all day long, but unless you have a corresponding mindset, then the system is useless and you won't be able to actually use it and you won't be able to let go. So that's one of the things that I've observed too with our clients is that they might get to a point where they have the whole system in place and they're like, I know I'm supposed to be working on sales right now. I can't quite let go of this. And I've even had one of our clients called the hands-off, CEO, Twitch, he named it that. And I asked him, Philip, do you have the system in place? Do you feel comfortable? They have everything that they need to be able to do this? He's like, yep, I do. And then he's like, okay, I realize it's just a mindset. So at that point we knew that it wasn't the system, it was the mindset. And now it's just looking at what are you committed to and your vision being bigger than whatever it is that you really want to be doing that gives you that significance.

John (07:43): And I think I run across a lot of business owners that need to, their business is growing, they need to let go of certain things. And a lot of times it's just they know that. I mean, I don't think anybody has to tell them that they're holding that back, but it's what maybe they feel valuable or they feel, or let's face it, sometimes it's the work they like doing, right? Web designers a great example. I mean, they love to do the work. They try to grow a business and scale business. It makes no sense at all for them to actually be now doing the design, but that's where they are passionate. I mean, how do you get around? Or on one hand you can't scale. On the other hand, this is what you're passionate about. How do you get around that kind of dichotomy?

Mandi (08:25): I think the first thing is just to recognize what actually do you want? And there's nothing wrong with you going and doing the web design work if that's the kind of company you want, but that's more like a freelancer company that's not going to give you the wealth. It's not going to give you the freedom and it's not going to give you some of the things that you would get from a business. But it's a very simple business. And if you really are passionate about being a web designer and you don't want to learn the skills of managing teams and being a leader and getting all of the other things right for a business, then that might be a good thing for them. But on the other hand, if I may add to that, John becoming more hands off, what that allows you to do is pick and choose the kind of projects you want to work on. You get to have autonomy over where your time is spent

John (09:10): As long as everything's not on fire. So you mentioned that service businesses are particularly hard to scale. Why is that? I mean, I think some of the obvious, if I'm selling a $29 product, a lot of people can do that. A lot of people can produce it, do the work. But what is it unique about service businesses that you think make them feel harder to scale?

Mandi (09:30): Well, the origin of it is first and then the structure of it second. So the origin of it is that you were good at something and you start off going out and selling this service because you're good at it, and then you have enough people that are coming to ask you for this service. You start hiring freelancers and then maybe employees. And then after a while you're like, well, there's so many people, I'm going to hire a manager. So some companies just grow organically like that, and they didn't really set out to build that big of a company. So that's one aspect of it that makes it challenging to scale that you kind of, so what that means is that the value proposition of the business oftentimes is the skillset of the owner. So the clients are coming for the skillset of the owner, and anything less than that, they're feeling like they're getting the short end of the stick. And they're also looking at it from the perspective of, okay, great, well now I get a blended hourly rate with their junior level person and I'm paying for a senior level person. So that's one thing. And then on the flip side, well, I guess it creates a scenario where there's not the profit margins within the business to actually properly remove the ceo. That's actually the number one thing that keeps the CEO stuck in the day-to-day is because there is not the profit in order to remove yourself from it.

John (10:52): Yeah, you got to make enough money to hire somebody else to do the work or to delegate the work, right? Your website, your domain, I mean, that's real estate that you want to own. If you're an influencer, online creator, blogger, or really anyone who cares about their personal brand, then you need a unique domain. And now you can get your, right, John, right? Create a bio page to house all your various interests. It's short, simple, easy to remember. Put all your links in one place instead of a laundry list of locations you want to send people in a profile, you can reserve your link for around three bucks right now at pork tape marketing 24. That's right around $3 right now. Pork tape marketing 24, know one of the first things I outsourced when I started my business payroll and hr.

(11:58): Well, Gustos payroll and HR services can make it even easier. Gusto was designed for you, the small business owner, they take the pain out of running a business automatically calculating paychecks, filling payroll taxes, getting set up for open enrollment. Oh, Gusto does it all, and you want more time tracking health insurance, 401k, onboarding, commuter benefits, offer letters, access to HR experts. You get the idea with Gusto, you can focus on the joy of running your business. It's super easy to set up and get started. And if you're moving from another provider, Gusto can transfer all your data for you. It's no surprise that 94% of customers are likely to recommend Gusto 94. But here's the best part, because you're a listener, you get three months totally free. All you have to do is go to tape. Again, that's tape. I'm telling you, you're going to love gusto. Get started today.

Mandi (12:58): And then the root cause of that is the pricing structure for how you're operating. And then the root cause of not having enough, not high enough price point to deliver the service well is that there's not enough value. There's not enough perceived value from the client and the prospect who's buying the services. And there's the root cause of that too.

John (13:19): Well, and one of the things, I work with a lot of agencies and consultants as well, and what we discover a lot of times is that people feel like, well, what I'm selling is my big brain and they have to have me to do that. Well, obviously that doesn't scale, right? So where do you fall on? I mean, one of the things we teach people all the time is you've got to create a repeatable system that you can actually teach to other people and it doesn't rely on your big brain. So where do you fall on service businesses productizing?

Mandi (13:47): I'm a big fan of productizing with a caveat. Oftentimes the way the productizing is done is saying, okay, well here's the problem. We have the CEO is too involved in the day-to-day service, so we're going to solve that problem by it is a knee, knee-jerk reaction of, well, we'll remove the CEO out of it. And by doing that, they're like, well, what is left? Well, we'll systematize that. And that's what productization usually looks like.

(14:13): Instead, the way I look at productization, and I would call it a service product perhaps, and you're looking at how do you elevate the service based upon outcomes? And instead of reverse engineering it to remove the CEO, you reverse engineer it from what does it take for us to deliver this outcome? What does it take to deliver? And at first, that might mean the CEO is more involved to make sure that that you're actually building out a system that delivers the output that the client actually cares about because the client doesn't care about deliverables that are brought to the market as efficiently as possible and as profitably for you. They don't care about profit, they care about the results, and that's why they're paying you.

John (14:54): Great add on to that point. And you could charge a whole lot if you understand the results that they're after and you can deliver those, then they don't care. It's not how many hours did I buy right now? It's like, no, I bought a result. And I think that's a healthy way for people to think about pricing, isn't it?

Mandi (15:10): A hundred percent. But to your point, you have to know what that problem is that you're solving and for who it is. And a lot of times they have, I hear from people all the time that, and agency owners especially who are saying, you know what? Well, we can't make any kind of claim. It depends so much. It depends on so many factors that are outside of our control. It's like, well, there's one factor that you can control and you can control who it is that you're choosing to work with, who it is that you're choosing to target, and what problems that you're willing to solve, especially what minimum, what's the minimum problem you're going to solve? And I would recommend for agency owners to not look at solving problems anything lower than a million dollar problem because anything lower than that, you're not going to be able to have the kind of impact where you can charge high enough price points to make it make sense, and maybe you maybe step up to that point.

John (16:04): Yeah, great point. People will pay a lot more to solve a bigger problem, right?

Mandi (16:08): A hundred percent.

John (16:10): Yeah. So a couple terms that we've mentioned today maybe, and I know get batted around and confused I think all the time. Where do you come down? If I were to ask you directly, what's the difference between growth and scale? Where do you come down on trying to help people understand that difference?

Mandi (16:27): Yeah. Well, growth is where you are generating more growth with about the same resources, right? Scale is when you're able to generate more growth without the same corresponding increase in resources. Does that sound too technical?

John (16:45): I think theoretically, theoretically it needs more

Mandi (16:48): Less, I'm sorry, we're talking over each other, John.

John (16:50): No, I said theoretically I get it. But for the business owner, what are the different sort of mindsets around, I mean growth for growth sake, scaling the scaling have a different purpose. Let's put it that.

Mandi (17:04): Well, here's the thing is that scaling has become a really flashy word, and there's a good reason for that too because that's what people are buying. So that's why the marketing is full of scale. And I don't blame people for using those terms because marketers are going to use what's going to sell. Most of the time what we're looking at when people are say using the word scale, they're actually meaning growth because growth is getting to a point. Scaling is a whole different level, and it does require a different mindset because a lot of times where I see the scaling stage happen is in the early seven figures, and this is where I think it would be fair to say that there's different stages of scaling. Talk about that in my book by the different stages of scaling up. But there's one particularly that happens in the early figures and it happens about between 900001.1 million and over about a three year period of time, I've seen this over and over again where their income goes up and down and it's because they're hitting a new threshold and scale and they've grown to a point where they can't grow anymore without taking the next level.

(18:07): And that usually is putting in place a manager that is changing from being the owner operator to being able to build out a management structure in place. Maybe I went more into the answer than you were asking for, but

John (18:19): No, I mean, I think to simplify what that example you just gave a lot of times what it means is you're going to have to take, you're going to have to spend for capacity that you don't currently have the ability to fill. But that's the only way to grow to that next level is to build that capacity. But that comes at a cost.

Mandi (18:39): Well, that's a great way of putting it to build out that capacity. And then on the flip side there is you have capacity that needs to be filled too. And there's this stair stepping thing where you're at capacity and you have to build out more capacity. So you hire these people now you're like, okay, wow, we've got this big payroll, we've got to be able to make some more sales. But is a pretty challenging situation to be in. And I will tell you, I have in my own company, we've been here before, so I get what this feels like too. Then you have to really be employing some of the things that you teach in your duct tape marketing strategies about being able to keep that consistent lead flow so that you can actually fill the capacity too. Yep, absolutely. That takes an investment, right?

John (19:21): Sometimes you got to build it before they come, right? So you talk, there's a term you use in the book entrapment cycle that I certainly see when growth is happening. Certainly see the entrapment cycle show up. So you want to unpack that one for us.

Mandi (19:38): Definitely. And I think it actually is a perfect tie into what we were just talking about is that cycle that goes up and down. Well, the income going up and down and where there's a plateau of revenue, and it can also be a plateau more specifically of profit because you can see the revenue grow and then the profit stays stagnant. But anyway, the cycle itself, the entrapment cycle, what happens is sales growth happens and then you get busy, you get pulled in. So even if you have a nice team in place, you get pulled into it and then you're like, all right, well we're under capacity, we're over capacity. We need to be able to hire some people. So you go through, you're saying, okay, are we going to choose quality or are we going to choose profit when we're looking at staff members? And you've got to be profitable.

(20:22): So you choose the level of person that you can afford for your level of growth, which oftentimes is not enough. So you end up having to get in there and have a lot more time and energy to either clean up their work or be kind of babysitting them. And then what happens is, meanwhile, as you're going and doing that, working in the business, then you're like, oh crap, our sales are down. We need to go make more sales. And then you go back in and then the only problems is you've got your sales cycle. So your sales cycle could be 90 days, could be 120 days, whatever that is. You wait for that to catch up and then you make sales happen again, and then the cycle happens all over again.

John (21:00): Yeah, you left out one variable there. You're working more than ever probably. Right? I see growth is happening and so now you're working more than ever. And that's, to me, true wealth is like all of those things. Right?

Mandi (21:16): That's a really good point too, John. I don't think I've ever thought about describing that as an additional variable within that cycle, but what we do see happen is that it ends up that entrapment cycle makes your model into a time for money model, even if you have other team members. Because what happens is the business, it's actually so dependent upon the CEO's actual time involvement in it that the only way that you can actually grow is to have the CEO EO grow and more and more of their hours. That means that, and that right there it is a description between growth versus scale where you can scale income while actually the CEO EO works less and less hours, which I know, which is something that you guys have successfully done in your company, which goes to show your, because I know you guys have done really well.

John (22:06): Yeah, I do nothing. I do absolutely nothing anymore. It's amazing. I love it's talent. Well, Mandy, it was great having you stop by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. You want invite, is there some place you'd invite people to connect with you and obviously find a copy of the hands-off CEO o?

Mandi (22:23): Yes. You can go to hands off you can go there and you can download a book summary. And also there's a scalability checklist there that shares the stages to exit the day-to-Day and the business. And that is actually something that I found people have really loved, including our clients. They love being able to know, alright, what should I do first? And there's a checklist. You can print it up, put it on your wall, and it's in the book. I guess you can't see that, but it also gives you a place you can buy the copy if you'd like.

John (22:55): Awesome. So we'll have links in the show notes, and if you're watching this on YouTube, you will see Mandy just held up the book there, so get a copy. Again, appreciate you stopping by. Hopefully we'll run into you soon. One of these days out there on the road.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

How to Balance AI Magic with Human Expertise

How to Balance AI Magic with Human Expertise written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Jeff Coyle, the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for MarketMuse. Jeff is a data-driven search engine marketing executive with 20+ years of experience in the search industry.

He is focused on helping content marketers, search engine marketers, agencies, and e-commerce managers build topical authority, improve content quality and turn semantic research into actionable insights. Prior to starting MarketMuse in 2015, Jeff was a marketing consultant in Atlanta and led the Traffic, Search and Engagement team for seven years at TechTarget, a leader in B2B technology publishing and lead generation. We discuss the intricate balance between leveraging AI technology and harnessing human expertise to create authentic content in today’s digital landscape.


Key Takeaways

Jeff Coyle emphasizes the importance of blending AI capabilities with human expertise to create authentic content. While AI tools offer efficiency, they continue to lack the ‘personal touch’ and nuanced understanding that human expertise provides. By infusing personal anecdotes, brand tone, and subject matter expertise into AI-generated content, businesses can craft compelling narratives that resonate with their audience. Striking the right balance between AI magic and human creativity is crucial for achieving authenticity and differentiation in content creation. Ultimately, by leveraging both AI technology and human expertise, businesses can unlock new levels of creativity, efficiency, and effectiveness in their content strategies.


Questions I ask Jeff Coyle:

[01:54] Can you set the record straight on the discourse of the inauthenticity of AI?

[03:49] What are the differences between some of the more robust technologies and the pedestrian types such as Chat GPT?

[07:44] Does feeding language models lead to more authentic outputs?

[10:36] Talk about how tools like Market Muse are perfecting AI as a tool

[14:58] How do you overcome the shortcomings of AI as an unideal substitute for expertise when using search engines?

[23:07] Is there some place you’d invite people to connect with you?


More About Jeff Coyle:



Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Porkbun

Go to ng24 to get a .BIO domain name for your link in bio page for less than $3 at Porkbun today.


Speaker 1 (00:00): I was like, I found it. I found it. This is what I've been looking for. I can honestly say it has genuinely changed the way I run my business. It's changed the results that I'm seeing. It's changed my engagement with clients. It's changed my engagement with the team. I couldn't be happier. Honestly. It's the best investment I ever made. What

John (00:17): You just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It's time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM World slash scale.

John (01:04): Hello

John (01:04): And welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Brendan Keegan. With over three decades of experience, he's known for his practical insights and passion for innovation. Brendan's focus on leveraging technology to streamline operations has made him a trusted resource for businesses of all sizes. He's also the author of a book we're going to talk about today, the FUD Factor, overcoming Fear, uncertainty, and Doubt, to Achieve the Impossible. So Brendan, welcome to the show.

Brendan (01:36): Alright, welcome. Thanks so much. I'm excited to be here. And just talk a little bit about marketing and fud.

John (01:41): So with St. Patrick's Day, I'm recording this in March with St. Patrick's Day, not too far behind us. I've been watching a couple Irish movies and I'm got to tell you, Brendan Keegan sounds like a character from an Irish movie.

Brendan (01:52): Yeah, well, my middle name's Patrick, so I got the a hundred percent factor going there.

John (01:59): Awesome. So one of the main premises of the book is this idea of fud, which I think is a term that I've heard used by other folks. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt is kind of learn throughout our lives. I'm curious if there's a personal story of how you overcame your own brand of fud.

Brendan (02:18): Well, it's interesting. As a kid, your parents kind of put FUD onto, but you don't realize it until you're a parent. So I remember when I started realizing it when our daughter was really small, but then when she started playing sports, and I still remember she had a skateboard, and all of a sudden it's get the helmet on, get the knee pads, get the elbow pads on, and it's like, Hey, in case you fall now to a 5-year-old, they don't think they're going to fall. So I put the idea of falling into her head and with all the equipment, all of a sudden she was thinking, Hey, I'm just going to go down the hill. I'm going to ride it over to my friend's house, house's going to have no issues. And all of a sudden I turned what was going to be a fun ride into a very dangerous sport that she had to be very careful of. The same could be said, going downhill, ski, and you get 'em bundled up, put the helmet on and everything. But as parents, we tend to be protective because we know they can fall, but we start to unintentionally with the best of intentions, impart some of our fear, uncertainty and doubt. Fear. What if they fall, they're going to break their arm. Well, they didn't plan on falling.

John (03:30): So how does that show up then in the adult version of the workplace?

Brendan (03:36): Well, as you grow up, it manifests where all of a sudden someone wants to play soccer, and it's like, I'm not sure if I'm going to make the team. Well, do I try out? Do I not try out, who am I going to ask to prom? What if they say no? It's like, well, what if they say yes? So we start just as human beings to put the doubt inside our own heads, whether it, well, I'm not going to try off this document, I'm not going to make it. Why? Well, I'm not good enough, as opposed to, Hey, if I practice, I'm good enough. And some of that just can be environmental. Did you grow up in a house where your family, your guardian, your uncle, your parents did say, Hey, if you practice 30 minutes a day, you're going to make the team? Or did they reinforce the, Hey, it's going to be really tough to make the team. I coached football for a number of years, not here. Parents say, I'm so concerned, I just know if he plays football, he's going to get hurt. And I'd say, what if I told you there's three times more injuries in cheerleading than there is football in youth sports, or if that matter, high school sports, but you don't have a fear of your daughter or son cheerleading. But football has that, and so we're just programmed.

John (04:47): So you talk about this, some examples of how you've worked with team members to push them on because people show up then at the workplace in their twenties, thirties, and forties, still with some of that residual doubt. So what are some of the ways that you've found practices, tactics, strategies, whatever you want to call 'em, to get people to move paths that to like, okay, I'm admitting I'm afraid. How do I move past sales?

Brendan (05:10): I think the first thing is talking about you are going to fail, just kind of saying, okay, it's okay to fail. So on my wall at every office, I have the saying, have the courage to fail and the faith to succeed. So the first thing, best practice is make failure acceptable. So that's automatically, you're going to say, well, if this doesn't succeed, I'm not going to lose my job. I'm not going to be in the penalty box. I'm not going to get in trouble. The next thing I'd say is when you do have failures in your company, don't hide from 'em. Talk about 'em. So if you do zoom calls, say, Hey, this week we're going to talk about one of our successes, but we're going to talk about one of our failures. And when you talk about the failure, talk about what you learned and how you're a better company because of the failure, because I've had lots of failures in my career going into new markets, and you really learn, wow, we thought we were going to do well in this market, and you really learned that you didn't, by the way, sometimes when you're successful, you don't diagnose it as much as to you just kind of keep doing it.

(06:09): So I think the first best practice is let failure be acceptable, let failure be something that's possible, and then just some very light training on how do you overcome fear. Some of that can be design thinking, some of it can be some innovation courses. And what's great now is whether it's LinkedIn learning or just all the free learning online, there's courses where you can learn how to think and then test your ideas.

John (06:35): I probably should ask this first, but you're, by all intent and purposes from your bio, you're an operations guy. What inspired you to write a book about overcoming fear?

Brendan (06:47): I've had a chance to be a CEO for the last 23 years, and I've gone into six different companies, every one of 'em. We were trying to either do a turnaround or a transformation, so we were trying to go against our natural momentum. And what I found is I had to spend more time internally changing mindsets than externally. Externally, you could see here's a great market, but internally I'd have people saying, oh, here's why. Here's, we're not going to be successful in that market. We've never pursued that market. We're not prepared for that market. And I'd scratch my head as an outsider, saying, why? And you start to get the, well, we haven't done that before. And my favorite is, well, we tried that when? Five years ago. Five years ago for

John (07:29): One week, right?

Brendan (07:31): Or five years ago, you might not have had the capability to do it that you have today. And just things change.

John (07:37): You talk a lot in this book about something you call fearless leadership, and I'm curious if you could help to find that, because I mean, there's certainly lots of fearless leaders that lead people off cliffs as well, so I'm guessing that's not exactly the same sense in which you mean it.

Brendan (07:52): Yeah, no, in Fearless Leadership is about creating an environment that allows people to fail, allows people to try, allows people to take risks, and then allows those successes to be celebrated. So it's not reckless leadership. I'm not a fan of, Hey, let's just pursue any market for any reason. One thing I talk about oftentimes is establish some guardrails like, Hey, we can pursue any market as long as we make 5% margin. So you're saying, okay, you can't pursue something that we're going to lose money or say, Hey, we're going to start a business, and it's okay if we lose money in the first year. It's not okay if we lose money in the third year. Someone might say, well, to start the business, I can't make it profitable the first month, but I can make it profitable after a year. What I find is set up some parameters, set up some guardrails and say, okay, this, as long as we're within here, you can operate in any way you see fit.

(08:46): And that can be how fast do we want it to grow? What clients do we want to pursue? How profitable do we want it to be? What's the time horizon? We're going to do this for six months, and then we're going to assess. So it's not reckless, but it's creating an environment, setting parameters, and then going after it in a way that you wouldn't have gone after. Because if you go after it in a very calculated, slow manner, there's a good chance that the opportunity passes you by. So you do have to go about it in a very intentional way.

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John (10:37): So leadership's one of those things that it's like sales people are either really good at it or they're not, right? They, they're like born salespeople. Same with leadership. I think a lot of people say, oh, that person's born leader, some people suggest that it can be learned. I know that you fall on the, it can be learned, but what are some of the key traits that this fearless leader really needs to have or really needs to learn or evolve in their arsenal?

Brendan (11:05): So the first is when I look at the best leaders out there that are able to do fearless things that are able to transform businesses, the first thing that they have is they're good communicators. That's both in writing and in person in verbal communications, they're able to articulate their ideas, they're able to then influence people to follow them, meaning they come up with an idea, like during covid, we said, Hey, e-commerce and last mile is going to take off. More people are receiving things at home. I was running a commercial fleet company, so we said we should pursue that more. Okay, great. Then what you needed to do is then you needed to influence more people. So you needed to create a narrative and be able to communicate so you could influence people. The third thing is people that are good disruptors or transformers or innovative or fearless, tend to be good at relationships because they know I'm asking you to take a risk with me.

(12:01): So what's our trust level? Do you believe in me? Do we have trust? If you have trust in me and I'm influencing you and I'm keeping you up to date and I'm communicating with you, you're much more likely to come along with me as opposed to simply just follow. Now, some of the other things are, they're also good project managers. They've got some good project management skills, not, Hey, we're going to try this anyway. So they're able to say, we're going to do phase one, we're going to do phase two, we're going to do phase three. By the way, now they don't individually have to have all these skills. They got to make sure the team

John (12:34): Has these skills. Yeah, I was going to say, I'm terrible at project management, but I have a great number too.

Brendan (12:39): But that's where you'd read the communications. The next thing is you'd create the vision and then you might bring in somebody that says, okay, you're going to work in Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project. You're going to run the project side of this. And so you don't have to have the skill, but the team has to have that skill. And that last one I talked about is you have to be able to paint a higher vision of something extraordinary, something that is above the norm so that people can strive for that.

John (13:07): I interview, I've been doing this show for 15 years, and I've interviewed dozens, probably a hundred folks that have written books on leadership. I'll tell you the one thing that always comes up when somebody's talking about becoming a better leader is a pretty high level of self-awareness, like understanding yourself. I'm curious where you would put that one.

Brendan (13:29): Yeah, so I put that under the banner of eq, emotional intelligence. I know at one point in my career, I got told Brendan, you got all the IQ to do anything you want in this world, but if you don't develop more eq, you're going nowhere. And tough message to receive In my early twenties, and this is why I believe leadership can be learned, I really learned how to have more e and self-awareness. And oftentimes you get people who are working on a project, especially if it's a fearless project or a disruptive project, where they get myopic tunnel vision, where it's all about their project and they don't realize, no, you're in a bigger company. There's a bigger thing going on. The resources you need might be necessary, might be pulled to work on another project. So I know that was something I wrestled with early in my career. It's like if it was my project, I was like, I was going to run it up the hill. Even if I had to even run over a team member, I have to really learn. And that's that influence part, and that's that relationship part where as you ratchet up your eq, most of us have the IQ to do whatever we want. We really do. It's the emotional intelligence that oftentimes pulls us back.

John (14:37): Kind of the read the room thing. Yeah, you go as far as saying, let me find it. Leadership is the single biggest differentiator between good teams and great teams and organizations. That's putting a lot up. Some might suggest an outsized amount of impact over product, over marketing, over talent. Helpful. Fill in the blank there.

Brendan (14:58): Yeah. So many times when we look at great products or great companies, they weren't the first to develop it. Oftentimes they were the second, they were the third. They were the ones though that were willing. They were the ones that were ready, willing and able to go try it. So whether this is video streaming, when Blockbuster had that ahead of Netflix, the digital camera, Kodak had that before the Instagrams, if you will, of the world. How about the Blackberry? The Blackberry had a jump on Apple and Samsung, and then Apple really kind of jumped in there. So when you diagnose a lot of that and you say what held some companies back and what throttled more companies forward? It was those leaders that were able to communicate influence, build a vision, build their relationships, and get their teams to climb the hill, as opposed to at companies that had superior products, the superior product was going to get you so far before somebody fundamentally came up with something that was as good or better. And how do you bring the entire company along? And we can look at the Apples, the Starbucks, the Netflix, the Amazons, the eBays companies that they really, Tesla, their cultures became so vital to their success.

John (16:19): You imagine that meeting an executive at Kodak walks in and says, look, five years from now, nobody's going to be using film. We have Doug Bo all in on digital cameras. I mean, I'm guessing that probably happened somewhere, and they went, get out of here. We never want to hear from you again. Right?

Brendan (16:35): Well, at that point, a huge part of their profit came from the film, just similar to at one point the HP printer division. All their profit wasn't from the printers, it was actually from the cartridges. Now, I'm sure some engineers said, Hey, I came up with a cartridge that uses a lot less sync, and they're probably like, oh, no, that's not what we want. But that's where there's a saying, cannibalize yourself or be cannibalized. If you're not going to do it, somebody's going to do it to you.

John (17:01): I use the example all the time. Newspapers wouldn't give away free classified ads because it was such a profitable part of their business, and then Craigslist came along and all of a sudden they were hurting.

Brendan (17:13): Yeah. Okay, good.

John (17:15): So you talk about six key reasons why leadership matters more than ever today. So it feels like every new, I've owned my own business for 30 years, and it seems like every year X matters more than ever. X matters more than ever. Why does leadership matter more now than ever?

Brendan (17:35): Yeah. So right now we're seeing the baby boomers start to age into retirement. And so if you just look at the generations, you're seeing baby boomers now, by the way, baby boomers are living longer and working longer. So that's helping. But literally, when you just look at just pure math demographics at the number of people retiring and the number of people entering the workforce, it suggests that there's a void being created now as people are entering where the voids being created is in the leadership ranks, in that somebody that's retiring with 35 years, 40 years experience, that experience has translated into some level of leadership. Now, leadership isn't always a hierarchy leadership. They could be an individual contributor, but they're leading an r and d project on a given product because of their experience and what they've done. So when you look at the first thing is the math.

(18:29): The second is that void that's being created, we're asking people to lead earlier than we ever have. So when I look at companies that I've run over the last five and six years, I've had people in their late twenties and thirties running significant parts of the business that 15 years ago they would've been in their late thirties, early forties. And some of that's just, you look around and you say, Hey, this is the talent that's available. Now, what I'll also tell you is as you look at each generation works differently, thinks differently, learns differently. One thing that when we talk about diversity, going a little off topic, one thing I talk about in leadership that a lot of people don't is have diversity of age on your leadership teams have somebody in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties. And the best example I give is if you hand a 60-year-old, a Rubik's Cube and a 15-year-old of Rubik's Cube, they absolutely go about it. Totally different. The 60-year-old starts spinning it around. The 15-year-old goes to YouTube for someone to watch a video on how to do it. As you build leadership, I think it's great. I think it's an amazing opportunity to bring younger people into leadership. I think if people that are in their mid to late career are willing to sit in the room and learn from them, I think you're going to be a more innovative, more disruptive, more transformative company. Yeah,

John (19:50): No question. I concur. So Brendan, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there someplace you'd invite people to learn about you, connect with you, and obviously find out more about the fund factor?

Brendan (20:03): Yeah, sure. So F Factor is available online at any of the bookstores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. I'm on Instagram. That's probably where I'm quite a bit on at BPK Brennan p Keegan Fearless. I have a LinkedIn newsletter, about 150,000 subscribers. It's Fearless Leadership. You can hook me up on LinkedIn. I've got my email and my mobile phone right there. So if you want to reach out to me right there. And then I also have a website, brendan p If you're looking to, you can get more information.

John (20:31): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by. Hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Sunday, April 14, 2024

How to Hire a Fractional CMO: The Smart Way to Scale

How to Hire a Fractional CMO: The Smart Way to Scale written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Are you looking at your business goals and feeling your marketing strategy just isn’t cutting it? You’re not alone. Many businesses reach a point where the usual approaches no longer produce the desired results and everything they try just falls flat or I believe the technical term is “meh”. This is where hiring a fractional CMO can make a significant difference.

As the founder of Duct Tape Marketing, I’ve spent 30 years helping small and medium-sized businesses achieve their goals through effective marketing strategies and our Fractional CMO+ approach. My passion for empowering entrepreneurs has led me to publish best-selling books, host a popular podcast, and share insights with thousands at conferences worldwide. The Duct Tape Marketing System, born out of my desire to solve the frustrations business owners face, has revolutionized how organizations approach marketing and drive sustainable growth.

Let’s explore how hiring a fractional CMO could be the key to pushing your business forward. And if you find the concept intriguing, why not learn more?

Business owners get your FREE Marketing Success Toolkit with the Ultimate Case Study for Hiring a Fractional CMO & the Marketing Audit Checklist so you know exactly where to focus or you can schedule a strategy session to see how this could work for you.


The Role and Benefits of a Fractional CMO

How to Identify the Right Fractional CMO for Your Business

How to Work with Your Fractional CMO for Best Results

The Advantages of Bringing a Fractional CMO into Your Marketing

FAQs in Relation to How to Hire a Fractional CMO


The Role and Benefits of a Fractional CMO

So you’re thinking about hiring a fractional CMO. But what exactly do they do? And how can they help your business grow? A fractional CMO is a part-time marketing executive who provides strategic leadership to help companies achieve their goals.

Fractional CMOs usually work on a contract basis, typically for a set number of hours per week or month, and bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. Unlike a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO can be hired for a specific project or time period, making them a flexible and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

Fractional CMOs can work on hourly basis. Most fractional CMOs who work on an hourly basis will charge an average of $200/ hour. However, this number varies greatly based on level of expertise, experience and what they bring to the table.

You can learn more about What a Fractional CMO is and does here.

Cost-Effectiveness and Strategic Value

Hiring a full-time CMO can be expensive, with salaries often exceeding $250,000 to $480,000 per year. For many businesses, this simply isn’t feasible. But a fractional CMO can provide the same level of strategic thinking and leadership at a fraction of the cost.

According to a Forbes article, fractional CMOs typically cost between $3,000 and $36,000 per month, depending on the scope of work and the CMO’s experience level. This can be a game-changer for businesses that need high-level marketing expertise but don’t have the budget for a full-time executive.

Flexibility and Scalability

In my experience, another key benefit of hiring a fractional CMO is the flexibility and scalability they offer. As your business grows and evolves, your marketing needs will change. A fractional CMO can help you navigate these changes and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. They can also help you scale your marketing efforts up or down as needed, depending on your current goals and resources. This level of flexibility is especially valuable for startups and small businesses that are still figuring out their marketing strategy and may not have the resources to commit to a full-time CMO.

“A fractional CMO can provide the strategic guidance and leadership that businesses need to scale, at a fraction of the cost and commitment.” – John Jantsch

How do You Know If Your Business Needs a Fractional CMO?

To find out if hiring a fractional or part-time CMO is right for your business it’s worth considering some key questions, as highlighted in an article from Inc.

Some of those questions are:

  • Project Management: Do you lack someone in-house who can oversee and drive various ongoing marketing and branding projects?
  • Expert Insight: Are you in need of fresh, professional insight into complex marketing challenges, with the ability to turn these insights into actionable strategies?
  • Specialized Leadership: Is there a long-term project on your plate that demands specialized marketing expertise not currently available within your team?
  • Cultural Transformation: Do you require a leader to foster a shift towards a more brand and marketing-focused organizational culture?
  • Completion of Initiatives: Are there numerous marketing projects initiated but left unfinished that need driving to completion?

Answering “yes” to any of these suggests that hiring a fractional CMO could be a beneficial and strategic decision for your business at this time.


How to Identify the Right Fractional CMO for Your Business

Okay, so you’re sold on the idea of hiring a fractional CMO. But how do you find the right one for your business?

You want someone with:

  • A proven track record of success
  • Experience working with businesses of your size and stage of growth.

Experience tells me that first, you want to look for someone with a proven track record of success in your industry or a similar field. Ask for case studies, references, and examples of their work to get a sense of their expertise and the results they’ve achieved for other clients.

You should also look for someone who has experience working with businesses of your size and stage of growth. A fractional CMO who has worked primarily with large enterprises may not be the best fit for a startup or small business. Or a Fractional CMO who has worked only with national eCommerce companies might not be the best fit for your local service based remodeling company.

Aligning with Business Goals

It’s also important to find a fractional CMO whose approach aligns with your overall business objectives. Before you start your search, take some time to define your marketing goals and the specific challenges you’re facing. Then, look for a fractional CMO who has experience tackling similar challenges and can provide a clear plan for how they’ll help you achieve your goals.

So how do you define your marketing goals and challenges?

Start by identifying what you want to achieve in simple terms—like increasing sales by 20% or growing your subscribers by 500. Then, list down the main obstacles you currently face, such as limited budget or lack of specific expertise.

A straightforward exercise to help this process is to draw two columns on a piece of paper: label one “Goals” and the other “Challenges”. Fill these columns with concise points. This visual approach can quickly clarify your priorities and hurdles, making it easier to tackle them systematically.

Cultural Fit and Communication Style

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of cultural fit and communication style when hiring a fractional CMO. This person will be working closely with your team and representing your brand, so it’s crucial that they share your values and communicate in a way that resonates with your team and customers.

In general you should look for someone who is a good listener, communicates clearly and effectively, and has a collaborative approach to working with others.

How to Work with a Fractional CMO for Best Results

You’ve found the perfect fractional CMO for your business. Now what? The first step is to ensure that your marketing efforts are closely aligned with your broader business goals. Your fractional CMO should work with you to understand your overall objectives and develop a marketing strategy that supports those goals.

This might involve conducting market research, analyzing your target audience, and identifying key metrics to track your progress.

Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan

Once you’ve aligned your marketing with your business objectives, it’s time to develop a strategic marketing plan. Your fractional CMO should lead this process, working with your team or your leadership and their implementation team to identify the most effective tactics and channels for reaching your target audience.

We call our strategic process Strategy First. By name, by brand name, but it’s still it’s an approach. Do they have an approach that says, well, before we get into doing x, y, and z, we are going to study what our strategic direction is going to be. We’re going to study how we’re gonna differentiate. If your Fractional CMO is not coming with that strategy first approach, and they’re really just doing random acts of marketing, is that really what you need?

Then, after they develop your strategy (with you) they get into the tactics. This might include a mix of digital marketing, content marketing, social media, email marketing, and traditional advertising.

The key is to develop a plan that is tailored to your specific business needs and goals and then how they are going to execute on that plan. Of course, even the best marketing plan is useless if it’s not executed effectively. Your fractional CMO should work with your team to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that tasks are being completed on time and on budget.

They should also have the authority and support to hold your team accountable for meeting key metrics and milestones, and provide regular updates on progress and results.

Customer Focus for Premium Brand Positioning

Finally, your fractional CMO should help you focus on the customer experience as a way to elevate your brand perception and loyalty. This might involve developing customer personas, mapping out the customer journey, and identifying touchpoints where you can create a more seamless and enjoyable experience. By putting the customer first, you can differentiate your brand from competitors and charge a premium for your products or services.

Remember your Fractional CMO should be the advocate for the customer.

“A fractional CMO can help you align your marketing with your business objectives, develop a strategic plan, and execute it effectively while keeping the customer at the center of everything you do.” – Duct Tape Marketing


What a Fractional CMO provides for a businesses marketing strategy.

The Advantages of Bringing Fresh Perspectives into Your Marketing Efforts

One of the biggest advantages of hiring a fractional CMO is the fresh perspective they bring to your marketing efforts. When you’ve been working on your marketing for a while, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and keep doing things the way you’ve always done them. But a fractional CMO can challenge your assumptions and introduce new ideas and approaches that you may not have considered before. They can help you think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to your marketing challenges.

In short, you want to hire a fractional CMO that is going to challenge you when it comes to how your marketing strategy can help you reach your business goals.

Leveraging Cross-Industry Experience

Another advantage of hiring a fractional CMO is the cross-industry experience they bring to the table. Many fractional CMOs have worked in a variety of industries and can draw on that experience to create unique marketing strategies that stand out from the competition.

For example, a fractional CMO who has worked in the tech industry might be able to apply some of the innovative marketing tactics used in that space to a more traditional industry like healthcare or finance. By leveraging this cross-industry experience, you can create marketing strategies that are truly one-of-a-kind and help you differentiate your brand in a crowded market.

“Fractional CMOs bring a wealth of experience and fresh perspectives to the table, helping businesses think outside the box and create truly unique marketing strategies.” – Forbes

Key Takeaway: 


Bringing in a fractional CMO can inject fresh, innovative ideas into your marketing efforts, drawing from a diverse range of industry experiences to uniquely position your brand in a crowded marketplace.

FAQs in Relation to How to Hire a Fractional CMO

How much does it cost to hire a fractional CMO?

The price varies, but you’re looking at around $3,000 to $10,000 per month based on experience and hours worked.

Where can I find a fractional CMO?

Check out professional networks like LinkedIn or niche agencies that specialize in executive marketing placements.

When should I hire a fractional CMO?

If your business is scaling up but has maybe hit a plateau or isn’t ready for a full-time executive leadership, it’s time to consider hiring a fractional CMO.

How much can a fractional CMO make?

Average earnings fall between $50k and $200k yearly. This swings widely with the deal’s specifics and their workload.


Hiring a fractional CMO is a game-changer for businesses ready to scale their marketing efforts. By bringing in a seasoned pro with a proven track record, you can inject fresh ideas, tap into cross-industry expertise, and align your marketing strategy with your big-picture goals.

The key is finding the right fit – someone who gets your vision, meshes with your team, and knows how to drive results. With the right fractional CMO in your corner, you can take your marketing to new heights without the overhead of a full-time exec.

So, if you’re ready to ditch the marketing “meh” and scale your biz like a boss, it’s time to start the hunt for your perfect fractional CMO. Trust me; your bottom line (and your sanity) will thank you.

Get your FREE Marketing Success Toolkit with the Ultimate Case Study for Hiring a Fractional CMO & the Marketing Audit Checklist so you know exactly where to focus or you can schedule a strategy session to see how this could work for you.

from Duct Tape Marketing