Rise of the Fractional CMO

Published on
April 10, 2024

Episode Description:

Fractional CMOs can be a game-changer for many businesses; diagnosing key problems, pivoting strategy, and reshifting team dynamics. Experienced Fractional CMOs, Taz Bareham and Danielle Stitt, share how they help businesses develop successful long-term marketing strategies and achieve their business goals.

Key Takeaways:

  • What a Fractional CMO is and why businesses can benefit from hiring one
  • Differences between a Fractional CMO and a Marketing Consultant
  • The typical length of an engagement
  • Typical workload and job profile for a Fractional CMO
  • The skills and experience required to effectively perform in the role
  • The value in having both agency and in-house experience
  • Advice for getting started in the role and how to network

Listen now on Smarter Marketer

The definitive podcast for Australian marketers.


Taz Bareham

Taz Bareham

Fractional CMO
Danielle Stitt

About the Guests:

Taz Bareham and Danielle Stitt are fractional CMOs with significant marketing experience across different industries and brands.

Taz has over 20 years of experience across B2B, B2C and SaaS. Previously, she was the Head of Brand & Communications at eBay, and CMO at Ansarada, JobAdder, and Rezdy. In addition to her client-side roles, she has worked in strategy & planning roles at agencies like Clemenger &  M&C Saatchi.

Danielle is experienced in marketing across finance, insurance, fintech, and private equity. She has worked at organisations such as Hyperion, ABN Amro, and Macquarie. She has spent much of the past 10 years at BlueChip Communications where she has helped drive strategy for an array of financial services brands.

Follow Taz and Danielle on LinkedIn.

Podcast Summary: Rise of the Fractional CMO

Australian Fractional CMOs Taz Bareham and Danielle Still share their wealth of experience and insights on the concept and execution of fractional CMOs.

As the skills required to manage marketing and marketing teams become more challenging, the rise of fractional Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) comes as a new solution for businesses grappling with strategic planning and execution.

What is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is an executive-level marketing expert engaged by businesses for a fraction of the time and cost associated with a full-time CMO. This model allows companies, especially scale-ups and SMEs, to leverage top-tier marketing expertise without the commitment to a full-time salary and benefits package.

They provide flexibility and strategic advantage to businesses, enabling them to tap into senior marketing expertise to gain a competitive edge in the market.

The Ideal Fit for Fractional CMOs

Businesses at certain stages of their lifecycle find the concept of a fractional CMO particularly appealing. These typically include companies that recognise the importance of strategic marketing but don’t necessarily need or can't afford, a full-time executive position. The fractional model enables companies to benefit from having a senior marketer’s perspective steer strategic direction without the overhead of a full-time commitment.

Leadership and strategy beyond consultants

One of the critical distinctions between a traditional consultant and a fractional CMO is their hands-on approach and long-term investment in the company's success, contrary to a marketing consultant’s limited, project-specific scope. 

Instead of delivering a strategy and exiting the stage, fractional CMOs remain engaged with the business, implementing the strategy, and cultivating a marketing team capable of sustaining growth. This model not only provides the strategic foresight a business needs but also embeds a culture of excellence within the marketing team, aligning efforts with broader business goals.

Typically, the engagement with a Fractional CMO is for 3-12 months, continuing on a rolling basis as needed. While the capacity of the role is fractional or outsourced - the work, and what a Fractional CMO expects to achieve, is the same as that of a full-time CMO.

Challenges and opportunities

Transitioning to a fractional CMO role or incorporating one into your business is not short of challenges. Taz and Danielle both shared insights into the dynamics of entering an organisation in such a capacity, including the challenges of aligning with internal teams, managing stakeholder expectations, and shifting from traditional employment to a more flexible, impactful engagement. 

Bringing in a new executive always poses the question of fit - existing team members may feel the need to work with someone new daunting, the style of working for both may be radically different, and marketing leadership may feel threatened. 

To be a Fractional CMO, you need a robust network, a solid understanding of diverse business landscapes, and an adaptability to wear multiple hats – from strategist to mentor, and sometimes even mediator. It can also be challenging to balance the need for intensive strategy sessions and regular check-ins that maintain project momentum. 

Regardless, working with multiple clients is a fantastic opportunity to learn about different industries and use cases. Taz and Danielle share that it’s like working in an agency, except this time they have better visibility and control of the things that actually make an impact on the business’ bottom line.

What will it take to become a Fractional CMO?

Having both in-house and agency experience is a big plus

Taz and Danielle recommend gaining both in-house and agency marketing experience before you consider becoming a Fractional CMO. 

In-house marketing experience gives you a broad understanding of a business, the ability to go deep and focus on a single marketing problem and understand expectations while managing up. Agency experience allows you to tackle different issues while working with multiple clients. This experience will make way for holistic learning about marketing in terms of processes and how things get done in different settings.

Network and stay up-to-date with the market

Taz and Danielle emphasise the importance of building a strong network, staying abreast with the latest marketing trends, and gaining experience across different industry sectors to be successful as a Fractional CMO. Joining peer groups, being active on platforms like LinkedIn for visibility, and engaging in continuous learning are crucial steps for anyone looking to navigate this rewarding yet demanding career.

Taz recommends joining industry groups such as Fractionals United and connecting with established professionals like herself and Danielle on LinkedIn.

Be clear on your personal goals

It’s also important to understand your motivations for becoming a Fractional CMO. The role demands versatility, involving not only marketing but also networking, business development, pitching, and administrative tasks. Danielle notes that running your own business comes with its set of challenges and responsibilities that aspirants should be aware of and willing to take on.

The rising demand for Fractional CMOs

As the concept of fractional CMOs gains traction, it's clear that this model is more than just a trend. It’s a strategic response to the evolving needs of a digital-first business environment, where agility, expertise, and strategic foresight are essential.

The interest in this new C-suite role is growing, and it makes commercial sense for companies to hire someone who can align marketing activities with overall business strategy. For businesses, the benefits are manifold – access to top-tier talent, strategic advantage, and a more nimble approach to market challenges. For marketers, it opens a new realm of possibilities – to lead, impact, and shape the future of businesses without the constraints of traditional employment models.

The role of a fractional CMO is not just about filling a gap but about transforming businesses through strategic expertise, deep experiences, and a passion for marketing.

If you’re looking to improve your digital marketing strategy for growth, Rocket can help. Get in touch.


James Lawrence: Welcome back to the Smarter Marketer podcast. I'm here today with Taz Bearham and Danielle Stitt. Ladies, welcome to the pod. Very excited to have you on. I've been, um, I've been badgering Taz for the best part of a year now to come onto the pod, and finally you've agreed. So looking forward to the conversation.

So just a little bit of context. So Taz and Danielle are CMOs with a huge amount of experience in Australia. I'm going to go through each of you individually in terms of the intro. So Taz years of experience across SaaS. Previously she was head of brand and comms at eBay. She's worked as CMO Resdy. In addition to her client side role, she's worked in strategy and planning roles, agency side for the likes of Clemenger and MNC Saatchi.

Danielle, you've got a huge amount of experience in finance, insurance, fintech, private equity. You've worked client side with organizations like Hyperion. ABN AMRO and Macquarie when you've spent much of the last 10 years at blue chip communications, where you've worked with a wide array of financial services, brands, driving strategy.

So it's quite a, um, it's an intimidating CV collectively between the two of you. So lots of experience. And today we're going to be discussing the rise of the fractional CMO. So what it is. which businesses may benefit from having one, what one does towards the tail end of the conversation. I think I'd also like to use it as an opportunity from almost a career perspective, lots of listeners to the Potter, potentially younger marketers making their way through.

So I think also what has led both of you through your different, but excellent careers to kind of get to this point and what the steps might be for someone out there wanting to do something similar. So I'm going to start with a very simple question, which are often the hardest to answer, but, and I'm going to start with you, Taz, what is a fractional CMO?

Taz Bareham: A good question, James. Um, and we've been defining this between ourselves as well as looking at a lot of people around the world that are also in this space. A fractional CMO is in essence a chief marketing officer that's only working a fraction of the time with a business. So it gets to work across a bunch of different businesses.

So basically from a business perspective, they get to tap into senior marketing expertise without the sort of, um, the full time salary bonuses risk associated with taking somebody on. Basically, it's a very flexible alternative from a business's perspective, but then from a marketer's perspective, you get to work across a bunch of different businesses at the same time, which makes it more fun.

I think.

James Lawrence: Kind of makes sense. Um, and both of you are working in this capacity, right? And your current kind of set up. So what are the, what are the sorts of businesses or like, where is a business at in its journey where it might go? This is. Yeah. Absolutely. And so I think that's potentially a good way to feel that kind of need.

Danielle Stitt: Danielle, I guess what we've talked a lot about over the last year and found as being fractional CMOS in the marketplace here is that typically you companies that are attracted to using our expertise and ones that are at a stage where it doesn't make sense to have a full time chief marketing officer, but they recognize that you can do a lot of marketing, which is just really Spaghetti against a wall.

So they may have a small team or one person internally who's doing a lot of stuff, but it's not necessarily laddering up to a business strategy. So having that helicopter view, you know, the typical chief marketing officer perspective on aligning strategy is really what's attractive to them. Makes them feel more confident that what the marketing is going to deliver and.

pushes the function forward, I guess, from an upskilling point of view. I've also got a few clients that are just small and don't necessarily, they just don't warrant it, but they also recognize that it warrants a full time CMO, but just, you know, who wants to pay for that? It

James Lawrence: does kind of make, it does feel like it may, I guess there is this in other Parts of businesses for a while now we've had that kind of function where you might have a a fractional, um, we've worked with a client who very much in the people space kind of providing HR services and kind of similar where there's just not that demand or need to have a full time very, very senior person in that particular function.

So having someone you can tap into for expertise, I guess, be convinced that the strategy you're moving with is kind of the right one.

Danielle Stitt: And Taz, you probably have a slightly different experience too, then that you've been invited into, I want to say audit, but there's probably a nicer way to say, you know, we've got a team and, but I just, I guess now I need somebody to come in and have a look at that.

So yours is experienced a little bit different to mine, Taz, in that front.

Taz Bareham: Yeah. So I found that I've worked with businesses where, for example, there are some marketers in the team that quite often reporting directly into the CEO. Isn't a marketer by trade, probably finding it difficult to give them the sort of the guidance and the coaching that they need to really level up.

Marketers may be doing brilliant work. They may be doing a lot of work, but the CEO isn't really across what they're doing or how that relates to the business goals. And so I've been called into businesses to have a look at that and go, okay, are they doing the right things? How can he or she help them?

Level up that they've engaged me for perhaps to help coach the team and help connect the marketing strategy to business strategy as well. And so, yeah, you call it an audit, but it's really like an immersion at the beginning to get to grips with a new business and how it's running and what they're doing in order to then take a look at what can be done short term, but also how does that relate to longer term strategy and business goals?

James Lawrence: Is that kind of the fundamental difference? To say in go engaging a consultant where there is I think consultants, not just in marketing, but in kind of all different business functions kind of come in, assess the lay of the land, you know, put forward a strategy and then kind of. Move on and eject themselves.

Like, is that the fundamental difference with, with a fractional CMO? There is more of that remaining with the business for a period of time to actually implement what that direction is.

Danielle Stitt: I think so. So sometimes you get invited in and normally when you, when you start with a, with a new brand company, you want to do.

Kind of a consultant's job in a way. Yeah. To assist where they're at, what are they trying to achieve? Are they doing the right things? Are they doing those things correctly, you know, optimized and whatnot. So that's, that's kind of a consultant role, but then you stay on and act as that sort of coach and guidance and strategic oversight on, on what they're doing.

The sort of other part to that, I guess, is, is also a mindset shift for the person who hires you, typically the CEO or managing director or whatnot. Marketing consultant, I think in a lot of ways, people feel like that's going to involve a lot of the C suites time or the management's time or whatnot, whereas they're saying, well, if you're the fractional CMO, you're, then I think of you more like an employee and you just get in there and do things and make it happen and then report back.

And it feels more like they can hand that over to you. Whereas with a consultant, it would be like, I'll be giving you a lot of things and it's going to be a drain on my time.

James Lawrence: Yeah. Interesting. I hadn't thought of it because I think the, the benefit of. Having someone with greater experience, more seniority, to come in and actually give you some oversight that you might not have, I think is an obvious one, but the one, the idea that you're actually taking time off of other senior stakeholders, if it is a CEO or an MD or someone else, that you're actually freeing them up to then kind of do their thing, which makes, makes a lot of sense.

Danielle Stitt: And being responsible, not just here's the plan, adios.

James Lawrence: Yeah. Who's normally engaging you, like within the organization? Is it always CEO and MD, or is it kind of other? Functions as well.

Taz Bareham: For me, it's been CEO, founder of businesses. Cause quite often I've worked with, um, startups scale up. So you've got that sort of personal contact.

I have also worked with CMOs as well. So potentially, I mean, CMO is such a massive job these days, especially if you're working in a global company, that it's very difficult to get everything done. So sometimes you're a safe pair of hands to another CMO because they know that You know what you're doing, you're not there trying to threaten their job or take their job.

You don't want that full time gig, but you can actually save them some time and be a safe pair of hands to hand over specific project work, or if they are going away for a while and you know, all that sort of stuff. So it doesn't have to be a CEO or a CMO. But it tends to be something in the leadership team that feeling a pain point, and you're there to help with that pain point initially.

And then as you start those conversations, they can see the longer term benefit of an ongoing relationship.

James Lawrence: Is that the same for you, Danielle, similar kind of experience or?

Danielle Stitt: Yes, very much the founder, managing director, CEO level.

James Lawrence: When you get engaged, like, what is the, like, is the expectation, like when you, I think when you hire most staff members, the expectation is you're going to be together forever and, you know, that never happens and it depends on how it works out and what the relationship's like and lives change and careers change.

But is there an expectation that you're coming in for a six month stint? Is it a year? Is it 18 months? Is it potentially forever? Like what, how does that kind of generally play out?

Danielle Stitt: In my experience, you come in on a, I sort of use a dating analogy. It's a little bit like, we'll come in and do this initial piece, which is like, let's just go and have drinks.

And then the view is they see that as more, I guess they see that as more that you are coming on longer term. That's not a consultant role that you'll just come in and out. So some clients I've got, you know, sort of a multi year engagements and it's enrolling 12 months periods, but because you're coming in with that fractional CMR, and it's been so interesting as a marketer to sort step outside of actually doing that.

When we positioned ourselves, I certainly found that people understood what factional CMO meant. And that did mean, okay, you're going to be around a bit longer, whereas before I'd sort of been marketing consultant, and then they do tend to be more thought of as a project based resource. So there is that kind of, you know, six months, 12 months feel when you start, but it does, it does start with project like engagements first up, but then it rolls on.

James Lawrence: Similar for you, Taz, or?

Taz Bareham: Yeah, I mean, I've had a, uh, a mixed bag. Sometimes it's, you're coming in to solve a particular problem at a moment in time. And so when you're engaged, it's with a time limited period of opportunity in the minds of who you're talking to, whether that's three months, six months, or potentially even shorter at the beginning to start the relationship.

But the intent as a fractional CMO is that there is a longer term relationship. So you, when you're coming in, you're committed to the future and you've got skin in the game. So you're not coming in and like, you know, building out a strategy that becomes a document that gathers dust in the corner, and then you leave and hope for the best.

But you've got a vested interest in coaching the team, building out the team and helping implement that strategy and seeing the impact of the ideas that you're putting on the table. So generally speaking. A three month minimum, but I'd say six, 12 months or, or, or a rolling engagement is ideal so that you, you're part of the leadership team.

In essence, you're just working on a fractional capacity as part of the leadership team rather than full time.

James Lawrence: Yeah. And you can really see the appeal for the right sized organization or the organization with the kind of right need where I think there is such a contempt is too strong a word, but I think kind of a concern around.

Consulting and strategists and people that kind of come in and you get stuck with, uh, you know, the 300 page report or the 300 page PowerPoint and never gets left to do anything other than gather dust. So the idea that you're actually bringing someone in who has all the benefits of that objectivity, independent has experience, you know, across your field or across solving similar problems, but then he's actually going to help, I guess, hold your hand to help you solve those problems.

I'm really curious, so. Like what's the, what's it actually like? And I know the answer will be, it depends, but like coming in and I think most of the organizations you're describing will have up marketing function to some degree, right? And I suspect that almost by definition, you know, it's going to be more junior rather than having someone at your level already in there.

Like, how have you found it? Like, what's the dynamic? Are people kind of fearful for their jobs? Are they, you know, you're moving in and people who thought they might have been promoted to a CMO role are kind of getting their noses out of joint or is that this is an awesome opportunity to have someone senior come in and maybe validate all the things that we've been saying all the time but the business hasn't, has been unwilling to implement?

Like, I'd love to hear some of the war stories without naming names.

Danielle Stitt: Yeah, no, I've found it to be a really positive experience actually because you've got, you're working with You know, I don't think I've ever met a marketer I don't like. So, so you're coming in with people who are like, Oh, it's fantastic to have somebody else who's then at the C suite representing marketing, because marketing are quite often in an organization is, uh, particularly where I come from in financial services and.

Professional services. It is a bit of a journey in terms of understanding what marketing can achieve. So you've had people in the business who may not have been able to really convince the, so everybody knows, okay, we kind of need marketing, but then you've got somebody at a senior level, really championing it.

And it also then gives the internal team, not only that advocate, but also somebody who is working across a couple of brands or has, you know, more years experience. So there's fantastic sort of upskilling and knowledge sharing. And I always think, you know, you learn something from everybody. It doesn't matter if seniority or junior ness.

Uh, so that kind of collaboration and upskilling each other is. positively received, not necessarily I'm

Taz Bareham: fearful for my job.

Danielle Stitt: Yeah.

Taz Bareham: Yeah. I mean, I, same, I've had a very positive experience each time. I think obviously it you're reliant on whoever's telling the team to kind of frame it the right way. But I think everybody that I've worked with has framed it as a learning opportunity and somebody that's coming into the business to bring fresh thinking, new ideas.

And elevate the thinking that exists already today and to help mentor coach an existing team and to, like you said, Danielle really sort of champion marketing upstream across the business. So always positively received so far, which is. Right. People are very open and transparent and that's you need them to be in order for it to work.

So generally in the door, you kind of do a bit of a situational diagnosis, which is normally not just what are the team doing from a marketing perspective, but who's in the team, what skills are available. What's their background, their appetite for, for learning, for change, and then within with across the business as well, how is marketing seen?

And so you've got a really good view of where the opportunities lie and also the challenges, I suppose, that you need to overcome in guiding the team through that.

James Lawrence: It's really interesting. I love what you said, Danielle, about you haven't met a marketer you don't like, because it is like people say, I like, you know, do you like your job?

And like, I love my job. And I, there's two things I love, like one is just getting to, Understand just so many different businesses. Like I just personally find it really interesting. Like there's so much stuff happening and you learn just weird obscure stuff and But the second is I think people in marketing are just so nice.

Generally speaking like we're in an industry where thankfully the people we're dealing with are just nice people and which I think isn't the case. You can, we can take it for granted sometimes. I think there's certain industries or certain, um, roles where maybe the, the, the typical persona isn't as kind of warm and nice as, as markets.

Taz Bareham: Or as diverse.

James Lawrence: Or as diverse, yeah. Totally, totally right. Yeah, 100%. So if you're listening and you're, you know, you're struggling, you know, you're at that kind of maybe mid to senior level and you're struggling to get stuff done, you can maybe suggest someone like Danielle and Taz. They're not going to come in and, uh, and, you know, take your job.

They're going to help you get, you know, fight the battles that you've been trying to fight. Um,

Danielle Stitt: I think part of our, certainly my inspiration is when you go into a company, even though you see it as a, as a multi year potentially, you know, new engagement, I'm always looking at the sort of succession planning of it.

So I don't fantastic, I guess if you, if you need to be there for 10 years, but I don't necessarily think you do. I think of the, the part of the fractional CMOs objective typically is to upskill up level. And. sort of succession plan yourself out of there.

James Lawrence: Practically, how does it work? Like, what are your days and weeks and months?

Kind of look like, like, is it, you know, I have five, don't, don't go into specifics. You don't want to give away, but like, do I have five clients and I dedicate Monday to one client and choose that the second client, or is it much more fluid than that? And I suspect there's probably when you're starting with a client, there's a lot of onboarding and more time, and then that might naturally Peter down.

I'm not sure. I'd be really curious as to how it, how practically works.

Taz Bareham: Well, I mean, the idea is that you're not stretched so thin that you can't really give good value to each client. So finding clients that want sort of a portion of your time, but not sort of at a very granular level where they're sort of buying hours here and there.

I typically work really well when I've got sort of maybe three, For clients tops so that in each case, I'm not changing too much in terms of, you know, cause there's a, there's a, the cost of changing from in my case, category to category as well as client to client. So I like to have enough time to immerse myself with each client within that month.

I wouldn't say it's, um, multiple clients within a day. There's definitely multiple clients within a week. So you might, um, if you've got a client that really, Likes you to be available on a Tuesday. Cause that's when leadership meetings happen. You might have some set time for that client, but then other clients might be a bit more fluid around that.

So it really depends on the clients and the arrangement that you've got with them. But generally speaking, people are engaging you for a certain amount of time or output within a month. And then it's up to you to kind of work out how you work out your month to make sure that in each case, you're not jumping around too much so that you can really immerse yourself and add value to each client.

James Lawrence: That's similar, similar for you, Danielle, or different.

Danielle Stitt: Yeah, it is. It is client by client. It is. One client where I spend a whole day in the office and then the rest of my time is just sort of virtual and figuring out, you know, how do you just keep the momentum in it? It's very hard. It's everything, you know, the pace of work at the moment.

It's really hard to just say, okay, well, I'll see you next Friday. That's like dog years away a week. So keeping the momentum going, being available. If there is an internal resource. It's so that they're not stuck so that you can keep the projects going or the activities going. So it is, I certainly on some days can be touching all three or four clients, but it might be just not in depth on one of them might be just QAing something or answering some questions and then other days you'll spend a bigger chunk of your day immersed in one client.

Taz Bareham: Yeah, I think that's a valuable point to make. So while you might be dedicated to one client for a day. Top and pail of the day. You're just checking in to make sure there's, there's nothing that people are reaching out to you for, but you kind of have to work out the balance of that so that, you know, if you're immersing yourself with a client or they're not comprised in any way.

So, you know, as a fractional CMO, we've made a decision for a more flexible way of working, which means that we need to have some flexibility. So it's not sort of a nine to five, it's more. Chunks of immersion time and concentration time, and then some fluidity about how we kind of keep the wheels turning in between that time.

James Lawrence: I think what you said, Taz, about uncoupling, I guess, pay or remuneration from time is, is key. And it's not that dissimilar to being in the agency space where you, you're trying to remunerate yourselves based on the value you're providing to a client. And I think generally in most, most agencies, Kind of professional services areas, the more experienced you are, the more value you can bring to solve complex problems, then you can uncouple.

And if you're kind of at the bottom of that pyramid and you're doing just tactical executional work, then you know, there generally will be a much stronger connection between the two. But that's it, isn't it? It's like you're bringing, it might be a decision that you make, it might be a six minute phone call with a, with a CEO who's got a concern about something, but that you validating something or actually pushing back on it could be the difference between.

A really good or really poor business decision, you know, rather than sitting there kind of having to fill out a timesheet to justify your value, it kind of feels like That would be key to making that dynamic kind of work, wouldn't it? I

Danielle Stitt: I hate timesheets. Having been in an agency, I had to fill in timesheets.

James Lawrence: Anyone on the Rocket team that is listening, you do have to keep doing your timesheets. It's a

Danielle Stitt: personal choice, James. Even though I

James Lawrence: don't do it because I'm a hypocrite.

Danielle Stitt: I don't think anybody actually enjoys it. From an agency point of view, they're absolutely necessary. Yeah, unfortunately. It's a back of business.

It just is what is necessary. But, uh, Really avoid doing that. So typically of work on a retainer. So it's like you're notionally getting, you know, two days a week, but that two days floats across the whole week. It's not just Tuesday, Wednesday, for example, and then there's give and take. So there'll be more when you've got a really big project on and then maybe you can wind back when there's not quite so much.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean,

Taz Bareham: I typically. I mean, time for money still exists. So people are kind of, you know, often engage you on a retainer for a certain number of days of the month, but that's kind of for no clients that I've worked with looking for a timesheet on that. That's a, a kind of an agreement of. How much dedicated sort of thinking time you're going to give them like Daniel's Danielle said, we kind of like, there's a bit of, um, fluidity of, of how that manifests itself.

And that's on you knowing that there may be full days that you work, but then there's also you're dipping in and out constantly to keep things going. And so there's some flexibility there as well, but it is the old age old quest because people understand time as a currency, but when they're buying into a fractional CMO, While they're trying to get units of time, there is also your buying experience and depth of understanding of your industry.

And that varies hugely by who you're engaging with and what they've done previously as to what you're going to get out of that time, right?

James Lawrence: That's it. I suspect that once a relationship starts up and if it's going well, no one's ever talking about time and hours and. Anything like that, right? It's kind of, this is working, we're loving it and it's great.

And it's working for both parties. And I guess if there's a dramatic change to scope, you know, whatever, we're launching a new product or we need, maybe that's when you might go back to the table to talk about that. But otherwise they're buying more availability rather than a timesheet.

James Lawrence: Yeah. Makes sense.

Yeah. In preparing for the pod, I think it'd be a shame to not kind of just talk more career. Yeah. I think there are a lot of listeners who could kind of, um, learn a lot from both of your respective experiences. So I think whether by design or not, both of you have really solid amounts of experience working both in house and then also working an agency type side.

Be curious as to whether that was by design and if someone did want to move through in their career to a role like this. Like what, what is the pathway and what are those things that you'd share is to younger market is out there, but should they be thinking of in terms of their career and the steps they're taking?

Danielle Stitt: It's actually quite a hard question to answer cause I haven't had a sliding door as an opportunity to have a different path. But I found having been in house and agency side, You, uh, then have walked in both sets of shoes, I guess. So in house totally understand what it's like to, to have the various demands on your time.

And it's just a different dynamic when you're in house. There's pluses and minuses to that. What I do really like about being in house is that you get to focus on one thing that you're not. Sort of splitting your brain into three or four things. What's nice about being on the agency or working across multiple clients is obviously the diversity.

And as you said, James, being able to solve different problems and you can have the same, cause I work in financial services, so I might have the same category, private equity or private markets in some way, but the businesses are so different under the hood. It's, it's like, it's, you know, it's just keeps it really interesting and fresh.

Most of my time in house, but some things I learned from being on the agency side, which I think is helpful now as a fractional CMO is just how to. I guess the client relations side of stuff, because you still, while you are sort of, you know, you sort of that hybrid, not really an in house person, but not fully a consultant either.

So you need to be able to still manage client expectations and the things that you learn when you're on the agency side. And you probably learn that to some extent if you're really good at managing up in house. as well. I think that to be a fractional CMO, it's not something that you could necessarily do straight out of the gate in your career.

You kind of need a few gray hairs and to have seen a few situations and to be able to step into your own power, I suppose, at the CMP, somebody that they'll listen to and that you have credibility.

James Lawrence: Yeah. It's really, really interesting. And I think you've, yeah, it doesn't matter how capable and smart and hardworking you are.

James Lawrence: There is an element of experience where you do, you do have this ability to start pattern matching. And I've seen this before and you know, we can, we can evolve, we can do it differently here, or, you know, Um, I've seen it before. It will work. Let's, let's kind of work with it. And yeah, the interesting around the point, cause I think it is different to consulting, isn't it?

James Lawrence: We're more akin to being in an agency world where it's very easy at the beginning of an engagement to point out all of the problems, but then, you know, six months, 12 months, 18 months, you're, you're, you're part of that now. Right. And so it's, it's a very different dynamic and it's kind of, it's not that dissimilar to, um, politics, right.

James Lawrence: Where any new government that comes in, it's very easy for a period of time to kind of. Blame the predecessor and then you get to a point where it's like you're on the hook for this now and I guess having that, having worked in agency side probably does help you with clients to kind of manage expectation and how you move forward.

James Lawrence: Move through. What about you Taz?

Taz Bareham: Well, I think the difference from consulting and being able to have had the experience both sides is that as a fractional CMO, it's not just about the marketing. It's about the team dynamics. It's about the external suppliers that they work with. So it's like a holistic view that you're helping with.

Taz Bareham: When I worked agency side, it was, As a service much more and I had less control over the destiny and less visibility of the full problems that were trying to be solved. So I worked in advertising agency. And so when clients would come to the agency, it's usually because they'd already decided that there was some kind of communication.

Taz Bareham: As a solution to a problem that they had, we weren't swimming upstream as like, what is the business problem that you're trying to solve? And what context does it sit in with all the other things that somebody is working across? And so agency side, we get frustrated with clients where, you know, we'd hand stuff over to them and it felt like it was weeks before we got a response on everything.

Taz Bareham: And then when I moved over to client side, I was like, The stuff that they're doing, the agency is such a microcosm of their day job that I can see the relevance, the importance that it plays versus everything else that's going on. You know, if somebody is thinking about becoming a fractional CMO, I feel like it's very valuable, especially if they are agency side is very valuable to have some in house experience as well.

Taz Bareham: So you understand that world and the business world at a greater depth and all the other things that are at play versus What, what the agency gets to see. So not necessarily by design that I managed to go by sides, but I appreciate that I have, because I think that just gives you a whole much broader view.

Taz Bareham: And the benefit of having been agency side as well is as a fractional CMO, or when I was a CMO as well, you understand what's going on on the agency side when you're briefing them. And who's involved and what they need from a brief in order to try success because there's a lot of underwhelming briefing going from client side to agency and then sort of fingers being pointed back at the agency for not having worked out what's going on.

Taz Bareham: But given the agency can't see everything, they haven't got the context. So, you know, I'm very grateful to have worked both sides. And I definitely recommend if anybody's thinking about fractional CMOs apart to get experience on both sides of the coin as well, so that they can bring that to any kind of, um, opportunities they have in front of them.

James Lawrence: It feels that it'd be almost impossible to do it without having worked in house at some point in your career. Okay, I think, and I say to marketers in, in, at Rocket all the time, if you, particularly ones that haven't worked in house, it's easy for us to get caught up in, you know, we're digital and we need these, we're bombarding clients with spreadsheets and we need these meetings.

James Lawrence: And it's like, it depends a lot on the role, sorry, in the environment that that market is working within, but it can be, days just chock a block full of internal meetings and you're dealing with sales teams and you're dealing with product and you're dealing with all kinds of stakeholders within your organization and what might be important to us is we're, you know, we're one of three or four agencies and they've got, you know, all kinds of things happening and it's about, you know, and it's, I think it's one thing to kind of try to understand that and be empathetic, but it's pretty hard until you've actually lived it, right?

James Lawrence: To really go, okay, I get it. In house, it's

Taz Bareham: a pretty challenging place to be a lot

James Lawrence: of the time as our agencies, right? I think it kind It goes both ways, right? Hence the benefit of being in both. It

Danielle Stitt: makes you a better partner in a way, don't you think Tess? In terms of when you're having, cause mine was all in house first and then across to agency and now I kind of think of myself more as in house again.

Danielle Stitt: You know what, when you're having those conversations with your PR consultant or your digital agency or whatever else, it's like, I know what's going through the head when I say, you know, this changed and so and so doesn't like this and we need to evolve it that way. Like I know sort of. Commercial reality of what you're asking for.

Danielle Stitt: So hopefully it makes me a better and more respectful partner for our third parties.

Taz Bareham: Yeah, absolutely. And I also think in the role of a fractional CMO, one of the things that I found the role entails is looking at the partners that a company is working with and understanding whether they're the right partners against their business objectives.

Taz Bareham: So having been both sides and understanding a little bit more about how an agency works helps you understand whether they're a good Fit for the business as well. So yeah, it's all round and definitely a beneficial to go by both sides of the coin and get that experience under your belt.

James Lawrence: And what practical advice would you give to someone that maybe is actually, like they've kind of well tenured done great roles.

James Lawrence: I've worked in senior marketing roles, both sides of the fence. What practical advice would you give to them about actually taking the, that step out into this world? Cause it's, to me, it would be quite scary, right? If you're in a, in a senior marketing role, um, and you've got that safety of a check. Well, not a check.

James Lawrence: You get paid every fortnight. I don't think people get checks anymore. Um, but yeah, like what's the, um, yeah, that's right. What practical advice would you give about getting out there and getting those, that first client and the first two clients and yeah, what would it take to, to take the leap?

Taz Bareham: If you're in a role already, then, uh, use that opportunity to start, uh, building out your network, connecting with people, start exploring what fractional work looks like.

Taz Bareham: There's a lot of, um, a lot of content on the internet about different information about being a fractional CMO or a fractional worker more broadly. There's quite a few groups that are cropping up as well. There's one called fractional, fractionals united, which is a global group, which covers far more than just fractional marketing.

Taz Bareham: But there's some, a Slack group with chat, all sorts of different channels and there's chapters all around the world. And you can just get a feel for what it's like and what questions people are asking as well. Start updating your LinkedIn profile with keywords, connecting with Daniela and I, have a chat.

Taz Bareham: We've started to build a bit of a. Uh, a group of CMOs and fractional CMOs that are meeting up in Sydney, um, and just sort of sharing ideas, sometimes job opportunities, resources. So just, yeah, connecting with your network and start laying down the foundations. If that's the route that you want to go and start exploring it before you make a leap of faith into the unknown.

Taz Bareham: And I think

Danielle Stitt: if you are going to make a leap of faith, understand why you're doing it. I mean, that always a thing. Like why? And recognize that you will need to be doing lots of different things, not just the marketing. So it will be networking and business development and pitching and. generating invoices for you.

Danielle Stitt: Yeah. You certainly wear a lot of hats rather than just doing one job. And I don't say just in a, in a diminishing way, because it's a giant job in any marketing position, but you will be doing a lot of other things as well as marketing.

James Lawrence: Different challenges. Hey, it's different, like running your own business has so many, so many pros, right?

James Lawrence: But there it's definitely, there's elements of it, which are challenging and scary and frustrating. And I think it's, Yeah, I think you're right. I think, because that's fundamentally what you're doing, right? You're having to change, change your dynamics. So is that something you actually want? And there's nothing wrong with, I think, either, either approach, right?

James Lawrence: It does feel like I was doing a little bit of research before the pardon, searching Google Trends for fractional CMO. And you kind of see like in the US over the last two years. It's really spiking, right? And I don't know if that's connected to COVID and the world becoming just a little bit more kind of flexible in some ways, or whether it is just that greater trend towards, you know, as we've seen, there's the fractional CFO has been, uh, been around for a long time and, um, like legal counsel for sure.

James Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah.

Danielle Stitt: We

James Lawrence: work with a client who does exactly that in the legal space. So it doesn't feel like it's, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this rather than less, right? So,

Danielle Stitt: In some ways, it's surprising that it hasn't been more like it feels when you put in that context. It's like, well, why hasn't marketing been a fractional position or thought of in that way, given.

Danielle Stitt: The acceptance in finance or HR or legal time because it can work really well and it's so effective to have somebody who's got the experience, I guess, and the oversight and being able to sit in a position where they can connect activity with strategy. Makes commercial sense for any business really.

James Lawrence: Yeah. And like coming back to what you said at the very beginning, like there are, we walk into so many businesses that they are throwing spaghetti against the wall, right? I like it. It's just this. tactics, no real planning, no real understanding of how long it takes to actually build out a proper marketing plan and the balance of brand and first demand gen.

James Lawrence: And it's not nothing to do with the capability of the people in the team, but it generally will be, you know, that kind of marketing manager who. Probably doesn't have that experience and just kind of paving their way through. And then, you know, mixed depending could be some in house resources or other agencies, but I think having someone coming in and going, no, like this is not, you know, we're not moving in the right direction just makes a lot of sense, but it's a big salary to carry to have full time CMO, right?

James Lawrence: And then I think you need to have a lot of infrastructure around it. Otherwise, the CMO is not going to be particularly interested in coming in and being the only person in your marketing team. And they're suddenly doing things you guys wouldn't want to be doing, right? So, there probably are lots of businesses where the match is there.

Taz Bareham: I think it works best when there are some internal resources, because in hiring a fractional CMO, you're right. It's not about what we'd like to do, but it's also about where we can add the most value and doing more of the executional work is not where we're going to add the most value, because there are a lot of, Brilliant marketers that are experts in specific parts of marketing.

Taz Bareham: And when you're working with them, the role of a CMO, nevermind a fractional CMO, is looking at the team holistically and the business objectives and working out the sort of combination and pointing people in the right direction. And so it's not diminishing the importance of value of the individual contributors in the team.

Taz Bareham: It's really As you get more exposure to all facets of marketing and different businesses and different ways of working. That's when you can start to build out that strategic muscle and that oversight across the different facets. So, yeah, I think that's where we add value. And if you're working with, um, companies where they, they have no executional resources whatsoever, then the role is often to help them find and identify and build those resources and to coach them and bring them together and align them on their strategic thinking as well.

Taz Bareham: Versus, you know, you wouldn't engage us to be sitting there and helping, you know, write your email copy and set up your marketing automation platforms and things like that, because there are people better equipped to do that. And that's not the expertise that we're bringing to the table.

James Lawrence: And good, and good luck building out a marketing competency.

James Lawrence: If you've never, done it before, you know, and you literally never worked in marketing before and you've kind of built out that marketing team, you know what I mean? It's just not, and how, you know, what should be in house, what should be done by an agency, how do we measure it, where we, which, you know, what direction are we going with this?

James Lawrence: The idea of bringing someone in that's, you know, got 20 years experience, what works, what doesn't work, knows the lay of the land, knows what salaries probably should look like, knows how to engage an agency, like it just makes, makes a lot of sense. Thanks to each of you for coming onto the pod today. We fin I, I finish every episode It's a question, which is what is the best piece of career advice that you'd give to a marketer?

James Lawrence: I'm not sure who wants to go first

Taz Bareham: Danielle can go first, give me some

James Lawrence: tips Taz has just bought herself a minute

Danielle Stitt: Yeah, you know, it's easy actually, like just be a continual learner. I am, marketing moves so fast, right? Like, and it is such, it's just getting to be a bigger job. You have to be good at so many things now or at least second best You Uh, at everything.

Danielle Stitt: So you might be working very deeply in social, but you kind of need to have a sense of all the other levers that you can draw on. So I'm a big fan of just podcast, listening to podcasts and reading, you know, following smart people essentially, and reading their materials and staying up to date and.

Danielle Stitt: Tempering that with, you don't need to be jumping on every kind of marketing sprite, shiny toy. You know, remember when TikTok, like we all had to be on TikTok. We're not necessarily. And that's where you sort of need to have your strategic, but you need to be aware of it because probably somebody at the C suite will be like, shouldn't we be on TikTok?

Danielle Stitt: Cause you have to have a new TikTok strategy. Yeah. What is TikTok? And then, yeah. Why are we should, yes, we should be on it. Why we shouldn't be, but you have to stay current. You have to be. Just sort of one step ahead of it all.

James Lawrence: That's a great one. Taz. Yeah,

Taz Bareham: stay curious. Somebody I used to work with actually, so one of my managers, I think is just believe in yourself.

Cause I think there's a lot of marketers because the world is constantly moving so quickly and because they do get, even senior marketers have a hard time with other people across the business cause marketing is never doing enough and never delivering enough and there's always more to be done and there's a gap and there's this sense of perpetual need to, to To learn more, do more, be all the things, and it's getting more and more diverse in terms of what you're trying to cover.

But I would say, believe in yourself and have faith in what you're doing because there's always value to be added. Everybody's got a different experience and you don't have to be the best at everything, but you're always going to be better than everybody else. Somebody out there. So just believe in yourself and have a go and, um, you know, just test and learn and constantly kind of move yourself forward.

Danielle Stitt: Which is we're having a network of peers. Don't you think Taz? Which is why Taz and I are talking to each other. And I've got this sort of group going just to have the peers to say, look, am I, am I the crazy one here? This is what my managing director said, blah, blah, blah. And to have that sounding board that you can then sort of, you know, put your shoulders back and live on to fight another day.

James Lawrence: it's really, yeah, really good. Both, both excellent, excellent answers. Um, and it's so true, isn't it? I think there's, um, owning your own business is very isolating and very difficult and being able to actually come together. Shoulder to cry on or someone to get ideas from or like, no, I haven't seen it that way or yeah, we're experiencing the same thing can, can be so powerful.

And I think Taz, it's just so true. Like every, I'd say every client we deal with, you know, you've got everyone in that business apart from the marketing team all think they're experts at marketing and they've all got ideas and you speak to anyone rationally and it's like, we need a strategy. And the strategy is do we need to get to here and this is the way to do it.

And then, you know, within two weeks it's going to be why aren't we on TikTok and I've got this great idea for a campaign and why aren't we ticking this tactical box and it's um, it is hard when you, we operate in a space which there's no perfect, we can never ever attribute everything we're doing to a number and it's not working in finance where those things are absolute and real and you know, it's pass fail type stuff.

So I think it is, I think, yeah, unless you have, Confidence and conviction and also have the experience and the data to back things up. It can be very challenging as a marketer, I think, regardless of your level of seniority. So anyway, great, great chat. Thanks a lot for coming onto the pod. And yeah, and where can we find each of you?

If anyone wants to reach out to have a chat,

Danielle Stitt: I think LinkedIn, um, findable on LinkedIn, Danielle state. Uh, I think I've got my vanity URL, so it should be pretty obvious.

James Lawrence: Yep.

Taz Bareham: Same also on LinkedIn for any marketers that just want to have a chat about fractional marketing or marketing more generally. Um, both of us are on LinkedIn and both of us are quite active on LinkedIn as a sort of a front door to.

Connect with clients, but also with other marketers as well. And I think as we've moved into this fractional marketing space, more and more marketers are connecting with us around the world, not just in Australia, which is awesome because then, you know, you've got new avenues to learn and to, to, you know, share the war.

Runes with this and build up that sort of peer network as well.

James Lawrence: Awesome. Thank you very much, Taz and Danielle for coming onto the pod.

Taz Bareham: Thank you so much, James.

Danielle Stitt: Thanks, James.

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