TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

Tips on becoming a fractional CMO with Skip Fidura 

  • Every day I look at what value have I added, and both immediate value and potential long-term value.
  • As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.
  • One of the things that I discovered really early on is you very quickly start talking in the first person, the first-person plural if you're a real pedant. It's all about us and us. It's not about you.
  • I know working remotely is all trendy and lots of people love it, and I'm one of those people who love it. I love that kind of flexibility. But there's nothing to replace actual face-to-face time.
  • I think we will start to see more fractional people and for a wide variety of reasons. One, the nature of business is changing and there are a lot more small companies. And the other thing is it's great. From my perspective, it's great. The flexibility is fantastic.

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: Well, welcome back, listeners, to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today in the studio, I've got joining me Skip Fidura. Now I met Skip through the Only Influencers email marketing group. Skip is a speaker, he is an author, and he's a board-level marketer and he works with both the B2C and B2B in a variety of industries. He has a deep technical background.

Doug Morneau: Skip recently was working with a company called Dotmailer. He was there for about nine years, and now he's working as a fractional CMO. So he offers companies the ability to get a piece of his deep knowledge and experience in digital marketing, email marketing, SEO, social marketing, as well as integrated marketing. So I'd like to welcome Skip to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today.

Doug Morneau: Well, hey, Skip. Welcome to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. How are you?

Skip Fidura: I'm great, Doug. Thanks for having me.

Doug Morneau: Super excited to have you on the podcast today and show off your superpower so you can … by the end of the podcast, all our listeners will have all their sales and marketing problems solved. That's amazing.

Skip Fidura: Okay. You've just set the bar really high.

Doug Morneau: Well, I asked you what your superpower was, and you said before we started recording that you were going to actually fly. That was your superpower. And I didn't think that would work well on the podcast being it's not visual. So we thought we'd come up with something a little simpler.

Skip Fidura: I like it. I like it. Yeah. Flying is not good for the radio.

Doug Morneau: No. Although someone did tell me that I look good as a podcast, I have a face for podcasting, not necessarily broadcast. So you work where you're planted.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. I disagree. I think you're a fine-looking man.

Doug Morneau: Well, thanks so much. So let's get into it. We connected through the Only Influencers group, and you are a marketing professional speaker, author, and expert. And one of the conversations that we had was around your role now as a fractional CMO. So do you want to take just a couple of minutes and give people a snapshot of your background and what you're doing?

Skip Fidura: Yeah, I would actually. That's great. So a fractional CMO, fractional is really just part-time rebranded. So as proper CMOs should, the first thing I did was a rebrand. And I work with companies that need a senior marketing leader, but can't afford one full time. The way I describe it is to think of me as the NetJets for CMOs. So just like with NetJets shared ownership helps you mitigate the risk and wasted expense of owning a jet. My fractionality allows me to mitigate the risk and cost to the companies I work for hiring a fractional CMO.

Skip Fidura: But actually, it goes one step further because it helps reduce waste or wasted expense as well. One of the things when you work as a fractional CMO or work part-time, you have to be really laser-focused. And this is going to sound cynical, I probably shouldn't have started quite so cynically, but when you have a meeting, there are these one-, two-, three-day-long sessions, those kinds of planning meetings or let's get all the senior leadership together and kick ideas around or just navel-gaze. When you're working part-time, you're really ruthless in how you evaluate how your time is going to be used. Right?

Doug Morneau: Sure.

Skip Fidura: Am I going to add value to this meeting? Yes. Is this meeting going to impact the marketing function? Yes. If both of these things are yes, you go to the meeting. If either one is not yes and you can be briefed by somebody else who will be at the meeting, you swerve it. So actually, you end up, in terms of for being …

Skip Fidura: I tend to work with smaller companies. They're getting however much of my time they're paying for. It's full production. Sometimes when you hire a full-time person, it's easy to forget that … Since they're there all the time, it's easy to forget that if they're sitting in a meeting or doing something like that, that's not necessarily you're getting the best value for money out of that.

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: Well, I think the other side of that, too, is I've often seen situations, whether it's a not-for-profit or for-profit business, where you bring somebody in full time before you need them full time. And so not to carry on the cynical approach, but what I think is that people will always fill their day. So if you've got somebody there for eight hours, they will find something to do for eight hours. The problem is that when you actually need them now to do eight hours' worth of productive work, they need an assistant because you've trained them to take a four-hour job and make it into an eight-hour job. So it makes a lot of sense, I think, to look at fractional positions in your companies. You're growing and scaling to get the most products that you can.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. And it's an interesting pivot point because, when you're really small, you actually hire people who are a bit more generalist or have skills in a wider variety of categories because you can't afford to hire a bunch of people. So you need one person that can do four or five things.

Doug Morneau: Right. Yeah.

Skip Fidura: As you start to get bigger and you want people that can specialize, yeah, what you said is bang on true. People will fill their day, and once they started to fill their day, either you've trained them to do that or actually you train the rest of the company to rely on that. Right?

Doug Morneau: Right. Yeah.

Skip Fidura: We can always rely on Skip's going to come to this meeting because he always comes to this meeting. Does he add value to the meeting? Everybody believes he does, right? Even probably him. I'm talking about myself in the third person, which is a bit weird. But if you take a step back and you say, “Okay, what value are you adding to the meeting and could that value be delivered some other way?” that's when you start to see, oh yeah, actually this is not probably the most efficient way for me to spend my day.

Doug Morneau: Well, and it's interesting because as you start to scale a business, I remember when I scaled my business, and one of the first people that we hired in a fractional position was the CFO. And what I learned very quickly was that, although we had a bookkeeper and we had an accountant and a financial controller inside the company, when you hire somebody like you're talking about, like yourself, who is at the top of their game, even though it wasn't a full-time position, the impact and the speed at which we could execute and cover the things that you need as you're growing …

Doug Morneau: As you're growing and scaling your business, one of the things you need is, at least in my business as an agency and a media buyer is we needed access to a lot of cash because you can only pay down your credit card. It takes every two days before it gets the payment to show up. But when you're spending $100,000 or $150,000 a day on Google, that's not acceptable. And so he very quickly came in and just addressed that, and nobody on the team, I don't think, could have made that happen.

Skip Fidura: It's funny you mentioned fractional CFO because that is probably where fractionality, at least from a business standpoint, really started. And you see that a lot. A lot of companies don't need a full-time CFO, and CFOs also don't have to be onsite and present to get a lot of work done. They spent a lot of time in spreadsheets, which can be done anywhere.

Skip Fidura: And you're right. I look at every day what value have I added, and both immediate value and potential long-term value. And if I go home at the end of the day and I've delivered a lot more value than the cost to that business, I'm pretty happy.

Doug Morneau: So what's the pivot point then? So when you come into a company and you … We'll go deeper into what you're doing, but when they actually will move into maybe a full-time CFO role or CMO role, would you actually help them with that transition and get that position set up?

Skip Fidura: I would, and I'm not necessarily going to say I wouldn't take it if the opportunity was right. How this came about for me was, as many of your listeners are going to know, I spent almost 10 years working for, well, it was dotmailer then, but it's the dotdigital group now. And when I wound up there, I really quickly started looking for my next gig and talking to a lot of people and was having some really great conversations, and we got really far down the talking about roles and responsibilities and compensation packages. And I went away for the weekend with my wife and had this epiphany that I had just come out of this long-term relationship. That's what I felt like. I felt like I had just broken up with a long-term girlfriend having been at dotdigital for nine years, helping grow it from a 12 million market cap to I think it was like a 250 million market cap when I left.

Skip Fidura: And so I freaked out a little bit and I called everybody on the Monday and I said, “Look, I want to slow down in these conversations. It's not you, it's me. And it really is me,” and explained the situation. And the feedback I got from some of the people I had been talking with was, “Oh, thank you,” because they had been looking at, yeah, we need somebody, we need somebody like this, but they were looking at the finances and they're like, “This is going to be a stretch.”

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: Right.

Skip Fidura: “This is going to put us in a bit of a bind.” And the fact that I was willing to say, “No, no. It's okay. Let's not do five days a week. Let's do two days a week scale back the compensation accordingly,” everybody had a sigh of relief and it turned out to be one of those sorts of … I thought I was going to shoot myself in the foot, and actually it turned out great.

Doug Morneau: Well, before we started recording, you said that you redefined the role and expanded on that. So for the benefit of our listeners, you want to walk us through what you would typically do as a fractional CMO? So for businesses that are looking at scaling and they don't have a CMO now, they probably have a marketing person or it might even be the owner doing the marketing, what does that engagement look like?

Skip Fidura: Okay. Yeah, I can do that. But if I can, I'm going to take a step back for a second, because one of the things that it's taken me a while to define and get clear in my mind and then be able to explain to people is what a fractional CMO isn't.

Doug Morneau: Okay. That's a good place to start.

Skip Fidura: So I'm not a consultant, I'm not a freelancer, I'm not a contractor, not that there's anything wrong with any of those three kinds of roles. But consultants, they tend to come in on a specific project, they deliver on the project, and then they go, right? And I've done that on and off for the last 25 years, and I wanted to see … One of the challenges with that for me personally was you do the project, you give the advice, and because the client maybe doesn't want to pay for the followup, you don't get a chance to see if it worked in any kind of depth. And if it's not working, you don't get a chance to adjust it and massage it and optimize it and all those kinds of things. I really wanted to see if I was full of crap, so I didn't want to be a consultant. I wanted to stick around for the results and see what's happening.

Skip Fidura: Freelancers, they come in and they do some heavy lifting or they're very craft-based, right? You get a freelance copywriter or freelance designer. And those roles are really useful and everybody needs them. I'm hiring a couple at the moment. But they tend to be very transient because they come in and they work on that white paper or they come and they work on that design project or whatever the heavy lifting is, maybe it's some data analysis, and then they leave. And I used to work in the agency world as you did. Every Thursday, we figured out how many freelancers we needed to start on Monday and we'd start making calls. Now, a lot of our freelancers, because they were very good, they would get called week after week after week after week, but it wasn't guaranteed.

Skip Fidura: And you see that in other areas, right? An Uber driver is effectively a freelancer. Their brief is, “Get me home.”

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Skip Fidura: And I'm not really fussed which Uber driver it is, just as long as it's an Uber driver and he's got enough stars that my version of the app gets him to pick me up.

Skip Fidura: And then the third thing is the contractors, right? Now, I haven't lived in the US for almost 20 years, so I'm not super familiar with the contracting space there. But over here, they come in for a specific contract. And it's usually longer than a freelancer because you need consistency, but it's for a predefined period of time. So in the UK, it's really common. You get a contractor in for, say, a maternity replacement. So somebody is going to go off on maternity leave, they can be gone for up to 12 months. You want somebody that can hold down the fort for 12 months, not really expected to grow it, not really expected to make it better, just mostly expected to keep it from breaking.

Skip Fidura: So I didn't want to be any of those, any of those things. So the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I've started making a bit of a point about making sure I go through the staff induction. And just to give you a silly example of how integrated I am, one of the companies I work for does this thing where the CEO takes everybody who's birthday it is that month to breakfast. My birthday's in December, so I got to go to the December birthday breakfast. And the company buys a couple of gifts for each person whose birthday it is, and I got some birthday gifts. So I'm properly part of that team.

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: That's cool. It's interesting the way that you described those because I never looked at the terms of engagement for each of those roles in this way before.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. And all those roles are really important. So I'm not saying that if you're doing one of those roles or you classify yourself in one of those roles that you need to change and you need to become a fractional whatever you do. Just for me, those three labels just didn't really fit with what I wanted to do with my life.

Doug Morneau: So is there an example that you can share with us where you've come in? Because obviously, as companies, as you said, are growing and scaling, they need somebody with your expertise to take them to the next level. So I'm assuming that it's going to have a pretty major impact when they go from without that expertise to now they've got somebody who can deliver that expertise.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Well, that's the hope. The hope is there's a lot of impacts anyway. So the companies that I've been working for tend to be startup going to scale up. They're on that pivot point. And they need a marketing professional to come in and do one of two things or maybe even both. They want to go down an investment route, so they need somebody to come in, help refine the proposition and package it up for an investment perspective kind of thing. Or they're going into a growth mode and, sure, they've been selling, they've been generating revenue, they may even have been generating profit, but what they've been doing is not scalable and they need to totally redefine their marketing approach in order to get enough lead gen to scale.

Skip Fidura: So just as an example, I'm working for two companies at the moment. One is called the Overmore Group. It's a 10-year-old MarTech company. Never really done any marketing. In fact, when I first started, I'm chatting with the CEO. I commented that I was really struggling to figure out what they did from their website, and his comment back to me as, “Well, that's intentional. We don't want anybody to know what we're doing.”

Doug Morneau: That's [crosstalk 00:15:36].

Skip Fidura: I'm like, “Okay, that's going to make it really hard to market.”

Doug Morneau: Market. Yeah.

Skip Fidura: “But we'll get across that.” But I can't fault the man. He had one tiny round of angel investment. So it's a 10-year-old business, totally bootstrapped, and he's grown the revenue up to eight digits, so tens of millions. So he's doing something right, but again, wants to grow. And what we're looking at is currently I would describe it as a technology-enabled service, and what we're trying to do is pivot that to technology with a service. So we're doing a lot more of the percentage of revenues from the tech side, not the service side.

Skip Fidura: So it was very much about, or it is very much about, taking this media buying and publishing company that's underpinned by this really cool data logistics technology and flipping that so that the technology is paramount. And we're selling the technology directly, again, to manage the data logistics for people who are doing their own lead generation. And the technology validates, verifies, and vindicates the data. So it makes sure that the data going into your CRM or your sales management tool or whatever it is accurate, it's usable, you can market to it straight away, and it meets the brief of what your customer profile is, that kind of thing.

Doug Morneau: That's cool.

Skip Fidura: And the other company I'm working with is an automated testing platform in the sales force and SAS environments. And their whole thing is people are building applications in those environments and frequently either the business owner is having to do the testing or the developer is having to do the testing. So we offer a technology that comes in, automates that testing, lets you replicate the testing over and over and over again, and also … It saves loads of time, especially with your dev team, and it shortens release cycles.

Skip Fidura: They're fine on the investment side. They're looking for high triple-digit growth over the next three years. And what they've been doing in marketing has, again, worked really well, but isn't going to generate that kind of growth. They primarily lead gen through events, and now they need to cast a much wider net and start using a much wider array of channels and tactics in order to build that pipeline.

Doug Morneau: Wow. Yeah. I can definitely take a look at the Overmore Group. That's a space obviously that we work in, and clean data is always … Well, we don't need to see anymore more. Bad data's bad data. So-

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Bad data is … What's interesting is most people, not to rabbit hole on that too much, but most people just don't realize how expensive it is. And too often, marketers think, “Well, I'm delivering leads.” And sales believe that marketing doesn't know what a lead is. And that friction comes from marketing delivers a lead, but it's a lead that sales can't do anything with. And instead of sales explaining, “We can't do anything with that,” they just start to get frustrated. And before long, well, it's kind of like Christmas dinner really.

Doug Morneau: And how's that?

Skip Fidura: I don't know. That might be a UK joke. There's just this belief, especially in the current political environment here in the UK, that you get the whole family around for Christmas dinner and somebody will mention Brexit or the election, and the next thing you know you've got a shouting match. So …

Doug Morneau: Yep. T.

Skip Fidura: Yeah, that's what I meant by Christmas dinner.

Doug Morneau: Okay. There we go. I got it. Yeah. We've worked on projects and the data that comes in. When we start trying to validate in real-time, they're going, “Why would you do that?” And saying, “Like 30% of the people that are completing your lead form are putting in a bad phone number.” So to your point, how useful is that to your sales team when they call and it's a disconnect or it's a wrong number?

Skip Fidura: Right. And sometimes that wrong number's put in on purpose, so it's a fraudulent number.

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Skip Fidura: Well, fraudulent maybe is a little extreme. But more often than not, people are filling out your form on a phone and you get fat finger syndrome.

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Skip Fidura: And they just reverse you two digits and [crosstalk 00:19:59].

Doug Morneau: Nope. Yep. Done that. Yeah. Done that with my email as well. I phone a company and say, “Hey, I never got that whatever you promised,” and they said, “Well, how did you register?” I give them the information. They search them and I made a mistake typing in my own email, so bad on my part.

Skip Fidura: Well, and what's really a little scary considering you live in Canada and, well, for the next month I live in Europe, with GDPR and the Canadian privacy laws, as a company somebody has given you a duff email address, but that doesn't mean the email doesn't work. And suddenly, you've accidentally started spamming somebody because you've got consent from someone who doesn't own that email address. And all of a sudden, you could be in a world of hurt.

Doug Morneau: Yeah, absolutely. So question in terms of team integration. So when you go into a company that's got an existing team, not necessarily a marketing team, what are some of the challenges that you've faced coming into that role as, “Hey, here's Skip. He's going to be our fractional CMO?” Any feedback?

Skip Fidura: Yeah. One of the things that I discovered really early on is you very quickly start talking in the first person, the first-person plural if you're a real pedant. It's all about us and us. It's not about you. Because if you say you, then you've put up a verbal barrier between you and the company, even the person you're talking to. And suddenly, they start to think of you as a contractor or a freelancer or a consultant because that's what those folks do, right? They try to stay one step removed because that's part of their job.

Skip Fidura: So it's really important that you go in and you start saying we and us really quickly. It's little stuff. If they've got any kind of swag, and as a fractional CMO, if they've got swag, you can pretty much get access to the swag covered, get a T-shirt, get a sticker, get a water bottle, whatever it is that they've got knocking about in the cupboard, because suddenly … That's what they give to new employees. As I said, try to go through the new hire induction. Go around in the first couple of days and meet everybody just like you would.

Skip Fidura: And I think the other probably obvious one is the first couple of weeks, first couple of months, whatever, that you're with this company, because you're only there a couple of days a week, face time is so important, just being in the office and just showing your face. And one of the challenges that I have in one of the places where I work is we're cramped, right? We've outgrown our space. And it makes absolutely no sense to give a part-time employee a full-time desk.

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: Right. Yep.

Skip Fidura: It makes no sense at all. And I'm fine with that. But what that means is I sit in a different place every time I go in. So even when I'm in, people don't always know that I'm in. So even if I don't want a cup of coffee, I get up and, after being there half hour, 45 minutes, I get up and I walk all the way through the office, because the kitchen is at the other end, to make myself a cup of coffee so that everybody sees me. “Oh Skip, I want to catch up with you today. Where are you sitting today? Do you have five minutes?” It's that kind of …

Skip Fidura: I know working remotely is all trendy and lots of people love it, and I'm one of those people who love it. I love that kind of flexibility. But there's nothing to replace face time, not FaceTime in Apple FaceTime, but actually face-to-face time.

Doug Morneau: Yeah. No. It's funny how that works. I work remotely as well and do lots of Zoom calls as well. So I'll opt for a Zoom call before a phone call because at least I can see the person I'm talking to. It's one step closer to being face to face for sure.

Skip Fidura: Well, and the other thing is to figure out what they use to communicate. Try to get on Slack straight away. Try to get on, if they're using Skype or WhatsApp or whatever, try to get on that straight away so that you can communicate with everybody and stay in touch with people.

Doug Morneau: Yeah. Like you said, as opposed to trying to put up a barrier and be somewhat removed. So in terms of clients that you're currently working with, what are you most excited about in the next six to 12 months? You're off taking this new direction. There's lots of stuff changing in the marketplace.

Skip Fidura: I think what I'm really most excited about over the next three to six months, first off, as I was saying earlier, I was with dotdigital for nine years, so I spent a lot of time talking about email and multichannel, and it's really cool to be talking about other stuff. It's really cool to be talking about lead gen and display advertising and search and putting those things in. And it doesn't sound sexy and it doesn't sound cool, right? And it's not trendy. But for companies that aren't doing any of that sort of thing, it's sexy, cool, and trendy. So I'm [crosstalk 00:24:56].

Doug Morneau: Especially when it moves the sales dial. That always makes it sexier.

Skip Fidura: Yeah, exactly. At the end of the day, as much as we like to big up marketing … And a former colleague loves to say, “Oh, data is sexy.” And I'm a data geek. Data is sexy. But it's not that sexy, right? Sales. Sales are sexy. Cash. Cash is sexy.

Doug Morneau: That's right. Yeah.

Skip Fidura: So that's what I'm most excited about. What's great is that the two companies I'm working with both have really clearly defined goals about where they want to be over the next one to three years. And I'm really excited about the opportunity to help both of those achieve those goals. And as you alluded to, at some point, we're going to get to a point in the relationship where either I need to join full time or they need somebody full time. And if it's not the right opportunity for me at that moment, I'm totally open to helping them recruit, vetting the people they want to bring in, helping with that transition, and then just quietly sliding away.

Doug Morneau: So when you're looking at your new role in the way that you've defined it, when you're out at a cocktail party and you hear a group talking with regards to your space, what's some of the bad advice that you hear?

Skip Fidura: Oh, wow. The bad advice. Well, luckily, it's calmed down a little bit. But a year ago, year and a half ago, some of the bad GDPR advice that I was hearing was shocking. Really, really quite scary. And what was fascinating about it is, like maybe so many other things in our current lives, it was the people giving the advice were so sure they were right that they just wouldn't listen to anything else. You could pull out guidance from the DMA or the ICO and they'd be like, “Nope, my lawyer told me X, Y, Zed,” and they just wouldn't believe anything else.

Skip Fidura: So I think when it comes to marketing, it's very, very rare that there is a must of anything. Very, very frequently, it's tested it.

Doug Morneau: Yeah.

Skip Fidura: Just test it, because we can. Now, I'm not suggesting and I would never recommend to one of my companies that we test cutting edge consent mechanism or fly too close to the sun with GDPR stuff, because the penalties are just too stiff. But there is you got to balance the commercial reality with the risk. And at the end of the day, especially when it comes to that, if you put the customer first, you can't go too far wrong. So …

Doug Morneau: Yeah, true enough. It was funny watching the Castle come into Canada. I mean I was speaking at an event in Toronto about customer loyalty and loyalty cards and it was mainly to bankers and chip manufacturers and Mondex out of the UK. And the privacy commissioner was there talking about what was coming for law, and 10 years later it showed up.

Doug Morneau: And then I watched in horror the number of people who wanted to go back and re-opt in, double opt-in all their lists, although clearly, the law didn't say you needed to do that. And this basically blew up a year's worth of building data.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. We had the same thing here.

Doug Morneau: Yeah. They were so sure that was the way. And it's like, “Hmm, I wouldn't do that.” Well, but as you said, this is the advice I got. It's like, “Well, this is your database.”

Skip Fidura: And the classic is … I'm not going to name the brand because I think I might get it wrong, but a very large pub chain here in the UK just decided, “You know what? We're just not going to do it,” and they deleted everything. They just deleted their entire list.

Doug Morneau: Wow. That's an interesting approach.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Now they also offer free WiFi. So I don't know if they've started rebuilding the list since then. They were the kind of company that had enough footfall that they could get rid of everything, start from scratch, and probably be up to as big a list, or at least as engaged a list, in a couple of months. Right? So for them, it was low risk.

Doug Morneau: Well, good for them. But in the end, not a strategy I'd recommend.

Skip Fidura: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. So I think the bad advice that I tend to hear is people that are very definite and start using words like a “must”. And then I think the other, the bad advice, and it's not advice maybe, it's the flip side. It's when marketers try to justify to non-marketers.

Skip Fidura: So I do a lot of cycling. And I have this one friend Andy, and Andy and I go cycling. And we leave at seven o'clock on a Saturday morning and we'll out for four or five hours. And he is not a marketer. He's a photographer for a living. So he's my every person consumer. And we got to talking about GDPR and we talk about digital advertising and search and all that kind of stuff. And grounds me because he's that person, again, that average consumer that he genuinely believes that if he mentions something and his phone is near him, he will get a Facebook ad with that item.

Doug Morneau: I hear that all the time. It's so funny. It's like, “I was talking about this, and then I went on the internet and I was getting all these ads. They're listening to me.” It's like, “Oh okay.”

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Yeah. And no. So we were at a party, and it wasn't Andy involved, it was somebody else, but a couple of marketers, a couple of us marketers, and it was one of those kinds of … It was a party, but it wasn't a group of friends. It was for a school Christmas parents thing.

Doug Morneau: Yeah.

Skip Fidura: And somebody said that, and this marketer just launched in with why that wasn't true and all this stuff. And I'm just sitting there thinking, “I'm not going to get involved because you're just digging such a deep hole.”

Doug Morneau: Yeah.

Skip Fidura: And by the end of the conversation, the consumer, the non-marketer was like, “Okay. So let me get this straight. My phone is not listening to me, but Google is actually in my head.” And the marketer was like, “Yes.” I'm like, “Well, you've just killed the internet for that person.”

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: That's funny. Funny, not funny. Oh, man.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely funny, not funny.

Doug Morneau: Yeah. So looking forward, what do you see coming down the pipe in terms of your work as a fractional CMO? I hadn't seen that role before. I understand now that you've explained the differences and how that makes sense. Do you think we're going to see more of a trend to having fractional high-performing people come into companies?

Skip Fidura: I think so. I think we are. It's funny, I had to be in the States back in October, so I did a couple of days' swing through New York just to reconnect with some folks and met up with a guy who's doing fractional … He's a fractional CRO basically, or head of sales.

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Skip Fidura: And in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't actually come up with the term fractional CMO. I have liberated it from Ryan Phelan with his permission.

Doug Morneau: Is he collecting a royalty on that or?

Skip Fidura: I hope not. I know you've had him on before. So if he's a regular listener, I can imagine that I'm going to get pinged, “Oh, hey, where's my check?”

Doug Morneau: Well, I guess we're going to find out whether he's a regular listener, aren't we?

Skip Fidura: We will. We will. Little Easter egg there. So yeah, I think we will start to see more fractional people and for a wide variety of reasons. One, the nature of business is changing and there are a lot more small companies. And if you look at any of the Western economies, or at least the US and the UK, the vast majority of GDP growth and the vast majority of job growth and wealth creation is all done through small business. So there's definitely going to be a need.

Skip Fidura: And the other thing is it's great. From my perspective, it's great. The flexibility is fantastic. As I said, I'm a cyclist. On a Friday morning, if the weather is beautiful, I'll just go out for a ride, [inaudible 00:33:22] a meeting. But if it's supposed to be just a desk day, work at home day, I'll go out for a ride. Now, I know I've got to make these four hours up some other time. I got to make them up over the weekend. I got to make them up on Saturday or evenings or whatever. But that flexibility is really great.

Skip Fidura: And the other thing that all of my friends and family have said to me over the last six months since I've gotten this figured out is that I seem to have achieved a much more relaxed work-life balance because again, I've got that flexibility and I'm probably not filling … doing what we talked about at the very start of the show, of filling in time, which means that I end up having more work to do than I can squeeze into eight hours. And then you start to feel the pressure, and then you've got to go to your kid's thing at school and you're like, “I can't take a morning off.” And all those things build on each other, and eventually, it all comes to this horrible pressure point.

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: It's funny because I've had a number of people that have interviewed me, asked about how do I deal with the work-life balance and the stress of work. And I said, “You're probably not going to like my answer.” I said, “But I train at the gym, the CrossFit box, a couple of times a week. I go to an Olympic weight lifting class once a week. And then,” I said, “if the weather is nice and I feel stuck and I know my performance is slowing or my mind's wandering, I just put on my hiking boots and I just go for a hike for a couple of hours. It just clears my head. I come back, I feel better, I'm more productive.”

Doug Morneau: And as you said, you've got the flexibility to work the evening or the weekend if you have to. And now that we've got grandkids, it's when the grandkids come over. It's the middle of the day. It's like, “Am I on a deadline? No. Okay, fine. They're here. I don't know how long they're going to always come over and visit, so let's go just shut off the computer and go hang out with the kids.”

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Interestingly, I've started working on a keynote that's not really marketing related, just as a thought exercise probably more than anything. But I'm getting some traction with it and it's around … The title is “Work-Life Balance is Unachievable. Stop Trying for It.” And what I talk about, and I totally appreciate that is not available to everybody, but it is I think important that you start to have these kinds of conversations with your employer if you're a full-time employee, is you don't need me in most roles, you don't need me between nine and five. You need me because I'm generating an output, especially in our industry.

Doug Morneau: Yeah.

Skip Fidura: Sure, there are people in account management or customer success that have to be there to answer the phones, and I get that. But the same person doesn't have to answer the phone for that client every time, right? It could be as long as the client gets the question answered, they don't really care who answers the phone.

Skip Fidura: And so the way I like to think about it is, if I'm going out for a cycle on a Friday morning, I'm not skiving off, which is a very English phrase. I'm not being lazy. I'm not shirking work, because I know I've got to make that time up. And by the same token, if I'm checking emails at 10 o'clock at night or I'm working on a client project at 10 o'clock at night, I shouldn't feel that I've failed in any kind of way. What I've done is I've repositioned the work to a time that suits me, and actually I am much higher energy late in the day than I am in the morning. So if I'm working on something that requires concentration and a lot of thought, I'm going to do a much better job, much more quickly if I started at like eight o'clock at night, well, maybe not eight, but like six o'clock at night than I am if you've got me chained to a desk at nine in the morning.

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Doug Morneau: Sure. And like you said, part of that's understanding when you're most productive. So I tell people I try to work at my peak productivity time, so it's just taken a while to figure out what are those times. And that's where I can be most focused and get the work done.

Doug Morneau: A friend of mine, since we're giving credit to people for terms, Thomas Schwab came up with a definition. He says work-life integration. So the balance thing's not going to happen, but it's how do you integrate what you're doing for work with the rest of your life.

Skip Fidura: That's funny. That's the term I use as well. So I'll have to check the show notes to make sure that I give the right credentials as well.

Doug Morneau: So just a couple more questions and I'll let you get back to what you're doing for your day. And that is what does the engagement look like? So for our listeners that are going, “Hey, I'm at a stage where I really could use somebody who wants to be part of the team longer-term, not a five-minute answer and then leave, someone who wants to stick around and see the results through,” what does that engagement look like when they get started?

Skip Fidura: So what I like to do is, again, you've got to be flexible. The key to being a fractional CMO and hiring a fractional CMO or fractional anything, I think, is flexibility and communication. If I say I'm going to be with you all day on Tuesday, my intention is that I'm going to be with you all day on Tuesday. But sometimes, you just can't move that half-hour phone call or that hour phone call or that meeting for another one of your companies. So I'm open, honest, transparent. I've got to do this sort of thing. I'll be as unobtrusive as possible and I'll go find a quiet place in the office or I'll go down to Starbucks or whatever. You're not paying for that time. Somebody else is paying for that time. So don't worry about that. And then so it's all about that kind of flexibility, they need to be flexible, I need to be flexible, and then communication.

Skip Fidura: And I think the other key point before we get into actually what the nuts and bolts of the engagement look like, is that as a fractional anything, yeah, okay, I'm not with company A on Tuesday, but that doesn't mean I'm not checking my emails for company A. Because just like every other senior executive at the company, they're not in the office every day and they won't respond to emails immediately when they come in, but they get back to those emails on a daily basis. So it's really important that you stay on top of the email, that stays on top of Slack. And even if you say, “Hey, I'll get back to you tomorrow.”

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Skip Fidura: Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, that's good enough. Right? Because I'm going to be in the office tomorrow. If it's an emergency, they'll say, “No. Sorry. It's an emergency,” and you deal with it and you crack on.

Skip Fidura: So in terms of what the engagement looks like, again, it is down to a lot of being flexible, so figuring out first and foremost where is the company right now? Do they have the fundamentals in place? Do they have the building blocks in place that you can build off of? So what have they been doing? Getting a clear understanding of how they've been doing their marketing, if they've been doing any marketing at all, understanding what their goals and objectives are for the next year, for the next three-year, five-year window, whatever that is. And so understanding what kind of growth you need to be facilitating.

Skip Fidura: And then do they have some of the other bits and pieces in place? Do they understand what an ideal customer looks like? So we can use that to start to segment and start to target the data we're going after. Do they have personas? So that once we understand who it is in our pipeline and what role they play in the overall procurement process, are we delivering content to them that is written in a way that is appropriate for them, but also really is answering their questions? It's nuts and bolts marketing really.

Skip Fidura: But it's really easy to jump in at the answer and be like, “Oh, what do you need to do is … Right. Let's write some content and let's do a content syndication program, and maybe we'll back up some of that content with a couple of video pieces so we can hit people on LinkedIn and we can hit people on multiple channels. And that'll be great.” But without those building blocks in place, you'll do better. You'll do okay. But it's not going to be optimal. You're not going to smash it.

Skip Fidura: And then once we figured out what that is, it's built the strategy, but the plan together, get the board or the CEO or whoever it is to sign off on the budget and start to execute.

Doug Morneau: That makes sense. And I'm thinking, listeners, that this is obviously a two-way street. You're really interviewing somebody, but instead of as a full-time employee, you're interviewing them as part of your team for a fractional level. So you're going to probably go through the same steps that you would if you're going to bring somebody on as a full-time CMO.

Skip Fidura: Absolutely. And actually, it's unlikely you would interview somebody who had a full-time mindset that would take a fractional role unless you've got a brand that is so obviously going to become a unicorn and you're throwing shares at them. But having a fractional mindset is quite important because it is somebody who has to be quite focused and quite, “We need to do this, this, and this, and we're going to do it in these steps.”

Skip Fidura: And I try to be very clear with companies that I'm talking to who are thinking about going down this route and telling them what the expectations are. Here's' what you can expect from me. Here's what I'm going to deliver. But I'm only here two days a week. And so in those two days a week, this is what we're going to have to … I'm going to have to have access to these people so that we can deliver on what we need to deliver on. And on the days that I'm not here, the team has to be self-motivated enough that they can crack on with things.

Skip Fidura: But also, the organization has to … Too often, senior-level people in organizations are deflectors. So I've seen companies where a large part of the CMO's role or the C whatever's role or the director role or whatever, VP role, whatever the job title is, it doesn't matter, that senior-level person is …

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Skip Fidura: They filter requests from other parts of the organization so the team doesn't get distracted. So one of the things that I'm really clear about, especially with the senior-level people, the CEO in particular, because a lot of companies I get to work with, the CEO is the founder, probably the majority shareholder, if not the sole shareholder, and rightly used to kind of getting their own way. And I'm the one that has to say, “Okay. Now, on days I'm not here, I've told the team if you come directly to them, they're supposed to ping me.”

Doug Morneau: That's funny.

Skip Fidura: “And we're all going to have a much better life if you just go through me first.” Right? Because [crosstalk 00:43:53].

Doug Morneau: Maybe don't blow everything up.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Because it could be something like, “Oh, I've asked the designer to do this quick little chart.” Yeah, but they're a designer and that they're going to spend a lot of time on that quick little chart, which means they're not going to be designing these five other things that we have to get done. So it's all about focused priorities and reminding people. And as a junior-level person, you shouldn't be expected to front up to the CEO and be like, “Well, sorry. I know you're the boss and pay me and own the company, but actually I'm going to do this other thing because I think it's more important.” That's [crosstalk 00:44:26].

Doug Morneau: Skip said to ignore your request because I have more important things to do.

Skip Fidura: Yeah, that's a great way to getting fired.

Doug Morneau: Absolutely. Oh, that's funny.

Skip Fidura: Even if you're right, that's a great way to get fired.

Doug Morneau: Yeah, for sure. So a couple of questions, I'll let you go serve your clients. The question, who's one guest that I absolutely have to have on my podcast?

Skip Fidura: Okay. So I'm going [crosstalk 00:44:48].

Doug Morneau: … you wrote a list. So if you want to, why don't you [crosstalk 00:44:51]?

Skip Fidura: I have overachieved a little bit. So one of the people that we were talking about before we started recording who is doing some really interesting stuff in AI is Perry Mumm from Phrasee. You'll love him. He's Canadian. I think he's from Vancouver, but he's living over here now, and Phrasee's just doing some really interesting stuff with using AI to write subject lines, write Facebook ads, that kind of thing.

Doug Morneau: Cool.

Skip Fidura: The other two people, the first guy is a gentleman by the name of Riaz Kanani who is the CEO and founder of a company called Radiate. And what they're doing is some non-cookie based ad serving for B2B companies. And so it's not cookie-based, so whatever happens in GDPR with cookies, and it's going to be messy, you don't have to worry about that with these guys.

Skip Fidura: But because they're using IP filtering for what they're serving up there, they're making some crazy, crazy CPM bids. So you get right to the top of the list.

Doug Morneau: Yeah.

Skip Fidura: But because you're getting so little traffic because you're defining which IPs you want to see your ad, your costs as a B2B advertiser is minimal. So if you're doing any kind of ABM approach, this is a great, great addition to that.

Skip Fidura: And then the last person on my list is another fellow podcaster, a guy called Jeremy Waite who hosts the Ten Words podcast, but he's also an AI type person. He works for IBM. He's a customs officer at IBM IX and he's also a Climate Reality Leader, so with the Climate Reality Project, Al Gore's climate change initiative. And he's working with clients in the utility sector with using AI and the internet of things and blockchain to deliver not only climate change but also better customer experiences.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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TIPS ON BECOMING A FRACTIONAL CMO

As the fractional CMO, I'm a member of the team. I've got a company ID, I've got my key fob, I've got an email address. I make sure I go through the staff induction.

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Skip Fidura: So all three of those guys are all very interesting.

Doug Morneau: Well, that's amazing. So you are an overachiever. That question stumps most of my guests. So you definitely blew them out of the water. So you'll, the 2019 award for the best guest recommendation.

Skip Fidura: Oh, awesome. Well, I did cheat a little bit because, actually, I was listening to a previous episode. It was probably the first one I listened to after we connected and booked this. And the person recommended Loren MacDonald and I was like, “Crap. That's who I would have recommended.” So then I panicked and, yeah, I overachieved.

Doug Morneau: Well, I know Loren. I connected with him years ago. There was … I don't know if it was an email. I can't remember what it was called now. Not Email That Pays. It was Email Labs.

Skip Fidura: Yeah, Email Labs.

Doug Morneau: Yeah. So I was a user of Email Labs years and years and years ago. That's when I first met him.

Skip Fidura: Loren and I have been friends for a long time. In fact, a couple of years ago … This is all going to sound very name droppy. But a couple of years ago, his daughter Erin was doing a work placement with Dela Quist Alchemy Worx, and she lived in my spare room.

Doug Morneau: Wow. That's funny.

Skip Fidura: So, yeah. And a story for another time, but actually the question you can ask him when you get him on the podcast, ask him how I changed his wardrobe forever.

Doug Morneau: Okay. I will ask him that. That's good. So the most important question today, how can our listeners track you down, connect with you? What's the best way?

Skip Fidura: Well, I'm on LinkedIn, the only Skip Fidura on LinkedIn. Email is an interesting space because there are actually three Skips in email. I don't usually run into other Skips in my life. And then there's me and two others there in the States. But Skip Fidura at Linked In, or you can go to SkipFidura.live, which is my website. Right now, it's focused on the speaking stuff. But over the Christmas break, I will be adding some information about the fractional CMO stuff to that.

Doug Morneau: Excellent. Yeah, I have had a chance to look through your website and I see your smiling face up there under a dotmailer summit picture on the homepage.

Skip Fidura: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That was probably one of the coolest things that I was able to be part of when I was at dotdigital was the launch of the summit.

Doug Morneau: Well, that's really cool. And I am familiar with Dela's tool. I've been testing his subject line testing tool with the AI as well. It's interesting to see how that world's changing.

Skip Fidura: It's amazing. It's amazing. And what's quite interesting is Dela's got a very different approach to what Perry's doing with Phrasee and just the coming at it from different directions is a bit fascinating.

Doug Morneau: Yeah. The world's sure moving that way. It's funny, looking at all the stuff on Facebook and the AI in Facebook and the ability now for machines to generate a hundred versions of an ad and test it as opposed to a designer testing one or two.

Skip Fidura: Well, and what you're ending up with is, in that space, is really it's a version of portfolio theory, right? So if you do a straight-up AB test, you've got a one in two chance of failing. But if you can do five versions, you've got 20% will be super successful, 20% will fail.

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Skip Fidura: If you do 10 versions … It's just like how you manage your stock portfolio. The more versions you have, the more you diversify the risk.

Doug Morneau: Yep, absolutely. So I want to say thanks so much. I really appreciate your taking the time. I love this conversation, love what you're doing. I think it's brilliant. I'd love to support you however we can. So I just want to say thanks for taking the time and sharing with our audience.

Skip Fidura: Doug, thanks for having me. I've really enjoyed it.

Doug Morneau: So there you go, listeners. There's another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast, and hopefully, this has stretched your mind a bit to look at where your company is and if you're in that place where you need to stretch and grow and don't have resources for a full-time key individual. Here's an opportunity to work part-time with a fractional CMO. So thanks again to Skip for sharing with our audience and listeners. We'll make sure we get these notes transcribed. We'll make sure there's links to Skip's website and his LinkedIn page. So thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to serving you in our next episode.

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