The 90-Day CMO and Cross-Channel Acquisition Strategies That Scale

The 90-Day CMO and Cross-Channel Acquisition Strategies That Scale written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Janstch   In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Ryan Stewart, a prominent fractional marketing officer (CMO) and a seasoned expert in the world of multi-channel marketing strategy. With over a decade of experience in his toolkit, he specializes in helping clients build out […]

The 90-Day CMO and Cross-Channel Acquisition Strategies That Scale written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Janstch


In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Ryan Stewart, a prominent fractional marketing officer (CMO) and a seasoned expert in the world of multi-channel marketing strategy. With over a decade of experience in his toolkit, he specializes in helping clients build out cross-channel acquisition systems using a mix of owned, earned and paid tactics. Over the last 13 years he’s worked with companies like Target, Jeeter and Shopify to implement performance marketing campaigns. 

Ryan has made it his mission to lead businesses towards unprecedented growth through this unique approach, and during our conversation, he generously shared the secrets behind his successful strategies.

Key Takeaway:

In today’s complex marketing landscape, Ryan emphasized the vital role of a fractional CMO in steering your business towards success. He broke down the core elements of his 90-day approach that consistently delivers remarkable results. If you’re ready to revolutionize your marketing strategy and unlock unprecedented growth for your business, this episode is a must-listen. Ryan Stewart’s expertise and insights promise to redefine your approach to marketing in the digital age.

Questions I ask Ryan Stewart:

  • [00:47] How do you define fractional CMO?
  • [03:18] What are the main challenges for those attempting the fractional CMO model?
  • [07:17] What is you cross-channel acquisition strategy?
  • [11:13] Why is video an important part of your content strategy?
  • [14:00] Where does AI fit in the content and strategic realm?
  • [17:30] How deep into financials and metrics do you get before taking a client on?
  • [19:01] What makes your method so different from others?
  • [20:58] Are there any overlooked channels or platforms worth exploring?
  • [22:02] Where can people learn more about your work?

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the DeskTeam360

Desk team 360 is the #1, flat-rate, digital marketing integration team, that helps small businesses and marketing agencies with graphic, web design, and on-page marketing services.

John: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Ryan Stewart. He’s a fractional CMO who specializes in helping clients build out cross channel acquisition systems using a mix of owned, earned and paid tactics. Over the last 13 years, he’s worked with companies like Target, Jeter and Shopify to implement performance marketing campaigns.
So Ryan, welcome to the show.
Ryan: Thanks for having me, John.
John: So let’s explore this term fractional CMO for a bit. We’ve we’ve been doing it and teaching other folks how to do it for about 15 years now. And I think the market’s finally catching up the small midsize business. So, how do you define fractional CMO? Or when somebody says, you know, what do you do, Ryan?
How do you explain what a fractional CMO is to them?
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. So I have three consultancies that I operate. I have one that works specifically with [00:01:00] agencies, one that works only with law firms and then the fractional CMO business. So I actually started with the other two, but expanded to this one because I mean, I personally am a much bigger fan of solving a very specific problem for a very specific type of client.
Productizing that and then scaling it out. But through that process, I also realize that there’s so many other problems that companies face that don’t fall under the traditional scope. So to me, a fractional CMO offer is somebody that comes in and understands the full scope of business, the full life cycle from marketing to sales into onboarding.
I only work with B2B clients as well into service delivery. And then basically. Maps out all the gaps and then puts together the systems, assigns the right people, contractors, basically helps to build the ecosystem. And then I aim to replace myself after 90 days. It’s also an offer that I think has gotten very hot.
Actually, ironically, saw 2 people debating over. The importance of it on my Facebook feed. Not that I spent a ton of time on Facebook feeds anymore, but you know, relevant to this conversation and people [00:02:00] were saying that this feels kind of like a fluff offer. It feels like this is getting very hot right now, but I do think that it has value if you know how to position it and deliver it in understanding.
Also for me to, like I said, the goal is to get myself out of there in 90 days, because otherwise you get stuck in the situation where. To me, it’s not a delivery or an execution based role, right? It’s somebody that comes in fractional, literally means part. So it’s come in very short period, very short sprint, figure it out, get systems installed, get people installed, and then move yourself out.
And then I’ll move myself onto a consulting retainer for like two calls per month. If that’s something that they want to continue entertaining.
John: you know, it’s interesting the debate around that role. And I think I’m seeing some of it from, first off, I think a lot of businesses have realized there is a strategic role, you know, they’ve just been buying tactics and they’re not really getting anywhere. And so I think there’s a wake up in the market for, from that.
But I also think there’s a lot of agencies out there right now that are going, we’re just getting killed selling tactics because it’s getting cheaper and cheaper. So I think that there’s a, [00:03:00] like, how do we. How do we reposition ourselves as not being, you know, deliverers of strictly as deliverers of tactics? What do you see as the, so, so a lot of people are jumping into that, you know, raw. I think a lot of, you know, and you’ve also got people that decided to leave corporate and, you know, this seems like a good gig to do that. Right. What do you see as the challenges to that business model for most people that attempt to do it?
Ryan: I think getting stuck in the execution delivery of it, getting stuck in scope, creep, getting like, like I said before, I’m a big product. I service guy. If I have to do something more than once, then it’s a problem. It doesn’t scale for me. So to me, I walk in with a very specific framework and that happens during the scoping process to like, I don’t break my frameworks for anybody for nobody.
Right? I’ve got a very specific type of client that I work with that qualifies for that. Can comfortably pay that retainer to that. They’re not looking at it. Like, cause it’s, I’ll tell you, it’s 20, 000 a month for 90 days. So 60, 000 over 90 days. So it’s a good size investment, but I’m looking for the type of companies that understand the mindset of how [00:04:00] much that’s actually going to save them over time to go out and find if they’re going to go find a true CMO.
You know, and I work with a lot of CMOs also as well. So it’s kind of like a, could be like a fractional CMO partnership to help them to understand, you know, this company’s already invested in that role. They’ve already got this person. They’d like this person, but. You know, the CEO or the surrounding people around them don’t have the right infrastructure to help that CMO get onboarded, get comfortable and to solve the specific problems that they need.
So I think the biggest thing is scope creep and just trying to do too much or doing things out. And I agree. I think this has become a very hot role because I think. You know, post COVID we live in a world where a lot of talented marketing folks are like, I’m not going to work for this company.
Like for what I can make more working from home by doing the same thing. You just got to kind of take a little bit more of an entrepreneurial mindset in terms of being able to acquire your own clients. But I think it’s becoming more and more important in picking up steam. And when I tell people about it, cause it’s not actually the offer that I promote the most, I promote my other two businesses.
It’s just kind of people fall back into it when they see the full scope of it. And when I present it to them in terms of a cost analysis, [00:05:00] in terms of what you would. Or what they’ve been paying. Cause a lot of people come to us too. And they’re like, look, we’ve just, we’ve been spinning our wheels with this marketing person and we’ve been investing 120, 000 a year in this position.
We don’t feel like they’re getting it out. And part of what I have to do is actually executive education. Cause I’m like, yeah, like. Even though you’re paying that person 120 grand, you can’t expect that person to do everything. You can’t expect the new SEO and content and social and paid. Like you need an infrastructure and ecosystem.
And that’s where I really come in and pitch into your point. Like there’s still a need for delivery agencies because a lot of companies, especially to me in like the paid world, like That should always be something that you outsource, like bringing in a media buyer, unless you are very good with creative and offers in house with which most companies are not, then you should always outsource that.
Right. But knowing how to outsource that, how to partner with the right firm, how to interview those people how to present to them the right information so they can set up the right creative and run the right traffic is really complicated. And it’s not a skillset that most companies possess. So I think there’s a growing need for this.
I just think that if you want to get into this line of business, don’t just [00:06:00] walk in and be like, okay. Like everything is custom here, this is fractional CMO work. Therefore, everything is going to be figured on the fly. Like, no, you still need to walk in with a framework. You know, and I can talk more about the framework that I walk in with if you’d like, but I do that because otherwise I get stuck working in that project or my team gets stuck working too much in that project.
And ultimately it implodes because the scope just gets out of control and they don’t know what’s included, what’s not included. So, you know, part of that is sales, right? Just make sure that you cover that properly during the scoping process, but
John: Well, I think part of what happens. Most people, they don’t have a framework. And so consequently, they’re at the whim of what the company says they want. Right. And so where I see people really struggling is they get out and they think this is great. They get one client, then two clients and three clients.
And then they realize I’ve just sold all my time. And I completely 100 percent agree with you that, you know, having a repeat, I think if you come in with a repeatable framework, typically the client doesn’t bucket that because they want something, they don’t have anything. And if you just tell them what do you need, then they feel like, well, I got to [00:07:00] create the framework, right? So. do you, I mentioned in your bio and maybe that’s in there that you go in, you know, selling all the time, but owned, earned and paid does everybody get that? Does everybody need that? How do you balance the fact that, you know, a lot of people want the phone to ring tomorrow? Some of those deliver faster than others.
Do you have kind of a a thought on, you know, the cross channel acquisition?
Ryan: Yeah, I mean, I pushed on it. That’s a big part of my framework, right? When it comes to the, so like my first and foremost, my, my framework hinges on content, especially for me to be instilling some sort of long form content execution. That can then be distributed through owned, earned, and paid, right?
So a big part of the framework that I push is actually just getting a handle on content creation. Something that’s scalable, something that’s repeatable for that business videos, obviously preferable, but if they can’t do it, then maybe it’s a podcast. Maybe it’s Long form written. We’re doing a lot more book funnels.
I’m actually seeing a lot more traction coming from like a well written book nowadays. Then trying to push like too much social context. I think people’s fees are overwhelmed [00:08:00] and they want something that’s a whole nother conversation, but it hinges around content that works for that type of business.
So my framework starts with market analysis starts with. A business analysis to who do you have somebody internally that can create content? And if it’s a complete note, the CEO is like, I don’t want to do this. I’m like, look, I’m probably not a good fit for you. Cause like, I can’t work with nothing, you know?
So that’s all part of this
John: S. C. O. My nothing. Please.
Ryan: Yeah, exactly. Right. So, so, and then when it comes to owned earned and paid, once we have that content process set up and we’ve got a video editing team, we’ve got a writer in place, you know, all those things in place, then it’s about distributing that content and owned would be like website.
Like, is there demand for this content? If we publish on your website with written content for search purposes, check, if not, then we don’t do it. You know, social profiles, right? Like, what should you be active on? If you’re B2B, it should be LinkedIn. You know, X to me is kind of falling off a little bit.
It’s just it’s going down the tubes a little bit in terms of the content on there. But potentially Facebook, maybe a Facebook group, you know, YouTube is another big one. So those are all owned platforms in terms and email is a [00:09:00] huge one to email and text, right? Owning that conversation earned would be for B2B, like maybe some press, maybe some influencers.
I think B2B influencers on like LinkedIn and really be starting to become a thing in 2024. I’ve done some like. Partnerships, co marketing campaigns with companies that are a figurehead, if you will, that has a good phone will kind of cross promote things like that. And then paid. I’m a big paid guy because I’m big speed to market.
I’m big testing. So meta YouTube, Google, depending on. The intent of the business model, but we’ll kind of map out that whole ecosystem. And then from there, now it’s okay. Who’s going to execute this? Because again, usually most companies are like, well, I have a marketing person. Like you’re asking too much of this person.
It’s unfair. That’s why they’re failing because you gave them a. 20 million business to market. And you gave them no support in 10, 000 a month in budget. Like it’s not their fault. It’s yours. So, you know, we educate them, go through that process, get buying from them again, all during the scoping process.
Cause I, to your point, these things also fail. If you don’t, these are big projects to scope out. There’s a lot of moving [00:10:00] pieces. And if you don’t scope that out properly, You’re ending up with a headache on your hands, nothing getting done. And you know, not a fun business model to run. So, that’s how it fits into my framework
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John: So I want to back up a little bit. When you started talking about content, you said, preferably video. Why do you start there?
Ryan: because to me, it has the biggest moat around it, right? Like anybody can write blog content and like most people can start a podcast. And also to, you know, most people I’ve been doing video for. If you go back on my YouTube channel, it’s kind of like my main source of content promotion, if you will.
And that’s how I start to, I like to build my frameworks off of what I know and what I know is what I do. And most of my clients come to me and they’re like, Hey, I like what you’re doing. Can you do this for us? So it becomes a much easier sales process for me. So the more I promote myself, the more I create, the more.
My pipeline grows with that. So to me, my process, again, like you need to have one form of really good content that you can create on a regular basis. To me, video is the easiest. It comes naturally. Well, [00:12:00] actually it doesn’t come naturally. I’ve worked at it. Right. And most people like, I don’t want to do it.
I’m like, well, you’re running a business dude. It’s hard. So like, figure it out, you know, like, that’s why we don’t get customers. Cause you suck at what you do. I’m sorry, but like, you need to figure it out. Like, we can’t do it for you unless you want to pay for somebody to go and do it for you or you want to pay for.
Okay. To a position to bring somebody in, I’m all about that too. I’ll help you find, help you train and bring that person in. But you got to be able to do something. And for me, video, because most businesses are like, ah, like we don’t have something like, ah, we don’t want to do this or, ah, it’s too much work.
That means when it’s more of a blue ocean in a very red ocean market where like everyone now is cranking out like the Gary V content model, like clips. It’s just nonstop. So like, if you can create video, that’s going to be. The best you know, even just like this, like what we’re doing right now is perfect.
Right? Like this gives you that long form piece of content that to at least start with and get something out. You know, I do this at my agency. It’s called Weber’s. We only work with law firms. And I have a COO who basically runs a business on a daily basis. And once per week we sit down and we just pick a topic.
And we record for 20 minutes [00:13:00] just like this. And we go after a very specific topic that law firms are impacted by this past week. We talked about how to translate your website into Spanish, right? And so like six things you need to do. And we only get like 300 views in those videos, but like those 300 views consistently show up in our pipeline.
Like the amount of law firms that come to us and like, yo, like I love the videos you guys are doing. It’s super to the point. It’s super helpful. Like it’s not about, you know, going viral and reaching masses. Like You’ve got to be able to speak to a very specific type of customer. That’s why I said specific type of customer with specific problems that relate back to your offer.
And if you can do that once per week.
John: find videos the most repurposable too, right? I mean, you can turn it into written content. You can turn it into LinkedIn posts. You can cut it up into pieces for a lot of technical owners, you know, They can’t write 10 words, but they’ll go on for days about the technical aspects of what their thing does.
And that’s the only way anybody’s ever going to capture it. So I play a little game these days. We’re 13 minutes into this interview, and I’m going to mention AI. It’s taking me that long [00:14:00] today. Where does AI fit in your, you know, especially in the content realm, but maybe in general in the strategic realm too.
Ryan: Sure. We use a, I mean, it’s integrated into a lot of tools, right? So like, I won’t include like what’s in the standard tools that we’ll use, like an Ahrefs or SEM rusher for SEO tools, but for, so for the fractional CMO offer, I will look for ways, and let me just say this before I, I said, it’s like, AI is no different than any sort of tool that’s come out in the past.
If you don’t have systems, it’s useless. Like you cannot automate. Spaghetti on the wall. Right? Like you need systems processes. They need to be scalable, repeatable over and over again. That’s where AI is impactful. Just like layering, like any sort of tool on top of your business. People come into our consulting program for agencies and like, yeah, like I’m using this tool, but it doesn’t do anything.
Like, yeah, because like, You don’t like, what are you using it for? You expect it to do all the work like that’s not what it does. Right. So like with AI, if you don’t have a system or process in place that makes [00:15:00] sense for AI, then it’s not going to work. So in my agency, Weber’s search marketing, we do blended paid in organic for law firms.
We write 100 percent of their content with AI 100 percent of it because it does not need to be thought leadership style content. We’re talking about Praxbury pages, location, pages, informational blog posts, you know, talking about legal stuff. We built a really good process around that. We have a team in the Philippines just sits and cranks out AI content.
That’s become a big profit center for that business now because we went from. You know, we charge about 500 piece per content, which we still do, whether it’s written by humans or AI, but you know, our margin on that, our gross margins got up significantly on that. We also have built a tool that we’re like using chat GPT’s API to pull in some kind of automation stuff, but that’s really it.
Like, I like, because most of this content too. And I think. This is important. Right. If we go back to the fractional CMO offer, like what I don’t like is content for the sake of content. Right. I’d rather you put out one piece, two pieces of content a year that are impactful. That’s fine. Skew people more back towards books from like, yo, like [00:16:00] if you’re just going to get on video and talk about something that’s not informational, not entertaining, not valuable, let’s figure out another Avenue.
Right. So like the thing with AI is that it just creates more bad content and there’s already bad content. So if you’re using it to automate something or speed that up, like, Take your time. Right. With content, it does need to like, especially B2B content, like the end goals, you need to be a thought leader.
Like if you are not working towards becoming a thought leader over a three year period, then you’re not doing it right. And you’re really wasting a lot of money,
John: you mentioned a couple of things there. You’re right. I mean, what a lot of people see is this is free and this is easy. And so you just get crap, more crap, lots more crap. And so it’s just going to keep driving the bar higher in terms of content. That’s actually going to land. Of course.
But then I do see this so often with agencies it’s like I’m using this tool, but now I’m going to jump to this tool because it’s going to do something for me. And then I’ll jump to this tool because it’s going to do. And you’re 100 percent right. I mean, all these tools are really just a way for you to [00:17:00] execute on a process.
And I don’t think enough people, Correct. I don’t think enough people say that, unfortunately when you one of the things I think particularly marketers are bad at is when they get hired by agencies, particularly when they get hired by a company it’s like, what do you need us to do? Sure.
Okay. You want to grow? Okay. Like really vague. Like, what are we going to accomplish here? How deep as, Okay. Because I like to think that the CMO is going to get invited to like, look at the financials and talk about profit and talk about, you know, metrics that, that makes sense. How deep do you get into that before you take a client on?
Ryan: During the scoping process. Deep. I mean, I don’t need, I’ll say this. I’m much more interested. The only thing I’ll get into in, if they want me to sign an NDA, that’s fine. Is like acquisition metrics. Like I don’t really need to know like what the company is doing. I can kind of back that out by how they’re performing.
I mean, a lot of companies are just fine telling you that anyways, but like what I need is acquisition based metrics, right? Who’s on the team. What’s your current gross. Cost for people in time on your team. What are you currently spending across the board? What’s your [00:18:00] ad spending look like? What’s your cost per lead?
What’s your cost per qualified lead? What’s your cost per proposal or whatever process that you’re using them? What’s your cost per acquisition? Now, 90 percent of clients don’t have that
John: I was just going to say, how often do you get that?
Ryan: Very non often, but that’s a big part of, you know, my process is like instilling those again.
Systems is what they are, right? Because it’s not just on marketing. You need sales involved to a lot of the times there’s kind of configuring within their CRM. Like, I can’t tell you how many clients are on HubSpot that we just get them off HubSpot because they just don’t use it. They’re paying like four grand a month to basically just like send automated emails.
I’m like, God, no, we can strip this out
John: will do that. Right?
Ryan: exactly. So. Cool. Yeah. I mean, that, that’s what I’m interested in. Those are like, my first questions is like, what are you doing? What are your goals? What are your current acquisition costs? And that’s also where I come up with my left hook. Like my first left hook.
I’m like, you don’t have this. You’re not ready to talk to me. Like, no. I’m ready. I’m like, okay. Like, well, this is going to be a big part of what we need to do here before we can start talking about the sexy stuff, like tick tock or whatever it is that you came here thinking that we were going to do.
Like, yeah. You gotta get your numbers right. You know, [00:19:00] like we got to figure that stuff out.
John: Well, and I suspect that you’ve discovered that’s a huge differentiator, right? Nobody else is asking him those questions. And I think immediately, like, you’re different. This is different.
Ryan: Yeah. Because I think a lot of marketers are afraid to ask those questions because they don’t, they’re not comfortable handling. I say this all the time, John, my goal is to make people money. And if that makes you uncomfortable, then you’re on the wrong business, right? Like when you start thinking that way, cause I used to not, right.
I got into this business 15 years ago through SEO and SEO over time has become, I’ll just call it what it is, a fluff industry, right? And people are like fighting on Twitter about like the impact of links. I’m like, y’all are missing the big picture here. Like none of this stuff matters. Like, but only the only thing that matters is making people money.
This is like, and again, if that makes you uncomfortable, you’re in the wrong business. But when you start thinking that way, you start optimizing your business to deliver on that. Right. So I’m a firm believer because I’ve done this so much time and time again. And I look my clients in the face and I say, I do, I’m never going to make you sign a contract [00:20:00] because I want you every single month evaluating me on my performance.
Because if I make you money, I make money. That’s the only thing I’m here to do. Everything is going to be built and optimized around that concept. And I think a lot of marketers, because maybe it’s the experience thing, maybe the fact that they know that they’re selling something that doesn’t deliver to that are afraid to ask those questions.
I’m not afraid to ask those questions at all. I think you have to, if you’re ultimately going to solve that problem, you have to dive into it. And my thought is that like, we’re going to figure it out in the way, like I’m going to jump off this cliff and we’re going to figure out how to open the parachute on the way down when it comes to the tactics.
And I believe from doing it for 15 years that like, if we walk in the right direction, if we build the right content, if we get this content in front of people, it’s not rocket science here, right? Like this is just human nature here, right? People are going to react to it. And if. They don’t, then we’ll figure out the right messaging and refigure that.
But like, that’s how we make people money here. But like, you can only start that process by committing to that process for your own business, especially as an agency, you know,
John: One last question I love to ask people. Are there any channels [00:21:00] out there platforms that you think are being terribly underutilized that people ought to be taking a look at?
Ryan: I think everything is saturated now. And so I will say, no, I will say like, my stack is like YouTube, LinkedIn, and that’s really it.
John: yeah
Ryan: those are really
John: life, but do it better.
Ryan: Exactly. That’s what I’m going to say is that like, the problem is when you say that, is that people just And this is why, like, you know, to be blunt, like people, us we’ll continue to enjoy success because we’re concerned with the details.
It’s not about just being like, I’ll tell you, like YouTube is great, but like if you just get on YouTube and put up crap, like it’s not going to work, you know? So yeah, I mean, the answer to the question is not where it’s how good can I make this? Right. So yeah, I don’t have any secrets. I’m sorry.
John: No, you know, the thing is that’s the answer, right? I mean, fundamentally, marketing has not changed, you know, in the 30 years I’ve been doing it. And I think that’s, you’re absolutely right. People want to chase the new thing because they don’t want to put in the work that it actually takes to make the old thing work. Yeah. So. Ryan, I appreciate you taking a [00:22:00] few moments. Stop by the duct tape marketing podcast. You want to invite people to find out more about your work or connect any way you wish.
Ryan: Yeah. Just Ryan Stewart on YouTube put out a lot of stuff about basically everything we just talked about here. So.
John: Awesome. Again, appreciate you taking a few moments. Stop by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

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