John Santaferraro and Mikael Wallstedt | Fractional CMOs & The 90-Day Win

This video discusses the role of fractional Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) in achieving impactful results within the first 90 days of new client engagements. Hosted by Dean Waye, the conversation with John Santaferraro and Mikael Wallstedt covers the challenges they face, strategies for early wins, and the integration of marketing efforts in diverse business contexts.


Fractional CMOs provide essential leadership and strategic insights that can significantly impact an organization’s marketing effectiveness within the first 90 days. By establishing clear communication protocols, identifying key stakeholders, and focusing on high-impact areas, they help companies achieve measurable improvements and set the stage for long-term success.

Key points

πŸ” Initial Focus: Addressing questions around measuring success and identifying key pain points are crucial early steps.

🀝 Building Trust: Establishing clear communication and trust within the first 30 days is essential for effective collaboration.

πŸ“Š KPI Clarity: Helping CEOs and business owners understand which key performance indicators (KPIs) to focus on is vital for assessing marketing success.

πŸ—£οΈ Strategic Leadership: Fractional CMOs bring decades of experience, offering invaluable strategic recommendations that can significantly improve conversion rates.

πŸ’Ό Role Understanding: CEOs should recognize that fractional CMOs are hired for their leadership and strategic insights, not for tactical execution.

❌ Client Readiness: Companies looking for tactical solutions rather than strategic leadership are not ready for a fractional CMO.

🌱 Customer Experience: Ensuring the head of sales understands and prioritizes the customer experience is crucial for maintaining long-term customer value.

πŸ’‘ Sales Collaboration: Successful collaboration between marketing and sales is essential for optimizing the customer journey and reducing churn.

🌐 Marketing Ecosystem: Creating a cohesive marketing ecosystem that brings customers into a rich, value-added world is a key marketing function.

πŸ› οΈ Executional Mismatch: Clients who seek executional or tactical roles instead of strategic leadership are not suitable for fractional CMO services.


  1. Introduction: Dean Waye introduces the podcast and the topic of fractional CMOs and their initial 90-day impact [0].
  2. Early Challenges: Mikael Wallstedt discusses the initial problems faced when starting a new project, such as skepticism from existing staff [22].
  3. Client Engagement Stories: Mikael shares a personal story about facing resistance from a CTO, demonstrating the challenges fractional CMOs encounter [90].
  4. Company Types: John Santaferraro explains the difference between engineering-led and sales-led companies and how it affects their marketing strategies [210].
  5. Value Proposition: John emphasizes the importance of establishing a strong value proposition and integrated marketing plan within the first 90 days [273].
  6. Measurement and Metrics: Implementing measurement mechanisms to compare integrated campaigns with existing efforts is discussed [405].
  7. Short-Term Wins: Mikael talks about achieving short-term wins to build confidence and trust with the client [533].
  8. Client Misunderstandings: Both speakers discuss common client misunderstandings about the role and purpose of marketing [583].
  9. Storytelling in Marketing: John highlights the importance of crafting a consistent story for the company [653].
  10. Leadership and Change Management: The need for fractional CMOs to be strong leaders and change managers is emphasized [780].


  1. 0:00 – “Dean Waye introduces the podcast and the role of fractional CMOs in achieving early wins.”
  2. 0:22 – “Imagine you just started a new engagement. What problems do you typically see or look for on day one?”
  3. 0:44 – “I work as a fractional CMO, primarily with tech companies, helping them generate more leads and close more deals.”
  4. 1:20 – “You need to understand the framework and find alliances. We can’t just walk in with our tools; we need to get started in the right settings.”
  5. 1:96 – “Almost the second day, I was stopped by the CTO who said, ‘We don’t need marketing; what are you doing here?'”
  6. 1:130 – “I asked, ‘Did you see the long queue of customers outside the door?’ When he said no, I replied, ‘If we were such a fantastic company, we would have a long queue of customers waiting.'”
  7. 2:24 – “It’s fun to go in as a fractional CMO. There are two types of companies: engineering-led and sales-led.”
  8. 2:64 – “I’m typically looking to establish a solid ground around a value proposition. This allows me to put in place an integrated marketing plan in the first 90 days.”
  9. 2:289 – “If I have some kind of measurement mechanism in place, I can compare the integrated marketing campaign’s return on investment to their current efforts.”
  10. 2:441 – “Fractional CMOs that tend to focus on metrics and management are usually brought in during the first 90 days to provide something concrete and measurable.”
  11. 2:583 – “Ultimately, what you want from a fractional CMO is to level up and make significant changes, not just upgrade your website or implement Google AdWords.”
  12. 2:706 – “I’m not going to do it again. If you want me to come in and do sales, we need a consistent story and message. I’m not falling prey to that again.”
  13. 2:814 – “There are three types of CMOs: the strategist, the storyteller, and the technician. It’s rare to find a CMO that excels in all three areas.”
  14. 2:888 – “An investment in a fractional CMO is not a short-term engagement. It’s to level up, and if you’re looking for quick gains, hire an expert in that specific area.”
  15. 2:1002 – “A CEO who is not willing to let go of the marketing and wants to micromanage, or a team confused about their roles, are signs that a company is not ready for a fractional CMO.”
  16. 2:1102 – “If the only goals that matter are sales, and you’re expecting a massive uptick in sales in the first 90 days, you’re not ready for a fractional CMO.”
  17. 2:1188 – “If you want a monkey, hire a monkey. If you want a leader, hire a leader.”
  18. 2:1348 – “I’d rather come in and have a clean slate to work with than try to clean up a mess that already exists.”
  19. 2:1486 – “Consider bringing in a fractional CMO who’s experienced rather than a full-time junior person. They can provide the necessary leadership and strategy.”
  20. 2:1622 – “My belief is that marketing exists to drive more sales and turn customers into evangelists for the company.”
Get tiny stories about winning new customers.

Learn to connect with tomorrow’s customers in about 5 minutes a week.