Lilli Dellheim and James Hickey | Fractional CMOs & The 90-Day Win

This video is a podcast interview with Lilli Dellheim and James Hickey discussing the role and strategies of fractional Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) in achieving significant business wins within the first 90 days of engagement.

Fractional CMOs focus on evaluating marketing infrastructure, identifying key problems, and implementing strategic solutions. They emphasize the importance of understanding the company’s metrics, establishing clear communication, and focusing on both quick wins and long-term strategic planning.

Key points
🔍 Initial Assessment: Conducting a thorough evaluation of the company’s marketing efforts, including analyzing all available metrics.
📊 SEO and Website Performance: Assessing the website’s SEO and performance to determine where the company stands in search rankings.
🗣️ Role Clarity: Clearly defining the roles and expectations within the engagement helps in achieving alignment and support from the leadership team.
📈 Growth Strategy: Developing a detailed growth strategy that includes understanding the company’s vision, customer buying preferences, and the effectiveness of existing marketing systems.
💡 Early Wins: Identifying and implementing early wins, such as optimizing marketing processes and aligning with customer needs, to build credibility and momentum.
🤝 Collaboration: Ensuring strong collaboration between marketing and sales teams, with aligned metrics and open communication, to drive revenue.
🚀 Execution and Resources: Ensuring that marketing plans are realistic and executable with the available resources.
👥 Stakeholder Engagement: Engaging key stakeholders early on and understanding their perspectives helps in aligning the company’s vision and strategy.
🧠 Complexity of Marketing: Educating clients on the complexity of marketing and setting realistic expectations regarding timelines and outcomes.
💰 Financial Assessment: Reviewing financials to ensure proper accounting principles are followed and ROI can be accurately calculated.

  1. Introduction: The podcast introduces the topic of fractional CMOs and their impact within the first 90 days.
  2. James’s Background: James discusses his extensive experience in digital marketing and consulting, emphasizing the importance of leadership buy-in for successful engagements.
  3. Initial Challenges: James highlights common problems such as a lack of understanding of marketing’s role and the need for clear role definitions and engagement objectives.
  4. SEO and Performance: James explains the importance of assessing SEO and website performance to understand where the company stands in search rankings.
  5. Lilli’s Background: Lilli shares her experience in marketing strategy, focusing on ensuring companies have a solid strategy and the right messaging frameworks in place.
  6. Growth Strategy: Lilli emphasizes the need to understand the company’s growth targets and ensure the marketing team is aligned with these goals.
  7. Early Wins: Both guests discuss the importance of early wins, such as conducting customer interviews and optimizing the homepage to align with the company’s value proposition.
  8. Customer Insights: Lilli focuses on gathering customer insights to inform marketing strategies and drive early wins.
  9. Strategy and Execution: Lilli explains the importance of having a clear strategy and ensuring that the marketing team has the right resources to execute it effectively.
  10. Marketing Complexity: Both guests discuss the complexity of marketing and the importance of setting realistic expectations with clients.


  1. 00:52: “I’ve been in the digital marketing space for 15 years, started in 2008, and before that I owned a chain of gas stations.” – James Hickey
  2. 01:30: “I want to see where they’re ranking, what their website speed is, and where they’re going with their SEO efforts.” – James Hickey
  3. 02:10: “I need to see numbers and analytics because I want to show where they were when I started and where they are now thanks to my expertise.” – James Hickey
  4. 03:04: “My whole jam is around strategy. I come in and assess whether there is a true strategy.” – Lilli Dellheim
  5. 03:25: “Do companies really understand their audience? Do they have the right messaging frameworks in place? Are they pulling the right levers?” – Lilli Dellheim
  6. 04:20: “I tend to work with clients who want to invest three months really doing the work to assess brand strategy, messaging strategy, and content strategy.” – Lilli Dellheim
  7. 05:30: “You could look at KPIs, but they will be much more direct if you’re hitting the right people.” – Lilli Dellheim
  8. 06:12: “I know what works. Your Google analytics and Google search console will tell us what works.” – James Hickey
  9. 07:00: “I’m surprised at their lack of understanding of how content can help them with marketing.” – James Hickey
  10. 07:35: “They might have done things the same way for a decade, but when we audit who their audience is, we often find better ways to communicate their message.” – Lilli Dellheim
  11. 08:20: “Sometimes there can be resistance because it’s like, we’ve talked about our product in the same way for so long.” – Lilli Dellheim
  12. 09:10: “What should a CEO understand about fractional CMOs? It’s important for them to have a clear business model and articulate what that means for their company.” – Lilli Dellheim
  13. 10:30: “I’m really big on clear deliverables. I’ve seen where ambiguity can cause tension and result in CMOs not being rehired.” – Lilli Dellheim
  14. 11:45: “The signs they’re not ready for a fractional CMO are if they haven’t set aside a budget or a team to do everything.” – James Hickey
  15. 12:45: “Budget is important, annual revenue is important, and people need to understand that marketing is an investment.” – Lilli Dellheim
  16. 13:30: “Sometimes companies think they want to grow, but they’re not ready for the growth.” – Lilli Dellheim
  17. 14:35: “Companies that think they want to grow but aren’t prepared for what growth really means can often self-sabotage.” – Lilli Dellheim
  18. 15:15: “A fractional CMO should be generating profit for the company, and it’s important to look for someone with a clear track record and case studies.” – Lilli Dellheim
  19. 16:30: “If marketing starts performing well, there may be a need to look at operations and fulfillment. This can be daunting for companies not prepared for growth.” – Lilli Dellheim
  20. 17:15: “A fractional CMO should have the authority to make changes that impact the bottom line, such as updating sales processes to increase profit margins.” – Lilli Dellheim