1907 – Scaling the Fractional CMO Model with Sara Nay

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the COO of Duct Tape Marketing, Sara Nay.

Nay Wide

Sara's expertise in marketing strategies for small businesses is unparalleled, offering valuable insights crucial for entrepreneurs.

She emphasizes the importance of establishing a solid marketing strategy before implementing any tactics. Small businesses often need a clear plan to dive into marketing, resulting in wasted resources and poor outcomes. Sara advises laying a solid strategic foundation to guide marketing tactics and align them with business goals.

Sara highlights the evolving nature of marketing, especially with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. These tools are transforming productivity and content creation. She underscores the importance of research and planning in developing thought leadership content and leveraging AI to repurpose this content across various platforms, maximizing reach and engagement.

Sara stresses the significance of continuous lead generation for sustained business growth. Without a consistent flow of quality leads, even the best marketing strategies can falter. She recommends creating a system that consistently attracts and nurtures potential customers, turning them into loyal brand advocates.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Services offered by Duct Tape Marketing
  • Importance of strategy before tactics in marketing
  • Evolving landscape of marketing with AI integration
  • Advantages of working with a fractional CMO certified through Duct Tape Marketing
  • Potential pitfalls for small businesses in marketing without a clear plan
  • Continuous focus on lead generation for sustained business growth
  • Incorporation of AI tools to enhance productivity and content creation
  • Two sides of Duct Tape Marketing's business: catering to small businesses and marketing professionals
  • Valuable resources available on the Duct Tape Marketing website for business owners and marketing professionals

About Sara Nay:

Sara Nay serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Duct Tape Marketing, where she has been instrumental since starting as an intern in December 2010. Over her 13+ years in the small business arena, Sara has held multiple roles within the company, progressing from community manager to account manager, consultant, salesperson, and now to operations. This breadth of experience underpins her expertise in systematically enhancing marketing and operational processes, ensuring that small business owners gain clarity and control to foster growth.

Sara co-founded Spark Lab Consulting in 2021 to address operational challenges faced by small businesses after initial marketing successes. The consultancy aims to streamline operations and scalability, complementing the marketing solutions provided by Duct Tape Marketing. Outside of her career, Sara is deeply committed to an active outdoor lifestyle in Boise, Idaho, where she enjoys skiing, biking, and hiking with her husband and two daughters. Her leadership and strategic acumen are further evidenced by her top strengths: Achiever, Focus, Individualization, Strategic, and Futuristic.

About Duct Tape Marketing:

Duct Tape Marketing specializes in serving small to medium-sized businesses and marketing agencies by offering a unique marketing system known as the Fractional CMO+ system. This system fosters growth through streamlined marketing operations and emphasizes sustainable, strategic marketing solutions that prevent businesses from falling into the trap of short-lived tactics. With over 30 years of experience, Duct Tape Marketing has proven its approach by implementing its strategies in thousands of businesses worldwide, helping clients significantly boost their revenue and profits.

The agency focuses on establishing lasting relationships with its clients by providing practical, educational support to simplify marketing efforts and enhance efficiency. Duct Tape Marketing acts as a dependable partner for business owners and agency leaders by positioning a ‘Strategy First’ approach at the forefront of its services. This approach enables clients to focus on their core business aspects while leaving the complexities of effective marketing to seasoned experts. This commitment to integrity, knowledge, and genuine connections underpins Duct Tape Marketing’s mission to transform the small business marketing landscape.

Tweetable Moments:

04:25 – “Marketing works if you do it strategically.”

11:12 – “We're approaching the development in AI with how can you be more productive with your team and time.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Duct Tape Marketing at

Check out  Duct Tape Marketing  on LinkedIn at

Check out  Duct Tape Marketing  on Facebook at

Check out  Duct Tape Marketing  on Twitter at

Check out  Duct Tape Marketing  on Instagram at

Check out Sara Nay on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, a thoughtful listener. Are you looking for introductions to partners, investors, influencers, and clients? Well, I've had private conversations with over 2000 leaders asking them where their best business comes from. I've got a free video you can watch with no opt in required, where I'll share the exact steps necessary to be 100% inbound in your industry over the next 6 to 8 months, with no spam, no ads, and no sales. What I teach has worked for me for over 15 years, and has helped me create eight figures in revenue for my own companies. Just head to up my influence. Com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for great guests. Go to up my influence. Com and click on podcast. I'd love to have you. With us right now it's Sara. Sara, you are the chief operating officer at Duct Tape marketing. A brand that many of us are quite familiar with. And again, your website is duct tape

Josh (00:01:22) - Sara, thank you so much for joining us.

Sara (00:01:24) - Thanks for having me, Josh. I'm excited to be here.

Josh (00:01:27) - Truly a legacy brand in my world. Getting on I think 14 years. do you mind maybe just sharing a little bit about who duct tape marketing is for someone who's not familiar and kind of what you and John do and your impact in the world?

Sara (00:01:41) - Of course. Yeah. So we've actually duct tape marketing has been in business for about 30 years now. Yeah. and I've been with the company myself, for 13 coming up on almost 14 years. and over that whole entire time, we've always been focused on the small business world. So we absolutely love working with small businesses. And we really have two sides of our business. And so we are a strategic marketing agency where we'll come in and we'll create a marketing strategy for a business, and then we move into a long term retainer, which we call the fractional CMO plus team retainer engagement, where we're basically staying very high level strategic for our clients.

Sara (00:02:17) - But we're also bringing our team to implement the marketing strategy. So in a way, we're becoming an outsourced marketing team based on strategy. So that's one side of our business. And over the last 15 years, we've also been certifying marketing consultants, coaches, small agencies and our fractional CMO plus approach as well. And so that's a certification intensive where essentially we help people build, grow scale marketing businesses based on the fractional CMO approach.

Josh (00:02:47) - As an advocate for small business and small business success, what would you say would be some of your, I'd say, your positions of advocacy for small businesses like, I don't know if there's anything that you hear or see in, you know, kind of that world, right. If you're thinking about, you know, marketing professionals, marketing agencies, marketing consultants, you know, folks that are doing that work, are there things that you see that you're like, yeah, you know, we're we're hoping to protect this group from making bad decisions around X or Y, like anything immediately come to mind in that, you know, kind of zone.

Sara (00:03:20) - Yes. I mean, I think it's really challenging for small businesses to scale their marketing effectively because sometimes they decide to keep it in-house. And marketing is evolving and changing so frequently that I think you need to have like a senior level person, but also multiple implementers. So a lot of small businesses, it's hard for them to justify that from a budget standpoint. And so they start outsourcing or partnering with agencies. and a two key areas that I see a lot of small businesses being burned in terms of marketing is they work with an agency and they just dive straight into tactics without taking time to understand their business and their target market. And so maybe they're launching paid ads for this small business, but they haven't thought about target audience messaging. What happens after someone sees the ad? What's the landing page look like? What's the email series look like? And so really, marketing can't be just tactic based. Like you need to have an overall strategy in place. And that's like the number one way I've seen small businesses waste money over the years is just dive into a tactic because they've been told they need to do it, or they see their competitors doing it or whatever, and then it doesn't work for them.

Sara (00:04:25) - And then they decide marketing doesn't work. Marketing works if you do it strategically. And so that's one area and then other. There's a lot of people in the marketing space where I've heard a lot of horror stories with businesses working with agencies, and they pay them all this money and they have no idea what they're doing or the results they're getting because they don't understand the metrics side of marketing. so my advice to small businesses investing in marketing and working with different partners, like there's a lot of really great agencies out there, but there's also agencies that are very tactic driven. And so my advice would be find an agency that is strategic on the front end, but also really pays attention to the metrics and reporting and help you understand that data as well.

Josh (00:05:05) - If someone is hiring a marketing professional or they're doing this in-house or again, they're providing leadership in and around marketing, it might be tempting for anyone to say, yes, we we do strategy. We're we're really big on strategy. How does one know that they are truly implementing a thoughtful plan as opposed to, yeah, no, you're just focusing on tactics without a broader plan.

Josh (00:05:30) - How are there are there ways to know this?

Sara (00:05:32) - Yeah, I've seen that over the years as well as the business will be like, oh yeah, we've done a strategy and I'm like, great, show me it. And solicitor tactics. And it's like that can be a part of the strategy. But it takes a step, you know, beyond that for us. You know we start with a 30 to 45 day strategy engagement before we'll even talk about any implementation. And so I just think that dedicated time to do the research and to learn the business is really important. And so if someone's like, we'll launch your full Facebook funnel in 30 days and you'll start getting results. It's like maybe, but like there's just there's a lot of research, there's a lot of strategy that needs to go in to get to that point. And so, you know, when we're talking about strategy, we're looking at target market. We're looking at messaging to make sure you know who you're targeting. What message aligns with them.

Sara (00:06:18) - We're looking at the customer journey, which is one of our core concepts that we call the hourglass. So it's how can people get to know like trust, try, buy, repeat and refer from a business. And then we're going to say, okay, what content you should you be producing on what channels. Like that's the last step of strategy. So it's really a research phase and a planning phase. but that whole customer journey piece is so important, I think, for businesses, because a lot of times people might think they need more leads, but maybe that's not what they need. Maybe they need the right leads, or maybe they need to take care of people that are already in their space, already in their world, with like, different nurture campaigns. Or maybe they need to sell more to their existing client base, if that makes sense. And so that's why the strategy really helps us understand which areas of your marketing will help you get the most predictable growth fastest.

Josh (00:07:08) - Yeah. You know, and you and I were talking before we hit record, and I thought, man, I didn't know that you were on my schedule for this week when I was working on my own presentation for, you know, kind of launching our new product for up my influence.

Josh (00:07:24) - And so I needed a quote, that expressed my sentiment that, you know, in business, there are a few problems that exist that sales can't solve or just, you know, more opportunities, more at bats. And so I was doing some research and, using ChatGPT and some other tools, you know, just trying to find out, like, who do I like, who has said good things on this topic. And I found John, you know, again, they want their of duct tape marketing and, and the founder, but, you know, he said that lead generation is the lifeblood. No, I don't like the term lead and lead generation, even though it's a popular. And I've got my own reasons for that. But you know, the quote, you know, lead generation is the lifeblood of your business. You know, without a steady stream of leads, your business is starving. Right. And so hopefully that's a big part of our strategy is how do we create consistency and predictability.

Josh (00:08:17) - And we have that right quality that matches with our ICP. Do you mind maybe just sharing a little bit more on that top level keeping, you know, kind of fresh, you know, connections coming through the front door?

Sara (00:08:29) - Yeah. I mean it's always something that you should be focusing on in your business. We work with, as I said, a lot of agency owners, fractional CMOs coaches, and a lot of times they'll get very into their client work and they'll forget about their own business. And so I'm always encouraging to like set blocks on your calendar every single day where you're out there in your marketing and you're selling and you're making conversations and you're speaking and you're podcasting and you're doing these things to get your name out there. And so it's always got to be a focus of your time and not an afterthought, because when it's an afterthought, things slow down, things dry up out. Maybe you lose a client or two, and then you basically have to start from scratch to build more of a lead or sales or whatever you want to call it, engine again.

Sara (00:09:09) - And so it's it's definitely something that should, as a CEO or someone that's building your business, it's something that should require your focus or your sales team focus every single day. I would argue. Yeah.

Josh (00:09:20) - No, there's some serious consequences to getting, you know, kind of resting on your laurels. you know, oh, we got a full roster, clients we don't need anymore. Things happen, and oftentimes they don't have anything to do with you. It's just something that happens in a, you know, a couple of key clients lives. Right? And if you're not prepared with the info, it's like always having a roster full of folks that are in play. yeah. That's that's a really dangerous and risky place to be. because guess what? Those bills are coming due. You know, your your expenses likely as an agency owner, as a consultant or consultancy or as, you know, again, as a marketing professional, it's really, really critical. what would you say, Sarah, of, of, you know, for someone that maybe like me, who was an avid fan of the duct tape marketing brand, you know, I think I started listening to, John's podcast seven, eight years ago.

Josh (00:10:15) - It was a long time ago. Right. And then maybe haven't been paying attention to the work or the thought leadership. the duct tape marketing has been producing. What are you really into right now?

Sara (00:10:27) - We're really into. I mean, marketing has evolved in change. And with the tool, AI tools and everything that's happening in this space, like there's just so many new things that we're always learning about and exploring. But like, what we've always been into is this idea of strategy before tactics. And so we're like, if you've followed us over the years, that's something John has been preaching as early on as his first book that he wrote, Duct Tape Marketing, years ago now. But that's still what we believe should be the leading force of all marketing. So our tactics and our implementation has evolved to include different tools and resources that are now available. But we will still preach 100% strategy before tactics, and that's what we're really into. but we are having fun exploring and playing with the different AI tools that are available, out there.

Sara (00:11:12) - And one of the frameworks that we're now teaching this, a newer framework that we're teaching, is how to do the research on the front end to come up with topic ideas that you want to share with your audience, to become a thought leader on. And then we teach people to record videos on those different topics, and then we teach people how to take those videos and use different AI tools to create social clips and blog posts and email newsletters and social texts and all the different things. And so really, we're approaching the development in AI with how can you be more productive with your team and time and you're creating this content? It's originally you, you're the thought leader, but then you're turning it into different forms. So stuff like that's evolved for us. And I think it's really exciting times to to learn more about that, because there's a new AI tool you can learn about every single day if you want it to at this point.

Josh (00:12:00) - Yeah. No joke. Yeah. Tell tell me a bit about, for someone that has not engaged.

Josh (00:12:07) - Other than maybe they've just really appreciated and loved the content in the book. And that's really tell me about the work that like, how do people engage with duct tape marketing? What do you do? And I think there's a couple of audiences that that you serve.

Sara (00:12:20) - Yeah. So the two sides of our business is we work directly with small businesses, and that's where we'll come in and create a marketing strategy. And then we usually move into a long term retainer engagement. Our longest client at this point it's 15 years. And so we typically work with home service providers professional services. We work with national B2B brands. Really it's just the right fit. typically people that have been in business for a few years, maybe they've tried to work with different marketing companies, or they've kept it in-house and they're looking to grow. Like that's kind of our ideal client for that. that side of our business and then our other side of our business is we certify and train, fractional CMOs, coaches, consultants, small agencies on our approach.

Sara (00:13:03) - So they essentially can position themselves as fractional CMO plus team moving forward. And that side, you know, we work with anyone like leaving corporate and have a bunch of marketing experience, but they're looking to launch their own business. that's a really common group of people that we work with or, like a smaller agency that has been very tactic driven, that now wants to shift more into the strategic side of marketing. And so we'll help them adapt our strategic model into what they're already doing, essentially. So those are our the clients we work with.

Josh (00:13:34) - Yeah. What are the advantages for a potential client working with a fractional CMO that's been through duct tape marketing, like, so I think that it could be tempting for any consultant to say, you know what, I'm gonna start for providing fractional CMO services, and maybe they just have a background in whatever they've been doing. But you know that if it's someone that's come up through duct tape marketing certification program, there's some certain standards. You mind sharing a little bit about what those standards are.

Sara (00:14:04) - Yeah, they're going to come in and they're going to lead with a 30 to 45 day strategy. Engagement. And then they're going to execute that strategy and they're going to stick to that strategy. I think that's where a lot of consultants sometimes, you know, when they come in and they don't leave a strategy, and then they almost just become like vendors to the client. And the client still has to direct them and tell them what to do. Like when you're coming in with a fractional CMO through our program, like they're going to lead strategy, they're going to complete the plan, or they're going to create the plan, and then they're going to make sure that the plan is executed, whether that be your in-house team or the team that they're bringing. that's a really important piece. And so essentially, they're becoming a CMO or a leadership person on your team. So they're tasked with like reporting the metrics and the numbers and the impact and adjusting the strategy. And then they're essentially reporting to you as the business owner on how things are going.

Sara (00:14:53) - And so marketing really is off of your plate, like you still want to be involved and understanding what's going on and be there for the monthly meetings, but you're not in the weeds of the tactics anymore.

Josh (00:15:04) - Yeah. So your website is duct tape marketing dot com. by the way, do you do you like that? I pronounce that correctly.

Sara (00:15:13) - Yes. I appreciate that.

Josh (00:15:15) - Marketing. duct tape And I know you've got so many great resources. And in particular, I want to talk about the growth tools in a moment. but do you mind just sharing about the scope of resources that you, John, and all of duct tape marketing makes available to the marketing world?

Sara (00:15:35) - Yeah, I mean, we're really big on a ton of value on the front end. And so we've been producing content on the website for years and years. So we have countless blog posts. We have resource guides that are free. We have ebooks that are free. John's written seven books at this point that are all there.

Sara (00:15:49) - So there's just a lot, probably too much information there to keep you busy. He's been podcasting since 2005, so there's a ton of free, valuable resources if you just want to go and check those out. There's a lot there.

Josh (00:16:01) - Yeah. so in particular, you have a website with several resources for our listener right now. I'll give the website. It's DTM standing for Duct Tape marketing dot world slash growth. So again DTM dot world slash growth. So if you go there Sara what are they going to get.

Sara (00:16:27) - Yeah there's a couple different paths. we have some free resources for if you're a business owner listening to this. and then we also have another path with free resources if you are a marketing consultant, agency owner, fractional CMO, and so you can choose which resources you're interested in and download them, they're all free. And if you're interested in connecting with me as well, there's an option to schedule a one on one call just so we can explore getting to know each other more.

Speaker 3 (00:16:51) - Yeah.

Josh (00:16:52) - Sarenrae, chief operating officer at Duct Tape Marketing, the website Duct Tape Marketing Comm, and of course the special page with the resources that are all free DTM dot world slash growth. Of course, you know, if you're an avid podcast listener. Make sure that you are subscribed to Duct Tape Marketing the podcast. But Sarah, it's been wonderful having you. Thank you so much for the work that you do. Thank you for not just doing great work and helping great marketers, but also for setting a positive culture, which is one thing that I really, really appreciated about. you know, kind of the values around duct tape marketing is just very pro collaboration, very pro partnership, which I absolutely love. And I think that together, you know, it's a rising tide lifts all boats kind of thing. And and that's certainly part of the culture that I picked up on pretty early in, in John's work.

Sara (00:17:42) - Absolutely. Josh, thank you so much for having me. It was really fun being on the show.

Josh (00:17:52) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence. Com and click on podcast. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together, we are empowering one another as thoughtful leaders. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this program, if you're looking for introductions to partners, investors, influencers, and clients, I have had private conversations with over 2000 leaders asking them where their best business comes from. I've got a free video that you can watch right now with no opt in or email required, where I'm going to share the exact steps necessary to be 100% inbound in your industry over the next 6 to 8 months, with no spam, no ads, and no sales. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create eight figures in revenue for my own companies.

Josh (00:18:57) - Just head to up my influence. Com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. Make sure to hit subscribe so that tomorrow morning. That's right, seven days a week you are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed. I promise to bring positivity and inspiration to you for around 15 minutes every single day. Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur movement.

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