You have 4 summaries left

In Growth We Trust: Marketing | Growth | Startups

🔮 Why More Marketers Will Go Freelance? Marketplace Growth And The Future of Work | Raffi Salama, Co-Founder at Passionfruit

Tue Jan 09 2024
Future of WorkFreelancingMarketingGrowth StrategiesTeam StructureReferralsCredibilityBig BrandsContent DistributionSales Strategies


The future of work, freelancing, and the impact on marketers' careers are discussed in this episode. Passion Fruit, a marketing specialist marketplace, connects businesses with freelance marketing talent. The podcast covers topics such as verticalization, language of freelancing, changing mindsets in organizations, building unique business structures, growth strategies, establishing credibility, constraints and growth opportunities, content distribution, sales strategies, and success through unconventional approaches.


Freelancing provides freedom and flexibility

Working as a freelancer offers individuals freedom and flexibility in their careers.

Companies are shifting away from traditional models

Companies are rethinking their operations and moving away from traditional models of working with agencies.

Freelancers can achieve the same level of output

Freelancers have the ability to achieve the same level of output for multiple clients as they did in full-time jobs.

Language around freelancing is changing

The language used to describe freelancing roles is evolving, with terms like consultant and fractional CMO being used.

Hiring freelancers leads to faster decision-making

Companies benefit from hiring freelancers as it often leads to faster decision-making and easier adoption of change.

Unique team structures are important for success

Successful businesses create their own unique team structures rather than copying templates from others.

Referrals play a significant role in growth

Referrals and word-of-mouth are essential for the growth of platforms like Passion Fruit.

Establishing credibility is crucial for startups

Startups need to establish credibility and attract well-known brands to build legitimacy.

Big brands are cautious in marketing

Big brands tend to be cautious and hesitant when it comes to taking risks in marketing.

Content distribution and revenue models are important

The distribution of podcast content and exploring revenue models are crucial for success.


  1. The Future of Work and Freelancers
  2. Rethinking Work Models and Creative Excellence
  3. Verticalization and Language of Freelancing
  4. Changing Language and Mindset in Freelancing
  5. Building a Unique Business and Team Structure
  6. Growth Strategies and Customer Needs
  7. Establishing Credibility and Delivering Exceptional Results
  8. Constraints and Growth Opportunities
  9. Content Distribution and Revenue Models
  10. Sales Strategies and Sponsorship
  11. Success Through Unconventional Approaches

The Future of Work and Freelancers

00:01 - 07:17

  • The future of work and the need for an easy process to find freelancers is discussed.
  • Working as a freelancer provides freedom and flexibility in one's career.
  • The podcast features an interview with Rafi, co-founder of Passion Fruit, a marketing specialist marketplace.
  • The discussion covers the changes in working with freelancers and the impact on marketers' careers.
  • Rafi poses a growth interview question at the end of the episode.
  • Passion Fruit is a platform that connects freelance marketing talent with businesses ranging from startups to established companies like PepsiCo and Mars.
  • Passion Fruit aims to provide a genuine choice for both businesses and freelancers in how they run their talent pools or careers.
  • Freelancing can be challenging for individuals without existing networks, but platforms like Passion Fruit offer opportunities to build new professional lives.
  • Rafi launched Passion Fruit after working on setting up an MLS team in Miami. He realized that many people in his peer group disliked their jobs despite having good education backgrounds.

Rethinking Work Models and Creative Excellence

06:55 - 13:18

  • The speaker had a gradual realization that there was something structurally wrong with full-time work and many people in their peer group hated their jobs.
  • The speaker and their co-founder started exploring the idea of creating better access to work for freelancers and rethinking how companies run their operations.
  • Companies are shifting away from the traditional model of having an agency of record that does everything, as it often leads to plain and unoriginal work.
  • Companies are now focused on efficiency and creative excellence, which is difficult to achieve when paying high retainers to agencies with multiple account managers and project managers.
  • Individuals within companies are looking for ways to stand out, innovate, and demonstrate superior performance compared to their peers.
  • There is a growing emphasis on individualized growth stories within institutions, where individuals want to push ahead in their careers by doing innovative things that also help sell more products or achieve other tangible results.
  • Passion Fruit is a marketplace that connects companies with highly vetted marketing specialists who can be hired on a flexible month-to-month basis at a lower cost compared to traditional agencies.

Verticalization and Language of Freelancing

12:54 - 19:42

  • Verticalizing in the marketing space is seen as the way forward.
  • There is a discrepancy between agency employees and freelancers in terms of compensation.
  • Freelancers can achieve the same level of output for multiple clients as they did in a full-time job.
  • Measuring progress and outcomes, as well as compensation, is a challenge in the freelance world.
  • Linear career progression is not applicable to freelancers, so finding a language for progression is important.
  • A gamified point system called the passion fruit specialist score has been introduced to capture unique identity and progress.
  • Freelancer is sometimes seen as a less prestigious term compared to consultant.

Changing Language and Mindset in Freelancing

19:20 - 26:32

  • The language around freelancing is changing, with terms like consultant and fractional CMO being used to describe higher-level freelance roles.
  • There is a need for people outside the industry to understand the different levels of seniority in freelancing.
  • The UK has a tendency to downplay success, while in the US success is celebrated more openly.
  • Freelancers and consultants are attractive to companies because they bring fresh ideas and tend to have a high impact in the first few months.
  • Hiring external consultants or freelancers often leads to faster decision-making and easier adoption of change within companies.
  • Advisory roles can provide high impact with minimal risk for both parties involved.
  • Measuring outputs and outcomes instead of focusing on meetings can lead to positive changes in big companies.
  • Resistance to change within companies often stems from individuals feeling threatened by how they are measured within the organization.
  • The mindset of top executives will play a significant role in driving change within organizations.
  • Early adopters of new approaches tend to be change-makers who rise through the ranks and become CMOs or leaders in their respective fields.
  • In five years' time, marketing teams may have a combination of in-house and external members, with each business having its unique team structure based on its needs.
  • Successful businesses often create their own unique team structures rather than simply copying templates from other successful companies.

Building a Unique Business and Team Structure

26:03 - 32:55

  • The value of running a business in your own unique way is emphasized, with the importance of building something that is specific to your own brand.
  • Internal leaders are expected to become a leaner group, with the ability to bring in external talent as needed.
  • The future holds more diverse ways of doing business, thanks to advancements in technology and platforms.
  • Traditional measures of success, such as budget spent and team size, are changing. Managing external and internal people becomes more important.
  • Passion Fruit grew as a marketplace by focusing on verticalization and specializing in one industry at first.
  • The goal is to occupy a specific space in customers' minds, such as being known for great marketing freelancers.
  • The founder's role is seen as being a coach and striking a balance between giving independence to team members while also staying involved and providing guidance.
  • Micromanagement can stifle creativity and hinder progress. Finding the right balance between steering towards the initial vision and adapting to market feedback can be challenging.
  • Making decisions as a founder involves dealing with self-doubt and incomplete information but ultimately taking responsibility for those decisions.
  • Referrals have played a significant role in the growth engine of Passion Fruit.

Growth Strategies and Customer Needs

32:27 - 39:28

  • The core growth engine for Passion Fruit is referrals.
  • The company believes that the liquidity of work is the most important thing for freelancers.
  • Passion Fruit focuses on keeping a small base of brilliant freelancers and providing them with a significant share of earnings.
  • They aim to be enough of their freelancers' earnings that they couldn't imagine life without Passion Fruit.
  • Finding the right balance between being important to freelancers and allowing enough earnings for everyone is crucial.
  • Referrals and word-of-mouth are essential for growth on the freelance side.
  • Passion Fruit has hired a supply growth lead, Lara, who previously worked at Uber in the Middle East North Africa region.
  • Initially, Passion Fruit served only startups because they have quicker adoption cycles and provide quick feedback.
  • When transitioning from startups to enterprise customers, there were some discrepancies in specialist needs.
  • It took time to understand the different needs of big businesses but now they are clear on what those needs are.
  • VCs tend to focus on market maps rather than understanding the territory, but Passion Fruit's team understands the topography of their customers' world.
  • Bringing on startups in the early days involved manual sales processes and targeting YC companies.

Establishing Credibility and Delivering Exceptional Results

38:59 - 46:01

  • In the early stages of a startup, it is important to establish credibility and legitimacy with customers.
  • Using well-known and respected brands as customers can help build credibility.
  • Gradually moving up the ladder of legitimacy by attracting bigger and more established clients is crucial for growth.
  • Demonstrating competence and reliability at the edges of big businesses can lead to opportunities with larger accounts.
  • Freelancers on the platform are evaluated based on their specialist score, which includes factors like work quality, reporting frequency, mentoring, and invoice timeliness.
  • The platform aims to match projects with freelancers who have the best scores, giving them more opportunities for work.
  • At the earliest stage, there is little room for error, so a plan should focus on delivering exceptional results in every aspect.
  • While unforeseen events may occur, such as personal tragedies for specialists working on projects, efforts are made to quickly address any issues that arise.
  • Big companies prioritize stability and may sever ties if they perceive any risk or mistakes in marketing campaigns.
  • Marketing mistakes can impact various aspects of a business, including share prices and CEO communication with board members.

Constraints and Growth Opportunities

45:32 - 52:37

  • Big brands are cautious and hesitant to take risks in marketing.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of assembling a talented team for business growth.
  • The number of company marketers on the platform is constantly being refined and currently in the low thousands.
  • B2B marketplaces often face constraints when trying to disrupt traditional ways of doing things.
  • Demand constraints initially limit growth, but as word spreads, demand can increase rapidly.
  • Pepsi's marketing team is praised for their brilliant work and the challenges they face in the industry.
  • Supply refers to freelancers and specialists, while demand refers to customer brands on Passion Fruit platform.
  • The focus is currently more on demand rather than increasing the number of freelancers.
  • Leveraging B2B influencers and starting a podcast targeting the audience can be effective strategies for generating leads and content.

Content Distribution and Revenue Models

52:07 - 58:49

  • The speaker reflects on their past experience with podcasting and the importance of producing quality content.
  • They mention a brand called "lifetime fitness" that reminded them that there is always space for more quality products or services.
  • The distribution of podcast content is highlighted as being crucial, and the speaker mentions the importance of creating content with influential individuals and distributing it in a targeted manner.
  • The speaker discusses the value of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and suggests repurposing existing content to reach customers regularly.
  • There is a discussion about decision-makers and whether they consume content like middle-class older individuals or prefer recommendations from trusted advisors.
  • The idea of creating a revenue-sharing model with C-suite advisors or coaches is proposed as a way to prove value and gain their support.
  • The potential market for data science-related products or services is mentioned as an untapped opportunity.
  • Multi-product expansion is discussed as a strategy once a certain revenue threshold is reached, with data science being seen as a logical addition to the existing product offerings.

Sales Strategies and Sponsorship

58:37 - 1:05:33

  • CMOs buy based on recommendations from their peers and colleagues.
  • Cold emails can be effective for reaching junior-level employees, but may not be the best approach for selling to CMOs.
  • A passion fruit advisory board was set up initially, but it didn't make sense for the enterprise market.
  • Marketers often make decisions about freelancers in companies.
  • Senior professionals still have a desire to learn and improve themselves.
  • Understanding what matters to individuals and their incentives is important in sales.
  • Angel investors can provide valuable recommendations and connections.
  • Plugging a podcast into a cold email can be an effective strategy as it provides value without selling anything directly.
  • CEOs and high-level executives also seek out valuable content to improve themselves and their teams.
  • Sponsoring a podcast can be a good way to reach growth and marketing leaders.

Success Through Unconventional Approaches

1:05:07 - 1:07:25

  • The podcast discusses the idea of sponsoring a podcast for growth.
  • The hosts mention that they have come across some incredible opportunities through sponsorship.
  • One key insight is the importance of running things in your own way, even if it goes against conventional wisdom.
  • The audience for this podcast is primarily startup marketing and growth leaders.
  • The hosts emphasize the value of being opinionated and contrarian in order to find success.
  • The location of the office is mentioned as being off-leather lane in Farringdon.
  • They mention that people can find them on LinkedIn for further contact.
  • Overall, the hosts express gratitude for the opportunity to share valuable information and hope to help others with their discussions.