In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I’m doing a solo show, and I’m gonna talk about something that I’ve been talking a lot about lately called the Customer Success Track.
After working with tons of small businesses and clients for the last 30+ years, I’ve realized that there are five stages of marketing that many businesses go through. I’ve been able to identify the milestones that businesses need to move customers or clients through and consequently the tasks associated with each of those milestones.
I’ve mapped this out in what I’m calling the Customer Success Track – a concept I talk about deeply in my latest book – The Ultimate Marketing Engine. In this episode, I’m diving into the five stages of the customer success track – Foundation, Level Up, Organize, Stabilize, and Scale – and how to advance a customer or client through all five stages over the course of a long-term business relationship.
Topics I Cover:
- [1:28] What the Customer Success Track is
- [1:41] Stage 1: Foundation
- [7:46] Stage 2: Level up
- [11:36] Stage 3: Organize
- [14:23] Stage 4: Stabilize
- [18:36] Stage 5: Scale
Resources I Mention:
- Get the Kindle version of The Ultimate Marketing Engine for just $2.99 (during the month of August 2022)
- Learn more about my book The Ultimate Marketing Engine
Take The Marketing Assessment:
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John Jantsch (00:00): Today's episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by blissful prospecting, hosted by Jason bay and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network host Jason Bay dives in with leading sales experts and top performing reps to share actionable tips and strategies to help you land more meetings with your ideal clients. Recently, they did a show on the four day work week. I'm a huge fan. I think everybody should be looking towards trying to create that. Hey, we get most of our work done in like two hours every day. Anyway, so let's try out the four day work week. All right, listen to blissful, prospecting, wherever you get your podcasts.
John Jantsch (00:46): Hey, hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and I am doing another solo show, just you and me and the radio, as they say, I guess somebody probably said, I'm gonna talk about something that I've been talking a lot about lately called the customer success, track little plug for my latest book, the ultimate marketing engine. I talk about it in depth in there, and there's all kinds of resources. And if you're listening to this show in August of 2022, you can pick up the Kindle version for 2 99. Okay. There's a commercial today. But if this topic resonates, go get the book because I go so deep in into it. So here's the basis premise behind this customer success track. Over the years, I started to recognize, and again, I didn't wake up on day one and say, this is how the world is over tons and tons of experience, years clients, prospects.
John Jantsch (01:45): I've started to realize that there are about five stages of marketing that many businesses go through. And some of them rush through them. Some of 'em hang out in one stage or the another for a long time, but I've been able to recognize the characteristics of a business in that stage based a lot on what's going on in their marketing or what's going on in, you know, increasingly in their online presence. I know what challenges they're probably facing at that point because of where they are. But I also know have been able to identify the milestones that we need to move them through and consequently, the tasks associated to each of those milestones. And if we do that, I mean, it's basically a task list of things that need to be accomplished. If we do that, we can also say, but here's the promise of moving through that stage.
John Jantsch (02:37): I'm gonna go into some depth from a marketing standpoint. So if you're a business owner out there thinking, okay, he's talking about me right now. Maybe it'll give you some clues to what you need to be looking at in your marketing. If you're a marketer, if you're a consultant listening to this and you work with folks on their marketing, this is a great way to start thinking about how you would retain clients for a longer time, because you've got a roadmap that you're working from. And again, as I said, the much, much more depth on this in the ultimate marketing engine and a lot of things that I've been writing about, but I thought I would bring it out today because I think what happens is a lot of times people can't really identify the problem or they think the solution is I just need more leads.
John Jantsch (03:19): Well, what I'm gonna share today is that's not always the challenge. There is sort of a linear order. to how things need to be done, how things need to be built, how your business will evolve. And I think to some degree you can start recognizing it's hard if you get stuck because a lot of businesses get to a certain point, frankly, and they've grown. They're doing some things that maybe now they're juggling a lot of balls dropping a few plates, but outwardly they appear to have succeeded some. And so they, a lot of times dig in and just try to do more where they are and what I wanna suggest through this idea of the customer's success track and the stages and the customer success track is there's certain things you as the owner, the founder, the head of marketing, whatever your role is, need to start doing differently at each of these stages.
John Jantsch (04:06): And I think sometimes that's what trips people up. There are a lot of people that, that they love tinkering. They love DIYing. They love getting in and digging under the hood and figuring things out. Even if it takes 'em all day long to do it. And that has to change. If in fact you wanna move through these stages. So that's a little bit of what, what I'm gonna talk about today. All right. So let's talk about the stages. I've given them names. There are five of them. I'm gonna go through the characteristics and I'm hopeful that you'll listen and go, oh, wait a minute. That's some of what I'm experiencing. So that must be where I am. All right. The stages are foundation level up, organize, stabilize, and scale. Now those are arbitrary names. That's just a name that we pinned to each of the stages.
John Jantsch (04:53): If you're thinking about developing something like this for your own practice or for your own offerings that you go out there, obviously five's even an arbitrary number, but we just found that who we worked with that was a good way to delineate. All right. So what are the characteristics of that foundation business quite often, sometimes, but not always. They're in a startup mode. They're very founder driven. All the sales are typically happening from the founder, going out there and knocking on doors. Almost. There's no website leads coming in. They've maybe built a website. It's kind of a brochure, but no leads coming in. They're talking about their company. They're talking about their products in most of their marketing. There's not a consistent online presence. I mean, we see this all the time. Maybe they've got a LinkedIn profile, they've got a, a, you know, Google business profile page and there's off branding off names off what they call it. I mean, there's just, it's a lot of inconsistencies. And typically it's because they've not attached any value to participating in social media. They're not using email in a consistent manner. Even if they're getting clients, they're not using email to nurture those leads, to nurture those clients, to actually get repeat business.
John Jantsch (06:05): Part of the reason, some of the challenges of being in this stage, marketing's changing quickly, or at least it really feels like it. I think it, we run into folks all the time and this part of their, and they just don't know where to invest. I mean, somebody tells me I need to buy this. Somebody tells me I need to be here. Social media in a lot of cases feels like a way, particularly when you use it the way you see so many people using it, repeat business is not coming your way. And frankly, you've got too many tasks.
John Jantsch (06:37): Any of that sound like you , those are the challenges. Now here's the payoff. If we can fix, if you can fix those challenges, if you can start addressing the fact that you have to look at your website, for example, in a much different way, you have to actually start telling stories. You have to actually start using email. You have to actually start understanding the problem you solve for your customers. Some of the strategic things that go into actually creating a consistent online presence. The promise of that is that you're now gonna have a website that's prepared to not only a attract leads, but convert them. You're gonna get traffic flow from the search engines because you're creating useful content that people want to find. People wanna read. You're addressing the problems they're trying to solve. You can start generating reviews, perhaps automatically using some of the tools that are available today. And you can start thinking about re-engaging past customers. That's the promise of getting just the foundational stage built.
John Jantsch (07:39): Now, obviously that may not make the phone ring that may not actually take you from a revenue standpoint where you want to go. So what's the next level of maturity. The next stage, we actually call that one level up. A lot of times people will get that website built that work with a marketer. I mean, they're starting to produce content that they're starting to optimize some of their assets out there, but they're not really converting any of that web traffic. I mean, I guess the first trick is to get some traffic there , but it's not converting. So, so frankly, if you get things out of order, let's say at this stage, you wanna start running ads. Well, you're gonna be wasting a lot of money because until you're converting traffic that comes to your website, there's no point sending or, or getting traffic that comes there.
John Jantsch (08:25): You're not getting into page one. You know, search engine results are on maps in for local businesses there. There's still okay. You've bought into social media, but there's no engagement, which is really the only thing that matters leads are coming in, but you don't have any real systematic way to follow up on them. You're starting to think about online advertising, but not really sure what to do. And then this is what another thing we commonly run into at this stage. There's no sales process, not one that's repeatable. Anyway, that just kind of happens as it happens. Now, again, part of the challenges of being in this stage is maybe you've got customers, maybe you're fulfilling orders, but you don't have enough time to produce content or at least the volume of content that marketers say you need today. You're not really sure what content to produce online.
John Jantsch (09:16): Advertising seems both complex and expensive. You're not converting enough leads. You're starting to have those conversations, but you're not really converting them into customers. And unfortunately at this stage in many cases, because there aren't systems built for fulfillment, you're not retaining those clients. So at this stage, what we're working on doing now is creating landing pages, creating and narrowing the focus of an ideal customer, creating ways in which we can make content for really, for all stages of the customer journey, creating trust on the website, creating an actual journey with calls to action and maybe some free downloads. So you can start capturing those leads that are, or that traffic that's coming to your website because they're interested in something you're putting out there. So if we can get that now we've got the foundation built and now we're starting to layer on conversion. I mean, we're starting to layer on, okay, we've got people coming now, what's gonna turn them into customers or what's gonna at least put them into our pipeline.
John Jantsch (10:19): So the promise there is that, that now first off you're gonna start attracting higher quality traffic and leads because that's one of the real challenges in that foundation mode is you might be attracting some leads, but they're the wrong leads. So you're gonna get more ideal client interactions at this phase. Search engines and maps are gonna start noticing you, you all, you will create because at this stage, you're now ready to create some automatic lead capture and follow up. You're going to create a solid sales process at this stage so that you can start to consistently converting leads that, and in those sales conversations that you're having,
John Jantsch (10:56): And now let's hear from a sponsor, running a small business means doing it all. You deserve an online marketing platform that does the same. Semrush is an all in one platform that will lighten the load handle SEO, social media, and advertising all in one place, attract new customers, save time and money on marketing and get ahead of the competition.
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John Jantsch (11:31): all right, now we've got somebody up and running. So, so you can see we're kind of building on this. So once we're up and running, we're gonna move into organized. Now what's happening here is okay. Now I'm starting to get leads. I'm starting to have sales conversations, but now I'm kind of a mess. now I'm not tracking client relationships. I'm not really fully tracking my marketing results because I'm running too fast. I'm not upselling. I'm not cross-selling, I'm not taking advantage now of the fact that if I just drove more traffic there, say through advertising, I'm really in a, in many cases, I'm still fighting that competitive dynamic. I'm not seen as a leader necessarily.
John Jantsch (12:11): Now again, the challenges that, that this stage brings quite often is that your lead cycles are really up and down. Sometimes it's busy. Sometimes it's slow. sometimes you can keep up. Sometimes you can't. I mean, marketing return is hard to understand. There's so many things that go into it. If you're not really accurately tracking, it's a challenge. Client acquisition seems really hard or maybe expensive sales processes still at this point are very manual and customer service now has become an issue and is in inconsistent. So what are we gonna go to work on here? This is a place where we certainly are gonna start talking about the need for a CRM. at this stage, you need to be using some of the tools that allow you to automate some of your marketing, to track some of your clients to segment who's coming to your website.
John Jantsch (13:03): We're gonna set up a dashboard. You know, at this stage, we want to know what's working. What's not working. We're gonna track calls. We're gonna track emails. We're gonna track ad spend. We are going to start thinking about campaigns now to retain customers campaigns, specifically, to sell more to existing customers. We're probably gonna start talking about referrals here. We are. Certainly at this point can take advantage of some of the online advertising, but we also have to really focus on what happens when somebody becomes a customer. This is the stage where we certainly could go to work earlier on this, but we find that this is where it becomes so crucial that we can make it a priority. And that's the customer experience, the onboarding, the follow up, the communication, the orientation. I mean, all those as set intentions that we can repeat, you know, time and time again.
John Jantsch (13:56): So we do this in this stage, and now we're gonna see a consistent lead flow. We're not gonna be wasting money on advertising because we're gonna understand what works, what doesn't, we're gonna automate some of the lead nurturing, not as a way to shield ourselves from having to talk to customers, but as a way to actually create a frictionless better experience for prospects and customers, we're gonna be converting the right customers. And we're gonna have much higher retention and referral. This is the place where a lot of businesses, I mean, getting to this space is really the goal. Many businesses don't even reach this stage, but also this is a place where now all of a sudden, if we're gonna go beyond this, we can't just add more revenue. We just can't add more sales because we're not gonna be able to handle it. We have to add team.
John Jantsch (14:44): We have to add delegate delegation. This is the place at which quite frankly, the marketer, the doer, the task doer, who has maybe moved to being task manager. This is the place where we need actually a real CEO. we need the head of the organization to form because this is the, you know, I don't know where the revenue is, but it's certainly when we're gonna go north of a million in revenue, obviously that's an arbitrary figure because types of businesses are different, but this is the one to 10 to 50 million range where short of a leadership team, short of, uh, you being a CEO and no longer being the marketing manager or the marketing doer has to happen. So what's happening here. You know, we're using the characteristics now are actually more positive because you're using a CRM for sales. You've established some marketing KPIs.
John Jantsch (15:40): Maybe now you're starting to get the room, the breathing room to think, Hey, we can develop new products, new offerings. We've got online advertising, working for us well enough. Maybe we're starting to feel like, Hey, we're a bigger player. We need to get more involved in the community, more involved in our industry. We need to start developing internal marketing roles. Now the challenge, of course, at this stage, that all those characteristics sound lovely, right? Profitability starts to vary at this stage. We maybe were really pumping in expenses cause we're buying advertising. We're adding team. So expenses are increasing rapidly.
John Jantsch (16:19): It's tough to maintain marketing momentum with the growth that's coming and even harder to maintain fulfillment. It's time to actually probably bring on a strategic marketing hire as well. And this is the point where a lot of founders actually have to start analyzing, am I the right person? to be in this seat to be the COO, do I need a COO? Do I need somebody? Who's actually not only running marketing, but to somebody who's actually running operations or at least creating the delegation and the systems and the processes for getting all the work done. So in many cases, this is where we'll definitely go to work on trying to automate things in an elegant way. Again, not to just shield the, the business from ever having to talk to anyone. This is where we'll make significant talk about making significant investments in both marketing spend.
John Jantsch (17:15): And then I guess a third one operations spend, if in some cases, this is the place, you know, for many of our consultants, for example, this is the place where they need to start adding account managers. They need to AC actually start adding managerial levels in, in, you know, several places because businesses there. But if it's going out the back door as fast as it's coming in the front door, you're not really gonna gain any traction, but the promise here, if we can get this done, if we can build systems for both marketing and for fulfillment here, we can start replicating what we're doing. We start replicating what you used to be doing maybe as the founder and the startup, and this is gonna actually lead to consistent lead conversion, which certainly is going to lead to consistent growth. This is where word of mouth and referral generation just starts happening.
John Jantsch (18:04): Steadily your business really becomes start starting at this point to become an asset to the owner of the business, because it's not as dependent on you. And frankly, if you ever wanna talk about exiting your business or selling your business, I mean, that's certainly one of the criteria. Somebody has to be able to see how this would run without you. You know, there are many businesses that get found by an individual grown by an individual. And really a lot of the relationships are with that individual as opposed to the systems and the framework of the business. All right, the last one as we call scale, and really this one, probably this stage, you know, probably fits somebody that is maybe, maybe thinking in terms of exiting the business or certainly of maybe exiting their role as a, you know, day to day CEO or something, you know, kind of moving to a board type of role.
John Jantsch (18:57): So what's going on here typically, is that again, more positive characteristics, but still same challenges. So lead flow is pretty consistent and predictable starting to build an internal marketing team. You're sales management driven, not just a couple sales people out there, right? There's an entire selling system. You're starting to become recognized as a leader or in your industry or in your town. There's a bit of financial mastery. So at this stage, while again, some people who are more financial oriented, you know, maybe start this in the first stage, but this is where profit and your cost of acquisition of new business. This is where you're starting to have capital needs. I mean, so financial mastery is, has become a much bigger piece of the puzzle for success here. And you've really almost built and established, uh, uh, an internal org chart of roles of management roles.
John Jantsch (19:53): Now, the challenges here of course, is anybody who's grown to this. I mean, we might be talking about 20, 30 people or more here. We might be talking about 10, 20, 30 million or more here. And so all of a sudden culture, the thing that maybe was a great thing, not only for those people that work there, but for your customers, um, rapid growth sometimes really comes with a deterioration of culture. There's staff turnover. There's no emphasis on employee branding. There's a challenge to innovate, to continue to grow that bring new products and service offerings can add a lot of stress at this stage. So in terms of many of the things that that I talked about as characteristics, I mean, now you're gonna go to work on you. You absolutely are gonna build team. You're gonna build leadership team here. You're going to formalize structure around people, operations.
John Jantsch (20:46): You're going to need to give more and more focus to fulfillment and more and more focus to innovation. In fact, a lot of leaders in this stage of business, actually their primary job is to innovate, becomes the, you know, you've got that operations higher in place that is that managing the people that you've got. Somebody that's focused on culture. You've got somebody that's focused on sales. You've got the finance piece figured out. So in many cases, the role of the leader at this stage is ideas is innovation is to figure out how you can get more market share. Again, the promise, the value of the business will continue to grow. Cash flow will be consistent if need be. You're gonna be set up in now to raise significant capital. A lot of folks go out and raise a whole bunch of capital based on money or I'm sorry, based on an idea, but a business that generates consistent cash flow can demonstrate an ability to grow is going to have a really easy, um, access to a lot of cash.
John Jantsch (21:49): Should they need it? And certainly this is that are seen as leaders have a much easier time attracting experienced talent to, to the organization as well. So all of that to say, you know, many companies, many businesses come to us say, I wanna grow, I want more business. I want more leads. And what we've discovered is certainly that's, we're gonna get there but first we're gonna develop more clarity. First, we're gonna develop more confidence in the systems, more control over what works and what doesn't work. And there is a linear process for this. But for us having this roadmap is such a, you know, becomes the mission, becomes taking folks from where they are to where they want to go. In terms of training, in terms of hiring, in terms of even sales messaging, being able to demonstrate that you have a path to build on for many particularly service businesses is a pretty compelling differentiator and a compelling offer for somebody who is just had so many people selling them the tactic of the week.
John Jantsch (22:52): So while I just went through kind of our customer stages and I could do a whole nother show on every milestone involved in accomplishing moving people through there, but my feeling is that just about any business I've done marketing here, right? But just about any business that sells to other businesses, maybe even individuals could develop this idea of stage growth of staged evolution or maturity. So that's what I wanted to share today. As I said, if you pick up the ultimate marketing engine, you can pick that up. Wherever books are sold, all the electronic book. If you're listening to this in August of 2022 is on sale now for $2 and 99 cents. So when you get the book, you'll actually the entire show that I went through has a, has this roadmap in a form. So when you get the book, you'll actually get all the forms and tools that are shown in the book as well.
John Jantsch (23:43): So that's it for today. Hopefully we'll run into one of these days out there on the road. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we create it a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not .com .co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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Running a small business means doing it all. You deserve an online marketing platform that does the same! Semrush is an all-in-one platform that will lighten the load. Handle SEO, social media, and advertising all in one place. Attract new customers, save time and money on marketing, and get ahead of the competition. New to online marketing? No problem! Semrush will get you started. If you’re ready to grow online, try Semrush free today at semrush.com/now.