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How to Create a Core Message

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Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I’m going to talk to you about Creating a Core message for your company. I’m not interviewing anyone – it’s just me talking to you and providing you with valuable advice on how to successfully navigate through your Customer Journey.

Using my own best practices as a consultant, speaker and author, I’ll teach you how to craft a message of differentiation. You’ll dig deeper into why you do what you do, what makes you different and how you’re uniquely suited to serve an ideal client.

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What “themes of value” are and how can they help you constitute a focused core message
  • How a “talking logo” will set you apart from your competition
  • Three inspirational books that will help make you a stronger writer and have you thinking critically as you glide through your own customer journey

Want to find out more about Duct Tape Marketing and the multitude of resources we offer? Check out the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, the Duct Tape Marketing System and our entire library of free eBooks.

This week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by our friends at Hover. Do you need a great domain name for your great business idea? Hover makes this quick and easy. Go to hover.com and use the promo code JohnDTM for 10% off of your first purchase.

15 A New Look for Duct Tape Marketing and . . .

new duct tape marketing design

Even a casual reader of this blog will notice that we’ve made a few changes around here.

Change in business is inevitable and a major overhaul of one of your primary business assets – such as a website and blog – is something that must be entered into strategically as much as aesthetically.

These days a site design can become obsolete in as little as 18 months.

It’s not just that design trends and fashions evolve, it’s that people start to expect your site to operate a certain way based on what they experience around the web.

If you’re site doesn’t scroll the way they are used to, has a linking structure that doesn’t make sense or is a mess when viewed on a mobile device or tablet you run the risk of losing the interest of folks you’ve worked hard to attract.

Here are the things we did that are behind our “why a new design.”

Community vs. lead capture

Perhaps the biggest change was to move away from the traditional lead capture practice of offering a single piece of content, such as an eBook in exchange for an email address.

Today we are asking people to join our content community. In return, they will gain access to our entire library of ebooks and premium content, such as webinar archives, as well as all future content.

My feeling is that is the way forward for content publishers like us and I believe creates a greater sense of long-term community rather than one-off trade of information.

I wrote about this idea in a bit more detail here – The rise of the content community

New URL structure

We finally moved a little closer to the modern blog structure with our URLs.

Today, many publishers have shifted the idea of a blog to true content management. The concept of a daily updated blog with dates attached has been supplanted by the practice of creating and publishing content around themes or categories without regard to date.

We didn’t go all the way with this as moving 4,000 blog posts created over the last 13 years was scary enough for me, but we moved towards this by taking all dates away from URLs and blog posts. (We had some nice help from Yoast and my host Synthesis on this.)

We will move a step closer in the future as we arrange evergreen content around core themes. I’ve written about this practice in depth here – How to create a total content system

Updated theme

We completely updated the WordPress theme on the site to incorporate more visual elements and simplified navigation structure.

Site Journey

We have several very distinct groups that look for information on Duct Tape Marketing and we wanted to make easier for these segments to find what they were looking for.

We cater to many business owners and marketers looking for tips, tricks and advice around building marketing systems and we also cater to marketing coaches, consultants and agency owners looking to grow their practices.

We put a path front and center on the home page that allows members of these groups to choose content that more closely meets what they are probably looking for without the need to search for it.

As with all projects of this nature, it’s still a work in progress but we welcome your thoughts and feedback!

Customer Journey Through The Tourney

Happy March, everyone! It is my favorite time of year. Spring weather is here, and March Madness is just around the corner.

While many of us are focusing on buzzer beaters and bracket busters, business owners should be focused on improving the way their businesses get their customers to Know, Like, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer their product. We call this the customer journey, and we visualize it with a tool called the Marketing Hourglass.

But ignoring basketball this month is easier said than done, I thought I might visualize the customer journey a different way – through the lens of a college basketball fan.

First Four – Know

The First Four is the official kick-off to March Madness, and it begins the Wednesday before the first weekend of the main tournament. This may be the first time you have heard of any of these teams, let alone watch them play. This would mirror the first time a customer encounters your business.

While you watch these early games, be aware of all of the ways new customers may encounter your business for the first time, and imagine different ways to reach more people.

Second Round – Like

The next step is to get this customer to like your business. New fans of basketball teams begin to like the team if they know enough about them to correctly predict a second-round upset.

For your business, you must strive to give potential customers great first impressions. Think about all of those customer touch-points in the previous round. Are there ways to improve the experience to create better impressions?

Third Round – Trust

Getting your customers to trust you is an important step towards turning them into paying customers. The Cinderella team you have been following earns your trust by winning another game. Not only are you rooting for them, but you are starting to believe they have a chance to win it all.

Like the team working hard for an upset, show your customers you are working hard to earn their trust, and they’ll start to believe in your business.

Sweet 16 – Try

Say your favorite new team has made it past the first weekend of the tournament. Games are now stand-alone, so more people are watching and cheering for every team. This is the first time a new fan can truly feel like a fan, a part of this team’s community.

The same goes for your business. Give your customers an experience to try and show them the value of your product. If they like what they experience, they will take the plunge and buy your product.

Elite Eight – Buy

Now it comes time for your customer to buy your product. During the tournament, this may be the stage when a new fan buys a t-shirt or some other memorabilia from the now improbable Elite Eight run.

For businesses, some of you may think this is the ultimate goal. It isn’t. You want to now shift your focus to turning these customers into continuing business.

Final Four – Repeat

Not every team makes it to the Final Four, just like your customers don’t always become repeat customers. The thrill of your chosen team making the Final Four is your reward for your support so far. Win or lose, this is exciting enough you’ll likely want to experience it again in the future. Your business is no different. Reward your customers for their business with great customer service or continued support, and they’ll keep coming back.

National Championship – Refer

This is the biggest step a customer can take for your business. Customers that continually refer your business to their family and friends are the best for the long term viability of your company. For the basketball team, win or lose in the national championship game, you’ll be telling your friends you were there to see their run to the final, and they should be fans too.

Referrals are the culmination of all of the steps that came before, and it is the championship trophy you should be seeking for your business.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

4 How to Create the Perfect Customer Journey

photo credit: Reloj.cp via photopin (license)

photo credit: Reloj.cp via photopin (license)

The Marketing HourglassTM is a powerful tool to map out your marketing efforts in a way that makes sense to everyone in your organization. Most marketers view the customer experience as a funnel, but we at Duct Tape Marketing know that the customer experience ideally goes beyond the point of sale.

Mapping it out in this way has helped many small businesses think about and improve upon their method of guiding customers. Having a game plan for your customers to know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer you is necessary to ensure your customers are taken care of across all levels of the customer journey.

Keeping tabs on how your brand is represented within the Hourglass mindset is equally important.   Follow the steps below to conduct your own Marketing Hourglass Brand Audit: 

Before you get started on the Marketing HourglassTM:

Step 1: Define and sketch the makeup and personality of your ideal clients

Step 2: Discover your perfect value proposition

Step 3: Brainstorm and document your vision and goals

Step 4: Create your brand personality that represents your culture statement

Step 5: Outline branding guidelines – ie colors, fonts, images, etc.

Step 6: Create a brand positioning statement including all the elements above

Once you complete the brand positioning statement, run through the following questions of the Hourglass to ensure your brand is consistent across all stages.  These questions are meant to get you started thinking through each stage. You may want to add more questions in as you go through the process.


–       Do your ads communicate the brand positioning statement? Do they target and connect with your ideal clients?

–       Do your social media accounts have consistent images and messages?  Are they promoted on your website?

–       Are your guest post contributions targeted towards your ideal clients audience base?

–       Are your keywords consistent and focused on monthly themes?

–       Are your local directories complete with your core difference and branding guidelines?

–       Do you have a systemized plan to handle all referrals that come in?


–       Do your print assets include your core message and brand personality?

–       Is your website consistent to your brand positioning statement and your writing style guide?

–       Do your logo and company name represent your brand positioning?

–       Do your business cards include your core difference?

–       Are your email signatures and tag lines consistent across your entire team?

–       Is your vision documented on your website for your ideal clients to relate to?

–       Is your website mobile responsive?


–       Are your newsletters consistent with your website branding?  Does the newsletter go out on a regular basis and include valuable content for your audience?  Is there an opt-in incentive for your newsletter?

–       Are your email campaigns consistent with you branding guidelines?

–       Do you follow monthly themes on your blog to establish your company as an expert on focused topics?

–       Do you regularly promote and monitor review sites?


–       What is your free or trial offering?  How do you encourage people to sign up for the free trial?

–       Is your follow up for the free trial consistent with your brand positioning?

–       Do your PowerPoint presentations match your website branding?


–       What is your starter offering?

–       What is your core offering?

–       What is your members-only offering?

–       Do your contracts and invoices match your brand positioning statement?

–       Do you have a detailed new customer kit once someone signs on as a customer?  If so, does this follow your brand positioning?


–       What are your add-ons to increase value?

–       What is your “make it easy to switch” offering?

–       What is your surprise gift to encourage repeat customers?

–       Do you have a targeted process to upsell to your current clients?


–       What are our strategic partner pairings?

–       How do you encourage your current customers to refer?  Do you share your ideal client personas?

–       Does your incentive for referrals tie in your branding and/or culture in some way?

The point of the hourglass metaphor is to get you thinking not only about how to generate and close deals but how to create the best possible experience as part of the plan.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

Sara HeadshotSara Jantsch is the Director of Community at Duct Tape Marketing.  She is also a Marketing Consultant and has a strong passion for working with small business owners.  Interested in developing your own Marketing Hourglass with the Duct Tape team?  Click here to learn why a Duct Tape Marketing plan my be perfect for your business. 

6 7 Steps to Marketing Success Workshop

Did you know National Small Business Week in the US is next week?

Well it is and to celebrate I would like to invite you to join me for a free online workshop aimed at helping you grow your business. (And, it doesn’t matter if your business is in the US or not!)

Free online seminar:

How to Create a Marketing System that Produces Consistent and Predictable Results or what I also call The 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success.

The event is being held online Wednesday, May 18th at Noon CT (My Duct Tape time clock shows you my time around the world) Register here

Duct Tape Marketing BookI am going to give away 5 copies of my book Duct Tape Marketing to 5 lucky attendees and everyone that signs up will also receive a bonus gift valued at $250.

Can’t make that time work? Sign up and we’ll get you the recording and your free gift anyway.

Don’t miss this great educational opportunity, sign up today.

6 Marketing Is Your Most Important System

Image: Deliver Magazine

A lot of people ask me what Duct Tape Marketing is. Usually Duct Tape Marketing represents one of the various parts they’ve come into contact with.

There’s this blog, a podcast, a newsletter, books, self-study courses, and a network of independent Duct Tape Marketing consultants around the globe.

Even with all of those tangible representatives of Duct Tape Marketing, more than anything it’s an audacious idea that marketing for the small business can be simple, effective and affordable when practiced in a systematic fashion.

It’s my experience that any business, regardless of industry, can benefit from this view and that marketing can be stripped down to the effective implementation of these 7 steps and a big part of my business purpose revolves around bringing this message to the small business world

  1. Develop strategy before tactics – Base all decisions on an ideal customer and core message of difference
  2. Embrace The Marketing Hourglass – Look at every potential prospect and customer touchpoint and design a remarkable experience
  3. Adopt the publishing model. – Commit to producing content that builds trust and educates
  4. Create a total web presence. – Develop a plan that takes advantage of the SEO and social media aspects of being found
  5. Orchestrate the lead generation trio. – Use technology to create multiple ways to generate leads via advertising, public relations, and referrals
  6. Drive a lead conversion system. – Develop a sales system that everyone in the organization can use from initial contact to results review
  7. Live by the marketing calendar. – Make marketing a habit by establishing monthly, weekly and daily action steps

I outlined each step in detail for this week’s AMEX OPENForum post – Read the entire article here – 7 Steps to Creating a Sure-Fire Marketing System

Come Meet Me on the Road

I read Jack Kerouac’s On The Road back in high school and I like it so much I’ve got a copy on my Kindle, er, iPad, just so I can grab a few pages any time I get a hankering for the road. I’ve got quite a few live, public and on the road events coming up over the next few months so I thought I would share some here in hopes that I can meet a few of my readers. (Some of the attendees at these events are getting advance copies of my new book The Referral Engine, out May 13th, but don’t tell anyone.)

“The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

119 I Need a Caption for This Image

And the winner is . . . Springtime, wintertime, real-time from Chris Del Plato

I used this image in a recent presentation on social media to help set the table for one of my primary themes – social media is not a single tool or tactic, it’s more of a strategy or behavior.

Suggest a caption in the comments here – Click to enlarge

duct tape rulesI was wondering if you my readers could help me out by suggesting captions for this image. Simply write a clever caption in the comments section. (Be creative, the one that makes me laugh the most, regardless of whether it relates to social media or not, wins a copy of Duct Tape Marketing and a newly created “Duct Tape Rules t-shirt” shown here.)

3 Winner of the Social Media Library

In case you missed my post on Friday I offered one signed copy of One these seven books: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, New Community Rules by Tamar Weinberg, Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel, Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik, Duct Tape Marketing by well, me, Whuffle Factor by Tara Hunt and CrushIt by Gary Vaynerchuk to the person that most creatively answers the following: I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I [fill in the blank] – Here’s the original post if you missed it

Between the blog comments, emails and tweets over 100 people responded, so picking one best answer was a bit on the ridiculous side.

It was awesome to see so much positive response to the use of social media. Go back to the post and read the comments, they read like a list of testimonials for the power of social media in small business.

To me, the most significant theme that came across was the realization of the power of combining offline and online to create even more impact. I am just finishing the rewrites for next book and this is a central theme of the book.

“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I combine my online activity with my offline activity”
“…when I couple it with good ol’ fashion “meet and greet”.”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I use all possible forms of marketing, provide great content, and link everything together.”

There were a couple other popular threads as well:

“I get the biggest return for my business using social media is when I am completely present with followers”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I engage with the community.”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I engage in honest conversations everyday.”

Give first
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I take dry ideas and turn them into stories people enjoy, comment on, and pass along to others.”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I: Give Generously”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I pay it forward.”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media by keeping my focus on sharing useful and interesting info rather than a hard sell.”

“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I listen, then listen, then listen some more before doing anything else.”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I engage in a conversation. Can’t talk “to” the clients. Gotta talk “with.”
“I get the biggest return for my business using social media when I stop thinking I know everything and start to listen to my costumers!”

Oh, and who won? The winner is:
“I have been working on building my personal brand and by doing so I have utilized social networks. I am a recent graduate (2008) and have been volunteering at many social media conferences in hopes to land a position in the field.

I think these books would help me center myself as a better freelancer until I land my full time gig or to help me become a better person in business.”

Jamie Favreau

I have to admit that as a dad of kids doing the same right now, I had a soft spot for Jamie’s plea. There were so many great responses, thanks all for playing.

53 The Easiest Way To Explain the Marketing Process

Many marketers have been taught the concept of the marketing funnel. The idea being that you bring leads into the top of the large opening in a funnel and push the ones that become customers through the small end. The problem I’ve always had with that is all the focus is on the chase. I happen to think that real payoff in marketing comes from expanding and focusing your thinking on how to turn a lead into an advocate for your business.

Long ago I started using the concept of The Marketing Hourglasssm. The top half indeed resembles the funnel concept, but the expanding bottom half, to my way of thinking, adds the necessary focus on the total customer experience that ultimately leads to referrals and marketing momentum.

I use the diagram below in workshops to explain the logical path a lead should follow to participate in your fully developed Marketing Hourglass. This concept is one of the key elements of the overall Duct Tape Marketing system, but I could conduct entire workshops around this one slide as it seems to be the easiest way to explain the marketing process in simple and practical terms. At a recent workshop an attendee came up to me and said about this diagram, “I’m an engineer by trade and this marketing stuff never made sense to me, now it finally does.” – I guess that’s the ultimate test.


The Marketing Hourglass – (click to enlarge)

When you overlay my definition of marketing – “getting someone who has a need to know, like, and trust you” with the intentional act of turning know, like and trust into try, buy, repeat, and refer you get the entire logical path for moving someone from initial awareness to advocate.

The key is to systematically develop touchpoints, processes and product/service offerings for each of the 7 phases of the hourglass.

1. Know – Your ads, article, and referred leads
2. Like – Your website, reception, and email newsletter
3. Trust – Your marketing kit, white papers, and sales presentations
4. Try – Webinars, evaluations, and nurturing activities
5. Buy – Fulfillment, new customer kit, delivery, and financial arrangements
6. Repeat – Post customer survey, cross sell presentations, and quarterly events
7. Refer – Results reviews, partner introductions, peer 2 peer webinars, and community building

Far too many businesses attempt to go from Know to Buy and wonder why it’s so hard. By creating ways to gently move someone to trust, and perhaps even creating low cost offerings as trials, the ultimate conversion to buy gets so much easier.

In order to start your thinking about the hourglass concept and gaps you may have ponder these questions:

  • What is your free or trial offering?
  • What is your starter offering?
  • What is your “make it easy to switch” offering?
  • What is your core offering?
  • What are your add-ons to increase value?
  • What is your members only offering?
  • What are your strategic partner pairings?