Episode 138 | Posted on

Fix Your Small Business Marketing With a Bit of Duct Tape with John Jantsch

As a marketer, how often do you read books about different topics like mathematics or architecture? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably “rarely to never.” While this is understandable, it’s also a mistake. It’s important to read books and consume information in completely different fields to find valuable information that you can apply to marketing.

This is part of the holistic marketing strategy recommended by this episode’s guest, John Jantsch. John is a marketing consultant, speaker, and also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. John is here today to talk about his marketing system, his best strategies, and how to apply them in your own businesses. Chances are you’ll expand your creativity and find ideas that will make you stand out from the crowd.

In this Episode

  • [01:07] – John talks about the origin story of Duct Tape Marketing.
  • [03:20] – Stephan shares a story about an expression he learned in New Zealand, which relates to the idea of duct tape.
  • [04:19] – What is the Duct Tape Marketing System?
  • [07:17] – A good strategy is just as much about what not to do as about what to do, John points out.
  • [09:33] – David talks about how long he has been blogging, and how many blog posts he has written.
  • [12:51] – We hear some of David’s thoughts on content forms other than writing, such as video. He also mentions his Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.
  • [15:03] – David links what he has been saying into the retention phase of the customer journey.
  • [17:28] – Does David find that when he has a big download like a long ebook, do people consume them typically?
  • [20:28] – A thank-you page is a great place to show your branding and differentiation, David points out.
  • [22:39] – After strategy and content, what’s next in the process?
  • [25:26] – David talks about an example of creating content for a stage that content isn’t usually created for.
  • [28:31] – For years, David read books on architecture, math, and other subjects seemingly unrelated to his field. He explains why.
  • [30:28] – What does a referral program look like, and how could listeners apply this in their own business?
  • [33:31] – David offers an example of what he has been talking about, and what the result was.
  • [35:03] – Does David have a referral program within his own business?
  • [36:38] – We hear about David’s process for link building.
  • [39:13] – Stephan responds to what David has been saying, and recommends a previous episode with Greg Gifford for listeners interested in learning more about link building.
  • [39:34] – Stephan and David talk about guest-post pitches.
  • [43:49] – How can someone learn more about David or work with him or his organization?


Too many of our marketing initiatives are disconnected; they operate in silos. Well, this episode number 138, will layout the blueprint for a holistic online marketing strategy where everything is interconnected and works in synergy. Our guest today is John Jantsch. He is the marketing consultant, speaker, and author of Duct Tape MarketingDuct Tape SellingThe Commitment Engine, and The Referral Engine. He is also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. John, it’s great to have you on the show.

It’s my pleasure.

Let’s talk about Duct Tape Marketing. First of all, I’m a big fan of duct tape, I have to say. Because I just think that it fixes anything. I’m really curious, what the origin story is of the name Duct Tape Marketing?

There is some crazy story other than that. I had actually owned my own business for about 15 years—working with small business owners at that time, mostly small business owners. I was ready to take a very systematic approach. I was working with small business owners but they were driving me crazy because I’d go in and say, “What do you need?” “Sure, I do that.” I go back around the proposal last night exactly. They have the same needs and challenges but never the same budgets or attention span. I decided I wanted to create something where I can walk and say, “Here’s what I’m going to do. Here’s what you’re going to do, the results we hope to get. By the way, here’s what it costs.” I found out quickly in trying to solve my greatest frustration, I was actually addressing what is still today one of the greatest frustrations of small business owners. It’s actually hard to buy marketing services because everybody’s selling a piece of the puzzle and not the integrated whole. This idea of marketing as a system, somewhat almost turned the strange service into almost a product that people can buy. I have to give it a product to name, I felt, that could brand it. To me, duct tape just felt like the perfect metaphor for really what a lot of business owners experienced. It’s simple, effective, and affordable is not always pretty—it just has to work. That’s about as much thought as a gave it quite frankly. It just felt like a good brand name for what I was trying to put out there is this practical systematic approach. Fortunately, that name resonated and meant a lot to a lot of small business owners. Even media attention I was able to acquire because it was a little bit of an odd name—a quirky name, as well. I’ll be the first to admit that benefited greatly from the strange affection that people do have for duct tape.

Yes. One of my favorite definitions of the word “brand” is a promise fulfilled or promise delivered. You really have that baked-in into your name, Duct Tape Marketing, I think.

Yeah, I think so. The unfortunate thing is most of my books have been translated into multiple languages and the concept of Duct Tape Marketing just does not translate. It ended up being something like marketing that is low cost and effective.

Yeah, that loses all the juice.

It does.

I lived in New Zealand for a number of years and they have this expression around Number Eight Wire because back in the day, they have all these import duties that were quite expensive. The only wire that they made in New Zealand was Number 8 Wire. If you wanted other sizes of wire you had to pay these exorbitant import duties. They were trying to work whatever magic they needed to work with Number 8 Wire because that’s what they had. It’s just a whole culture of improvisers. They would just figure it out. They use Number 8 Wire like it’s duct tape. Maybe for you that translation to, perhaps, the New Zealand market would be the Number 8 Wire Marketing system.

I do know a lot of farmers depend on bailing wire that’s used for a lot things. I’ve heard farmers talk about duct tape and bailing wire.

Yeah. Let’s talk about the system. What is this Duct Tape Marketing System from soup to nuts?

For me, it starts in a place that is quite obvious but experience tells me it’s not always where everybody else starts. Strategy before tactics. The first part of the Duct Tape Marketing System is we’re going to work really identify who is or who should be an ideal client for your business. Then, we’re going to go to work on really fully understanding the problem that you’re business solves for that ideal customer. It is never ever what we sell. What we sell does not solve a problem, it’s the result that somebody gets from using it. We don’t even pass go or try to create like what marketing tactics should we do until we really nail that idea of a core message of solving an ideal client’s problem. I’ll give you an example, an architect we work with, we did this strategy work with him, went very deep, and discovered that all of their customers were commercial contractors—they were designing buildings, commercial buildings. All of their competitors said, “We design great buildings,” and we talked to some of their clients and found out that the problem that a lot of contractors have is that when they get a project, they don’t get paid or can’t take the first draw until the plans are approved. It turns out that my architect client had great connections at city hall. There are a couple of people on zoning boards and one of them was a suburban city council person. Consequently, they were really familiar with what the priorities of a city or a neighborhood wherein where there will be problems and challenges in trying to build. Their plans got approved faster. There clients told us, “We liked that they design great buildings but what we really love is that they help us get paid faster.” That became their core message because that’s the problem they were actually solving. Unfortunately, true or not, most of our clients believe that one architect, one accountant, one plumber is annexed. If their truck says they do plumbing then they can come in and fix my sink, it’s really the process of how they get that done and what the experience is like that typically we find is rooted in the problem that they solve. That is such a strong differentiator. If we don’t nail that with the client, it’s very difficult to then say, “Okay, where do we put that message? How do we take that to Facebook? How do we take that to the web? How our we going to optimize our website around people that are trying to solve that problem?” That becomes a filter. That strategy becomes a filter then for everything that we decide to do in terms of our marketing plan.

If their truck says they do plumbing then they can come in and fix my sink, it’s really the process of how they get that done and what the experience is like that typically we find is rooted in the problem that they solve.

Well, that’s so powerful. When you say strategy always comes before tactics that reminds me of the quote from the Art of War where Sun Tzu said, “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” I love that quote. You can be running around firing up fireworks and you’re just going to get slaughtered because you’re all about the tactics and your competition is all about strategy. That’s where they make the huge gains.

I think a lot of people underestimate until I tell them this and then you could see them light up is a good strategy is just as much as telling you what not to do as it is about telling you what to do. All those anxieties that business owners have, “Oh, should I be on?” You use your strategy and your ideal customer discretion to make those decisions so that you’re not just ringing your hands saying, “Well, everybody says I need to be here.” It’s really just as effective in helping you eliminate some things which I think is what every small business owner is looking for.

Yeah. Should I be on Pinterest? Let’s figure that out.

That’s the foundation or at least a starting part. The next two foundational parts are that the content has become such a key component in marketing today. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about what the real value is. Everybody was sold on, “You need to have three blog posts a week. They need to be 500 words. They need to be keyword rich, optimized.” Everybody’s just producing all these crap. It’s just like they’re awake about money and they go, “What should I write about? I hear you’re supposed to have this and this.” The way I’ve been talking about content, it powers every channel. It’s not just a SEO tactic or it’s not just an awareness tactic—that’s just blogging. It does powers us. It powers advertising. It powers PR, it powers pretty much any channel that you might want to make some impact in. You’re going to need content to play there. It’s really air more than anything else. The way we connect it so thoroughly to your strategy is that I’ve been explaining and describing content really now is the voice of strategy. It’s not another tactic. What you decide you’re going to do with your content needs to rise to the strategic level.

That’s great. The voice of strategy, I’ve never heard that before but it makes total sense. Content creation is such a commitment. It’s not like you just kind of go in and then you go out again. I did this whole content project and now we’re all done—done and dusted. You have been blogging for how many years and how many blog post have you written?

My first blog post was August of 2003. I do not blog as much as I used to. The purpose of a blog in my opinion and a purpose of content has changed and evolved as my business. I personally have written in excess of 4000 blog posts.

That’s a lot.

When I first started, the first five years I blogged even though on Sunday sometimes. I’ve wrote a blog post of some sort almost every single day. That’s a great example of how it has evolved. That content is still paying dividends today even though I cringed when I look at it, some of that really old stuff. But it still does generate search traffic. It is an asset today but we’ve totally changed even how we build content because then, content is really the tool that you use to move people through the customer journey today. Before, a lot of my content was about writing content that did rank well so people would find me that I could share, that they would share, and they would link to. But today, what we do with our client is instead of the, “Hey let’s have a bunch of good blog posts,” is we will create Hubpages. That’s what we call them. Let’s use our architect as an example. Instead of saying, “Let’s write about the hot trends in architecture in our city.” We would say, “Let’s create a page that we would call Guide to Commercial Design or Commercial Building, or something.” That would be almost like a course. What are the elements that would go in that if we’re going to think about it as a course? Again, it depends on who we’re targeting this to. If a commercial contractor, for example, would come to that page, it would be an amazing utility for them and we would write seven or eight or nine or ten blog posts that were kind of subtopics of that category. All of these blog posts would link back and forth to each other. We would link out to other sources externally. This page that we’re trying to say is, “Hey, this is a significant page on our website. We’re going to make it a hubpage as opposed to so many websites that we see and I know stuff that you know a thing or two about SEO,” are just so flat. Everybody’s just liked this blog just has there. Here’s what we wrote last month, the month before, the month after that, and we see so often there’s really no organization, no correlation between that content. Other than the 500 words on that page that day, it’s not terribly useful.

Yeah. It’s uninspired, it’s disconnected, and like you said, it’s flat. There’s no juice behind and you’re going to get no juice out of it.

Yeah. We’re now stealing the foundation. Your ideal client and the problem you solved, you’re going to use content now as a way to really describe that. We’re going to organize that content in a way that makes it terribly useful. I am going to clients today and say, “We need to just produce one of these Hubpages a quarter.” That might be eight or nine pieces of content but take a quarter to do it and do it right. As opposed to saying, “Okay, we’ve got to put something out this week.”

Would that also take the form of a videos, Facebook lives?

Yeah. Obviously. Once we build the pages. I’m a big fan of video on pages, I have video on the page but we’ll also put a content upgrade with each of those pages. I’ve written a guide called the Guide to Local Marketing because I always like to use examples of myself to show people the stuff works. If you Google the Guide to Local Marketing, you’ll find the little Duct Tape Marketing in the number one spot for that. Go to that page and you’ll see what I described, I’ve broken it up into five areas. Each of those areas, obviously as you’ve mentioned, I have a lot of blog content from the past so I’m going out and saying, “I’ve written about this four times.” We’re going to make those on the page and there might be 30 links on that guide page for me. Our assumption is, people that are looking for the Guide to Local Marketing would like an ebook on local SEO factors. Because that free content we’re offering over and above has become common to use this term, content upgrades. Somebody who comes there, we’re going to allow them to get on our mailing list by giving us their email address. That’s not a new concept but when we build these Hubpages then we link an upgrade that’s very specific, it’s not just our generic ebook or sign up for a newsletter. It’s a piece of an ebook, in this case that is completely relevant to the reason somebody got there in the first place. Those pages then convert it 13%-15% of people giving us their email address because they want to know more information about that. Now, we take those hubpages and we’ll advertise those hubpages because we know they have such utility. We’ll link out to other people and they will go out to them and say, “Hey, we built this great page. Why don’t you link to it because we’re featuring you on it?” We get backlinks on pages. People come to that content, they dwell on it for a long time, they share it, and ultimately they get on our email list so we can continue to market to them or nurture the topic that they signed up for. Content instead of being just,” Hey, we’ve got content. Maybe it’ll help us rank.” Now, it’s powering the – know, like, trust, try, and maybe buy phases or stages of the customer journey.

Very nice. What about the retention phase of the customer journey? How does this reinforce that?

I think the ability to use this content in the sales process—that’s where lot of the folks work with. When you look at my content, I’m just trying to be an example of what I’m describing but we work with software companies for example, that we create these hubpages for. What they find is that they can use them in all these stages of the journey as well, including if they have a sales team. Sales teams are now using this content to point people to their target about specific needs or case studies or used cases. It powers about 75% of the journey. The last two pieces, it’s – know, like, trust, try, buy, and then repeat and refer, are pieces that you also have to build content for. For us, the repeat, a lot of times will be extra training – first it will be orientation and it might be onboarding as content. Then, additional training and then obviously, going to work on teaching people all the ways that they can buy more or different products from you as part of that content and then, referral. A lot of people just stop referrals with a thought that a referral is just a happy customer telling another person to buy from you and obviously that’s an important piece of it. But you can take these content, let’s say this local guide, I could go to somebody who also has small business marketing vent or has small businesses as clients, I should say. I could go to them and say, “Look, I could do this guide as a great webinar. This guide is a piece of content that you could share. This guide has a great ebook, if you want to share it with your audience, I’m happy to let you take that piece of content and co-brand it.” To me, all of those are forms of referral using your content as form of referral because you’ve invested in creating it and now you’re letting other people share it with their audiences, which to me is really tantamount to a referral.

Yeah. Co-branding, republishing, and repurposing these hubpages and the content within them is really valuable for retention and new leads for sure. I’m curious, do you find that when you have a big download like an ebook, maybe dozens or 100 plus pages, do you get people consuming those typically or do they just end up in the downloads folder but at least you got their email address and then you can continue them on the journey?

There’s no question, we’re all kind of suffering from ebook fatigue. That was something that all marketers have embraced in the last five years. I sound nostalgic when I start saying this. I probably put up my first ebook in 2003 or 2004. People we’re just so happy to be able to get that. It was so awesome. They loved getting email from you. Now, we’re all just burned out on that. Quite frankly, what we have done and part of this is because it’s easier for the client, as well or the business owner. But I think that, particularly, in the top of the funnel, true kind of awareness campaign, you may want something that’s going to be more like a checklist or a list of 10 little known tools to do x,y,z. I think a lot of people, if they don’t already have a relationship with you, I think most of us have said, “Eh, I really don’t want that ebook. How do I know it’s goods? Do I even want to invest the time in figuring out if it’s good?” If you can have something that seems immediately useful that’s going to be easy to consume like a checklist, we do that for a lot of upgrades. That can actually be more potent than the fully written designed thoroughly researched 20-page ebook. That doesn’t mean there’s not a place for them though because as people, I think we’ve just moved it further along in the journey. As somebody has now built a level of trust. Now, they do want the video series. They do want the ebook because they realized, “Hey. That’s going to be a time well spent.”

If you can have something that seems immediately useful that’s going to be easy to consume like a checklist, that can actually be more potent than the fully written designed thoroughly researched 20-page ebook. Click To Tweet

I think the secret here to this is when you give something a value away like an ebook or a checklist or a tools list, that on the thank you page, you really need to leverage that opportunity because most of the thank you pages out there suck. They just say, “Go check your email. The thing that you requested is in your inbox.” You’ve just taken 100% of attention that you had and you tossed it in a trash and you said, “Go over to your email where there’s everything screaming at you for your attention.” I’m just one out of who knows how many thousands of emails. I’ve known people who’ve had 100,000 emails in their inbox. It’s crazy. They just keep filling and filling and filling. You take a 100% attention, you throw it in a trash, and you go to where you might have 1% of attention, and you hope that they then follow through with the rest of the journey. Big mistake. Instead, the thank you page, you leverage that by telling them, “First of all, wait 10 minutes. The valuable thing that you requested is going to be arriving in your email in about 10 minutes.” In the meantime, watch this video, which will walk you through how to get the most use out of that checklist or that ebook or worksheet or whatever. Then, has the upsell to the free webinar or whatever, that’s how you do the giveaway of something really valuable like an ebook and not even requiring them to consume it yet.

It doesn’t have to be something else you’re trying to sell them or something else you’re trying to upgrade. It’s a great place to show your branding and your differentiation. Just turn to Page 4 on HVAC contractor, it’s a typical request to free quote kind of page that people fill-out and it was not even redirecting. It was doing kind of JavaScript, “You’re submission was submitted.” Or something like that message.

“Mission successful.”

Exactly. Let’s redirect that to a page that the owner of the company is just this really nice guy comes off great in video. Basically, gets to differentiate himself now because he says, “Hey, we’re thrilled. Here’s what’s going to happen next.” We get a little goofy with it. We say, “We’re going to take this, we’re going to hold it by the hand. We’re going to walk it over here. Our guys are going to put a pen to it.” We just make it a little silly but it just comes off as a real branding piece for them. I’ll give one last practice reason, it’s a lot easier to track your convergence if you’re sending people to a landing bench.

So true. What’s next in the system, in the process here? We got content.

I kind of alluded at the third page but foundation is that strategy piece, then the content, then what we call the Marketing Hourglass which is our version of the customer journey that really stays with the customer after they become a customer. That’s our Seven Stages of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer. What we’ll do is we’ll take an ideal customer and some of this is assumption, some of this is guessing, some of this is the client knows. Let’s say you’re an accountant. If I was looking for somebody to do a tax return and I didn’t have anybody, I moved to town. What would I do? I would probably turn to a search engine or I’ll probably ask a friend. We kind of map out – okay once I found that website, what would make me want to know more about them? What would send the message that this was a company I could trust? Because that’s how we buy. Somebody tells us, “Hey, you should call Stephan. He’s awesome. Well we are going to go and checkout Stephan online. Where can we find out a few things of how awesome he is?” That’s just kind of our buying process. Is there some way for me to try that company if I want to? Maybe it’s just to get a webinar. Maybe it’s to download some piece of content. Maybe it’s just to have free evaluation of my situations—that’s a step that we want. Obviously, we want the buying process to stay very high. How do we do that? What are the things that are going to make… We go through all the seven of these stages and we try to map up how we think the customer buys and wants to be treated. Then, a simple amount of turnaround saying, “Okay, if most of the customers find a business like yours by turning into a search engine, what does that mean we have to do?” We have to show up early. It’s going to be a major component for this. We have to make sure all of our clients are referring us. We need to create a referral program for our clients. We’ll go through those 7 stages and we’ve already of identified maybe at the same time, maybe after the fact, it’s not always as linear as I make it sound sometimes. But they were identifying, what content do we need to have at each of those stages? I think that’s the piece that so many people miss. A lot of the businesses we work with think of content as the thing that creates awareness—the thing that gets somebody to find you. We use content, when you mapped out the need for content at every one of these stages, you start realizing that your investment in creating awesome content also means you can use it as a sales tool and as a referral tool. It doesn’t have to just be the 500-word blog post that you were able to get to rank for some keyword price.

What would be an example that’s pretty unique and outside the box if taking a stage that content is not usually created for the seven stages and then you created something that was really remarkable and got an incredible result for a client?

Well, we have a remodelling contractor that does a tremendous amount of—they do really big expensive projects. We produced two forms of what I called repeat content after the fact. A lot of people, you’re going to have to go to, “Huh, I wouldn’t have thought that that is content.” I think that’s kind of the point here. When they do a great project, what we’ll do is, you’ve probably seen these, Blurb, is the company we use. These companies that you can upload a bunch of photos and they produced these really sleek looking hardback book. Their high-end projects will actually create after the project is completely done and we photographed it because they do take a lot of photos for this. We’ll actually then take that and upload those photos and create a coffee table stylebook, that’s just beautiful. It has their remodelling project right on the cover and they give that to their clients. Typically speaking, when somebody does a $100,000 remodel of their kitchen and family room and whatnot. They’re having people over and they talk about, “Yeah, we did this. We did that.” Then all of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh, let me show you all the before pictures. Let me show you what it looked like when they’re doing this.” It becomes actually a repeat and referral business piece of content.

Wow, that’s genius. Was that something that you’ve thought up on your own or did you see this in the wild somewhere and you’re like, “We should totally emulate this.”

I no longer retain the ability to know what I’ve stole and what I’ve made up quite frankly. I’m like you, I’ve consumed every marketing book that’s ever been written and I’ve worked for 25 years with small business owners doing these stuff. I would be the last to say, “I’ve thought of that idea completely myself,” but I’m really good at applying, seeing something somebody else’s doing not in the remodelling industry but maybe somewhere else and saying, “Hey, we could apply that here.” I think if I have a creative side to do what I do, it’s really that. It’s looking at the things people are doing and say, “Hey, here’s how we can package or repackaged or redo this.” I’m sure that there were other people out there that had that same idea but I have been using it at least for 20 plus years.

Yeah, that’s so cool. Having that kind of creativity, being able to see one implementation and morph that into something completely different. Let’s say this idea, for example, could be applied in health and fitness space. Your personal trainer and you have somebody to lose 30lbs and then they’re built like a Mack Truck now. You send this book, this coffee table book of their before and after and you’re going to get more personal training clients, I’m sure. Having that gift is really a superpower of being able to morph something like some sort of a viral campaign is a completely different industry to your client that’s in the remodelling space or HVAC, very cool.

For years, partly just because I’m curious how the world works I guess, but I for years read books on architecture, on math, on things that seemingly unrelated to my field, I can’t tell you how often, if you’re looking for it. You’ll get brilliant insights or observations that nobody’s trying to apply to your field at all. When you look at it, you go, “That’s brilliant.” There’s a book that I tell people about all the time and you have to be one of these people that kind of like to read nerdy books but it’s called A Pattern Language, it’s by Christopher Alexander and he’s an architect. This book was from the 70’s and it is the most brilliant – first of, he’s a great writer. It’s really lovely – the prose. He just talks about how communities are formed and what they need to do to survive and to thrive. It is so immediately applicable to some of the stuff you see in a Facebook group, for example. I’m just struck when you can find examples outside of your own industry.

Very cool. Have you recommended that book many times?

Yeah. I’ve written at least a couple of blog posts. I wrote a blog post, again, this go back years ago. I really did more of the – “Hey, I want to be seen as a thought leader. I’m going to write about this stuff that people might be mildly interested in.” I had a post years ago, I figured it was something like 10 books, they’re not marketing books, that have shaped the way I think and that’s certainly one of them.

That’s cool. One thing you mentioned a few minutes ago was a referral program. That could be something that you create as part of this content creation system—the seven stages, you created a referral program. What does a referral program look like? How would our listeners apply this in their own business? Let’s say they wanted to have their own referral program but they don’t have it yet.

There are two prongs to this that we work with every business we possibly can, the first one is there is an assumption that they have clients in it and their clients are happy—some percentage of them. Unfortunately, I wrote a book called The Referral Engine and I spent the first third of the book telling people the only way to get referrals is to be more referable. That’s step number one. That can’t magically happen if your customers aren’t happy but let’s assume they are. Some percentage of them are actually probably already referring. It’s kind of what I called the accidental referral. What if you took that idea and said, “Look.” You’d like to think that every one of your happy customers would refer you but not everyone is wired to do that, 20%-25% of the world is wired to tell the world about great experiences and be seen as that person that has all the social capital of being able to say, “Oh, you need an accountant? Sure, here’s who you need to call.” Tack that and look at your top 25% of your client based that is first of, profitable. The work that you’re doing for them because there’s really good chance that the reason they’re referring you and talking to their friends and neighbors is because they were a good fit for your business. Try to design a program where you first and foremost – I call them champion events where you create a champion community of the people that are already referring you or people you think would refer you. Don’t focus all your attention on everybody and just do mass mailings. Focus on that top 25% and start doing things for them. Start giving them access—B2B environment, I have a lot of people and we teach them. If they’re business owners, teach them how to get more referrals. It’s a great way to actually get more referrals from them. Show them how to get referrals for their own businesses. There’s a lot that you can do on a formal basis with what I call your champions – your top 25%. What you’ll find is if you spend the time doing that, all of a sudden, the one or two referrals you get from them are going to turn into five or six. That’s a lot easier to do than to get somebody who’s just never referred anybody to now want to refer because you asked them. Focus on that small percentage and create a formal program for them. There’s nothing wrong with once a quarter mail your entire customer list and say, “Hey, here’s a coupon for 15% off, or a gift certificate. Share this with your friends, neighbors, colleagues. For every one of these that come back, we’ll credit your account.” There’s nothing wrong with doing that once a quarter because it’s pretty low threshold and you might just fall into some business that way but really focus on those champions. That’s prong number one. The second prong is I try to work with every business I could find. We help them say, “Okay, let’s look at who your ideal client is. Who else has that ideal client? Could we form some strategic partnerships where we could co-market for each other? Where we could co-brand? Where I could take my webinar that I do and I could offer it to their clients? For example, I work with a lot of home service industries. We had a heating, cooling, a plumber, and an electrician—all best of class, all kind of knew to each other. Occasionally refer to each other when it came up and we said, “Let’s make it something formal.” Every one of our technicians goes into the house and they say, “Here’s the bill. Thanks for having us in today. By the way, to show our appreciation, here’s a 50% off coupon to a plumber that we think is great. Here’s 50% off to an HVAC contractor that we work with all the time. If you need anything, that’s our gift to you. You’ll love them.” All three of this business we’re doing the same thing so every single one of their service calls turned into a marketing opportunity for all three of the businesses.

Wow, that’s great. What was the result for each of the three of those businesses?

It was over the top. About 25% of these coupons were being redeemed, we actually went to turn them into magnets because we wanted them to stick around. Anybody who is calling an electrician is going to someday need a plumber and it’s going to someday need their furnace repaired. Think of your own instances, if you have good experience with the business, you’re more likely to trust a recommendation from them if you just don’t have a good recommendation from somebody. This was almost zero cost to do and generated three or four clients in a lot of weeks, quite often.

That’s great. Do you have a referral program in your business?

We don’t very much. I had a couple so I have a network of independent marketing consultants with the Duct Tape Marketing consultant network and people join that. It’s like a membership program. I really have talked about today. We’ve documented our system, all of the practices that we preach, all the tools that we used to do this, tons and tons of business development and personal development, and training for all the members in the network. The folks that are in the network already do typically know other marketer and will occasionally refer folks to us. The way I’ve really used referrals the most is to gain exposure. I do webinars for folks. If I want to go out to a Copyblogger, for example, Brian Clark, he’s a good friend. We’ll do a webinar for his group to talk about my consultant network. Personally, I see that as a referral program. We do that probably once a month. I’m out somewhere doing that. I’ve used over the years, ebooks that we’ve created and allowed folks to co-brand that content. I know for a fact that generates not only a significant amount of awareness and traffic for us. We also get a lot links because of that.

Speaking of links, I’d love to know your process for link building. You talked a little bit about hubpages, how you can great links to those by reaching out to the folks that you’ve linked to and mentioned on your hubpages. But I’m curious, what are some of the more advanced strategies that you’re using to get links.

I wouldn’t call my strategy as advanced. There are two approaches. Again, remember we work with a lot of brick and mortar local businesses. If you’re in a hyper competitive business you might hire a firm to focus on building backlinks. What we do is, I’m a firm believer that these hubpages are so useful that they will actually attract links on their own, as long as you’re amplifying them and sharing them. As you already pointed out, reaching out to people that you’re linking to and with the idea that giving them a reason. I’m promoting your content on this page so you’re linked to it. I get pictures all the time that people are, “Hey, we wrote this and thought your audience would like it. Please link to it.” it’s like, why would I do that? It might be good but if you call me and say, “Look, we built this page and we featured you on it.” I might be more likely to at least take a look at it, and I think the other mistake is a lot of times people would say, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” I’ll go out to the biggest, most active, most traffic, high profile blogs and I’ll ask them to link to me, and you’re probably not going to get anywhere because hundreds of people are asking that, but if you start developing more peer relationships. If you’re a business of a certain size in a certain community, and you want to link out to instead of just linking out to Moz and to large sites, link out to smaller providers that are maybe more apt to feel like they’re on a parallel path with you. The low-hanging fruit from most for most local small businesses, I know this sounds as untechnical as you can get, but it’s their chamber of commerce directory, it’s their alumni directory, it is the nonprofit board that they sit on. All of these local links, it could be some of their local suppliers, all of these local resources typically allow you to link back to your website if you’re a business owner and they have a business director, some churches do that now. They say, “Support these members of the congregation who also have businesses in the business directory,” and that’s an online link quite often. I see it all the time where people put their directory listing in the chamber of commerce directory which Google actually holds pretty high as being an authoritative source and it will put a link to their website. We have 8 or 10 proven slam-dunk links that we can get for clients when they first become a client and they’re usually very local, high-domain authority, and seemingly relevant sites.

If you’re in a hyper competitive business you might hire a firm to focus on building backlinks.

Yeah, basic blocking and tackling that isn’t necessarily so obvious to the typical business owner, and a great episode on this show where I interviewed Greg Gifford, we actually go through a whole bunch of these different types of links. Listeners, you might want to check out that episode, I’ll include a link in the show notes. Let’s talk about guest post pictures for a minute, I hate them too. I get them all the time like, “Hey, I wrote this piece of content for you.” which they probably didn’t yet. I would love to contribute it with a key of rich link to your blog or to your site. I delete those, some people get a little more irate about it than that, and then they will submit those people to spam directories and things like that, email blacklist. What’s been successful in terms of the kinds of guest post pitches that really stand above all the rest. I’ll give you a quick example of one, this is from Brian Dean from Backlinko. It talks about doing a guest post pitch, but it’s a guest infographic, he calls it a guestographic. You reach out with the idea of collaborating with that website on because they are an expert in their subject and you’re not. It’s missing some important pieces on that topic that this website owner, this subject matter expert could contribute, could provide like statistics, and trends, and tips, and statistics, and so forth. Then it becomes a collaborative effort and they’re going to want to shout it from the rooftops and scratching their own itch because they are proud of this group effort. It’s a very different sort of thing. I have this article that I wrote and I’d love for you to post it for the readers.

The problem with that kind of water down pitch is that everybody is doing it, it just got so bad, you can recognize the template that they’re using to send out those pitches on. “We visited your site, we love it.”

Yeah, insert latest blog post title.

Right. It’s really easy to ignore those because you know that there’s absolutely no thought given, and I think you’ve hinted that really big element. The stuff that catches my attention is that there’s some way that they can clearly let me see pretty quickly that there’s something in this for me, like the guestographic you talked about, or sometimes I’ve seen people share some research that they would like me to use. That kind of thing as opposed to, “Hey, we just want to run this post on your site because you get great traffic and we don’t.” which is basically what comes across in most pitches. Find the self-interest, put in some time, it’ so obvious when somebody is mass pitching, so put in some time to make sure that you don’t come off as a mass pitch. I do have to tell you, when we get clients today, depending from the business, guest posting is a lot of work. All the pitching that you got to do, you got to write the thing, and then maybe some small percentage of people will actually run it. Today, we moved almost 100% to pitching podcast. We’re trying to get our clients on podcast where they can be seen as an expert. I’ll tell you the reason, right now, we’re still in this place in the world where there are more podcasts today than our guests being pitched to some of those podcasts, not all, but especially the small ones. We’re getting much greater uptake on that, but also, that podcaster typically, as you can attest and I can attest as well because I do this all the time myself, that podcaster is very proud of the podcast episode, and they will link it in the show notes, you said it about three times, to that person’s website and they will promote their podcast because the’re after downloads of their podcast. We have found that to be – in 2018 that is my number one link building strategy.

Yeah, that’s a great one, and it adds value in so many different ways beyond just the link because you’re sharing your wisdom, your experience with their reader, you’re sharing your experience and wisdom with their listener base, and you’re proving yourself. I’m a big fan of that. If somebody wanted to work with your organization, with you personally, or your 150 consultants in the network, how will they do that?

The easiest place is just ducttapemarketing.com. You can find pretty much everything you want about Duct Tape, there’s obviously tons of resources there that you can consume to learn about what we do and just about marketing in general at ducttapemarketing.com and the sister site if you will for the network is just ducttapemarketingconsultant.com. Those two places you’ll find everything that you want to know about Duct Tape.

Awesome, thank you so much John and thank you listeners. Now it’s time to apply what you’ve learned by going to marketingspeak.com, downloading the checklist of action items to take from this episode, going through the transcript, and checking out the show notes with all the links to the various resources that we discussed. That’s all at marketingspeak.com. Have a great week. This is your host, Stephan Spencer, singing off.

Important Links:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Take note of the 7 stages of an ideal customer – know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer. This should be my customer journey.

☑ Identify my ideal client and how I can solve their problem. Make this the first step in building my business.

☑ Start selling things as a whole instead of offering a piece of the puzzle. Provide a system that customers understand and can utilize in their own business.

☑ Strategize before implementing. Collect important facts and data before starting my marketing campaigns.

☑ Provide high-value content and prioritize my connection with my audience. Don’t blog just for the sake of getting clicks.

☑ Be creative and use a variety of media such as infographics, videos, and memes that will create more engagement with my audience.  

☑ Implement a link building strategy by creating shareable content, reaching out to other websites and SEO.

☑ Make sure my business is referable before creating a referral program. Always provide excellent service that my customers naturally talk about.

☑ Continuously share and promote my work to stay relevant and to keep my audience updated regularly.  

☑ Grab a copy of John’s books: Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, and The Referral Engine.

About John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, SEO for Growth – The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers, and Entrepreneurs, is changing the way the world thinks about SEO.


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