Duct Tape Marketing 

By: John Jantsch



The world is full of businesses of all sizes, large and small. Having scale allows us to invest in the promotion of our solutions and services, sinking large amounts of money into marketing campaigns. But few of us can afford Super Bowl scale commitments. Money is tight. What can we do?

That’s where John Jantsch comes to our rescue. Like duct tape, our marketing needs to stick. Jantsch suggests we need to work at our small business marketing in a systematic way and that’s what he covers in his well-read book Duct Tape Marketing. So join us for ten minutes or so to unpeel the first layers of marketing stickiness.

21st Century Marketing is O2O.

What is the first place we go to find out about products and services? I guess most of us would use our smart phone or tablet to get on-online and “Google” our needs. Jantsch concurs. The Web and digital interactivity now represent the centre of the marketing universe and according to Jantsch most marketing decisions must start and end there. Need evidence?

Advertising once focused on making the sale, now its key objective is to draw us on-line to find out more. Lead generation used to be a numbers game, now it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. While a physical store location has always mattered, online location for the local business has become a life-and-death matter.

Jantsch suggests that for small businesses to compete with larger, we need to tweak the relationships between on and off line focus and become O2O: Have an on-line presence that drives the customer to an off-line transaction. Find the customer in the land of the large but engage with them in traditional interpersonal ways. This needs a structured approach. Let’s take the next step.

Strategy Before Tactics

To be successful, Jantsch believes strategy and tactics must go hand in hand, but an effective strategy must be in place before any set of tactics make sense.

The challenge is understanding what a marketing strategy is. Becoming the market leader is not a strategy—it’s an objective. Great customer service is not a strategy—it’s a mission. Growth is not a strategy—it’s a goal. Jantsch clearly defines a marketing strategy as a clear explanation of how you’re going to get there, not where or what “there” is. So how do we progress? Jantsch suggests there are two key focus points.

Decide Who Matters.

We need to build our marketing strategy around a narrowly defined ideal client. Using an ideal client profile as the basis of our strategy also allows us to focus on how we will serve our customers and how to attract them.

Jantsch suggests we visualise real people in this exercise. We should write down everything we can think of: what they look like; what they think; what they want; what they fear, what they believe fun, risk, and passion look like. Use photos of real people to help create this total persona, and then hang it on the wall for all to absorb.

Jantsch tells us to use social media to append our entire customer list with everything we know about them. This will not only help us discover more about what motivates and drives our customers but also identify core and advantageous demographics. Combine this with an assessment of financial impact: cost of sale, profitability, repeat purchases etc. and we are well on the way to identifying our ideal client.

Next, you have a decision to make. Is this a viable market? To answer that, we need to ask:

Is the market large enough to support our business growth goals? Can we easily promote business to the decision makers in this market?

Does this market value what we do enough to pay a premium? Is it viable? If so we’ve completed the first part of the challenge.

Decide to be Different.

Jantsch points out that customers need a way to compare and contrast, and if we don’t give them one, they’ll default to price. We’ve got to find a way to stand out and stake our claim on a simple idea or position in your prospective clients’ minds.

He suggests we create a core message that allows us to communicate the difference or we’ll never break from the grip of “commodity business.” We need to find something that separates us from the competition; become it and speak it to everyone we meet. A one-of-a-kind way of doing business, something different from competitors relating perhaps to financial transactions, customer engagement, delivery, post-sales support… anything that sets us up in a unique way.

One key way to determine distinction is to identify and focus on being the best at something: anything big or small that trumps your competition. Think of Zappos and their focus on customer service and scale back to addressing the needs of your ideal client in a similar vein.

To get the message across to the customer, Jantsch suggests we create a talking logo. Like a traditional printed logo, a talking logo is a tool that allows our staff to communicate verbally the single greatest benefit of doing business with us. Don’t just tell them what we do — tell them in a way that matters to them. It comes in three parts: Action verb + Target Market + How to.

“I create permanent memories.”

“We deliver your messages on time.”

“We bring local produce direct to your door.”

The key focus is to take a hard look at “what you do for a living” and commit to it, stay at it, and resist the temptation to wander off in the next new direction. Jantsch reminds us that building our unique brand takes time and patience. The payoff, however, is what differentiates the winners from the losers in this big marketing game.

Meet the Needs at Every Stage

Duct Tape marketers attempt to move their target prospects along a logical path geared to addressing the various stages of client development. According to Jantsch, this gradual, trust-building approach allows businesses to enjoy a much greater relationship with their clients and makes the process of marketing much easier. What are the stages?

  • Suspects: the list of people who fit our target description
  • Prospects: the list of people who have responded to an offer for more information
  • Clients: the list of people who have tried our product or service
  • Repeat clients: the list of people who have upgraded or purchased more
  • Champions: the list of people who tell others and sell for us

These stages follow a natural progression - what Jantsch calls “The Marketing Hourglass” – and at each stage different marketing activities are appropriate. The key difference between the traditional marketing funnel model and Jantsch’s hourglass is the focus on expanded product and service opportunities. The seven phases of the hourglass align to the sentiment of the customer and key focus materials are:

  1. Know: Here we focus on our ads, articles, and referred lead
  2. Like: Here, advantage is gained from our Web site, social media profiles, and e-mail newsletter
  3. Trust: Trust is built through delivery of our marketing kit, white papers, and sales presentations
  4. Try: At this stage customers align to webinars, evaluations, and supporting activities
  5. Buy: Success! A sale is made supported through fulfilment, new customer kit, delivery, and financial arrangements
  6. Repeat: We don’t stop now. Ongoing engagement is created using post-sale customer surveys, cross-sell presentations, and regular update events
  7. Refer: Ongoing success is developed using partner introductions, peer-to-peer Webinars, and community building.

Effective Marketing Eliminates the Need for Selling

Using Duct Tape Marketing moves the focus away from selling and toward educating prospects that have already expressed an interest in our business and, more importantly, our unique approach. The Duct Tape Marketing lead conversion system relies on three distinct components:

  • Discovery. In discovery, the central goal is to discover if a prospect actually fits our ideal target market. Jantsch suggests if we’ve done a good job in your marketing up to this point, you will attract qualified prospects. The discovery phase is initiated when prospects call or e-mail requesting an appointment or asking if we can help them in some manner. It is important that we have a systematic way to handle these requests.

Jantsch suggests we pose a few simple questions in our first contact that allow us to get a feel for how ready they are to understand the need for your products or services. Its key we resist the urge to tell them all of the great things you can do for them. Leave them wanting more.

  • Presentation. The Duct Tape Marketing tool of choice for this step is what Jantsch calls an internal seminar. The internal seminar is a partly-scripted presentation made within initial client meetings. By having an understanding of what we will say and what questions we will ask removes the risk of assumption and ensures key points are presented.

When we take control of the meeting and present our core points in a structured way, we’ll either connect or not, but Jantsch suggests when we do, it will be the right connection. The structure of our internal seminar can allow for plenty of interaction, but like a well-crafted seminar, we are the presenter in control.

  • Transaction. The final leg of the lead conversion system is a planned “first purchase” transaction process. In other words, a thought-out and consistently executed way to take the order, deliver the goods, or execute an agreement. Make this step painless and we’re well on our way to orders number two and three.

When new clients say yes, we should be prepared to teach them how to get the most from the relationship or product by putting a new customer kit in their hands. This - a key part of the marketing collateral - allows new clients to fully understand what to expect now that they are clients.

As part of the process, Jantsch suggests we design a step that allows us to give our new clients more than they anticipated. To immediately surprise them with something more than they expected. This surprise can be a bonus gift with a product, another valuable information product, or even a welcome gift certificate which can come at no cost from an eager strategic partner.

Marketing Is Everyone’s Job

Everyone goes about their tasks with the best intentions. The question is whether they are performing it with a marketing intention or not. Marketing has an internal focus. As Jantsch points out, the only way we can sell our internal clients (our staff) is if they recognise that we actually believe in what we are selling. We need to kindle their enthusiasm about what our company does, about how it is different and about the unique value we deliver to customers.

The only way to keep the internal marketing message alive is to keep the message in constant view. We need to make marketing education and the emphasis on marketing part of our hiring process. We need to put it on business cards. We need to make our marketing core message and story a chapter in the employee manual. We need all-staff meetings, and allow our staff to share current marketing initiatives and results.