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John Jantsch has been called the World’s Most Practical Small Business Expert for consistently delivering real-world, proven small business marketing ideas and strategies. He is a marketing consultant, speaker and best selling author Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine.

He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network that trains and licenses small business marketing consultants around the world. He frequently consults with small and mid-sized businesses helping them create marketing plans and organized marketing systems that smooth the way for steady growth.

His blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast, a top ten marketing show on iTunes, was called a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine.

Huffington Post calls him one of the top 100 “Must Follow” on Twitter and Forbes named Duct Tape Marketing one of the 100 Best Websites for Entrepreneurs.

You can follow him: @ducttape

  • MK

    Michael Kawula

    about 4 years ago #

    John, it is awesome to see you here today. I'm a big fan of your books and content.

    As an Influencer I'm sure you're approached by many startups to try their product/service and hopefully review it & discuss with your audience.

    2 Questions:

    1) What do you feel is the best way to approach Influencers about a product/service you offer to get them to try it?

    2) When they do agree to use the product and give you good feedback, outside of affiliate marketing, what are some other ways to encourage the Influencer to share your product/service with their tribe?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Thanks Mike - can I start by saying I'm a fan of Social Quant!

      I do get lots of pitches and it might be easier to talk about what not to do sometimes :)

      1) Best way - get to know them, really, get to know what they care about - it's not that tough just follow them. Then start providing some value or insight around what they talk about. Comment on posts, make observations, ask them things. You may have something they can get behind, but you kind of have to earn the invitation to pitch.

      2) I like it when someone gives me full access to try a product but I really like it when they hold my hand a bit and make sure that I get the full value from the product - so pile on some extra care and education.

      • MK

        Michael Kawula

        about 4 years ago #

        That is excellent advice and thank you for the kind words.

      • ML

        Miranda Lievers

        about 4 years ago #

        "I like it when someone gives me full access to try a product but I really like it when they hold my hand a bit and make sure that I get the full value from the product - so pile on some extra care and education." - awesome. Being dumped in as a new user is often overwhelming, and you're likely to miss some of the most important features on initial glance in absence that hands-on education piece!

  • TM

    Taylor Miles

    about 4 years ago #

    Of the 16 Channels you outlinded in this blog post Titled:

    The Single Most Potent Marketing Tactic of All

    http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2015/08/25/best-marketing-tactic/

    In General for B2B Software what would you say would be the top 3 most important channels and why?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      That post certainly caught a lot of attention.
      Here's my answer, but it does depend a little on who you are after and how bit of a decision it is to use your software.

      1) Influencer marketing - today if you can popular journalists and blogs talking about, reviewing and recommending your solution you can get growth on the fast track. People put a ton of faith in what they see as 3rd party referrals.

      2) Content marketing - Producing content that is focused on creating Awareness, building trust and teaching people about problems known and unknown is how you get found today (many of the channels in the post work hand in hand) For example, SEO is also an important B2B channel, but without effective content marketing it's pretty tough to make ground using SEO.

      3) Online advertising - again some confluence here - once you start getting influencers talking about you and creating great content you can use online ads to drive people to that great content. It's also a great way to cheaply test your conversion funnels by driving traffic into tests.

      7 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    about 4 years ago #

    SMBs are oftentimes like early stage lean startups, they don't necessarily have the resources of staff and budget to roll and test out integrated growth ideas (omni channels).

    So what should SMB leaders focus on? Content? Channel? People? Anything else?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Boy this is a tough one - searching through my magic bullets now!

      It's so hard to know what to focus on particularly what you are really focused on is driving some revenue.

      First - focus on the product/market fit - who needs, understands and loves what you do best

      Then - focus on figuring out what matters most to them.

      Initially you'll need to give your strategy a voice by producing useful, keyword rich, educational content, but in order to drive some leads pick and test 3-4 channels and create some hunches for each - quickly test something like a FB ad before you try to figure out all of the A/B/C tests and make a determination whether you want to go big by getting really serious about analytics.

      the goal is to find a couple of channels that are your primary ones and then optimize everything to leverage them.

      3 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 4 years ago #

        To take off from your response...
        Is the process of finding product/marketing fit for an offline small biz any different from any other kind of business?

        • JJ

          John Jantsch

          about 4 years ago #

          Anuj - fundamentally no, practically yes -

          Many offline small businesses are a little closer to their customers and can often do some discovery face to face if they choose.

          • AL

            Arsene Lavaux

            about 4 years ago #

            Thanks John - Your response is very insightful. I enjoy the sequence product/market fit, then core value proposition (solve for what matters in differentiated way I'd assume) and articulate content strategy around it (messaging).

            It looks like a duplicate of startup growth life, at least in the beginning!

            Now, for the "face to face" part, I'd argue that the future digital unicorns can achieve that too, not just the SMBs because of the physical nature of their business. With the uprise of livestreaming apps, and even more traditional social networks like Instagram, isn't the interaction target customer/supplier of product or service becoming face-to-face too?

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    about 4 years ago #

    Recently there have been some posts and discussions on GrowthHackers about cold-calling and its effectiveness (or lack there-of in certain cases).

    What do you see as the biggest thing people miss when cold outreach?

    Also is there anything about doing such outreach with an influencer who you need for whatever reason vs a potential customer?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Honestly, I'm just not a fan of cold calling - mainly because there's no reason for any call to be cold these days - I would rather you spend time in LinkedIn and figure out how to target warm calls or make connections on Twitter or on an influencers blog through some sort of value exchange.

      Go to LinkedIn right now and search John Jantsch - I don't think we are connected Logan but I'll be I'm connected to a handful of people you do know well. That kind of networking seems more fruitful to me than cold calling.

      I think cold calling is abusive to both parties!

      7 Share
      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 4 years ago #

        Agree, cold calling is annoying and rarely the best use of someone's time. But personally I feel like I'm getting a lot more cold calls and cold emails in recent months. I think the appeal is that if you can "figure out" cold calling, then you simply need to keep adding sales people to scale growth. That's the theory anyway. Again, in reality I think there are much better uses of people's time.

        • MK

          Michael Kawula

          about 4 years ago #

          So true. I use to dial-n-smile 500 calls a day in the mid 90's out of college. Then my first business I was dependent on post-cards. With everything available today there are so many more effective options, just think some haven't adapted yet.

        • TM

          Taylor Miles

          about 4 years ago #

          I think so many companies are so desperate for growth, cold calling is often something they try out of desperation, and usually its only after so many other methods fail.

  • JM

    Jason Meresman

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi John - thanks for doing the AMA today!

    In your “Referral Engine” book, you’ve said that “The sales team is the most important part of your marketing team”.

    It’s not uncommon for these two parts of the organization to sometimes be at odds with each other.

    What methods have you seen that work best to align these parts?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Hey Jason - wait did I really say that :) I change my mind the marketing team is the most important.

      Of course as you noted there is the rub isn't it.

      What if we lived in an world where we had one Outcome Department or Revenue Department?

      I think the best way to get the two together is to make a culture based on the customer - sales needs to be more involved in marketing and marketing needs to be more involved in sales - and what the heck let's get the service team in here too.

      So many sales people know why customers actually buy better than folks in marketing. Salespeople, engineers, customer service reps are all probably better sources of content than the marketing team today.

      Marketing is everyone's job - that's the culture that must exist.

      5 Share
  • JJ

    John Jantsch

    about 4 years ago #

    I'm here live! Come ask away.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 4 years ago #

      Really super to have you with us, John :)

      • JJ

        John Jantsch

        about 4 years ago #

        Anuj and the Growth Hacker Community - this was great fun - hope there were a couple of nuggets people can use as you work your way through the maze of marketing today!

        • AA

          Anuj Adhiya

          about 4 years ago #

          Really appreciate you taking the time to join us, John - completely safe to say that there's more than a few nuggets to take away here :).

  • BW

    Brand Winnie

    about 4 years ago #

    From your experience working with all the businesses you have, can you point to 1 (or a few) reasons that seem to be the biggest determinant of success?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Lack of focus is the winner by a mile

      Business owners start with the premise that anyone who needs what they sell is their market - you've got to figure out who makes an ideal customer - both from their standpoint and your standpoint and narrow you focus on serving them at the exclusion of all others.

      You've got figure out what you do that matters most to this ideal client and then narrow your focus at being incredibly remarkable at doing that.

      Finally you've got to find just a handful of channels that can deliver your ideal client and get very good at leveraging them - even if that means you don't have time to play on Twitter!

      4 Share
  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey John,

    Thanks for doing the AMA. I wanted to squeak one in here at the end if you still have time.

    If you were a new marketer for a new business today, where would you focus first? Is there a particular channel or set of tactics that you think are must-haves to get started vs. others that might come later or can be less effective out of the gate?

    Thanks!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 4 years ago #

    Great to have you on John!

    One of the most life changing things for me was your Marketing Hourglass framework: https://growthhackers.com/articles/7-little-words-that-sum-up-the-entire-marketing-machine/

    To me it seems that the "Try" step is analogous to what is commonly referred to as "Activation" in the startup world, ie the first interaction with the product/service that allows the user to see the value in it.

    While its common on to see examples of activation in the tech startup world, I havent seen as many in the small business.

    What patterns have you come across in the offline/small biz context of when "Try" is successfull and as important, when it has not succeeded in moving the potential customer to the next stage?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Anuj - you're right on in your assessment of the try stage in the typical app or saas startup - it's the Freemium.

      In the small biz/offline world it's not as common, but that's what makes it so powerful. Everyone expects a free trial from the new social media app, but from their architect?

      We worked with an architect a while back that was well known for getting plans through City Hall - they had a couple city council members and couple zoning board members on staff. We took advantage of this by creating a feasibility "product"

      Now when a business of property owner was considering building they could come and get a $500 assessment that would give them some idea of where the hurdles would be and how much it might cost.

      This "product" became their try for the much larger design project - it certainly got them lots of work, but it also got them on the short list for just about every study they did.

      A try can also be a webinar or workshop - most of my consultants get their clients by doing free marketing workshops for groups.

      4 Share
  • JH

    Justin Harris

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey John,

    I have a question around the explosion of data and personalization of brand & customer relationships.

    Have you and your clients encountered any challenges with the influx of data and customers wanting to see personalized messages? Are there any strategies or tools that you think that work best to use data to personalize messages for clients at the small business level?

    Thanks John!

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      I think a lot of change is driven by expectations - so for example as consumers get used to a certain site look and feel or functionality they start getting turned off by sites that don't meet that expectation.

      So content personalization is slowly creeping into this mix.

      Most everyone is familiar with Amazon's epic content personalization tactics and that's becoming more and more a standard.

      I don't think it's so much that someone visits a site and says I'm out of here because they don't have personalization - I think it's just they get a much better experience when they do and that leads to more engagement and perhaps more conversions of one kind or another.

      There are some cool tools cropping up for content personalization based on a number of factors like keyword search from Google - check out Maxymiser for example.

      The functionality that I do think has become a must is the kind the tools like Hubspot or Marketo are delivering. A prospect comes to your site and signs up for a free ebook - the next time they come that eBook is no longer offered to them - in fact a new one is offered and their contact form fields are automatically filled in.

      5 Share
  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    about 4 years ago #

    John, thanks so much for doing this AMA.

    Have you seen or used a particular 'growth hack' that's worked consistently well with small/local businesses?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Dylan - Here's one of favorites and it's not very hi tech or hackish.

      Create a really great piece of content - infographic, eBook, webinar.

      Find business/sites that also serve your ideal client and are not competitors and offer to personalize this content for them. It's amazing how much exposure you can get (not to mention links) from this tactic practiced consistently.

      For example a coffee roasting company can create an infographic on how to brew the most awesome pour over cup of coffee. Then they simply need to create a list of 80 or so food bloggers and offer to create a slightly personalized (cobranded) version for their site - something tells me about 20% would love to have that piece of content.

      Now you've got 16 great, relevant links and perhaps a nice little bump in traffic to offer some other awesome bit of content and you're on the way.

      Oh, and now repeat again and again.

      6 Share
      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        about 4 years ago #

        To build on this interesting thread. Any real-life experience on what is more likely to be picked up by bloggers among infographic, eBook, and webinar/demo?

        Imagine you can only create one for lack of resources, which one do you focus on?

      • DL

        Dylan La Com

        about 4 years ago #

        Fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing John.

  • BL

    Brandon Lipman

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi John,
    Thanks for doing this discussion. As a consultant what are the best ways you have found to get clients besides just referrals and content marketing. Do you do any outbound lead generation? What advice do you have for someone who is starting to do marketing/growth consulting?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      My number one way has always been speaking - getting in front of prospects and providing (usually free) an educational glimpse into what it might be like working with you.

      You can put these events on yourself (on or offline) or you can look for groups that are hungry for speakers and let them introduce you to their community.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 4 years ago #

    One more...
    You’ve updated your Duct Tape Marketing book in 2011.
    I’m sure a lot has changed since then as well.
    Could you talk about what the biggest changes/differences there might be in the concepts/ideas from the last update to now?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      Yikes - it's been 5 years :(

      Well for one, I think the idea of Growth Hacking wasn't so much an idea.

      Here are 3 ideas:

      1) Even in that update I was cautiously pessimistic about the love affair with social media and I think that's played out. Social media is a channel not a business model and it's a channel best used to leverage other channels like Sales, SEO and Content.

      2) Mobile - I know we've been talking about mobile for what seems like 10 years but it got really serious with the notion of mobile first design and Google's take on mobile. I still don't know that we know where mobile marketing is really headed but I do know that mobile apps have been slowed by websites that deliver incredible mobile experiences.

      3) Content fatigue - More is not better, better is better - I think the full blown editorial approach to content married with content that is created to intentionally guide the customer journey (Marketing Hourglass) is where content is today.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 4 years ago #

    One more...

    I imagine you're pretty busy - how in all of that, do you find the time to generate all the content (including research) that you do?
    What's that process like and what can we take away and apply to better our own content generation efforts?

    • JJ

      John Jantsch

      about 4 years ago #

      I use an annual plan - http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2013/01/03/total-content-plan/

      This lets us plan ahead so we know what we want from guest bloggers, podcast guests, eBooks, etc.

      Content is a big part of our business so we put the resources to it - I have a couple staff members that spend time in that department every day.

      I never turn it off - I seem to afflicted with the ability to see just about everything as a potential article or blog post.

      2 Share
  • AP

    Anthony Panepinto

    about 4 years ago #

    Damn - can't believe I missed this!

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