Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

Auto Added by WPeMatico

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019?

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The customer journey is at the heart of all marketing efforts. I wrote last week about how the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model are the two frameworks to guide you through the creation of your entire marketing system.

While the marketing maturity model helps you to establish and grow your own marketing assets, the marketing hourglass teaches you how to interact with customers throughout their journey with your brand. In today’s digital world, where things change quickly, the customer journey continues to grow and evolve. And it’s critical that you’re aware of these changes so that you can continue to deliver an effective marketing message to customers, even as their journey shifts.

Let’s take a look back at how the customer journey evolved in 2019 and where we might expect it to go in 2020.

The Omnichannel Experience Expands Further

Digital marketing allows you to create multiple touchpoints with your customers. From your website to social media to video platforms to paid advertising, there are dozens of channels for you to explore. And in 2019, you gained even greater options.

Voice search continues to grow. Experts expect that 200 million smart speakers will have been sold by the end of the year. While smart speakers and voice assistants provide another way for you to get discovered by new prospects, you may need to pivot your SEO efforts to get noticed by Alexa and Siri. Things like having a mobile-friendly site that is fast and secure, and making sure you’re listed on relevant local listings sites (think Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business) can all help you to be the brand that’s suggested by a voice assistant.

Augmented reality (AR), which first gained widespread attention as the tech that powered the popular Pokémon Go app, is now being used by marketers to sell products. We’ve seen retailers in the fashion, beauty, and home furnishing spaces develop apps that allow people to virtually try before they buy.

Visual search is also something to keep on your radar screen. Social platform Pinterest has added visual search to their site, allowing consumers to upload a picture of a product they like and presenting them with suggestions for where they can purchase the item—or something similar—online. For tips on how to make Pinterest work for your business, check out this Duct Tape Marketing podcast episode with Pinterest expert Alisa Meredith.

Data and Automation Are More Important Than Ever

Data and automation are buzzwords we’ve heard tossed around for several years now, but they’ve established themselves as critical elements of business operations and marketing. On the marketing front, they allow you to better understand the unique shifts in your customer’s journey, so that you can modify your approach and direct the right message at the right prospect at the right time.

As the technology becomes more widespread and costs of implementation decrease, small businesses are able to tackle personalization on a level that was previously only possible for giants like Amazon.

This year, 80 percent of regular shoppers indicated that they’ll only do business with brands that serve up personalized experiences. So if you’re still sending the same emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Understanding customer data allows you to segment your customer base into different personas. Very few businesses serve customers that are all exactly alike. For most of us, we mean different things to different people. Let’s say you’re a florist. Some of your clients purchase flowers only for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Others are event planners who place large orders on behalf of their clients. Others still are individuals with standing orders for arrangements at their home or office.

Each of these customers have very different needs, and so they should be getting very different marketing messages from you. By using the data you already have on your customers to better understand their behaviors and actions, you can craft your marketing messaging to speak directly to each segment of your customer population.

And with marketing automation tools, you can set your system to send certain messages to customers that are triggered by specific behaviors. That means everyone is always getting the marketing message they most need and want, and you’re likely to generate more business.

Online and In-Person Worlds Collide

If you’re a marketer today, there’s so much to think about in the digital world that it’s possible to get carried away and forget that your customers still exist in the real world! That’s why it’s important that, even as you keep an eye on digital trends, you work to bring the digital and real worlds together for your customers.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers who do a local search on their phone end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours. This means that the online portion of the customer journey is leading directly to in-person sales.

How can you better facilitate the customer journey from online browsing to in-person purchasing? Make sure your business is present on local listings sites like Google My Business so that you can get found in the first place. Have your contact information and hours listed prominently on your site and local listings, so that prospects can actually call and visit.

Webrooming is another digital-to-real-world trend that local businesses need to be aware of. Webrooming is the practice of searching for a product online while you’re physically in the store. I know I’ve done it myself to check out specs and reviews on the top one or two items I’m considering. Reviews and ratings are important to any small business for SEO, but they’re also relevant in the real world as they have the ability to sway a webrooming consumer in real time.

Engagement is Key

As the customer journey has grown more and more complex, engagement has become even more important. When prospects or customers reach out to you via any channel, you must respond quickly and effectively.

Engagement is your opportunity to capture more of your audience’s valuable attention. If someone comments on your social media account, don’t just let it sit there or simply reply with a like. Instead, ask a question or write a response that invites them to engage in conversation. The longer you can keep that volley going, the greater their sense of connection becomes with your brand. If you’re able to make a good impression now, it’s the kind of thing that will make them think about you later when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Building Loyalty is Critical for Long-Term Success

Because the customer journey is no longer a straight light, you need to build loyalty. Otherwise, people will abandon you when a better offer comes along.

Be honest: How many times have you done your product research on one site, settled on your product of choice, and then opened up a Google tab to search for the same product elsewhere, cheaper?

Digital enables people to go through all of the steps of the journey with you, and then at the last minute jump ship to go with a cheaper competitor. The only way to combat this is to offer an incredible customer experience. Your brand has to be about more than your products, or you’ll lose your differentiation (and your customers). And you need to be going above and beyond at every stage of the customer journey, because they can slip away at any point.

The Journey Can’t Just Happen, You Need to Guide It

With so many marketing channels in place, you can’t leave customers’ paths to chance. Instead, you need to take control of your destiny and guide the customer journey.

This starts with mapping to understand your current customers. When you know how your existing ideal clients behaved on their journey, you can work to recreate that experience for others. Not only is it more likely to lead to conversions, it also means you’ll be attracting new customers who fit your ideal profile

When you’re refining your approach, it’s good to use testing. Research your existing customers, posit a theory, test it out, and measure results. A/B testing is a great way to run side-by-side comparisons of different approaches to see which resonates best with your target audience.

The customer journey is constantly evolving, and I’m sure we’ll see even more changes—big and small—in 2020. No matter where the customer journey goes next, if you keep the marketing hourglass and a commitment to serving your customers as your North Star, you’ll be able to weather any ups and downs in the marketing landscape.

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape philosophy is that marketing is a system. There are so many moving parts that go into creating a great marketing strategy that, without a guiding framework, it’s easy to get tangled up, twisted around, and lost completely in the weeds.

Over the years, I’ve developed two systems that inform all of the marketing work we do: the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model. The marketing hourglass is a way of thinking about the customer journey. These are the steps that a consumer will take in engaging with your brand. It starts with first coming to know you, and goes all the way down to when they’ve become a happy repeat customer, ready to refer friends.

The marketing maturity model is a way for you think about your own marketing activities. What are the assets you need to build, then grow and amplify (or ignite) in order to guide those prospects from the top to the bottom of the marketing hourglass?

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through how the two systems are inextricably linked, and how you can align the way you think about the work you do behind the scenes to create your marketing presence with the experience customers are having on the other side.

The Top of the Hourglass and The Grow Phase

The top of the marketing hourglass is when prospects are first coming to know your brand. We call them the know, like, and trust phases. They’re not ready to make a purchase decision yet, but as they move through these three steps, they’re getting closer.

It starts with them first encountering your brand. Maybe they hear your name from a friend, maybe they discover you in a Google search. Whatever the case may be, you need to greet them with a solid marketing base at this stage to get them to go any further.

marketing hourglass

Create a Strong Website and Tackle SEO

Don’t you grow wary when a business operating today doesn’t have a website? What are they trying to hide? Or how far behind the times are they? The first step in the marketing maturity model is building a great website because it is the heart of your online presence. A strong website is more than great design; it’s about incorporating a modern promise that shows you understand your customers’ problems and have the best solution out there to fix it.

Behind every great website is a strong SEO strategy. While SEO is an ongoing process and there are dozens of factors to consider if you’re taking a pro-level approach, even a marketing novice can use some SEO quick fixes, like repairing broken links, checking site speed, and designing a mobile-friendly site, to get your website ranking higher.

Build Trust with Content

Once the prospect has discovered your website, you need to provide them with ways to come to know and trust your brand. That’s where the other elements of the build phase—a strong content program, social media presence, and email marketing campaign—come in.

The content on your website (blog posts, explainer videos, product descriptions, your about us page—if it’s on your website, it’s content!), should help prospects get a greater sense of what you do. Your homepage will draw them in with a promise to solve their problem, your other content needs to prove that you’re as good as you say you are. Informative blog posts, glowing reviews from existing customers, and explainer videos that teach viewers something valuable are all great ways for them to come to know and trust your brand.

Get on Social Media

Social media can help in the like and trust phases, too. Simply having a presence on the major social sites gives your business greater legitimacy. Then, creating a strong social presence, with consistent posts that are relevant and helpful, builds on the trust factor.

And take it beyond simply posting—engaging with your followers on social media means building a personal connection. It allows prospects to get to know the individuals behind the brand, and when they get 1:1 responses to their questions and comments on your page, they develop a deep trust in your business: “If they’re paying this much attention to me before I even become a customer, I’m sure I’ll be in good hands once I make a purchase!”

Stay Top-of-Mind with Email Marketing

Finally, email marketing is a great way to continue to show your expertise and remain in prospects’ fields of vision. While they have to seek out your website content or social media profiles, creating an email newsletter filled with helpful tidbits (and the occasional offer) allows you to come to them with your industry knowledge.

The Middle of the Hourglass and the Grow Phase

The middle of the hourglass are the stages we like to call try and buy. By this point, you’ve built a lot of trust around your brand. Your prospects are intrigued and really like what you do. If you can make a compelling offer to get them to give you a try, and the trial goes well, that’s often what seals the deal and helps them convert to full customer.

At this point in the marketing maturity model, you want to continue expanding your essential blocks from the build phase. Your website and content program can grow. Adding things like a regular podcast with a cadre of exciting industry guests is a great way to strengthen your content. Gather all of your relevant content together onto hub pages to give your content program and SEO a boost.

Speaking of expanding SEO efforts, focus on building up backlinks, and get Google Search Console set up so that you can optimize your search ranking for many years to come.

Also, continue to engage and follow up with leads via social media and email marketing. But it doesn’t stop there; now is the time to introduce new tactics to grow your existing relationships and turn prospects into customers.

Undertake Paid Lead Generation

When we say paid lead generation, we’re talking about things like search ads and social media advertising. These can come in many forms. A great place to start is with boosting content on social media, giving posts you’ve shared organically a broader reach for a small fee.

The more advanced tactics take you further into tracking your ads and getting more efficient about driving conversions.

Once you’ve established a series of Google Ads, you can use their offline tracking tool to understand how your ads are impacting business in the real world. By importing your sales information from conversions that happen in your brick-and-mortar store or over the phone, you can better understand the effectiveness of your online ads and refine your approach to win over more prospects.

For all of your ads, you should be creating landing pages that are unique to that particular campaign. In doing that, prospects find the exact deal, offer, or topic that intrigued them in the ad front-and-center on your website, and it makes them all the more likely to convert.

Create a Culture that Integrates Sales and Marketing

Your marketing efforts can take you pretty far, but you need them to be integrated with your sales approach from the start in order to get the greatest result. Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are in communication from day one about prospects.

Set up a clear process for the handoff from the marketing to sales teams, so no one falls through the cracks. And have your marketing team create materials for your sales team, so your brand voice remains consistent in those interactions with prospects as you’re shepherding them from your marketing to sales basket.

Focus on Customer Experience

This is the stage at which your prospects become customers. They’ve liked you enough up to this point to give you a try, so the customer experience must be stellar. That’s the way to take them from one-time customer to repeat buyer.

This starts with a killer onboarding process. No matter what kind of business you’re in, there’s some kind of onboarding for new customers.

If you sell products, your onboarding has to do with getting the product to your customer and ensuring they know how to use it. If you’re shipping your items, make sure that you have a process for your customers to track their packages. Once the item gets to them, include information that will help them get the most out of their new item.

For complicated products, like an electronic device, include clear instructions and maybe even a link to explainer videos to help them get set up. Simpler products, like clothing items, can include care instructions or even just a thoughtful thank you card to show you appreciate your customer’s business.

For services, your onboarding process might be more complex. Establishing a single point of contact within your company for any questions your new client may have, and sending along forms and paperwork that can help you both get on the same page faster, are important elements of your onboarding process.

No matter what kind of business you run, reviews are also very important at the try and buy stage. If you have an unhappy first-time customer, a speedy, sincere response to their complaint can turn things around and save the relationship. Similarly, glowing reviews shouldn’t go ignored. If you take the time to thank new customers for their positive feedback, their happy feelings will only grow!

The Bottom of the Hourglass and the Ignite Phase

By the time you’ve reached the bottom of the marketing hourglass, you’ve already won over that first-time customer. This is your chance to get them to become a life-long customer, and to tell all of their friends and family about your business.

And while it’s statistically easier to hold onto existing customers than to win new ones over, the last thing you want to do is take someone for granted now! You’ve already put in the hard work of converting them; you need to continue to wow them so that they’ll stick around.

Again, you continue to work on the existing tactics you’ve got up and running, from your website through to sales enablement and customer experience. But here, you add three more elements to take your marketing approach to a whole new level and build those lifelong customer bonds.

Invest in a CRM

A customer relationship management tool (or CRM, for short), helps you to better manage all of your customer interactions, both old and new. The tool allows you to track all points of contact with prospects and customers.

This is helpful in better understanding prospects’ path to conversion, and in offering better service to your existing customers.

Let’s say you have an existing customer who’s had an issue with an order. When your team can see that they called last week and emailed a few days later to follow up—and can pull up the transcripts of those communications, plus see notes from the customer service representative who was handling the case—you’re better able to take appropriate action for your customer, without making them explain their problem over and over each time they reach out.

Or maybe you have a customer that’s never had a complaint in their life. The CRM can still help; it can provide information for you to make smarter offers to that customer. If you’re a home improvement store and you notice that a customer recently purchased a dehumidifier, you can target them with ads about replacement filters for their new machine.

Whether you’re troubleshooting, looking for new cross-sell opportunities, or simply trying to better understand your sales pipeline, a CRM is the way to do it.

Use Marketing Automation

Marketing automation and a CRM tool often go hand-in-hand. The CRM gives you all of the customer information you could need or want to enact smart marketing automation techniques.

When you understand your customers’ behaviors, you can segment your buyers into different personas. Each type of customer has their own unique needs that your business meets, and when you understand those needs, you can create marketing materials that most effectively speak to them (and direct that messaging only at the relevant parties).

Take Advantage of AI and Analytics

Also tied in with your customer information is analytics and AI. When you’re gathering information on your customers, you can use analytics to understand what the data all means and, from there, refine your marketing strategy long-term.

Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website are free to use, and can provide you with deep, meaningful information about the behaviors and attributes of your customers and prospects. You can even use more advanced techniques, like call tracking, to understand how your online marketing efforts are affecting customers’ behaviors on the phone.

Armed with this information, you can undertake A/B testing, showing two different marketing messages to two different audiences in order to understand which one works best. This kind of testing allows you to hone in on the best possible messaging for each segment of your audience, helping you to retain existing customers and win new ones who might be referred by your biggest fans.

When it comes to creating an effective marketing strategy, you need to align your marketing tactics with what your prospects and customers want and need. By using the marketing hourglass as a guidepost while you walk through the marketing maturity model, you can build a strong marketing presence that will work for your business from start to finish.

How To Write an Effective Brand Story

How To Write an Effective Brand Story written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Every business has competitors. No business will ever be the only option available to a client or customer. So every brand has to do some work to differentiate themselves from the competition. Why would someone pick you over that other guy or gal down the street? What unique value are you bringing to the table that they just can’t get with anyone else?

This is where storytelling comes in. Sure, there are a number of businesses out there that could theoretically solve your prospect’s problem. But by crafting a compelling brand story, you can differentiate yourself as the brand that understands the problem the best and has the most thoughtful solution to the issue.

There are five key elements to any effective brand story. Here, I’ll walk you through them, and give you the tips you need to create a statement that sets your business apart.

Address the Problem

People don’t seek your business out because of the product or service that you offer. They seek you out because they have a problem that needs fixing, and they think that yours could be the business to solve it.

The first step to proving that you are the best business to fix their issue is clearly defining the problem at hand. When you’re able to articulate the pain that your prospects are feeling, they immediately feel at ease: Here’s a business that gets what I need, and likely has the know-how to deliver.

So a great brand story starts with calling out your ideal customer’s problem, frustration, or challenge. Take, for example, a brand like Glossier. In recent years, they’ve squeezed into the crowded beauty space and now have a valuation of over $1 billion. They identify their customers’ issue right on their home page: “Beauty inspired by real life. Glossier is a new approach to beauty. It’s about fun and freedom and being OK with yourself today. We make intuitive, uncomplicated products designed to live with you.”

They acknowledge that their ideal customers have too many options when it comes to beauty care, that those high-fashion brands make them feel like they can’t live up to those impossible beauty standards, and that the steps to a beauty care regimen have gotten more and more complex over the years. They’re looking to pare things back and offer a handful of great products that get the job done, rather than complicate things with some other product you now need to cram into your medicine cabinet.

Paint a Picture of a Problem-Free World

Okay, so now you’ve gotten your prospect’s attention. You understand what their world is like, and you’re on their side: You know there’s a problem that needs solving. The next step is to show that a problem-free world is possible. What would your prospect’s life look like without the problem in it?

Returning to the Glossier example, they address this by sharing real-world stories of women who have embraced their intuitive approach to skincare. They include pictures of their smiling, naturally-glowing faces, and the women tell stories of a quick and easy beauty routine that still allows them plenty of time to enjoy their morning coffee before heading off to work.

How Did We Get Here?

Sure, your ideal customers have a problem, but now that you’ve called it out, you want to make sure they feel like they’re not alone. Visitors to your website shouldn’t get the sense that they’ve been called out; you want them to feel like it’s not their fault they’ve gotten into this mess!

The team at Glossier does this by acknowledging that they’re just like their ideal customer. They say that they’re “beauty editors [who have] tried it all.” They’ve walked into a Sephora and picked up every serum, eye cream, face mask, and eye shadow palette under the sun, just like their ideal clients have. And from this place of knowledge, they now create products that are uncomplicated and just work.

Outline a Way Forward

Now that you’ve addressed the issue, acknowledged that a better way is possible, and made your prospects feel that you understand how they got here, now you can show them another way.

Outline a way forward for them. Show that by taking a first step with you, they can move towards getting out of this mess and finding themselves on the other side, in a problem-free place.

Glossier does this on their site by then introducing their core products that are designed to simplify a skincare routine. There are only a handful of products, and they’re the basics anyone would need (like a moisturizer and face wash).

Invite Them to Contact You

Once you’ve proven your value by identifying your ideal customer’s problem, acknowledging that they’re not the source of the issue, and offering up your way forward, towards a brighter, problem-free future, it’s time to invite visitors to reach out. You’ve made your case for what you bring to the table, now it’s up to them to contact you to learn more.

Glossier does this at the bottom of their site. In addition to products that can be purchased online, they invite visitors to “Meet [them] in real life” by finding a store or pop-up location, and then they offer up their newsletter as a way to stay up-to-date on product launches and events.

Getting your brand to pop in the crowded online marketplace is about more than having a spiffy logo or memorable slogan. It’s even bigger than offering the best product or service out there. The secret to standing out is telling a compelling brand story. And when you follow the steps above and include those essential elements, you can guarantee that you immediately build a sense of connection between your brand and prospects.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 18

It’s time for another episode featuring a reading from my upcoming book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. If you’ve been following along, you know that the book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s Reading: Find Your Gifts

But the great Master said, “I see/No best in kind, but in degree;/I gave a various gift to each,/To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.//”These are the three great chords of might,/And he whose ear is tuned aright/Will hear no discord in the three,/But the most perfect harmony.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – “The Singers” The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1854)

Poetry is hard for most so here’s the full context of what goes on in The Singers. There are three musicians and people can’t figure out which one is the best so the great Master assures them they are all great for different reasons and if you listen with that in mind all you can hear is the most perfect harmony.

Okay now go reread the stanza above and it may be much more lyrical.

So, how do you find harmony in a world of difference? How do you find yourself and your place in the band? 

Or to quote Deepak Chopra, “There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”

Your values, the things that mean the most to you in life right now, are the keys to understanding your gifts. The musicians in the poem above employed their gifts to charm, to strengthen, and to teach.

How about you? Journal, get alone, ask your three closest friends. Don’t sweat it –  as long as you are actively looking – your gifts will find you.

Final Thoughts

I think there’s a lot of pressure today, particularly on entrepreneurs, to prove their success and self-worth. To some degree, that’s why you see so much nonsense on social media.

Deepak Chopra says, “there are no extra pieces in the universe,” and that idea that we’re all unique, connected, and here for a purpose? It’s powerful. I don’t know that I’ll ever find my purpose and my gifts, but I think it’s cool to live with the idea that I can relax because I’m meant to be here. My job is to insist on myself and never copy.

With that in mind, I leave you with today’s challenge question: When was the last time you got lost in the present and time disappeared? What were you doing?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to intercom.com/podcast.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 11

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 11 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 11

Each week this month, I’ll be doing a reading from my upcoming book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. The book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s Reading: Solving Impact

The continuity of life is never broken; the river flows onward and is lost to our sight, but under its new horizon it carries the same waters which it gathered under ours, and its unseen valleys are made glad by the offerings which are borne down to them from the past,—flowers, perchance, the germs of which its own waves had planted on the banks of Time.

John Greenleaf Whittier – The Prose Works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Volume 2 (1866)

What problems are you solving? That’s the essential question in life and it certainly applies to business. It’s not that you should set your entrepreneurial journey in search of problems, the fun is in creating opportunities, making new stuff, building amazing relationships, but in the end, doing even these things solves someone else’s problems. Intentionally or unintentionally.

“. . . and its unseen valleys are made glad by the offerings which are borne down to them from the past . . .

The measure of your true impact, and hence the jolt you may need to keep at it, resides in your relationship to the problems you ultimately solve for others. This is as true in your role as a brother, friend, spouse, as it is in your role as a founder, manager, worker bee.

Problem solving seems a bit negative until you start to use it as a way to understand those you serve and interact with from their point of view. Think about it – being a good listener is solving someone’s problem, showing up when needed, having a frank conversation, celebrating a win, all problem solving.

Today, try this idea out as a filter for how you think about what you do, how you interact and maybe even the products or services you might provide.

Final Thoughts

Problem-solving is what we do all day long, whether it’s on purpose or not. And certainly understanding, as a business owner, that people don’t buy our products or services; they buy the problem that we solve. In a lot of cases, they don’t even really care how we do it.

So I think it’s important that you understand that. It doesn’t mean that you’re constantly on the negative, thinking, “Oh boy, I’ve got to solve a problem.”

Think about it this way: Being a good friend to someone during the day is solving that person’s problem. You may not look at it that way, it might not seem that grand, you may not enter into it with that intention, but if you start to think about interactions like that in terms of the value that you bring? That turns a negative into a positive.

I leave you with today’s challenge question: In a single sentence, what is the greatest problem you currently plan to solve?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to intercom.com/podcast.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 4

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 4 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 4

This is the first podcast in a series of episodes about my new book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. The book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

In the weeks leading up to the release, I’ll be sharing a reading each week from that particular day’s entry in The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Today’s Reading: Into Silence

What are the great faults of conversation? Want of ideas, want of words, want of manners, are the principal ones, I suppose you think. I don’t doubt it, but I will tell you what I have found spoil more good talks than anything else;—long arguments on special points between people who differ on the fundamental principles upon which these points depend.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. – The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858)

Defending one’s position is a clear signal of a lack of trust – not in the person subjected to your defense, but in yourself.

Assuredness in a point of view sounds a lot like silence.

Yes, today’s call is to be still and listen.

This isn’t a knock on your ability to share or even the fact that you have brilliant ideas to share it’s just that when we choose to listen more, some beautiful things can happen.

In conversation, the economy of our words gives space for others to feel heard and valued. It invites people to find themselves and see you as a source of energy that allows rather than prescribes.

Listening draws ideas, relationships, stories, information, and clues that allow you to better understand the impact you have on others.

For most, but particularly entrepreneurs, this advice requires biting your tongue and reining in your natural inclination, but if you can ever allow yourself to embrace this and practice this, you’ll never give it up.

Today, try to speak only when spoken to and then listen with your entire body. Observe how silence feels and take note of your urges to burst out talking, but more importantly bask in the transformation of those who experience your active listening.

If you have a lot you need to say then write it down. Of course the sneaky little trick in this advice is that writing forces you to listen to yourself and for once observe just what you sound like.

Final Thoughts

I invite you to think about what you just heard me read—you may even want to go back and listen again.

The question of silence and listening is often tough for leaders. We get used to being the person that everyone turns to for the answers, and a lot of times, we want to share our thoughts and provide that guidance.

But there’s a valuable piece of advice I picked up from The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. His book really hammered home the idea for me that, when someone comes to you asking for the answer to something, more often than not, they’re not looking for you to be prescriptive. A lot of the time, they’re looking for you to validate what they think, and to invite them to think up the solution for themselves.

So I leave you with today’s challenge question: Who will you listen to today?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to intercom.com/podcast.

Content is More Than Blog Posts – It’s the Voice of Strategy

Content is More Than Blog Posts – It’s the Voice of Strategy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Content as the Voice of Strategy

Content’s been around a long time, we’ve been talking about it for more than a decade. A lot of people still treat it as just another tactic, and think of it as a blog post here or social media update there. In reality, you can’t do much in your marketing efforts without a serious, strategic approach to your content. I’ve even started referring to content as the voice of strategy.

It may eventually be your emails, blog posts, and social updates, but it needs to have a more intentional approach behind it. How you use content to guide the customer journey is very significant. That’s why every business owner needs to tackle some core content elements before moving onto things like blog posts and podcast episodes that will populate your editorial calendar. You must start with using content to communicate your strategy in all elements of your online presence.

Let’s Start with an Example

To help you understand what this all means, I’d like to start with an example of a client we were working with. They were a lawn service company that already had a lot going for them. They had great processes, a well-trained team of professional folks, and customers who loved them. So our issue wasn’t about trying to establish them as better than the competition—they were already clearly hitting that mark on their own.

Our role was to make sure that everyone who visited their website or encountered their business on the internet knew they were the most trusted resource for someone looking for lawn care services.

So we started with their core message. We came up with clever messaging that communicated the idea that you’re gonna love to come home on mowing day. But we also wanted to incorporate all of the specifics about what made them a great service provider (a stellar team, the best communication, a top-notch system for delivering service). How could we empower them to be more than just a provider of lawn care services and instead become a resource for information about anything and everything a homeowner might want to know on the topic?

Once we had honed in on what we were hoping to achieve with our messaging, then we could get specific about the type of content we wanted to produce. And it’s not always about creating more content, it’s about creating the right content.

Go Back to Basics

It all starts with that core message and story. If you don’t have that locked down and clearly communicated on your homepage, if you don’t have the core pages on your website, if you don’t have a basic video, if you aren’t getting customer reviews then you’re missing the foundations of content marketing. You need to start with these before you dive into podcasting and webinars and other elements.

Storytelling

Storytelling should be at the heart of all your content. The concept of storytelling has become a hot topic in marketing circles over the past few years. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to telling your business’s own story, it’s a good idea to build your story around these five points. You need to open up a dialogue with your customers:

1. Ask:Does this problem sound familiar to you?” Your customers aren’t interested in what you sell, they’re interested in the problems you solve. You need to be able to communicate that you understand their underlying problem.

2. Tell them:It’s not your fault.” It’s important for your business to show empathy for your clients. Acknowledge that you understand their problem, but that it’s not their fault they’re experiencing it.

3. Ask: “What if your problem was solved?” Next, paint a picture of what life could look like if your client’s problem went away.

4. Tell them the good news: “It can look like that!” Now’s the time to present yourself as the solution to their problem. After all, your brand understands the issue and is here to fix it.

5. Present them with a call to action. Once you’ve addressed the four points above, your prospect should feel pretty convinced that you get what they’re up against and have the solution they need. That’s when you come in with the call to action for them to reach out and speak to you about solving their issue.

Write out the story for your own business. It might take two pages or two paragraphs, but get it down on paper. From there, you can refine it and develop your core marketing messaging around it. Create a core statement for your homepage. Film a core video that addresses the points above. The homepage should be all about communicating this core story and building prospects’ trust in your knowledge and ability.

Core Pages

There are some pages that every business website simply needs to have. This starts with a great homepage. I’ve spoken before about the must-have elements for any homepage, and they include a scrolling journey that lists your services, tells your core story, and has trust-building elements.

Your site should also include individual pages for each of your services or service areas. Too often I see businesses with a great homepage who drop the ball and get vague on the details when it comes to what it is that they actually do. Once you win people over with your core messaging on your homepage, you want to seal the deal with the specifics about your goods or services, and then provide calls to action for them to reach out, schedule an appointment, and become a customer.

Review Funnel

Reviews are an integral part of any business’s online presence. Not only do they help with your ranking on search engines, today’s prospects are more reliant than ever before on the word of existing customers to offer social proof. Your website should have a review funnel for collecting reviews on third party sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business.

You should also be collecting first party testimonials. This doesn’t have to be an intimidating process; when someone writes you a nice email or letter about their great service, simply ask if they’re okay with you sharing it as a testimonial on your website. Or if you don’t have any kind emails lying around, consider reaching out to some recent customers who were happy with their service—people are often more than willing to say a nice word or two when asked.

The final piece of the review puzzle is writing case studies. Creating an in-depth profile of a happy customer—what their problem was, what your solution was, and what happened after you got involved—is another trust-building element.

Case studies and reviews help potential customers see themselves in those you’ve already helped, and can be a major factor in their decision-making process.

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Content

Once you’ve created that foundational content, it’s time for you to turn your attention to those elements on your editorial calendar. Whether you’ve already created an archive of content over the years or are just beginning to strike out into blogging, building your content around hub pages is beneficial for both SEO and customer experience.

Hub pages allow you to rank for the highest intent types of searches and to provide industry expertise that establishes you as a resource for information. They essentially allow you to become like the Wikipedia for your area of expertise. You share a lot of useful content grouped around the subject areas that matter most for your business, and you become a friendly face and guide to your prospects long before you become a service provider.

These hub pages can address questions all throughout the customer journey. Let’s take the example of a basement waterproofing company. When a homeowner is thinking about hiring a waterproofing company, they likely have a lot of questions: How much will the services cost? Do I really need to waterproof my basement? What are the consequences of me not undertaking this home improvement project?

If you can build a page that addresses these early research questions, you get out in front of your competition from the start in prospects’ minds.

Plus, whether this content is already living on your blog or not, the hub pages allow you to structure it in a way that makes it more user-friendly. Rather than having to scroll through your archives and root around for the relevant posts, everything your prospect needs on the topic is right there. This hub page becomes a gold mine of information, so they read multiple articles, share their findings with others, and come back several more times as additional questions arise. This all signals to search engines that your content is highly useful and relevant, and soon enough you’ll see yourself rising in the SEO rankings as a result.

Content may not be king anymore, but it is certainly integral to your strategy. Once you’ve determined what it is that sets your business apart, it’s a solid approach to strategy that gets your messaging out to prospects and clients and helps differentiate you from the competition. Starting with your core storytelling message and moving outward from there is the way to build a content strategy that resonates with prospects and gets results for your business.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at SEMrush.com/partner/ducttapemarketing.

5 Tools Every Business Needs to Create an Amazing Website

5 Tools Every Business Needs to Create an Amazing Website written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Your website is the heart of your online marketing efforts. Every other tactic that you undertake should drive visitors back to your website. It’s the one corner of the internet that is all your own. It’s where you can share your brand story in the way that best represents who you are and what you do.

But having a great website goes beyond creating great content. There are some technical elements that you need to nail in order to keep things running smoothly, give visitors a great experience, and easily keep track of leads. Here are the five tools that every business owner needs in order to create a website that works wonders for them and their customers.

1. A Tool to Host Your Website

First thing’s first: You need a way to get your website out there! There are a lot of web hosting services, but they are not all created equal. A bad host can hurt your website. Bad hosting can slow down load times on your site, which drives prospects away. In fact, a one second delay can result in a seven percent reduction in conversions!

Security is also a major concern nowadays. Having an HTTPS certificate for your website is an essential part of trust-building. Google now calls out websites that aren’t HTTPS by labeling them as “not secure” in big red letters in the address bar. If that’s the first thing a customer sees upon clicking on your website, chances are they’ll think twice before handing over any sensitive information to you on your site. Some web hosting companies include HTTPS certificates at no additional charge, while others will try to upsell you for this necessary element.

For my part, I swear by Pressable WordPress Hosting. They provide super-fast and secure web hosting, and their customer service team is on hand 24/7 so that you’re never left in a lurch if you have issues with your website.

2. A Tool to Design a Beautiful Site

As much as we may hate to admit it, looks do matter when we’re browsing websites. Sites with outdated designs and hard-to-read formatting are a major turnoff for customers. And if your business isn’t big enough to have a full-time web designer on hand, it helps to have a tool that allows you to make changes to your website so that you can keep information current and include all the elements you need in a modern site.

A tool like Thrive Architect can help you get it all done. They have simple drag-and-drop layouts that allow you to control the content and design of your site without a computer science degree. And it’s about more than just adding texts, images, and video; they have conversion-focused elements that you can easily incorporate into your pages.

3. A Tool to Generate Leads

Speaking of conversions, a great website needs a way to collect and generate leads. You can have the fastest, most secure, and beautiful website on the internet, but if you don’t tell visitors what they’re supposed to do once they get there, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Yes, your website should include your promise and story, but you also must tell visitors what you want them to do next. Do you want them to sign up for your mailing list? Register for a free trial? Providing a call to action, where you ask visitors to take one specific move, is the first step in the process of generating a lead and moving them down the marketing hourglass.

Thrive Leads is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you do just that. It allows you to create forms using simple drag-and-drop design so that you can capture the information that you need from your visitors. Getting this information is step one to building a relationship with a prospect. Without that information in hand, you can’t possibly move forward with other tactics to move them further down the hourglass. And the Thrive Leads plugin has advanced testing, targeting, and analytics so that you can measure the success of each lead generation effort.

4. A Tool to Integrate Email and CRM

Once you start collecting these leads, you have to do something with them! Housing all of the information in one centralized location is an important first step—that’s where a CRM comes in. I love ActiveCampaign, which brings together CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing tools all under one roof.

Having all of your prospect and customer information in one place allows you to begin an effective email marketing campaign. You can also design targeted search and social media marketing campaigns, with messaging designed to speak to various segments of your audience.

5. A Tool to Design Custom Landing Pages

Once you begin to undertake marketing efforts beyond your website, the end goal is still to drive traffic back to your online home. But you don’t want to send paid search and social media ad traffic back to your homepage. It’s far more effective to have a custom landing page for each and every campaign you run.

Landing pages allow you to tailor the information to the specific offer that’s featured in the ad. When your audience clicks through and finds only the most relevant information on your website, conversion rates go up, and you get the greatest return on your advertising investment.

A tool like ClickFunnels can help you create these highly customized landing pages. Like the other tools I’ve recommended, they have a drag-and-drop design feature that makes it easy for you to build a page with the layout and messaging you want. Their focus is on lead conversion, and they have the strategies and tools on hand to help you create the most effective landing pages possible.

Building a great website means incorporating a lot of different elements—from superficial things like design elements to behind-the-scenes pieces like proper security. Fortunately, there are lots of tools out there that make it simple for any business owner to create a strong, effective, secure online presence for their business.

What Does the Future of Paid Search Look Like?

What Does the Future of Paid Search Look Like? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Paid search has been an important channel in a comprehensive marketing strategy for years now. But we’ve also seen some major shifts in the way that PPC works, and as with most technological things, the pace of change isn’t slowing anytime soon.

That’s why it’s important for marketers and business owners to be forward-thinking. Noting the current trends and predicting how they’ll shape the future is the best way to stay a few steps ahead of your competition. Here, I’ll share some of my thoughts about what to expect from the future of paid search.

Automation Will Rule

Automation has become an increasingly critical part of paid search. We’ve seen Google Ads offer marketers the ability to create multiple headlines and descriptions for ads as a part of its responsive search ads program. Over time, Google pairs different headlines and descriptions together to find the combination that gets the best results.

Additionally, marketers can use automation on their own side to take the manual work out of handling bidding and budgeting for ad campaigns. This used to be a tedious part of the job, and with automation, you’re now freed up to spend more time on creating effective ads rather than fiddling with numbers.

I anticipate that the role of automation in PPC will only increase as technology becomes more advanced. This will help marketers to focus more on the strategic elements that go into creating a great ad campaign, and will help businesses maximize their ROI by automatically optimizing their advertising approach.

Amazon Will Move into the Space

Google has long been the gold standard for search engines, and so it’s long been the place where advertisers first turn to with their PPC spend. However, recent studies have shown that more consumers are starting their searches on Amazon now, rather than Google. And with this shift in consumer behavior, we’re also seeing a shift in marketers’ focus.

More marketers are beginning to purchase ad space on Amazon. The audience there is broadening, and it’s currently cheaper to market on Amazon than it is to advertise on Google. Now is the time for you to consider making the shift for your own business. Particularly if you offer goods or products that consumers might be searching for on Amazon, there’s the potential for you to get a lot more value from your ad spend on the e-commerce site.

Video Will Continue to Gain Ground

Text ads have long been the focus of paid search advertising. However, video has been gaining ground across all marketing efforts, and paid search is no exception.

More and more consumers are indicating that video is their preferred medium for learning more about a company. Why not give the people what they want? Plus, video is a great way to stand out in a sea of text. A colorful video with appealing music and engaging voiceover will catch the eye of searchers. And as we continue to see more marketers turn to video to tell their stories, if you don’t embrace the medium, you’ll get left behind.

New Ad Types Will Enter the Scene

Each year, we see Google expand and change their ad offerings. It seems like not so long ago that Google ads were simply the blue links that appeared at the top of search results. Now we’re seeing ads that incorporate images and video, plus ad types that are specific to certain industries, like Google Local Services Ads.

Plus, rumors that Google is thinking about charging for enhanced features on their Google My Business platform indicate that expanded offerings may be coming by way of that particular platform, which will be tailored to local business owners.

While it’s impossible to know exactly how and where Google will expand their efforts, it’s always worthwhile to keep an eye out for news about changes to their advertising offerings. When you’re able to stay on top of changes, you can get ahead of trends and get in on the ground floor of new paid search tactics while the investment is still low.

Marketers Will Think in Audiences, Not Keywords

The final major shift that I see in how paid search will operate moving forward is in the central focus in creating campaigns. Up to this point, it’s been all about finding the appropriate keywords for your ad campaign.

Audience data and segmentation tools have been continually evolving over the years. And search engines are making it easier than ever for marketers to target their ad spend at people with the right behaviors and attributes. Why do keyword research, hope you’re picking the term that will resonate with your desired audience, and then measure and refine your approach, when you can instead target ads at the audience that you know is most likely to find it relevant?

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the future holds for paid search, by looking at recent trends, savvy marketers are able to infer what changes are coming and how best to capitalize on them for their business. Things like automation, Amazon, and audience segmentation aren’t going anywhere, so it’s best to figure out how to make these trends work for you so that you can outpace your competition.

Why A Solid Landing Page is Key to Effective PPC

Why A Solid Landing Page is Key to Effective PPC written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Some marketers choose to send prospects who click on their paid search results to their website’s homepage. While this will certainly get them to a page with relevant information about your company, it is not the most effective option when dealing with search marketing.

Instead of sending people to a generic page, it’s far more effective to design a custom landing page with information and an offer tailored to the verbiage in the paid search ad. While landing pages serve a number of other purposes, one of my favorite techniques is to create one for PPC ads. Here, we’ll look at the many benefits to creating a solid landing page for PPC, and what elements go in to creating a winning page.

Increase Conversion Rate

Designing a custom landing page is one of the keys to increasing conversion rates on ads. Your ad copy should be for a specific product or offer. When a reader clicks on the link, they want to learn more about that certain thing, not be taken to a page that’s more generally about your business.

When visitors are driven to your homepage, it’s now up to them to root around for information that’s relevant to what they saw on the ad. Even if you have a great website, it’s easy for them to grow frustrated and impatient, looking for the information they wish they had right in front of them in the first place. That makes them more likely to give up their search and return to the SERPs.

A custom landing page, however, that addresses the messaging from the ad directly, presents the reader with everything they want to know. This is a lot more likely to generate an immediate positive response from viewers.

Keep Cost per Click Low

A landing page with a high conversion rate also works to keep your cost per click low. When more people convert, you’re generating more revenue from the ad campaign, which means that you’re getting more bang for your marketing buck along the way.

Earn a Higher AdWords Quality Score

There is yet another bonus to creating an effective landing page for PPC ads. When you achieve higher conversion rates and keep visitors on your site for longer, Google takes notice. They infer that the content on your website must be highly relevant to searchers, and so in turn improve your standing on their site. They reward good ads with better placement and show them more frequently.

How Do You Build a Great Landing Page?

So now that you understand all of the value that a solid landing page can bring, let’s talk about how to create one. (And if you’d like a look at what not to do when creating a landing page, check out this post.)

Focus on One Call to Action

Visitors to the landing page are coming there because of the offer you made or product you cited in your PPC ad. Your landing page should contain just one call to action, and it should be directly related to the offer or product from the ad.

Let’s say, for example, that you own a plumbing company. Your PPC ad touts your same-day service. People clicking that ad are probably not interested in the work you do installing environmentally-friendly plumbing systems as part of home renovations. They likely have an emergency situation and are in need of immediate assistance. Your landing page should have a call to action that drives them directly to your online booking system so that they can get on your calendar ASAP.

Keep the Page Clean and Simple

Because visitors are coming there with one express purpose in mind, they don’t need a whole lot of information to convert. Instead, a simple headline; one big, bold, relevant image; and a clear description of the details of the product or service you’re offering will do.

Going back to the plumbing example, start with a headline that says something like “Same-day plumbing services, 365 days a year.” The image should be a hero image—one of your plumbers in front of his truck, striking a bold pose that says, “I’m ready to solve all your plumbing problems!”

Then the description of the service should include what you’re offering (licensed plumbers for same-day service) and what is expected of consumers (there’s a flat-rate fee for your service).

If you’re looking for inspiration when it comes to designing your own landing page, check out these examples, gathered together by Instapage.

A solid landing page can help your PPC ads perform better, rank better, and generate more revenue for your business. By keeping your messaging narrow and targeted, you speak directly to the immediate needs of your prospects. And by building a simple, visually engaging page, you guarantee that you’ll catch their eye and hold their interest.