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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 Create a YouTube Channel and Rank Your Videos

How to Create a YouTube Channel and Rank Your Videos written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Video is an increasingly important marketing tactic. Consumers today have shorter attention spans and are often consuming content on the go. They don’t always have the time to sit and read through a thousand word blog post; they’d much rather catch a four minute video on the topic while they’re riding the train into work or eating a salad on their lunch break.

It’s a great idea to include video wherever you can: on your website, on your social media, and on the biggest online video platform of them all, YouTube.

If you don’t yet have a YouTube channel for your business, now is the time to make one. Here, I’ll walk you through the steps of creating a YouTube channel and producing videos that consistently rank.

Establishing Your Channel

If you don’t have a YouTube channel yet, the first step is to set one up. To do so, log into YouTube using your Google credentials, and select “Your channel” from the dropdown menu on the upper righthand corner.

You’ll be given the opportunity to create a personal account or create one for your brand.

Because you’re creating this for your brand, you’ll want to establish a Brand Account. This also provides you access to other services like Google Photos using your business name rather than a personal account. Plus, Brand Accounts can be managed by multiple people, so additional team members can update and manage your videos.

Once you’ve created your channel, you need to create a description of your business and add images, like your logo and a background photo. Keep your branding consistent with your other online assets, so that it’s easy for people who know you from elsewhere to recognize this as your official YouTube channel.

You can also create a welcome video, which will play when someone visits the home page of your YouTube channel. This is a great way to introduce visitors to what your business does and give them a preview of the type of content they can expect to find on your channel.

How to Find the Right Video Topics

Once you’ve gotten the building blocks of your channel in place, it’s time to start thinking about the content you’re going to create. It’s important to put together an editorial calendar that will keep you on track and help you produce videos that speaks to your audience’s needs and interests.

Deciding on content areas for your videos should start with keyword research. This is the first step to creating content on your website that will generate leads, so the same principles should apply here.

Start by going to YouTube and searching for a term that makes sense for your industry. Let’s say you run a catering business, and you do a lot of weddings. You might go to YouTube and type in “Wedding catering” and see what autocomplete results pop up.

This shows you what real search terms people are entering into YouTube for videos about catering. It looks like cost-effectiveness is on people’s mind, with “wedding catering on a budget” being the most popular result. But people are also looking for ideas, tips, and help with set up on the day of their event.

Once you’ve undertaken that basic keyword research, you can take things a step further and use a tool like vidIQ to get even more detailed information on each video that ranks for your selected search terms.

Understanding how existing videos rank can help you identify popular topics, find gaps in information that you can fill with your own content, and discover topics you might not have thought of on your own, but that would be relevant to your business.

Create an Editorial Calendar

Now that you’ve settled on the right topics for your YouTube videos, you want to create a calendar for creating and releasing these videos. One of the keys to generating subscribers (which not only draws more attention to your brand, but is also a known ranking factor) is releasing new videos on a regular basis.

That’s why it’s so important to put together a content calendar and to stick to it. It’s often easiest to settle on a batch of topics for the coming months and then set aside a few afternoons or one whole day to film the content back-to-back. You can then edit the videos in batches and have the content backlogged so you’re not worried about finding time to film and edit a new video each and every week.

What to Include in Your Video

Two of the biggest ranking factors for videos are retention rate and subscriber rate. If you create videos that hold viewers’ attention for the whole time, and then they click the subscribe button after watching—that’s like the Holy Grail of YouTube videos.

So what are the keys to creating videos that people want to watch, and that inspire people to subscribe to learn more from you in the future? It’s all about creating useful content and cutting right to the chase.

People don’t have all day to sit and listen to a long preamble on your video. Introduce the topic right up front, by including a clear description in the video title and saying right in the first ten seconds what it is you plan to cover in the video. It helps, too, to include a teaser of the big nugget of useful information that you’ll be saving for the end of the video. You know how, on evening newscasts, they always dangle a super interesting story in front of you before the commercial break so you’ll keep watching? You should do the same in your video if you want to entice people to stick around until the end.

After your brief introduction, get right into it! We’ve all watched those videos on YouTube with lots of detours, personal stories, and long sidebars before they actually get to the meat of the content. And we’ve all stopped watching those videos and gone looking for something more succinct. If you want people to like your content enough to keep watching to the end and subscribe to hear more from you in the future, you’ve got to keep it helpful and brief.

Adding Descriptions and Tags

Much like you would on a blog post, you need the supporting materials around the video itself to be engaging and SEO-friendly. Make sure that the title to your video is descriptive and includes relevant keywords. Write a video description that clearly outlines what viewers can expect to learn if they watch, and include an eye-catching thumbnail of the video.

Select the category that makes the most sense for your video, and include even more detailed keywords in your video tags. Use your top keyword in the tags, along with variations on that theme and other related keywords that are relevant for the video content and your business.

Sharing Your Video

Once you’ve created your first video, spread the word! Share the video on other social media channels where you already have a following. Include it in your weekly newsletter or in a blog post. Getting the word out about your videos to your existing audience can help to build up those initial views so that you can start to gain traction in YouTube rankings.

Once you’ve created more than a handful of videos, you can create playlists on your channel. By grouping relevant videos together, you’ll draw even more attention to your content. If you’re a marketing consultant like me, you might create a playlist around SEO, one around paid search, and one around social media marketing.

A viewer sees a particular topic of interest, like SEO, clicks on the playlist, and all of the videos on SEO are automatically queued up, one after the other. This can give you a huge boost in video views, as people are drawn down the content rabbit hole.

Video has become the preferred way for many consumers to interact with content. And YouTube is the biggest video platform in the world, with billions of videos uploaded each and every day. If you want to provide customers and prospects with useful content, you need to meet them where they are. Establishing a YouTube channel and optimizing your content to rank in search results is yet another way to catch the eye of new prospects and stay top-of-mind with existing customers.

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.

How to Segment Your Buyer Personas and Create Unique Content for Each

How to Segment Your Buyer Personas and Create Unique Content for Each written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you run a business, you want to seek out the customers who are the best fit for you. These people are not only the ones most likely to need your goods or services, they’re also the people you would most like to work with.

For a lot of businesses, though, they have more than one type of ideal client. That’s where the concept of buyer personas comes in. It can help you define each type of customer you hope to target, which in turn allows you to create content that speaks specifically to their needs. When you marry great, meaningful content with the right audience, you can generate hot leads and drive them down the marketing hourglass quickly.

Let me walk you through everything you need to know to build your own buyer personas and create content for each of them.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Essentially, a buyer persona is a composite sketch of your ideal customer. Based on research and interviews with your existing best customers, you can begin to create a portrait of your fictional ideal client of the future.

Buyer personas should include demographic information, like age, location, and gender, as well as patterns of behaviors, goals, and motivations.

How Do I Establish Personas?

Creating detailed buyer personas takes a little bit of legwork, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Check the Data

Start by taking a look at the data you already have on existing customers. In today’s digital world, most businesses have a lot of data stored up across their CRM and email marketing tools, social media and website analytics, and sometimes even via good old fashioned methods like hard-copy sign-ups for a mailing list in your store.

In looking at all this data, do you notice any trends? Are there people with certain attributes who tend to buy certain products or services? Are there actions that most buyers take on your social channels or website before they become customers? Establishing patterns among the demographics and behaviors of existing customers is the first step to creating meaningful personas.

Ask Your Team

Your team is interacting with your customers each and every day. Why not get their feedback on what they see? Often, they can quickly identify patterns in behaviors that you might not see based on data alone. Maybe your sales team gets the same set of objections over and over again from customers in a certain age bracket. Or perhaps your in-store associates have been chatting with customers and noticed an uptick in traffic from your neighboring town.

Go Straight to the Source

Once you’ve done some digging on your own, it’s time to reach out to your customers to see what they have to say. Hopefully by this point in the process, you’re already starting to see some strong persona categories emerge. The number of personas you have really depends on the size and type of your business. Some businesses will only have one or two personas, while others might have dozens.

When you begin talking to customers, you want to do so either in person or on the phone, rather than relying on a survey. You should aim to speak with a handful of customers that represent each persona, and go for a mix of happy and not-so-enthused people. Speaking to similar customers who have differing opinions of your brand allows you understand what pain points you might not already be addressing with your goods or services.

Your interview questions should cover a variety of areas, from demographic information to their thoughts on interactions with your brand. Come up with a list of 10-20 questions for each interviewee. Consider the following categories:

  • Who are you? Ask your customers to tell you more about themselves. This can be demographic information like age, location, annual income, job title and role, number of children, or marital status. Hone in on the categories that are most relevant for your business (i.e. if you run a B2B, things like job title will be more relevant; if you’re a wedding photographer then age could be important).
  • How do you shop? You want to better understand the process your customers take to discover and interact with new businesses. Where did they first learn about your business? What was their journey like leading up to their first purchase with you?
  • What keeps you up at night? People come to your business because you solve a problem for them. What is it that worries your customer, and how does your offering eliminate that worry?
  • What is a win for you? Your best customers who will go on to buy from you again and again go to your business because you provide win after win for them. Ask them what that win is, and why you’re able to provide it.
  • Anything else? Give your customers the chance to share any additional feedback they might have on your business. Sometimes you’ll hear a comment repeated a number of times that you wouldn’t have thought to ask for.

Bring it All Together

Once you’ve analyzed the data, spoken to your team, and interviewed your customers, you’re ready to create your personas! It’s likely that you’ll have a handful of personas, although some very niche businesses will have less and some bigger businesses will have more.

If you’re unsure what constitutes a clear persona, start by grouping together like behaviors and attributes. Hopefully a clear pattern emerges. For example, let’s say you run a lawn care business. Maybe your first persona is young professionals who are busy at work and don’t have time to tend to their yards. Another persona might be retirees who are not well enough to handle the heavy-lifting of yard work on their own.

Now with your personas in hand, it’s time to move to the next step.

Next Up: Content Segmentation

In establishing your buyer personas, you’ve identified different segments within your larger customer population. Armed with this information, you can begin to create content that speaks to each of their needs.

Take the lawn care company example above. The way that you market to a harried 30-something looking for assistance keeping their lawn in check will be different from the way you approach the senior citizen who needs a helping hand with their yard.

For the busy professional, ease of scheduling is probably a concern, so your marketing messaging might highlight things like your online calendar, which makes it easy to book and confirm appointments with your team. The older folks likely living on a fixed income might be worried about the cost of your services, so you can target them with messaging that allows them to bundle services—say, leaf raking and lawn mowing—for an overall 10 percent discount in pricing.

You can use these personas to segment your content everywhere. Create blog posts and explainer videos that speak to each segment of your audience. Use your CRM to direct different email campaigns at appropriate customers based on their attributes and behaviors. Tailor your calls to action on your website to speak to the most pressing needs that each of your personas expressed in interviews. Create ad campaigns that speak to each individual persona, and then build customized landing pages that cover the pain points addressed in the ads.

Understanding your customers is the critical first step in marketing to them successfully. But it’s also important to acknowledge that you might not have just one type of customer. Creating buyer personas helps you to better understand what your business offers to all of your best customers, and helps you create messaging that speaks to customers and prospects alike, no matter what segment of your audience they fall into.

To Niche, or Not to Niche in Your Business?

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on To Niche, or Not to Niche in Your Business?

There’s a big movement today of people selling advice, programs, and courses about how to build your business that all sound like this: “Find a niche, run Facebook ads to this niche. Then become specialized, and get rich.”

While I won’t go as far as to call this a marketing scam, I will say that I think it’s bad advice. Here’s why I think it’s not a great way to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

You Get Boxed In

When you’re just starting out, how can you possibly know what it is that you really want from your business? This obsession with finding your niche before you get going will keep you from experimenting and testing. You become focused on a very specific client from the get-go, and are unwilling to think beyond this narrow profile.

However, as time goes on and you start to actually run your business, you may discover that you don’t like working with that very narrow audience you’ve selected for yourself. The tough thing is that once you’ve gone all in with targeting and marketing to a small subset of the population, it’s tougher to pivot and broaden your approach. It’s usually easier to get more specific in your focus as time goes on, rather than to start hyper-focused and move outward.

You Stop Up Your Creativity

The other major risk to defining your niche too early is that you can stifle your creativity. When you only work with a narrow segment of the population, it’s easy to fall into the trap of offering cookie-cutter advice. While your suggestions may be useful to the businesses you consult for, it’s not a whole lot of fun for you.

I find that a lot of the fun of the entrepreneurial journey is constantly getting to try and learn new things. Getting to understand new industries, tackling new problems, and finding new challenges and solutions along the way is all part of the excitement!

Why Do People Fall for the Niche Approach?

There is certainly some validity to the concept of finding and leaning into your niche. For lots of entrepreneurs, particularly those working in B2B industries, you’ll encounter clients who want to work with people who have worked with similar companies. Those clients want the assurance that you already understand their industry and have a proven track record helping other businesses like them, so there are some pros to understanding a niche.

But there are some real cons to it, too. Sometimes getting too entrenched in just one industry keeps you from considering new, innovative ideas from the outside. I find that working across industries invites a cross-pollination of ideas and strategy—sometimes I’ll see something happening in one industry that inspires me to think differently about a challenge a client in an entirely different field is facing.

Share Your Point of View

To attract ideal clients, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself with a niche, but you can’t just leave it to fate, either. Rather than doing either of those things, start by defining your point of view.

In the case of Duct Tape Marketing, our point of view is that marketing is a system. This is a simple tenet that we live by, and it’s at the core of all the products we offer, decisions we make, and advice we give to clients.

While it’s not a hard point of view to get behind, it is one that differs from what the majority of marketers say. This unique point of view allows us to attract customers who are interested in this way of thinking, rather than those who are obsessed with finding a marketing firm that knows their industry inside and out.

Identify Your Ideal Client

Sharing your point of view will help to attract clients with the right mindset to your business. When you’re first starting out, you can’t go in with a rigid concept of your ideal client. Until you’ve done some work, you won’t know the types of problems you want to solve and types of people you like to work with.

Once you’ve gotten good results for a client in a specific industry, chances are other businesses from that industry will reach out, too. Either they’ll get referred by your original client, or they’ll see work on your website and be attracted to you because they feel you know their industry. But as you begin to build up a roster of clients, that’s when you can start to take control and make decisions about who you want to partner with in the long term.

With time, your business will change. You will change. Your capacity to do certain types of work will change. It’s better to learn as you’re going rather than to enter into things with a set outcome in mind.

Focus on Behavior

When you start to undertake the work of defining your ideal client, behaviors matter more than demographics.

For me, I like to focus on business owners who have the mentality of investing in and giving back to their community. The business owners who I most enjoy working with are those who are engaged in their communities and do work to lift those groups up. Perhaps they participate in industry boards or are involved in relevant nonprofits.

I’ve discovered over the years that there’s a link between the behavior of giving back to the community and the mentality of wanting to invest in professional services. Business owners who understand the importance of investing in their community also see the value of investing in services like marketing. So rather than looking at demographics, I look for this behavior that indicates a certain mindset of the type of client I most enjoy working with.

Once you understand who your ideal customer is, that’s when you can start saying no to those who don’t fit that profile. And when you start saying no to clients who don’t make sense for you and your business, you will organically fall into your own niche. The idea that you need to start by identifying your niche is poor advice; in fact, I think it’s the exact other way around!

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The Three Step System for Keeping Clients for Three Years or Longer

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the 3 Step System to Keep Clients 3 Years or Longer

I’ve been a marketing consultant for many years, working with all sorts of small business owners. Not only that, but I’ve also spent a lot of time with fellow marketing consultants, having developed the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

The topic of this podcast relates to any business, but especially to those in a service business or those who are marketing consultants. When you’re running this type of business, the key to success is developing a specific method for keeping clients happy and getting them increasingly better results over the years.

My business took off when I realized that there was a process to doing this, and in the intervening years, I’ve created a three step system, which I share with the Consultant Network, that helps them to keep clients for three years or longer. Today, I’m going to share that process with you.

1. Develop a Repeatable Process

Having a process that you can repeat and get better at is one of the secrets to scaling a consulting firm and keeping clients longer.

The Duct Tape Marketing System is our repeatable system. It relies heavily on the idea of placing strategy before tactics; we call our practice strategy first. We help our clients understand who their ideal client is, what their core message and value proposition are, and then use content as the voice of that strategy. All of this is mapped out over the customer journey, or what we call the marketing hourglass. Any client that walks through our door gets a variation of this service. After that, we get into build, grow, and ignite—our terminology for our implementation steps.

This allows us to have a repeatable process that isn’t simply cookie cutter. In reality, 80 percent of small businesses all need the same 80 percent of services. They just need those services applied in slightly different ways, depending on the specifics of their business and their core strengths. That is really what the consulting part of the job is; the other stuff is about implementation.

Beyond the repeatable marketing system for developing your strategy, you must also have a repeatable methodology. Every client is educated the same way, converted the same way, the discovery process and research you do for the client is managed the same way. You not only have a repeatable process for getting them results, you also have a repeatable process for their experience.Duct Tape Marketing System

Our system is also built around the fact that marketing is always changing and evolving. We have 11 channels that our approach is built around.

We have to understand that all of these channels exist, and our job is to look at where each business is and then see which channels make sense for them. For example, if a business has an outdated website and no social media presence, they’re not going to be ready to start a podcast. We’ve got to go back to basics with them and get those foundational steps up and running before moving on to other channels.

We use the build, grow, and ignite roadmap to show a client how they’ll move down the roadmap. We charge a monthly retainer fee and can show a client exactly where we’re going to take them. A lot of consultants sell a project or specific result; we show clients how they have the ability to grow over the years if they stick with us and our broader plan for their business.

2. You Need a Consistent Flow of Leads (and a Process to Convert Them)

You don’t need a ton of leads or a complicated funnel to find them, you just need to make those leads convert. You need to get to a point where 50, 60, or 80 percent of those leads see a compelling reason to hire you.

A lot of consultants can get by with only a handful of clients at any given time. That means you only need to be speaking to two or three leads—as long as they’re the right leads—every month.

It’s important to establish a set of funnels. Don’t just put all of your prospecting eggs in one basket. Network with strategic partners to tap into their existing set of customers and contacts. Go out and speak at relevant events and conferences, establishing yourself as a thought leader and showing to people the value that you could add to their business, should they choose to hire you.

Content plays a huge role in the prospecting process. I’ve been speaking a lot recently about the value of hub pages.

hub pages graphic description

If you want an example for how a hub page looks in the wild, check out our local marketing guide. This page is structured in a way that looks like an online course, and it contains everything you could want to know about local marketing. A lot of this content was written long before we created this hub page, but it was scattered everywhere.

We know people are looking for information about this broad topic, so we built a hub pages where we’ve taken all of our relevant content that we’ve written over the years, and structured it in a way that would be helpful for someone looking for a total crash course on the topic.

Then on the page we include a content upgrade—someone looking for local marketing tips is probably interested in the local SEO checklist, too. From there, we capture their email address and are able to start a conversation that gets us on the road to nurturing that lead.

Once we’ve shared information via our hub page and gotten the attention of leads with a content upgrade, we offer our Total Online Presence Audit. As a part of this audit process, we’ll look at your website and understand the message; look at the content, structure, SEO, paid leads, competitive landscape; and then provide you with a full report and recommendations on what should be your top priorities.

We charge a little money for this service. And the reason we do this is because it attracts leads that have the mentality of wanting to invest in their marketing. We’re then able to use the research from the Total Online Presence Audit to put together a thoughtful, specific proposal for that business, should they choose to engage us for marketing services.

This approach not only allows us to convert more people, but to also convert them to a higher priced fee. Customers get bought into wanting to really fix the problems we’ve identified, and then we’re able to convince them of the value of investing in a broader marketing strategy.

3. Have Trained Partners and an Account Team

Unless you’re just doing strategy consulting and not offering any sort of implementation, you’re going to need extra hands to help you get it all done. It doesn’t make sense for you as the consultant who’s building the business to spend time on implementation for each of your clients. You need to be free to do the higher level thinking on behalf of your clients and on scaling your own business.

Bringing in a team of qualified partners and an account team allows you to free up your time. And when your process is repeatable, it’s easy to delegate tasks to this team.

There are components of a repeatable process that you can train outside people to do. There are so many great freelance remote workers out there; you as the consultant can do the strategic thinking, but then you can ask the account manager to deal with the more tactical work.

They can also manage reporting. An account manager is able to keep track of both your clients and your partners, communicating with them on a weekly basis. You as the consultant can then stay at the strategic level, but you can remain in clients’ fields of vision each week so that they know they’re being taken care of.

Bonus Step: Invest in a Mentor and Community

When you’re a solopreneur, it’s important to have a community for feedback and support. You want proof that you’re not crazy, help finding new clients, and feedback on your strategy and approach.

Working by yourself in a room every day can be lonely and leave you feeling disconnected. Finding a community that is doing the same thing you’re doing can be extremely valuable (both in growing your business and keeping your spirits high).

If you’re a consultant and anything resonates that you’ve heard here today resonates, check out ducttape.me/discover for information on upcoming live trainings with me, where I walk you through the methodology of our Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

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.

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Three: Ignite

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Three: Ignite written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage 3: Ignite

This is the third episode in our three-part series on the Model for Marketing Maturity. Want to learn more? Check out the previous two episodes on Stage 1: Build and Stage 2: Grow.

We’ve reached the third stage of the model for marketing maturity. Stage one was focused on building your house and getting the five most essential elements in order. Stage two was about getting those five channels to a level where they can start to pay dividends, and then adding on three additional channels.

Now, in the third phase, you can take the foundation you’ve built and go even deeper into expanding upon the elements that will grow your business. Here, we’ll look at adding a final layer that will amplify and ignite the work you’ve already done.

In addition to going even deeper into the channels you’ve already established, here you add CRM, marketing automation, and analytics and tracking into the mix.

Expand On Your Website and Content

With a fully functioning website, your focus now should be on optimizing the various elements even further. You’ll want to track your conversion rate and make changes to optimize those numbers. This is also where you should think about segmenting your content. You might even build mini-websites on top of your larger website, with content that is targeted at specific groups and buyer personas.

Finally, you want to think about harnessing your existing content for specific stages of the customer journey. How can you use content to ignite sales? How specifically can it assist in cross-selling and upselling? And how do you create content that gets shared and establish viral loops?

Add to SEO

Once you’ve created your on- and off-page SEO approach, you can continue to build on it. This is where you can add other forms of content, like a podcast, to increase your authority and ranking within search results. Appearing as a guest on existing podcasts allows you to build up even more links to your content.

Continue to dive deeper into your Google Search Console data. Take what you learn there and use it to increase organic click through rate on your website. This data can also help you to make changes that will allow you to appear in voice search and featured snippets, both of which are becoming increasingly relevant in the Google landscape.

Build Social Media Campaigns

Now that you have a presence across all relevant social platforms and have begun to boost posts and take a stab at paid advertising, now is the time to create broader campaigns. You might even look to create your own community online, with groups that encourage your fans and customers to come together.

Live video is another critical element in social media, and a lot of business owners are tempted to start putting out video content immediately. In reality, it’s not worth adding live video into the mix until you’ve done the work in the build and grow phases and have the basic framework of your social media presence in place.

Enhance Email Marketing Campaigns

In the earlier stages, you cleaned up your email marketing list and ran reengagement campaigns. This is the phase where you can begin to further segment your audience and run more and more complex campaigns.

Grow Your Paid Search Approach

The next step with paid search is to build an even more robust approach to your Google Ads. Establishing landing pages on your website that are tailored to specific campaigns is a great way to enhance the personalization of your messaging and impress prospects. You can also add display ads and re-marketing to your paid approach.

Establish Processes Around Sales Enablement

In the ignite phase, you’re able to get even more strategic about the way in which you present your offers to prospects. What gives you the greatest shot at making the sale? How can you best nurture leads that come in? If someone is already a customer, what do you do to get them to repeat?

You can also consider adding speaking engagements into the mix, here. Like what you did earlier in establishing a partner network, speaking allows you to tap into others’ existing networks and grow your brand’s reach even further.

Delight as Part of the Customer Experience

A top-notch customer experience is about delighting them so much that they not only repeat, but refer your business. What can you do to stand out from the competition and win their repeat business? Maybe this is something like the talk triggers that Jay Baer advocates for, which not only encourage repeat business but create word-of-mouth marketing. Maybe it’s an event that offers a unique experience or access to valuable information to your existing customers.

Whatever it is, you should be using customer feedback to inform these marketing decisions. When you understand how your current customers feel about the service they receive from your business, you can create future campaigns, events, and products that directly address their needs and any gaps they’ve identified in your current approach.

You also should establish a concrete way to generate referrals; this is where a referral program comes in.

This is what a fully realized marketing maturity model looks like. It’s the groundwork for your marketing plan moving forward. Use this as your roadmap, and in some cases it can be your three-year marketing plan.

From here, we add in the final three elements of the ignite phase.

1. Customer Relationship Management

You’ve already organized contact information in the build phase. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool can help you further organize and track all relevant customer data.

What does it take to initiate a record? How are you going to segment prospects and customers? What does the customer journey look like within your CRM tool? Once you’ve answered these questions and established a clear process for tracking and responding to customer behavior, you can go back in and take a look at the results.

Which approaches are generating conversions, and which ones are falling flat? When you’re tracking responses within your CRM, you can continue to refine your marketing approach over time.

2. Marketing Automation

Most CRM tools today include a marketing automation component. This allows you to track behavior, score leads, and create and launch campaigns that are triggered by specific behaviors or actions.

You can create campaigns that are triggered when someone opens an email, clicks a link, visits a website, or makes a specific purchase. This again speaks to the importance of personalization. When your business responds to customers’ actions with relevant follow-up, that is a key component in creating a great customer experience.

3. Analytics

Hopefully, you installed Google Analytics on the very first day you created your website. But now that the site is up and running, you can begin to set goals within Analytics. Decide on the KPIs you want to monitor, track your results, and tie all advertising activity back to what happens in Analytics.

Call tracking is another important element for any small business. Interactions through your online channels generate tons of data. You can see where you got a click on your website, who liked and shared your social media, or who opened your email newsletter.

But beyond that, you want to understand who actually became a customer. Call tracking allows you to keep tabs on who actually called your business, what happened in the interaction, and whether or not they decided to make a purchase from you.

The model of marketing maturity is divided into three phases for a reason. The build phase is about getting your house in order, and some businesses remain there for a very long time. Hopefully, though, you aim to progress to the later stages. But you can’t do that without the fundamentals from the build stage being in place. And you can’t do the work to ignite your marketing efforts until you have established all the channels in the grow phase.

The key thing to remember is that all of these elements are the tactics that make up a larger marketing strategy. You must have the larger strategic picture in place first, and use that to guide the implementation of the individual tactics.

If you want to learn more about the model of marketing maturity, or you feel like this strategy first approach is missing from your business, reach out to us.

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

It’s time we start giving life insurance the credit it deserves. That’s because life insurance can be so much more than protection for you and your family. It can also help you live, keep, and potentially build more cash value over time. To learn how, go to www.AXA.com.

Disclosure: Life insurance is issued by AXA equitable Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10104 or MONY Life Insurance Company of America (MLOA), an Arizona Stock corporation with its main administration office in Jersey City, NJ and is distributed by AXA Distributors, LLC.