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Interview with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing

Posted on Sep 30th, 2008
Written by Lee Odden
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    john jantsch If you’ve been marketing online for any length of time, you’ve no doubt seen the brand “Duct Tape Marketing“. John Jantsch, the guy behind that brand is a true, “marketer’s marketer” as you’ll see in the interview below. Because of John early in my blogging experience, I was able to pick up a lot of great insights and secured blogging gigs with Business Blog Consulting and which lead to a number of media opportunities and consulting engagements.

    In this interview, John talks about getting started, branding, blogging, SEO, outsourcing marketing and tips, getting referrals, specialization and a few of his favorite tools and technologies.

    You’re well known, heck you’re famous, for many things related to small business marketing. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started blogging and where did the idea for Duct Tape Marketing begin?

    I’ve owned my small business for over 20 years and have always been into marketing, but about six years ago discovered I loved working with small business, but man was it hard to make a living doing it the traditional way. So, I decided to turn marketing into a product and call it Duct Tape Marketing because it seemed like the perfect metaphor for the small business reality.

    There are a significant number of small businesses started each month, meaning a tremendous marketing opportunity both for and to those new businesses. What advice do you have for small businesses thinking about outsourcing their marketing?

    It’s a great idea to delegate but don’t abdicate. You’re got to know more about your ideal customer and more about what makes what you have to offer valuable than anyone ever will – your job is to help a marketing coach or consultant understand what makes your business tick and let them leverage that.

    We are no doubt experiencing some uncertain economic times and marketing is often the first to go when budgets get cut. What advice do you have for marketing agencies that want to reach small business marketplace in this kind of environment?

    Buy more market share now but narrowing your focus. Get really good, right now, at serving the narrowest possible market like nobody ever dreamed of.

    You’ve written a lot about the importance of referrals within business, a tactic that I think, is often overlooked by many online marketers. Can you offer a few of your best tips for getting referrals from clients?

    Ask. I know, brilliant, but the fact is nobody does it systematically. The best thing you can do is build the expectation of a referral into your lead conversion process. In other words, tell a  prospect that you know they are going to be so thrilled with what you have promised to do that, if in fact, they are thrilled, they agree to introduce you to two other who need this type of solution – sounds too simple, but works every time.

    Search engine optimization can play such a huge role in a small businesses marketing plan, but it’s not right for every business. What are your thoughts on small businesses relying on SEO?  Any tips on outsourcing SEO or keeping it in-house?

    SEO for the small business is properly formatted HTML, good updated content and relevant links back – a lot of SEO folks can help you do that, but a lot of small business owners can do that part DIY. I think the trick is to understand your objectives – what role does your web presence play?  Are you in highly competitive turf where it’s cut throat to get search traffic? If you outsource anything learn enough about it to be a good buyer.

    Over the past year or two there’s been a lot of buzz over Social Media as a marketing channel. Yet most businesses still don’t really know what it means for reaching new and existing customers. What’s your advice for companies just starting to make sense of social media? What are the best social networks, media sharing sites and web 2.0 sites for small business?

    I always say start with a blog because I think it’s the front door to social media and can do a lot of really positive things for most small businesses. After that I would say get involved in the local and social search sites that are indexing businesses and allow user to rate and recommend local businesses. I think that’s a hot space and will get bigger.

    You’ve done an amazing job of branding yourself and Duct Tape Marketing. How important is branding to a small business. Are small business branding efforts wasted in lieu of direct marketing and sales?

    All businesses have a brand. A brand is simply the collective impression of your business by folks who have heard of you. So, the question is, was the brand built intentionally or accidentally. I like to say marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you – branding for the small business is the act of becoming knowable, likable and trustable. It may not make the phone ring, but it sure attracts the right customer when done right.

    It’s highly likely you’ve posted this on your blog, but what are 3-5 John Jantsch marketing tips that every business needs to consider?

    • Differentiate – find a way to define your value as different in a way that matters to your market – even if you have to make it up.
    • Partner – every single day spend some time developing strategic partners – the right one can inject 500 customers into your business tomorrow.
    • Harness the Internet – start with a blog, learn how to tap RSS technology, use email marketing

    What are some emerging marketing opportunities for businesses marketing online that you’re seeing? Mobile, social, new forms of advertising?

    (iPhone applications – today anyway) – mobile has promise but it’s still learning. I think maybe the emerging marketing opportunity that I find most useful for small business is offline/online integration Remember, most of us still sell to real people

    You’re pretty much everywhere on the web and clearly a very busy guy. How do you stay current with marketing news, strategy and tactics? What are your favorite online resources?

    I am a huge fan of RSS technology. I stay current because I am curious and because technology makes it easy for me to filter and aggregate. I think it also helps that I actually do everything I write about and I am my target market – what a killer combo that is.

    I love Jott

    Thanks John!  Get more John Jantsch insights on the Duct Tape Marketing Blog.