What is Duct Tape Marketing?

(Episode 1 of 2 with John Jantsch)

What is Duct Tape Marketing?
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker, and author of multiple books including Duct Tape Marketing. He is also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, which trains and licenses independent consultants and agencies to use the Duct Tape Methodology.  In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss duct tape marketing.

Key Takeaways

We will cover the following key takeaways:

  1. Duct tape marketing is centered around the idea that marketing starts with strategy before tactics.
  2. Nobody wants what we sell; they want their problem solved. Our core message should be focused on solving our customers’ problems. 
  3. The customer journey doesn’t end with a purchase. We want to continue building a relationship with our customers so that they refer to us again and again. 
  4. If we want to be referred we should exceed expectations.
  5. We should focus on one or two channels instead of trying to be on every one. 

What is Duct Tape Marketing?

Duct tape marketing is centered around the idea that marketing starts with strategy before tactics. We need to start with creating a strategy around a core message that solves our ideal customers’ problems. It’s a system we can constantly reevaluate and adjust. 

“[Duct tape marketing] starts with strategy before tactics,” John said. “If we truly create a strategy for our marketing around . . . that ideal customer’s problem, then we can start using the things we think about as tactics . . . as a way to communicate our strategy and our beliefs for our company.”

What we do as marketers hasn’t really changed. We show our customers the value they will get from our products or services. However, the tactics change all the time. Before, marketers relied heavily on advertising. Then social media became a new marketing tactic which introduced content marketing, influencer marketing, etc. This is why we should focus on our core strategy first, and tactics second. 

“Our job as marketers is to get somebody to know about our company and trust our company enough that they want to exchange monetary value for some value in exchange. That part will never ever change,” John said. “Marketing is a system and we have to view it like we do every other system in our business.” We first create a strategy and then find the tactics to move our plan forward.

The Benefits 

Duct tape marketing tells us what we need to do to meet our goals. More importantly, it tells us what not to do. One of the challenges a lot of marketers run into is thinking they need to be on every channel posting eight forms of content. But, we can’t effectively sell to everyone and our target audience probably isn’t everywhere. Duct tape marketing helps us narrow our focus to the key things that are essential to our core strategy before we even start on the tactics. This way we aren’t wasting our time and energy. 

John worked with a modeling contractor who had a website but no clear message. They had implemented many great marketing tactics, but didn’t have a clear vision of the strategy. John came in and helped this client first determine who their most profitable customers were. They found that they made the most money with high-end customers needing bigger remodeling jobs, and not simple/quick fixes. 

John helped adjust their website to target the more up-scale buyers. They focused more on design and narrowed their focus to their ideal customers, instead of everyone. When they did this, the client was able to attract more customers and ultimately find more success. 

Duct tape marketing helps us narrow our focus and find our overarching goal. “When you embrace this idea of marketing [as a] system, there’s a lot of ways that you can go with that when you realize that this system has a lot of integrated parts,” John said. 

How to Implement Duct Tape Marketing 

John gave us four steps we can follow in order to implement duct tape marketing :

   1. Put Strategy Before Tactics and Stay Narrow  

As we discussed above, the core principle of duct tape marketing is to put our strategy before the tactics. This means we actually have to take the time to sit down and go over our core objectives as a brand before we can start working on our email marketing campaign. 

Who is our ideal customer? What are their main pain points? What are their passions? Our strategy should start with our ideal customer. Once we know who they are, we can begin to find ways we can become the solution to their problems. 

During this process it is key to stay narrow. We don’t want to be the solution to everyone; we only want to be the solution to our specific niche audience. To help us with this, we can look at the customers we already love working with and figure out how we can better serve them. Then, we can look at the customers who are maybe less profitable and stop doing business with them. 

John once worked with a company who offered 27 different services simply because they had the equipment for it, yet 90% of their income came from three main services. They were the best at basement waterproofing, but you’d never know it based on their website because it was buried underneath the 26 other services they offered. 

John went in and reduced the amount of services the company offered to the three that made them the most money. When he simplified their strategy, they doubled their business in the next 18 months. Not only did the company find what their customers really needed, they were also able to charge a premium for these services because they were the best at it. With more time, they could double down on their expertise. 

Part of our strategy is determining who we serve, why we serve them, and how we serve them. Then, once we have our strategy, we will likely see an increase in success in implementing our marketing tactics. 

   2. Create Messages Based on a Problem 

As part of our strategy, we should understand the problems of our customers and then create our core message around the solution to that problem. 

“Nobody wants what we sell; they want their problem solved,” John said. “If we can help them understand that, we get them. . . . They’ll give us the opportunity to connect that back to our solution.”

Nobody wants_Blog

Remember we don’t just want to sell the solution. We also need to market the problem. Sometimes the customers might not know they have a problem and if we’re just selling a solution, they might completely overlook us. However, if we describe a problem they can relate to first, then they will be interested enough in the solution. 

If we don’t know what problem we are solving, we can go directly to our customers and ask them. We can send out surveys or even just read through our online reviews. We can read the five star reviews to find what they love and the lower reviews to find what they feel they are missing. We can do this for our own company and for our competitors as well to get the bigger picture. “There’s real gold in discovering that message because then we can build the entire business really around from that point,” John said. 

   3. Map Out the Customer Journey 

The next thing we can do is map out the customer journey. What are the steps? How can we guide our customers to make a purchase and a referral? What initiatives can we take? What campaigns do we need to run? 

One common mistake people make is thinking a customer purchase is the end of the customer journey. This isn’t the case. We want to continue building a relationship with our customers so they refer us to others. This is called referral marketing. 

We want to find ways to get our customers to talk about us in a favourable way. The best way to do this is by exceeding expectations in every step of the customer journey, even at awareness and after-purchase. 

“We’re not going to refer a company that gives us a bad experience, maybe not even one that gives us a satisfactory experience. We’re going to talk about those companies that exceed our expectations,” John said.

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   4. Determine the Best Channels 

Now, what are the most effective channels we need to leverage to guide our customers on their journey? 

“After we develop that strategy, that foundation, it really becomes a game of finding . . . the most effective channels that we now need to explore in order to help guide people on that customer journey,” John said. 

Our customers likely aren’t active on every single social media platform. Just as we narrow down our audience, we should narrow our focus on one or two channels that our ideal customers are more active one.

“Most businesses will see far more traction by going deep in one, maybe two, channels and really perfecting it, really owning it, really being there for the long haul,” John said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t make shifts and add things once you get that one channel down. But don’t try to just scatter yourself in eight channels, because you really won’t have any impact in any of them. So go deep, master one, and then maybe add another.”

Connect with John

Thank you so much John for sharing your stories and insights with us today. To learn more about or connect with John:

Next Steps

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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