My New Book Is Here

My new book is ready and I’m super excited to share it with you!

It’s a guide to help small businesses add one of the most powerful marketing tools there is to their work in growing their business. It’s called Mastering Lead Funnels for Your Small Business.

This has been a group effort from five small business marketing experts that I am honoured to have been a part of the project. I’ve written in this blog before about the importance and value of Lead Funnels, but this collaboration takes those ideas even deeper and provides a roadmap for any small business to build their own lead funnel.

For those unfamiliar with lead funnels, imagine a salesperson out in the field, working hard to bring in qualified leads and turn them into customers. Now imagine that this salesperson worked 24/7 365 days a year. And even better, never asked for a raise. That’s essentially what an automated lead funnel is.

It automates the process of attracting your ideal customers, getting them to opt-in to an email marketing funnel and nurturing them to the point where they are ready to buy.

There are a ton of different types of funnels, and we explore many of them in the book. We also show you, step-by-step, how to build your own funnel and how to improve it and optimize it over time so it just keeps getting better and better.

So, listen, if this sounds like something you could put to work in your business download a copy today. It’s FREE and I promise you, you’re going to come away as excited as I am about funnels and ready, willing and able to build your own!

I hope you’ll give it a read and let me know what you think.

Download your FREE COPY today of Mastering Lead Funnels for Your Small Business.



3 Things to Improve Your website

Your website is (or should be) the hub of your marketing strategy as a small business. When it’s working properly, its and engaging your ideal clients, converting them into leads, and in the case of an eCommerce site, turning browsers into buyers.

So it’s important you do what you can to make it work hard for you. But a website is also a lot of work, requiring constant monitoring and tweaking sometimes you just don’t have the time or resources to really put into it.

Tell me if you’ve ever said or thought this: “the leads I get from my website are never any good so I don’t put too much effort into it.”

Anytime I hear that, I know the sentence is backwards. What they should have said was, “I don’t put too much effort into my website so the leads I get from it are never any good.”

But if you have limited time and resources and can’t take on a major website overhaul, I want to give you three things you can do right now, today, to improve your website. Make these small changes and I guarantee you your website will bring you more leads.

3 Tips to Improve Your Website

1) Stop talking about yourself

So many websites I see read like a corporate bio. “We do this, we excel at that, we’ve been in business 100 years.”

I’ll let you in on a secret: nobody cares.

You might think that when someone visits your website they want to learn about you. They don’t. They want to hear about themselves. They want to see you reflect their problem back at them and show them that you understand what they’re going through.

Change the language and write about your ideal customer, their struggles, what it will feel like if they solve their problem, how you can help them on that journey.

2) Improve Your Lead Capture

If the only way your website has to capture a lead is that someone fills out a contact us form, or calls you on the number listed, you’re losing out on potentially a ton of leads.

Think about your ideal customer and the problem they are trying to solve by being on your website. Now, can you think of something you could provide to them that would help them out?

Maybe a checklist, or a short video, or a tips sheet?

Great, now create it, or dust it off if you already have it, and put it on your website as a free download when they enter their email address.

You can keep your contact us form, but give the majority of people who aren’t ready to have you calling them a reason to give you an email address so that you can market to them.

Based on what they download, create a follow-up sequence that nudges them to the next logical step after checking you out. Maybe that’s a phone call, a quote, or a purchase. Don’t lose the lead because they aren’t ready to buy the moment they are on your website.

3) Get some video on the site

Videos make your site more interactive, and they encourage people to stay around longer. Even a 30-second video can keep people on your site longer, which is a signal to Google that people find value on your site, increasing the chance of you showing up in search.

Videos also provide another channel to deliver your message to your ideal client for those who may not like reading.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can shoot it with a smartphone, upload it to YouTube and post a link.

Most of these simple fixes can be done by someone with little to no website development experience. Especially if you’re using a tool like Wix, SquareSpace, or Duda.

If you follow them, you’ll see a noticeable change in your website’s performance as a sales tool.

For more tips to improve your website you can also download our free Website Essentials Pack and get a complete set of planning tools, checklists, and templates to design a successful website.

Improve your website


How to Grow Your Business: There are Fewer Ways Than You Think

If I were to ask you how to grow your business, how many ways would you say there are?

I ask this of a lot of small business owners I speak with. The answers vary, usually falling somewhere between a few dozen and several hundred. I can see their eyes start to gloss over as they run all the options through their minds.

It’s no wonder that so many small business owners feel overwhelmed with how to grow a business. So many options. So many choices. It’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands in despair.

But what if I told you the answer to that question – how many ways are there to grow your business – is not dozens or hundreds. In fact, it’s three.

How to Grow Your Business: The Only 3 Ways

  1. Get more people to buy from you
  2. Get people to buy more often
  3. Get people to spend more on each purchase

That’s it. Those are the three levers you have to grow your business. Doesn’t that seem a little more manageable than hundreds?

Where to start will depend on your current situation. It’s almost always easier, and less expensive, to get your existing customers to spend more than it is to bring in new ones. That said, all businesses will lose a percentage of their customers each year and they need to be replaced.

Ultimately, you want to make progress on all three levers and get them working together to create real momentum. But even starting with one can help deliver significant growth.

Let’s have a look at how to grow your business one way at a time in a little more detail.

1) Get More People To Buy From You

This won’t be news to anyone running a business. Getting more customers will grow your business. You’re going to need to spend some time on this just to keep your business at current levels because you will have churn.

Getting more customers starts with identifying your ideal customers. While it may seem like growth to take on any new customer, if the customers you are bringing on aren’t a good fit it can actually hurt you. I break down the process to identify your ideal customer in more detail here, but below is a brief summary:

To find your ideal clients follow these steps:

  1. Identify your most profitable clients.
  2. From that group, identify those that refer you business.
  3. Find their common demographic characteristics.
  4. Take some time to understand the behaviour that makes them ideal.
  5. Draw a fully developed biographical sketch to use as a marketing guide.

Now, create a message that differentiates you from the competition in their minds. Make it about how you solve your ideal customer’s problem like no one else can.

Once that’s done, map out all the ways you might encounter these ideal clients based on what you now know about them. This is your customer journey.

Now you’ll have a list of where you need to be to engage with these potential customers and what to say to attract more of them.

2) Get People To Buy More Often

Whether your business is looking to get people to come back to a store or order through your website, getting customers to buy more often is a powerful way to grow your business. Presumably, having bought from you once, they have already convinced themselves that you/your product is of value to them. Now help them see it can be of value again.

First, focus on delivering a great experience. Make sure that experience exceeds their expectation. Then nurture them. Use email, social media, events, bounce-back offers, and retargeting ads to remind customers of what a great decision they made the last time they purchased. Believe it or not, consumers don’t spend their days thinking of you. They need to be reminded, rewarded, and invited to repurchase.

If your product/service allows you to set up an automated repurchase cycle, like a subscription, that is a powerful way to increase the frequency of purchasing.

Return to your customer journey map and look at the ways you may encounter an existing customer at the repurchase phase and what you can say to influence that decision.

local seo

3) Get People To Spend More On Each Purchase

When I talk to small businesses about this lever to grow their business, they usually jump immediately to raising prices as the solution. It’s true, this is the easiest way to get people to spend more, but it also carries risk.

If you raise prices too much, you could reduce the number of visits or lose a customer entirely. That may be okay as long as the increased spend compensates for it (this also works in the inverse; if you lower your prices you may attract enough new customers to compensate for the lost revenue). When looking at pricing, it’s important to take a big picture look at your value proposition and your ideal client to be sure you understand what the market will bear.

There are other ways to boost this spend. You can upsell customers to a more expensive item during the sales process. Or cross-sell them on additional products and services related to their initial purchase.

If your transaction takes place online, make sure your checkout process has upsells and cross-sells built-in, such as “related products”. If your transactions take place in person, be sure staff are trained on these processes.

It’s also important to know your average revenue per purchase for each purchase type if you have multiple. Then track the impact your efforts have on this number.

And those are the three ways you can grow your business. Three, not 1,000. Just three. That’s a little more manageable.

As I said at the beginning, a successful, growing business will be working all of these levers in harmony, each contributing to the success of the other two. To start, you may want to choose the one you think will have the biggest impact on your business and test some things.

The important thing to remember is to start with strategy. Get to know your ideal clients, your core message of difference, and how you can reach your customers and prospects during their journey.

Those three things will help you narrow your focus even more and target your marketing efforts for consistent results. You can explore them in more detail in The 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success, a free download.

How COVID-19 Has Forever Changed Customer Behaviour

There’s no question that what we’ve all been through since the start of the pandemic that COVID-19 has changed the way we behave. New research is showing customer behaviour may have changed for good as a result of COVID-19.

Let’s explore what this research tells about changing customer behaviour and what businesses need to do about it.

I was in line at the bank the other day – yes, I sometimes still visit a physical branch – and my mind started to wander, as it does in times like that. I started imaging scenarios of what would have happened if I had walked into a bank branch pre-COVID wearing a mask. Piercing alarms. Tackled by armed security guards with little regard for social distancing. Now I can’t get into a bank – or anywhere – without a mask and it feels pretty normal.

Among the big changes that have occurred in customer behaviour is how we shop. There was a study released recently by the folks at Facebook that highlighted some important lessons to be learned by marketers and businesses that I think are worth exploring.

The study claimed that 81% of consumers have changed at least one shopping habit since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s not that surprising. We’ve all been in various stages of lockdown for nearly two years and have had to adapt. What I find interesting, is that 92% of those of us who changed a habit expect to continue with the new habit even after life returns to normal.

local seo

That’s worth noting. If you were sort of hunkering down and just waiting to get through this, it may be time to shift that thinking. In many ways the consumer we knew before the pandemic may be gone for good.

For me, there are two really big takeaways from this research that I think businesses and marketers need to pay attention to.

The first is the rise of digital impulse shopping. 60% of online shoppers said they have purchased products because they happened upon them while browsing or consuming other content (that number is 49% in Canada). If that’s not a signal that digital advertising is becoming increasingly important to grow your business, I don’t know what is.

The other big takeaway is the confirmation of the importance of influencers and content creators to businesses. There’s a ton written about influencer marketing, but here are a couple of interesting stats from the study I want to share:

  • 51% of consumers get ideas for purchases from influencers and creators
  • 62% of millennials would buy directly from a video from a content creator

Those right there, point to the need to find the influencers important to your ideal customers and build a relationship or advertise with them. They don’t necessarily need to be massive, star-level influencers. There are thousands of “micro-influencers” and small content creators who are already engaging with your ideal clients.

You can use tools like Buzzsumo and SparkToro to find out who they are and then build some bridges. Before you do that, make sure that you’ve properly documented who your ideal client is and what makes them tick.

The key message for me is not to assume things will go back to normal when … things go back to normal. Everything I read and watch is telling me that the change in customer behaviour isn’t a blip, it’s a sped-up evolution that we’re not coming back from. It’s time to adapt and meet your customers on their terms.

How about you? What are you seeing change with your customers?

Want some free tools to help you adapt to this new customer? Check our these free Booster Packs for SEO, website, and content.

The Winning Marketing Strategy Most Businesses Miss

If the numbers from a CallRail study of small businesses’ marketing activities is to be believed, three-quarters of those small businesses are ignoring their best source of quality leads.

Now, I realize you have to take studies like this with a bit of a grain of salt. This one surveyed 600 small businesses in the US. So, not huge and I wouldn’t be comfortable extrapolating the results to represent all small businesses. Still, 600 is a decent-sized number for a business survey and I think we can safely talk about broader strokes from the results.

The number that got my attention was part of a question about what marketing strategies these small businesses currently used. Here’s the list, see if you can guess which one jumped out at me:

  • 57% use social media marketing
  • 49% have a website
  • 43% use email marketing
  • 35% publish a blog
  • 32% issue a newsletter
  • 29% create campaign-specific landing pages
  • 28% gather reviews and testimonials
  • 26% have a referral program
  • 20% use customer relationship management technology
  • 17% use paid search or PPC (pay-per-click)
  • 15% engage in SEO or local search optimization
  • 6% do not do any marketing at all

Now, that over half of these businesses don’t have a website in today’s market is pretty mind-boggling, but the number that REALLY jumped out for me is the 26% that have a referral program. That means that three-quarters of small businesses have no program or plan for getting referrals.

Why am I so worked up about that? Let me explain.

If I think about all the small businesses that I speak to, I’d have to say that 70-80% of them tell me that referrals are where most of their business comes from. If I just count B2B that number is in the 90s.

And it makes sense. Referrals are much easier to close than a lead you get from paid advertising, someone who found your website on Google, or even someone who saw you speak or reads your blog. Why? Because they come to you with an endorsement that takes right to the third stage of the customer buyer’s journey: Trust. Someone they know and trust has already vouched for you.

And yet, most of those businesses tell me that they have no formal referral program, which is in line with the CallRail results. They just let it happen “organically.” Here’s the thing: if you don’t ask for a referral chances are you won’t get one. Even from a truly happy customer.

More than twice as many small businesses are using social media to attract leads, according to the CallRail study. So, rather than spend time and money cultivating leads from people who already trust them, they are spending time and money on raising awareness with strangers through social media.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great marketing tool and it has its place in nearly every business’ marketing program, but instead of a referral program? Not a chance.

As a small business, you have got to have a referral program. You need to get new ideal customers from the ideal customers you already have. As I said earlier, they’re more likely to buy and more likely to spend more money. But don’t take my word for it. According to data from the Wharton School of Business, companies with formalized referral programs experience 86% more revenue growth compared to those without.

Okay, have I convinced you that you need to think about a referral program for your business? I hope so. Here are a few parting tips on how to start building your own referral marketing strategy:

  • Identify the type of client you want to get referred to you – write it down so you can describe them to other people.
  • Create a core talkable difference that will make your business memorable. What do you do, or can you do, that will stand out and make people want to talk about you to others?
  • Ask your customers. Don’t just wait for it to happen, explain to them the type of person you would like to have referred to you.
  • Choose an incentive. This doesn’t have to be monetary (although it can be). You can also incent people to refer you business by showing them how they will be helping others by letting you serve the people they refer. Altruism is a huge reason people refer other businesses.
  • Create a Strategic Partner Network. A group of businesses that serve the same ideal customer. You can refer business to each other, but also create joint content like webinars that add more value and introduce yourselves to each other’s audiences.
  • Deliver on your promise once you get a referral. How well you serve a referral customer is likely to get back to the person who referred them. Do it well, and they’ll refer even more people.


This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. If you want to talk more about a referral program for your business, schedule a free call with me. If you’d like to do a little more reading on your own, I highly recommend The Referral Engine by John Jantsch.

Funnel Building: Creating Your 1st Epic Sales Funnel

Funnel building for fun and profit! I don’t know, it just sounded kind of catchy. What do you think? No?

In a previous post I wrote about what a sales funnel is and how it can help your business and I got a lot of questions asking for more detail on how to actually build one. Funnel building doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take planning, some basic skills, and the right tools.

For the purpose of this post on funnel building, I’m going to assume you’ve done that planning and you have some of those skills and a tool or two at your disposal. If that’s not the case, then I’d recommend you open up this post in another browser window and start there before continuing. And now …

Funnel Building for Fun and Profit

There are a number of different types of funnels you could build: lead funnels, webinar funnels, sales funnels, referral funnels, re-engagement funnels, the list goes on. For this post, we’re going to talk about how to build a basic lead generation funnel, which is something every business should have running.

A basic lead funnel is going to require 4 things:

  1. A traffic source (often these are ads)
  2. A landing page
  3. A thank you page
  4. An email sequence

Those are the elements of a basic funnel. They can get much more complex with multiple upsells, A/B testing, retargeting ads, and other more advanced elements. For now, we’ll keep it simple.

sales funnels

Funnel Building: Traffic Sources

This is what brings traffic into your funnel. These could be ads (digital or offline), your website, events, online search, affiliate links, the list goes on. The most common, and for many businesses most effective traffic source are ads, specifically Facebook ads.

For most small businesses it’s probably wise to start with Facebook ads, but try other sources as well over time to find out what works. Creating effective digital ads is a book unto itself, so we’ll just cover some high-level basics here.

  • Write your ad copy to speak to your ideal client’s problem. What you write must motivate them to click the link in your ad
  • Make sure your ad copy matches the promise of your lead magnet so there are no surprises when they hit your landing page
  • Write from the perspective of your ideal client, not your company
  • Use as few words as you can and be sure some of those words match keywords that your ideal client is likely to use
  • Choose an image that grabs attention and supports your message
  • Use the platform’s (Facebook, Google Ads, etc.) targeting options to narrow your audience to as close to your ideal client as you can get

For more specifics on creating effective Facebook ads read the three-part series on Facebook ads for small business.

Funnel Building: The Landing Page

This is where people come, enticed by your ad or other traffic sources, and its job is to clearly present your lead magnet offer and get your visitor to opt-in.

Key elements:

  • A headline that matches the promise that sent them here
  • An image or video that helps reinforce the message of your offer
  • A form to capture lead information with a strong call to action (ask for as little as you can to increase your opt-in rate)
  • A summary of the benefits
  • Testimonials or other social proof
  • Analytics so you can monitor success. This could be Google Analytics if you build your landing pages on your website, or built-in analytics if you’re using a landing page tool.

When your prospect submits their information, the logic of the form should add your new lead to an automated email sequence and redirect them to your Thank You page.

Funnel Building: The Thank You page

Your Thank You page should actually be an upsell page. While you have your prospect’s attention, now is the time to nudge them to the next step in your customer journey. That could be to book a meeting, share what they just downloaded, sign up for a webinar, or even just consume more of your content.

Key elements:

  • A confirmation message reinforcing the great decision they just made by downloading your lead magnet (reinforce the value of the lead magnet)
  • A clear call to action to take the next step
  • Your value proposition for continuing on their journey now (could be a special offer, a higher-value offering, or a limited time offer)
  • Specific instructions on how to take that next step
  • A button or mechanism to get the lead magnet they came for (optional*)
  • And once again, analytics.

*You can provide access to the lead magnet on this page, but I prefer to let them know it’s coming via email and have them receive a link to download it in the first email in my sequence. That gets them used to receiving and opening my emails.

Funnel Building: The Email sequence

Once someone opts into the form on your landing page, you want to immediately put them into a nurturing email sequence. For this, you’ll need to be using an email marketing tool like ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, ConstantContact, etc. In whatever system you use, you are going to be setting up an automated campaign that will be sent to your new prospect over a period of time. The emails in that campaign are designed to nudge them towards the next step in the customer journey.

Tips for your email sequence:

  • Continue to add value related to their interests (you know that based on what they just chose to download)
  • Introduce your business, product, or service
  • Connect the value they saw in your lead magnet to the increased value they will realize by taking the next step
  • Share case studies or testimonials
  • Have a direct call to action in each email to take the next step

Next up … how to optimize that newly-built funnel to get better results.

If you’d like help setting up your sales funnel let’s talk. We’ve built funnels for all kinds of businesses and can save you a ton of time and frustration.

Forget About Goal Setting If You Want to Succeed

If you want to succeed in life or in business, the secret may not be in goal setting like we’ve heard over and over again by expert after expert.

We’re told to set goals for the grades we want to achieve, for our success in the gym, for the career we want, or the success we want to achieve as a business owner. It’s drummed into us. Just Google “goal setting and success” and see what you get. Last time I checked there were 603,000,000 results.

I am a huge fan of Zig Ziglar. I must have listened to his goal-setting CD a hundred times. I can still hear him saying, in that southern twang of his, “you’ve got to have those goals.” But what if you didn’t?

I was out running one day and listening to an audiobook as I often do on longer runs. The book was Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’m running along listening to James read his book, telling some great stories, when he said something that made me stop in my tracks.

Speaking of his own achievements and failures he said “I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goal I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed.”

It’s such a simple, seemingly innocuous statement, but it really struck me. I began to think of my own attempts at goal setting. I was running at the time, so that’s where my mind started.

Every year I set goals to run certain races and improve my times to certain levels. Without fail, I always set a goal to beat or match my personal best. I don’t always achieve those goals, though. As I thought about it, I realized that the times I achieve those goals are when I have a solid training plan – a system – that I follow religiously.

The years I don’t follow my system, or I try a new one that isn’t quite as good are the years I fail to achieve my goals. But if I didn’t have a goal, if I just grabbed a really good training plan and followed it, I’d still be very likely to see improvement.

The goal matters less than the system.

There is a famous quote from the Greek philosopher Archilochus that you’ll probably recognize; “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

Swap out expectations for goals and training for systems and you have the reason many businesses fail to live up to their potential.

Most business owners set goals. Maybe it’s as formal as two months of team meetings and lots of whiteboarding or it could be you writing some ideas in a notepad as you sit in front of your computer late one night.

Some will achieve some of their goals, many will not. Those who failed didn’t likely fail because the goal was bad, but because they had no reliable system to consistently move them in the right direction.

Here’s another point I borrowed from Clear’s book: winners and losers have the same goals.

Let that sink in. If the winners and losers set the same goals, then why isn’t everyone a winner?

That’s not to say goals are useless. Goals are what set our direction, call them our compass. But your compass won’t get you across the Atlantic. For that, you need a ship, a crew, resources, supplies. A system.

The same is true of your marketing. If all you have are goals like, more website visitors, more likes, more online sales, increased revenue, lower churn, whatever your goals may be, but no underlying system to set the path and track your results, you are in trouble.

The Duct Tape Marketing System that we employ is just that, a system. We’ll help you create your strategy and set those goals. But, more importantly, we’ll build you a system with the right components to get you there.

It starts by ensuring you have all the right foundational pieces in place to maximize future growth and then we pull elements based on your goals that logically lead in a forward direction, building on each other until momentum takes off.

Want to check out what the gaps are in your current systems? Try our free Marketing Checkup and see how you fair.

That’s it for me for now. I have to go lace up the shoes and get out for another run. My system told me so.

How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan that You Can Implement

When you’re trying to create a digital marketing plan, as with anything meaningful, you have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. That is your starting point for developing a successful digital marketing plan that you can actually implement and track.

Having a digital marketing plan is imperative for the success of your business. Here’s how to go about creating yours.

Begin with strategy before tactics

So many business owners fall for the hot, new marketing tactic of the week. When you have no strategy guiding you, it’s easy to get distracted by the “tips and tricks” you get bombarded with from peers and articles on Facebook or in your inbox.

And that is a surefire way to waste valuable money.

The key element you need to create a digital marketing plan that’s effective? A strategy-first approach.

Ask yourself these questions:

Are you trying to sell to anyone and everyone?
Do you find yourself competing on price too often?
Are you struggling to stand out from your competition?
Are you unsure of what tactics even make sense for you right now?

These are all problems caused by having no strategy, or the wrong strategy. And they can’t be fixed by new tactics, they can only be fixed with strategy solutions.

That means knowing your big picture business goals. Get those well-defined and it will be much easier to put the right tactics in place to make that strategy a success.

Research your current customers

Talk to your current customers.

Your customers are an incredible resource you can learn from to help shape your entire business, your core messages, your products or services, and so much more.

By getting to knowing your customers – especially your best customers – you can uncover the best ways to attract, reach, and better serve the right people. You might think you know what drew your customers to you and why they chose you, but they can tell you exactly why/

Research your competitors

Conducting competitive research is pretty standard when it comes to developing a business strategy. When you create a digital marketing plan it’s so much more than researching companies you consider to be your direct competitors—it’s taking a look at your entire landscape of digital competition.

You want to look at what terms your competitors are ranking for in Google, what kinds of content they’re putting out on their blog, or what kind of ads they’re creating. This kind of research helps you:

  • Learn new ways to serve your customers
  • Understand why other sites are ranking higher than yours in search
  • Uncover the type of content you need to be creating
  • Use data to spot new opportunities
  • Seize new opportunities to gain customers

Promise to solve a problem

“Nobody who bought a drill actually wanted a drill. They wanted a hole.”

This quote illustrates one of the biggest problems, and biggest opportunities, with marketing today. Too many businesses are trying to sell drills – that is they are trying to sell their product or service and that’s all they talk about – and not enough businesses are selling holes – or the solution to a customer’s problem.

People buy better versions of themselves, not products and services. They want to look better, feel better, be more successful, be happier, be thinner, get relief from pain, avoid danger.

It’s your job as a business owner to understand the problems people are trying to solve and match your offers to those very specific problems.

You need to be able to match a very specific type of customer with a very specific need or problem, and a promise to solve that problem in a very specific way.

Map out the customer journey with the Marketing Hourglass

The customer journey is not a straight line. It weaves and winds, goes off the page, and comes back on. But, as businesses, we have to be ready to engage with that customer when and where they are ready to engage with us. The way that people buy today has changed so dramatically that instead of creating demand, we need to organize behavior.

A traditional marketing funnel might have the stages such as Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase. But the thing that the traditional marketing funnel neglects to address is that when it comes to lead and referral generation, a happy customer is your most powerful asset.

This is why at Good Ideas Marketing we utilize the Duct Tape Marketing Marketing Hourglass approach. It consists of seven connected stages customers go through:

  • Know—one of the best ways to become known is through organic search. Start using content to spark interest.
  • Like—once someone knows your business, you need to nurture your leads during this phase by demonstrating your expertise, sharing knowledge, and giving them useful resources.
  • Trust—people buy from organizations they trust. Get your customers involved in content creation. This is where customer-generated videos, case studies, stories, and social media are a major playing piece.
  • Try—this stage is where the audition happens. It’s where you need to really deliver more than anyone. Consider doing a free or low-cost version of what you sell.
  • Buy—time to show real results and keep the experience high in this stage. Think about how you orient new customers, exceed their expectations, and surprise them. The complete customer experience is measured by the end result, not what you did to get the sale.
  • Repeat—the best way to get repeat business is to make sure your clients receive and understand the value of doing business with you.
  • Refer—turn happy customers into referral customers. Create a remarkable experience with your customers that exceeds their expectations so they are compelled to share your business with others.

Every business has these stages, but many aren’t addressing them all. You need to figure out what the journey is like for your ideal customer or people who are looking for the solutions you offer.

Use the Marketing Hourglass framework to map your customer journey. Then, the next step to create a digital marketing plan is to strategically use different types of content at the various stages of the hourglass.

Use content as the voice of strategy to create a digital marketing plan

Content creation is one of the hardest jobs a marketer has to do. All that content – websites, blogs, emails, social media posts, videos, ads – is a ton of work, but when you plan your content with your hourglass in mind, it’s the highest payoff work you can do.

Content has grown beyond just being a tactic—it touches all aspects of your marketing and your business. It powers the entire customer journey and it’s vital when you create a digital marketing plan.

Your audience expects to be able to find information about any product, service, or challenge they face simply by doing a Google search. And if you aren’t showing up, your phone won’ ring. Even if they do find you, they probably won’t move forward with you because you lack credibility in their eyes. People go with solutions they feel they can trust.

You have to use content as your voice of strategy, and the best way to do this is to produce content that focuses on education and building trust at every stage of the customer journey.

Develop a list of quarterly priorities and live by the calendar

As a small business owner, you know there’s always plenty to do and never enough time in the day. But marketing needs to be viewed as a habit that’s ingrained in your daily routine.

We don’t rise to our highest level of goal setting, we fall to our lowest level of the systems supporting our goals.

By planning what needs to be done and when you can stay focused on the activities that will give you the highest return. Start by creating a list of the highest impact items you need to fix or implement for each quarter.

Then, live by the calendar. If you don’t schedule it, odds are it won’t happen.

Something that has worked extremely well for many business owners—who have been trained by the Duct Tape Marketing system—is adding monthly themes around your marketing projects, breaking them up, and spreading them out over the course of the year. If you commit to an annual calendar, you’re more likely to follow it on a consistent basis.

Measure what matters

There are so many things you can measure: sales metrics, social metrics, content metrics, conversion metrics, growth metrics, the list goes on. And one of the hardest things is determining what you should be measuring.

But you can’t measure what’s easy—you have to measure what matters. You can start by doing these 4 things:

  1. Create metrics that serve your priority objectives—pick one or two metrics that will tell you if you are moving in the right direction. Whether it’s your goal to increase customers by X or grow your audience by X, you need to define what metrics make sense for the goals that you’ve set.
  2. Establish target goals for each objective—figure out how you’re going to gather the data you need to gauge whether or not you are on the right track.
  3. Select the tools you’ll use to track your progress—dashboards are an everyday reality for marketers. As a business owner, you need to be able to see what’s happening day-to-day.
  4. Use your results to make improvements—when you’re measuring the right things, you’ll start to see trends, why something happened, and what you might be able to do to make improvements.

Running your business without a fully fleshed-out digital marketing plan is like driving without a map. Maybe you make it to your destination, but you might find yourself taking quite a few detours along the way. You can save yourself a lot of trial and error by using this approach to create a digital marketing plan.

If you’d like to talk about how we can help you and your team create a digital marketing plan for your business, get in touch. We love working with smart people like you!

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