One of the more exciting developments to come out of my relationship with Duct Tape Marketing is a a program called The Marketing Catalyst.

It’s designed to give small business owners a simple, effective and affordable option for building a SYSTEM for marketing their products and/or services.

Here’s a brief video introduction about this from Duct Tape Marketing’s founder, John Jantsch:

Get a FREE ‘TEST DRIVE’ of this online, 24/7/365 on-demand program . . . click here

Listen Up!  Marketers talk incessantly about ‘The Funnel’ . . . the iconic image that suggests the ‘Prospect Pathway’ that begins with a ‘lead’ and ends with ::::::drumroll:::::: a customer or client.

The problem is, this is so myopic!  The notion of a ‘funnel’ implies that, once you reach the bottom and generate a customer, the process is over.  FAR FROM IT!!

The FUNNEL . . . Isn’t Really A Funnel Afterall
In your business the ‘event’ of making a sale to a new customer or client marks the end of the initial ‘chase’.  But it also marks (or, should!) the beginning of the ‘real’ relationship between your firm and your new client.

The Story of The Daily Rose
I have a cousin — Bill Murphy of Washington, DC.  He’s quite the fellow.  His wife, Sharon is quite the lady, too.  They have a big, wonderful family and operate a foundation (Mary House) in ‘the city’ that provides homes to families who have been battered by bad spouses or cruel governments (think Bosnian refugees). President Bush even recognized Bill as one his ‘1,000 points of light’.  So yeah, he’s a cool guy.

But here’s why Sharon and Bill have such a great relationship.  Every day, and I mean EVERY day since they were married (and they’re grandparents now, too!) . . . Bill gives Sharon ::::drumroll:::: a single rose.

There’s Light at The End of The Tunnel
What Bill recognizes is that there’s a BIG difference between a ‘wedding’ (one-day, one-time event) and a ‘marriage’ (the ongoing, day-in, day-out stuff!).

Getting married isn’t that difficult.  The challenge is to honor the relationship you’ve started . . . so you stay married!  Like Bill and Sharon Murphy of Mary House in DC.

The Lesson to Take-Away 
Like a marriage, the relationship you formalize with a new client  (marked by an ‘event’  — i.e. the first sale) holds the FUTURE POTENTIAL to give you many, many more sales.  IF . . . you’ll honor and cultivate the relationship you’ve started with your new client.

That may not  require a daily rose (but what a great idea, no?). But it does mean nurturing your relationships with clients, prospects and COI’s, too.

Keeping those who have demonstrated that they value what you offer . . . keeping them thinking of you first, foremost and most favorably the NEXT time they need what you offer . . . is what relationship building is all about.

The Duct Tape Marketing ‘hourglass . . . is our image that recognizes there’s far more than a single sale involved . . . there’s a lifetime of repeat sales . . . waiting for you if you just honor the relationships you start.

This is either:

A) a really bad trip on an illicit drug
B) a ‘worm hole’ somewhere in Space
C) what Alice saw upon entering Wonderland
D)  a Marketing Hourglass — top view looking down

The answer is . . . “who really knows?”

Personally, I like to think it’s a worm hole in Space!

Like a worm hole, the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™ suggests that one side of the funnel, is going to be a mirror image of what you’d find on the other side.

The Traditional Funnel
The typical sales / marketing funnel is depicted as being wide at the top and narrowing at the bottom. That metaphor suggests how you put a lot of prospects in the top of the funnel — thanks to your lead-generation tactics — and then work those leads until you ‘squeeze’ clients out of the other end.

Duct Tape Marketing’s Upper Funnel
In our Duct Tape Marketing hourglass, we have a ‘mirror-image’ or ‘double’ funnel.  It recognizes that you go to work getting people to know you, like you relative to your competitors and trust you (your brand) sufficiently to try you — i.e. find a way to work with you at some level involving, initially, no or little risk.

Duct Tape Marketing’s Lower Funnel
Once you have a client, our funnel continues — to expand — suggesting your new client relationship is adding to a growing base of brand advocates and referral partners whose lifetime value to your firm is realized in the form of up-sells, cross-sells and re-sells as well as referrals to others who can best understand, value and afford your services.

Our marketing hourglass vs. the traditional sales funnel  focuses intensely on building relationships as well as transactions.  If you do that, you’ll generate more revenues!

This approach also requires special attention to the use of systems and processes that move your prospects along the path of know, like, trust, try, buy, refer and return.

Apologies if this graphic is ‘too big’, but the key point behind today’s post deserves it!

The 7 Steps Have Been Updated!
Yesterday, I mentioned that the book: Duct Tape Marketing (the worlds most practical small business marketing guide) has been changed to reflect the evolution of marketing as a ‘mission critical’ business function.

There’s been a shift away from marketing that interrupts and toward marketing that attracts.  Some refer to this as ‘inbound vs. outbound’ marketing or ‘prospect-initiated’ vs. ‘seller-initiated’ marketing.  Why?  In a word, “Google”.  As Wayne Gretsky once said, “I go to where the puck is going to be . . . not where is is now”.  Similarly, marketers want to be found by prospects when they (prospects) are ready to buy (or, are seriously looking for information to help them do so in the fairly near future).

STEP 1:  Strategy Before Tactics
The ‘old’ Step 1  was “Narrow Your Focus”.  The idea behind that is still sound — find your ‘ideal client / market / niche’ and go for it.  The idea was that by not seeking to be all things to all people, you’d stand out or differentiate yourself to the people you most want as clients.

The ‘new’ Step 1 is “Strategy Before Tactics’.  Now, in addition to defining your Ideal Client and market, you also want to be really clear about why your firm would be seen — by your Ideal Client — as a ‘preferred provider’ of your problem-solving expertise.  We call that ‘differentiation’ and part of that is clarifying your ‘Message’ so you’ll stand out to your Ideal Client.

As the above graphic shows, this combination of aligning both your Mission / Message with your Market is the basis of your Strategy.

Strategy is the FILTER for Your Possible Tactics
Once you have a laser-tight clarity about:

1.  WHO you want to attract / sell and
2.  WHY / HOW you can stand out to your Ideal Client

you have found your Strategy!

Tactics Without Strategy . . . Is a Problem . . . for You
Using any Tactic without the benefit of a coherent Strategy, is like trying to build a house without a blueprint.  Your workers may show up and they can hammer wood and nails all day long but . . . in the end, it may not look like what you want nor will it serve the purpose you had in mind.

It’s easy to just pick a(ny) tactic . . . and ‘go to town’ with it. Business people do it every day!  But without a strategy to help you decide if it will support your long-term business goals, you may be spending more time and money than you like and getting less ROI for that than you want.  (Ouch!)

Your Marketing Strategy . . . Helps You Decide What’s Relevant
. . . and, what is not.  Once you have your Strategy defined, USE IT — as a filter to see which marketing tactics will ALIGN with your goals and SUPPORT you in achieving the success in your business you desire.

If any tactic — and they’re all intrinsically good at some level — is going to support you and your success, then you should consider using it.  If it won’t, don’t. Simple.

Effective marketing reflects an ALIGNMENT of the DECISIONS you make (Strategy — WHO / WHY) and the ACTIONS you take (Tactics — WHAT / WHEN / WHERE / HOW) to market your services.  And THAT . . . is why we say, “Strategy BEFORE Tactics” at Duct Tape Marketing.  

Tomorrow, another change in the 7 Steps . . . and, why!

Yesterday, I shared what I truly feel is a quantum leap forward in how I, as a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, can bring you the collective wisdom of Duct Tape Marketing’s founder and recognized leader in the field of small business marketing — John Jantsch.

Today, I’d like to touch on how John’s Ultimate Marketing System, described in his book (Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide) has been updated to reflect the way the world of business and marketing is evolving and how it’s making our program known as The Marketing Catalyst . . . a whole new ballgame . . . for you.

Old is New (Again!)
The original Duct Tape Marketing Catalyst program was based on John’s well-recognized ‘7 Steps’ to small business marketing success:

1.  Narrow Your Marketing Focus
2.  Find / Communicate Your Core Difference
3.  Package Your Solution/s
4.  Create Marketing Materials that Educate
5.  Establish Your Lead-Generation Trio
6.  Automate and Dominate
7.  Live by the (Marketing) Calendar

Due to recent changes in how marketing is being done in 2011, the new seven steps are:

1.  Strategy BEFORE Tactics
2.  Embrace the Marketing Hourglass
3.  Adopt the Publishing Model
4.  Create a Total Web Presence
5.  Orchestrate Your Lead-Generation Trio
6.  Drive a Lead Conversion System
7.  Live by a Marketing Calendar

As you can see, the basics are still there, but there are some significant changes as well.

In the coming days, I’ll take each one of these significant changes / improvements in the ‘old’ 7 steps approach and explain not only HOW but WHY we’ve made the changes we have.

The world is dynamic, fluid and constantly evolving — your marketing is no less so! 

I just returned from Kansas City, MO. That’s where the annual ‘Gathering’ of Duct Tape Marketing is held.  My fellow DTM Consultants and I meet to renew alliances, build new ones and share the ‘best and the brightest’ ideas with one another.

This year, John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing shared a remarkable update to a venerated old standard — The Marketing Catalyst.

What Makes The New Catalyst . . . ‘New and Improved’?
Couple of things are readily apparent.  First, the program is now fully online.  That means that access to the participant materials is a close as your web browser and available 24/7/365.  “ON Demand . . . with the Brand (Duct Tape Marketing) that’s IN Demand”.

As you can see . . . the ‘new’ Catalyst is based on Duct Tape Marketing’s Ultimate Marketing System.  The ten (10) sessions provide a comprehensive approach to small business marketing that you can access — along with the guidance and support of SellMore Marketing –– over a period of time that ranges from 6 months to a full year depending on the needs of a client.

I also love that John’s made the program extremely ACTION-ORIENTED.  This is not an academic or philosophical program.  You’re going to work. Hard!

Each ‘session’ is based on specific behavioral ‘assignments’ that you must complete to ‘pass’ that session.  And there’s no place for shirkers, either!  If you’re serious about growing your business revenues by improving your marketing . . . this is a program you’ll love.

Here’s an image of the ‘Action Items’ for just one one of sessions:

Small Group Participation OR . . .  1-on1 Consulting — YOU CHOOSE
This version of Duct Tape Marketing’s Catalyst program is only available through a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant (like SellMore Marketing). If you prefer to work through the new Marketing Catalyst in a small group of your fellow business owners, that’s easily arranged.  If you prefer to work 1-on-1 with your Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, that’s easily done — using the online Catalyst site as your ‘base of operations’ while ‘we’ get you through the program content, assignments and to the improved results you’re seeking from doing your marketing — simply, effectively and (very) affordably.

My point — it’s comprehensive, and it’s easily used.  I sincerely believe this is one of the best things to come out of Duct Tape Marketing in quite some time!

Tomorrow, I’ll share what’s ‘new’ about the ‘old’ Catalyst. John Jantsch has been hard at work making serious improvements in how we help our clients approach their marketing.  It’s very uplifting and, these days . . . that’s a message of HOPE we can all benefit from having!

What would you type to find firms like ours on GOOGLE?

As you probably know, it’s 2011 and marketing is increasingly less about interrupting potential clients to share your messages and more about being found by prospects when they are searching for an answer or solution you have to offer.

That’s the basis of Inbound Marketing — being find-able when people are searching online for what you offer.  The way you get found, of course, is to have content on your website that’s based on the very phrases (i.e. keywords) that people are searching for on Google.

So asking your Ideal Client, “What would you type into Google to find firms like ours / that do what we do?” is going to really help you create content that is going to increase your attraction and traffic levels.  Nice!

Learning WHAT people would use to find a firm like yours makes it easier for you to create content that will make them find you . . . rather than your competitors 

In The Last Year . . . Have You Referred Us to Others?

There’s an old adage, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”.  I like this one, too: “Clients Vote With Their Wallets”.  Both are very true.

The value of knowing that your clients are referring you to others / others to you is a SYMPTOM or EVIDENCE of how well you’re performing for your clients and how committed your clients are to you.

No business will please everyone 100% of the time.  But you can assess your performance periodically and use the likelihood of clients referring you as a benchmark of the experience you offer your clients.

Frederick Reicheld, a partner in the prestigious consulting firm Bain & Company, developed what he calls the Net Promoter Score.  This is a metric reflecting the overall effect you’ll enjoy (or, suffer!) based on how many of your clients will (net of those who won’t) promote you and your business to people in their networks of influence.

Learn your Net Promoter Score . . . and make it move ever higher! 

What Can I / We Do BETTER?

This question is designed to help you learn what you can do to increase your ATTRACTIVENESS FACTOR to the kind of people you’d like to have as your clients.

The previous question reminded you of how difficult it is to see yourself as others see you.  That’s why knowing how and where your customers would like you to DO BETTER by them is so valuable to you as a marketer.

When you ask this question, LISTEN . . . see if you can place the answers you get fall into one of the following categories of response:

1. Something you should . . . STOP DOING
2. Something you should . . . START DOING
3. Something you should . . . DO BETTER

If you think about it, these are the only three (3) ways that a performance GAP can be described.  So if you want to be better, you’ll find the answers you seek must fall into one or more of these three (3) approaches.

Kind of makes life simple, doesn’t it?

This question will reveal ways for you to remain and grow increasingly attractive to people who fit your Ideal Client profile.

Learn what you can DO BETTER . . . as your Ideal Client sees it!

“What do I / we do BETTER than anyone else?”

This question is designed to help you learn what your Ideal Client considers your COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE or, as some like to say, your ‘Unique Value Proposition’ . . . the factor that makes you DISTINCTIVE and BETTER to work with than your alleged competitors.

This question belongs on every client survey!

So often the responses your clients give are rarely what you might cite as the factors that makes you distinctive and valuable to your clients.

It’s difficult to see yourself as others see you.  But knowing what makes you ‘stand out’ to the kind of client you seek to attract is marketing TNT!

The insight this question produces often reveals a significant key to your competitive edge . . . in terms that the people you want to attract would actually use to describe you.

Learn what makes you STAND OUT . . . as your Ideal Client understands it!