In football, the Red Zone is the last 20 yards a team must cross to reach their goal and get points on the scoreboard.

Marketing gets you into your revenue Red Zone.  Getting people to know, like and trust you is not enough to generate revenues — but it sure puts you in an excellent position to do so.

Once you’re in a position to score (or, sell), your focus turns from marketing to selling.

“Ya Gotta Have a System to Sell”
Here’s another way to look at things.  Let’s say you fly from London to New York and have a ‘picture perfect’ flight until . . . you’re about  50 feet above the runway at JFK when your pilot loses control and crashes. It matters not how good the flight was before your landing. The entire flight is still a total loss. No matter what else you do, if you don’t sell effectively, you lose!

Systems and Procedures . . . Systems and Procedures
Once you’re in the Revenue Red Zone, you’re at the point in the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass where you can leverage the know, like and trust you’ve developed to make an offer to a well-qualified prospect.

Early stage prospects may give you a ‘try’ with offers involving no-cost and no-risk.  As prospects become better qualified, your offers can be for low-cost, low-risk ways to use your services.

Later stage prospects, who really know, like and trust you are your best candidates for significant purchases.

Selling is to Marketing . . . as Marriage is to Dating
You won’t marry everyone you date.  And, you won’t sell everyone to whom you market your services. But once you convert a prospect into a client, you can leverage that relationship to generate a number of transactions with your client over time. That’s the basis for what we call ‘lifetime value’ — the sum total of all the transactions a client relationship offers you over time.

Selling is a revenue-related function no less important than other aspects of your marketing system.  It deserves an equally sound systematic approach to be effective.

The popular belief is that you do ‘marketing’ to ‘fill your selling pipeline’. True enough. But your ‘mix’ of:

1.  referrals,
2.  advertising, and
3.  public relations

varies with your Ideal Client, target market and available budget.

So the way you’ll choose to use referrals, advertising and PR to generate selling opportunities will, of necessity, be unique to you and your business.

Marketing Synergy . . . When The Whole is Greater Than The Sum of The Parts
Marketing pros have long held that someone needs to see or hear about you 7 times BEFORE they’re likely to even be aware of you much less consider responding to your marketing offers. While the numbeer of contacts required may vary, the basic principle is sound.

A marketing ‘contact’ can result from seeing your ad, getting a referral to you via word-of-mouth, reading your special report, attending your webinar, reading your client case studies or client testimonials, and so on.

Together your lead-generation trio helps you build the ‘know, like and trust’ your prospects need to take action on your offers to ‘try or buy’ what you’re selling.

Referrals, advertising and PR can easily fuel up your ‘lean, mean marketing machine’ — if you use them consistently and conscientiously. 

To paraphrase the famous words penned by the English poet, John Donne (1572 -1631)  . . .

“No Website Is An Island”
Your website can not long exist, much less thrive if it is not connected to a larger system of online (and, offline!) media.

Wayne Gretsky, the hockey legend said, “I go where the puck is going to be . . .”.  That’s your goal, too — be everywhere you can be online (and, off) so prospects can find you easily.

You Never Know When or Where or How
People who are prospects for your products and services are on all kinds of media. They’re on social network sites like facebook and Linkedin. They send and receive tweets on Twitter, they read posts on blogs and they’re constantly searching online using Google.

This is why your business must be easy to find and connect with online. This requires creating quality content that’s Google-friendly and easily promoted on social media.

It also means dovetailing your online presence into your offline marketing activities, as well.

The entire web is an opportunity to build your presence and traffic — use it or lose it! 

Time Magazine’s ‘Man of The Year’ award in 1982 went to the “Personal Computer”.  It was a shocker. A game-changer.  A harbinger of things — BIG things — yet to come.

Content is ‘King’
Today, ‘Content’ is where the focus of marketing has shifted due to the role of a little company in California called . . . Google™.

The real ‘power’ in marketing has shifted away from the marketers and into the hands (or PC’s, tablet computers, smart phones, etc.) of consumers seeking useful ‘content’.

Access to Information is Everywhere
With access to ‘the net’ being so easy and available, consumers have the power — to learn anything they want, the moment they want it, from anywhere they happen to be.  They simply use ‘Google’ to search online and, Voila! — it’s done!

Attraction, Not Interruption
As consumers, we’re conditioned to search for answers to our questions on our terms, when we want to know something.  The days of ‘pushing’ an ‘intrusive’ message on ‘everyone’ that most find ‘intrusive’ are fading fast.  And if you tenaciously hold on to that model of marketing, you’ll be gone before too long, too!.

The New Model:  “Be Found, Not Obnoxious”
Getting found by consumers when they search isn’t difficult.  Ask Google.  They invented ‘Adwords’ and PPC (pay per click) advertising that places your online ad in front of ‘qualified’ consumers based on ‘keywords’ in what they’re searching for.  And it works.  Very well.  But it gets expensive, quickly.

The Better Approach:  “Organic Search”
It’s obvious you want to be found by consumers who are searching for what you do.  But you want to do it both effectively and affordably.  Right?  OK.

Then you want to publish relevant information that Google will show to a prospect when they search online — using a blog (like this one you’re reading now) as your publishing platform.

Why Google Loves Your UN-PAID Content
The more consistently you publish relevant content, the more Google loves you!  That’s also why Google shows your content to consumers far more often than sites that don’t publish relevant information on a consistent basis.  Here’s why . . .

Even though Google makes a ton of money from ‘paid advertising’, they know consumers want quality information.  So in order to keep people using Google as the search engine of choice, they must offer the highest quality content they can — along with the paid-for advertising — or consumers won’t be using Google and their advertisers will go bye-bye, too.

Ironic, isn’t it?  Google’s paid search model (Adwords / PPC) is actually dependent on providing consumers with relevant and quality content that doesn’t (directly!) generate revenues for Google.

In Biology, you learned a term: ‘symbiosis‘ –– two entities that, while different, each benefit from associating with one another.  It’s why Google loves you — even if you don’t pay them to promote you.

Don’t Fight Reality — Go With It
Modern marketing is largely about helping prospects find you / your firm when they’re searching for information you have that they want.

Publishing useful information on a regular basis builds your authority in the eyes of Google and makes them show your content to prospects more frequently and more favorably than the content of your competitors who don’t.  Yes, it’s THAT simple.

Publishing Content is an Ongoing Commitment
Being found online is only the beginning of your courtship with prospective clients.  Quality content in the form of case studies showing how your clients enjoyed success because of your expertise, testimonials that provide ‘social proof’ of your value and capabilities, insightful e-books, Special Reports, blog posts, video, webinars, recorded audio and the like are all forms of ‘content’ that help you attract traffic to your site and then . . . position you as a ‘trusted advisor’ who, when the need arises for what you do, will be seen by more and more prospects as the ‘Preferred Provider’ of the services you offer.

Commit to publishing content consistently and relevantly. Google will love you for it and show you to prospects who will get to know, like and trust you.  That generates business — for you — at the expense of your competitors who are either too ignorant or indolent to adopt the publishing model as a key factor in marketing simply, effectively and affordably.

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! 

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!

Emil Brolick, the new CEO of the fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s,  has some excellent observations on his new position and the challenges he’ll be facing as the CEO.

Vision . . . is Always a ‘Good Start’ 
“A leader has to bring a vision to an organization . . .” Agreed.  But you also need the strategies to achieve the vision or your vision won’t happen and your staff will feel disengaged very quickly.

Keep Your People Focused and Involved 
I’m fond of saying, “The difference between your people and your profit is their performance.” Management is often defined as, “Getting things done through other people”.  Those ‘other people’ are your staff.

Communicate Your Expectations
If other people are to help you carry out your strategies, they must ‘buy in’ to your vision. They must also understand — and that’s your responsibility — what their roles require and how they support the achievement of the strategic vision you have created for your business.

Appreciate Your Employees
As the leader of your firm you want to recognize your staff as the essential asset they are. Also, make sure they know that the performance of the business reflects their collective performance. “All for one and one for all” is very true.

Brolick says it well . . . “A leader has to define reality and give hope”.  Amen, Emil!