When it comes to finding success in business, one of the most important elements is marketing. The system through which you choose to market your brand and your product has the power to make or break your business, either drawing the attention of investors and clients to it, or leaving it trailing behind its competitors.

The bestselling author, marketing consultant and mastermind behind the Duct Tape Marketing System, John Jantsch has made a name for himself in the marketing world.

Jantsch shared with us the seven core steps behind the incredibly successful Duct Tape Marketing System.

Step 1 Strategy before Tactics

Jantsch breaks marketing strategy down into two simple components: focusing on the ideal client and differentiating your business.

Believe it or not, Jantsch encourages businesses to be pickier with who they take on as clientele, saying that, “While it may seem like growth to take on a new customer, if that customer isn’t a good fi t, it can actually stunt real growth”.

While Jantsch acknowledges some small businesses are simply looking for people to purchase their product or service, if your business requires working alongside clients in the long term, he suggests looking beyond the client’s will to pay and instead looking at their needs and approach in order to assess whether they are the right fit for your business. To do this, he recommends finding your target client by assessing your current clientele, focusing on your best customers, and noting their common demographic characteristics.

Jantsch then advises businesses to discover their distinguishing factor, explaining that asking customers why they chose you can help.

“If prospects can’t tell how the business is different, they’re going to use the one measure that makes sense: price,” he says.

Step 2 The Marketing Hourglass™

This step takes Jantsch’s definition of marketing, “getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you”, and explains how it achieves results. If you can get your customers to know your business (whether that be through advertising or word of mouth), like your business (enough to follow you on social media or request newsletters) and trust your business (by requesting a marketing kit or sales presentation), Jantsch says you’ll be more likely to get them to try your product or service, buy it, become a loyal client and refer you to others.

Step 3 Publish Educational Content

Your business might not be in writing, but Jantsch says that by publishing online content, businesses can build trust and educate their potential clients. An online presence can also make it much easier to be found through search engines. Jantsch suggests maintaining social media accounts across multiple platforms, uploading blogs that share interesting information from your field of work, getting clients to upload their reviews to sites like Yelp!, MerchantCircle and CitySearch, and sharing client testimonials to help boost your business’s profile.

Step 4 Create A Total Web Presence

When it comes to adapting marketing to the web, Jantsch says that, “Today’s business must evolve that thinking radically … or face extinction”.

Digital interactivity, he says, is now “the centre of the marketing universe”, with business now having to adopt an “online to offline” approach that first interacts with people online before driving them to take action in the real world.

If prospects can’t tell how the business is different, they’re going to use the one measure that makes sense: price.

Step 5 Operate a Lead Generation Trio

Lead generation refers to the tactics employed by businesses to find prospective clients, such as advertising and directory listings. Jantsch says traditional avenues of finding leads are being used by less businesses due to their costs and a drop in their efficiency.

“Message and information overload, technology to block ads (Caller ID, TiVo, XM Radio) and the availability of information may make traditional and more expensive outbound marketing efforts a thing of the past,” he explains. Instead of simply using tactics to find those looking for your products and services, Jantsch suggests businesses “must think more in terms of being found” and instead make it easier for those looking for those particular services to find you. By combining advertising (using education-based content), public relations (where your business has a relationship with local press contacts that publish stories about you) and referrals (both from loyal, happy customers and other small businesses you may work with), Jantsch says businesses will be more successful in generating leads.

Step 6 Make Selling a System

If a business has followed the previous steps, Jantsch says they will have, “dramatically reduced the number of leads they are chasing (decreased expense) while also dramatically increasing the number of leads they are converting to customers (increased revenue)”. But in order to close the deal and convert leads to customers, he also emphasises the importance of having a system in place to sell.

Jantsch’s system includes discovery – which involves having a planned response to a lead’s request for more information – presenting leads with useful information appropriate to their situation, nurturing hesitant leads by not pushing them, but instead continuing to educate them and build their trust, continuing to value them after their transaction from lead to paying customer, and reviewing their experience at the end of the process.

The availability of information may make traditional and more expensive outbound marketing efforts a thing of the past.

Step 7 Living by the Calendar

The final step in Jantsch’s repertoire is to make marketing a habit to avoid letting the progress you make slip by the wayside.

“It’s tough to get around to marketing… You didn’t start your business because you were dying to get your hands dirty with blogging, copywriting, and selling. But you soon found out that your business would die if you did not,” explains Jantsch.

Jantsch says you can make it a habit by creating monthly themes that focus on accomplishing one marketing need, undertaking weekly reviews looking at what needs doing next, and daily appointments in which you schedule at least some time on your marketing strategy.

While it might take some time to get the hang of, as a small business, this is one habit you’ll want to develop, as you will reap the rewards in the long term.