John Jantsch on Being "Referable" and Building a Following

by Susan Johnston on August 17, 2011

John Jantsch (@ducttape on Twitter) is a marketing consultant, creator of The Duct Tape Marketing Complete Small Business Marketing System, and the author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine. He also blogs, leads a marketing podcast, and presents workshops at organizations like Intuit (hey, that’s us!), Verizon, and HP, sharing practical tips that get results.

The Intuit Small Business Blog asked Jantsch about social media trends, marketing, and more.

ISBB: When do you think a small business is equipped to market itself and when does it make sense to bring in a consultant?

Jantsch: I think you can make a case for the right consultant at any point; the question is really more a matter of degree. You as the business owner can never abdicate your marketing strategy. A consultant focused on helping you develop your strategy before tactics could prove to be very valuable in the beginning or as you have more market data to work with once you’ve been out there for a bit. A good consultant may also help you delegate the tactical work with proven suppliers and free the business owner up to focus on the real work of building the business. It’s no surprise that I think consulting is a good thing, but certainly you know your business better than anyone ever will. Make sure you learn enough about every aspect of marketing so you are equipped so you know how to buy those services when it comes time.

How can small businesses streamline their marketing efforts so it doesn’t become all-consuming?

The key for me is to set objectives, create projects, break those projects into action steps, and build a calendar around it. Marketing doesn’t have to consume, but it does need to be a habit. Make it a point to do marketing every day, but do it with a plan so you don’t get caught up tweeting the day away and calling it marketing.

You literally wrote the book on referrals for small businesses. Any quick tips on jumpstarting the referral process? How can business owners get into the mindset of seeking referrals without feeling needy?

The first tip is be more referable. Nobody wants to hear that, but it’s essential. Look at every way your business comes into contact with your customers, map it out, and make it better. That’s how you get more referrals. Once you do that you can start to look at every customer as a referral source.

You’ve grown your Twitter followers to over 50,000. Any strategies or best practices to share on that front?

It was very simple, but not very easy! You put out great content every day for about ten years and then you share that content, share other people’s content and connect with lots of people that like to do the same. That’s what I did anyway.

What do you see as the next big thing in social media marketing? Will it be Google+ or is there something else on the horizon we should know about?

Google+ is already a force to reckoned with for business folks, but I think the horizon is less about one tool and more about one behavior — folks that best understand how to fuse online and offline behavior are going to win.

Any other advice for small business owners?

Make new friends, but keep the old. I stole that from the Girl Scouts, but it’s still sage advice. Find a way to create a better experience for your existing customers and lead generation will take care of itself.