Small business guide to marketing

Interview with John Jantsch

Practical Small Business Marketing Strategies from John Jantsch

We had an opportunity to interview best selling author John Jantsch. His Duct Tape Marketing blog is a favorite; it also ranked in the top 25 of the best marketing blogs, according to AdAge.

John has been called the "World's Most Practical Small Business Expert" for consistently delivering real-world, proven small-business marketing ideas.

His practical take on small business is often cited as a resource in publications such as The Wall St. JournalThe New York Times, and CNNMoney.

In this interview, you'll learn:

  • Social Networking Advice for Small Businesses
  • Content Marketing Strategies
  • Keyword Research Tips
  • Blogging Benefits & Pitfalls
  • Why Direct Mail Still Works
  • Required Reading for Small Business Marketing
John Jantsch

Read the full interview with John Jantsch . . .

John, you are on the cutting-edge of using social media to communicate to your fans – and to educate small businesses on how to market themselves. You do this by blogging, tweeting, facebooking, adding photos in Flickr, posting videos on YouTube, and now writing on your new Google Plus profile. Where do you find the time?

John: Well, for me it's a big part of what I do as a business. I generate direct revenue from participating and teaching other how to participate. So, I make the time, but I'm also very systematic about it and use tools and routines to automate what I can and be efficient with what I can't.

If a small business asked you if they should follow your example and start creating profiles in each of these social networks/media sites, what would you say? How do you coach a small business in deciding what social networks to participate in?

John: If you're not creating content consistently using a blog or some other tool, start there. These outposts are great ways to spread the word about great content, but if you don't have that, what are you going to do to build trust and engagement -- chat with lonely people all day?

You’ve defined marketing as “getting people who have a specific need or problem, to know, like, and trust you,” and you’ve proven to do that well with your successful social profiles. What about the small-business owner who starts his or her first Facebook page? What advice do you have on using Facebook to get “liked” and gain trust when first starting out?

John: Focus on sharing, creating and accessing great content and put all of your attention into the wall. That's where content gets shared and shows up in news feeds. Don't waste time making a pretty page.

And what about the small business that has a good group of fans/followers on its social profile, but is not sure what to do next on building more trust and likability?

John: Start finding ways to engage them. Ask them what they think, what they need, what they like, and start letting them guide your content creation.

Jumping into social networking can also hurt a company’s reputation if they write something inappropriate. Do you have any advice for a small business on what to avoid?

John: Don't use that as an excuse to sit out. That will hurt your reputation more. Use the same judgment you would use offline and put some policies in place for your staff.

You write about how it’s important for small businesses to develop useful web content to educate and gain trust from customers and visitors. What are some practical ways a small business can build up its web content without having to employ a writer?

John: Actually you can learn to write, but why not hire a journalist. Thousands of really qualified journalists have been turned loosed from publications, and they will write like you must today instead of writing like a marketer might. Get them for a few hours a week. They're terribly efficient writers too.

You’ve also written about the importance of keyword research – and developing web content around keyword themes important for the industry a small business is in. What keyword research tools do you find valuable, and are there any keyword research mistakes to avoid?

John: Basic tools like Wordtracker and Google Keywords are great. The big mistake is to think too short - one and two-word searches like "marketing" or "consultant" are too hard to win. Think four and five-word phrases and lots of variations on them.

Many small businesses are starting up blogs because they’ve heard that blogging will bring them more traffic. What do you think are the benefits of blogging for a small business – and what are some pitfalls they should avoid before joining the blogosphere?

John: It's not really an option. You need to produce content, and blogging software is the easiest way to do it and share it. The pitfall is that starting a blog has no value. Adding content consistently over six months is when value starts to occur.

In Duct Tape Marketing, you have a chapter devoted to the importance of direct mail for some businesses. With rising costs of printing and mailing, can you provide some reasons why direct mail can still be an effective way to market?

John: Great tool for targeting, almost no competition and you control when it gets delivered. The problem is people must understand that it's most effective when you can use it to create awareness about valuable content and not to sell.

If you were teaching a college course on small business marketing, what would be required reading?

John: The Experience EconomyREWORK, Slide:ology, Web Analytics 2.0 and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

And what are some great marketing blogs that you think small business owners should subscribe to?

John: CopybloggerSeth's blogHello my Name is ScottHubSpotOccam's Razor