MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

Rethinking Your Relationship With Your Customers [#mpb2b Speaker Series]

A conversation with John Jantsch, Founder of Duct Tape Marketing

We recently sat down with John to talk about how he views and caters to today’s customers, and what attendees can expect from his B2B Forum session Rethinking the Customer Journey.

MarketingProfs: Buyers are in control of their own journey now – so, what do you think marketers can do these days to meet them where they are?

John Jantsch: Yes, I often say that the thing that has changed the most is the way that people are choosing to become customers. And I unfortunately think a lot of that’s out of our control. I mean, the ways in which people decide the companies to do business with. It’s more about organizing behaviors is how I’ve come to talk about it.

I have created something called the marketing hourglass, which is really my customer journey.  It has seven stages and borrows the funnel metaphor for the top. Obviously, we still do have to get people interested in what we’re doing, but then it kind of turns the funnel over, and that’s  the hourglass shape, with the suggestion that once somebody becomes a customer, we have a great opportunity to really expand what we do from a marketing standpoint. What we do from a marketing standpoint at that level (and the stages)—I refer to them more as behaviors.

At each of those stages when somebody is trying to figure out what their problem is or how to solve a problem, they have different questions and objectives. Is this a company I can trust; should I stick with them? Or, what would make me refer them? And so, I think that what marketers can do today is to just focus on those stages intentionally and with the idea that the people are going to go through that journey the way they’re going to go through it. But if we use that hourglass framework as a guide, even for new products and services, at least you’re focused on creating things that are useful. And that will help guide people through the customer journey.

MarketingProfs: I’ve heard you talk about transformation over transaction. What does that mean?

John Jantsch:  I think so many companies develop a product or service—and see that their job is to sell it to people—and that makes total sense. That’s how you build a business, right? But, what if we started looking at our customers, especially our best customers, and we started asking ourselves: what would create a transformation for them? And what I mean by that is people probably come to us at a certain stage with a certain problem. That’s what we’re set up to solve.

But ultimately, once we solve that problem, what’s next for them? People come to me all the time in need of a foundation. Well, first, they need a strategy, and then they need a foundation that then moves to a level-up phase where we can effectively generate leads for them. And so we’ve built it, a complete model we call the customer success track that is really a marketing maturity model.

That gives not only our internal teams a guide for what to do next. It actually shows the customer that we’re going to take them from where they are today to where they want to ultimately be. My real goal is what would happen if more companies started thinking that way about their customers, regardless of the industry, and I think every company can actually take this idea of customer success as a point of view that might guide their mission, hiring, training, and sales messaging.

MarketingProfs: I love the fact that it’s so focused on customers. We have no choice now, do we?

John Jantsch: Yeah, and a lot of companies say that it’s really easy to say “we’re customer focused,” but the hard part is how do we actually do it? How do we process that? How do we turn that into like actually doing it, rather than just relying on people to be really friendly? And that’s really kind of what this idea is about: to say yes, okay you’ve got that point of view, that belief; now let’s really make that what drives the company by building a focus on how we do that with our customers.

MarketingProfs: You’ve also said that “warms-my-heart” content is the voice of strategy. I love that. What do you mean by that?

John Jantsch: Well, I make fun of the fact that 10 years ago we were saying content is king. But then I think what happened was that basically gave everybody license to do say, “We gotta have lots of content.” Basically, who cares what it is or what the objective or what the focus is. And unfortunately that also turned into what I think is still the greatest form of stress. For most marketers, it’s hard to produce a lot of content. It’s gotten harder because 300-word blog posts aren’t going to do much anymore, and so you know people are really stressed out about that. And what I mean by that is if you take this customer journey framework and you really start looking at what content do we need for that? What content do we need to guide the customer journey? How can we strategically map that out all the way through content for referrals? Then I think what happens is you can actually produce a lot less content.  As every bit of content, hopefully with that filter is going to be more useful.

MarketingProfs: You are an expert at helping small and medium sized businesses. Do you think this journey matters depending on size of company?

John Jantsch: I think it’s just more complex in a large organization, and perhaps that’s what makes this framework useful for a large organization, because there are more opportunities for filling the gaps.

MarketingProfs: Your session at the B2B Forum is called, Rethinking the Customer Journey. So what do you hope marketers will walk away with from this session?

John Jantsch: Well, I I think the biggest thing is that I’m not the first person to talk about customer experience and customer success, but I think a lot of people talk about it in what feels like an academic way. And, what I’m hoping is that they come away with some really practical ways to intentionally apply that on a daily basis. And then of course, this idea of the customer success track. It’s my hope that we get some people thinking more about how we could treat customers more like members rather than treating them like somebody that they’re there to do business with.

MarketingProfs: Can you expand on what you mean by members vs. customers?

John Jantsch:  To me the whole customer success track is built on this idea of taking them from where they are to where they want to go and the transformation along the way. My belief in a membership is not like a Costco or Sam’s Club membership. It’s deeper than that, and if somebody joins something as a member, it is because they want to invest in it because they want to evangelize it because they see it as a way for them to benefit as well as the organization to benefit. And I think that type of customer relationship is going to lead to long-term momentum and growth if that becomes the mission for the business.

MarketingProfs: Please tell me about your new book.

John Jantsch: It’s called the Ultimate Marketing Engine. The subtitle is Five Steps to Ridiculously Consistent Growth. It’s essentially a strategy book that has a ton of practical application, but I intentionally did not write “how to hack Tik Tok for leads” because I think we’re all drowning in the tactic of the week. I think we could all stand out a lot more with a good strategy. And by the way, a solid strategy that actually helps us decide what not to do as much as what to do.

The book will be in stores on September 21 and if anyone pre-orders a copy from the, they can come back and get a six-lesson video course that I’ve created with worksheets and resources as well.

Published November 11, 2022

B2B Forum is packed with marketing insights, strategies, and tactics taken from the real world experience of over forty industry experts, packaged into context you can actually put to use.

Join us in Boston for B2B Forum 2024 this coming November 12-14, 2024. Early buyers get B2B Forum tickets at their lowest rate, and discounted hotel rooms are available while they last.


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