How To Grow With Your Customer With John Jantsch

Ep. 55: How To Grow With Your Customer

BCC 58 | Grow With Customer

How do you make your business grow with your customers? We learn how to do that and more in this episode. Ryan Englin sits down for an interview with marketing consultant and author John Jantsch. John and Ryan discuss marketing myths and talk about what you can do to scale with your customers. Learn more about marketing and scaling your business in this conversation.

How To Grow With Your Customer With John Jantsch

I am super excited about our guest. I have been a fan of him since the early 2000s, when I read his first book. It got me thinking differently about marketing, relationships and the way we communicate with our target market. Our guest is a marketing consultant, speaker and author. You may have heard of one of his books. He’s got Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur and The Ultimate Marketing Engine. In fact, he’s got a new book coming out, which we’re going to spend time talking about. John Jantsch, thank you for being on the show.

BCC 58 | Grow With Customer
The Ultimate Marketing Engine: 5 Steps to Ridiculously Consistent Growth

Ryan, thanks for having me. I appreciate the support.

I love the idea that you have a new book coming out. I can’t wait to read it but before we jump into that, what is one of the biggest myths about your industry? What is something you want to dispel for all of our audience?

The biggest is and it seems to have grown bigger in the last couple of years is the marketing is this complex deal, particularly digital marketing. I’ve probably spent the last couple of decades acknowledging the new platforms and things that have come along but also trying to teach people what not to do because the real allure to try to be everywhere, to be all things and do all this is causing a great deal of stress. I show people how to simplify.

I saw this infographic one time of all the social media platforms you can be on. They had to make it so tiny to fit on one piece of paper. You couldn’t even see the logos. It seems like it’s changing so fast. What’s your recommendation? How do we overcome that?

The real key starts with getting very narrow about who your ideal customer is to start with because that will help dictate a little bit of where you need to be because logic is you need to be where they are. You need to be where your ideal customer is getting their information. The second part is to fully understand the problem that you’re uniquely suited to solve for them. When you get those two pieces, you’ve got your messaging down then you can focus on guiding that group and that group only through the journey they’re already going on. You have to be there in that place. That allows you to do a lot less and not chase every new social media platform.

Be the big fish in the small pond. That’s what I heard there. Find out who your group is and go after them. I love that. We spend a lot of time on this show talking about hiring. We talk about how so many people think it is the number one issue in America for small businesses. It’s how do they find good people. Our approach is very unique. We believe that recruiting is a marketing activity. This is going to be a good conversation but I want to know a little bit more about the book you have coming out. How people can use marketing in that sense to build referral partnerships, to get their network or their tribe to come in and help them solve some of these challenges they’re having?

You need to be where your ideal customer is getting their information. Click To Tweet

Before I answer that, I will tell you that for years, I’ve said that marketing is everything. Hiring fits into that equation. This new book is called The Ultimate Marketing Engine: 5 Steps to Ridiculously Consistent Growth. Probably the biggest premise of the book is that we grow a business with our customers. That first gets into understanding. I encourage people to narrow their focus to the top 20% of the folks they’re working with, with the idea that you can completely understand them. You can communicate in a way that says, “You are for me. You’re going to solve my problems.” I’ll tell you, it’s interesting.

The biggest challenge that a lot of businesses have is if I’m a remodeling contractor, anybody that owns a home is my potential customer. Even though I’m doing high-end, bespoke work like kitchen engine things, I’m still fixing gutters for people or at least I give that impression that I am. You drill down and understand who makes an ideal customer and the problem that you’re solving for them. It’s not that you’re designing a new kitchen for them. Anybody can get a new kitchen if they’ve got craftspeople, the assumption may not be true but it’s how you get it done, the experience that they have.

Anybody that’s remodeled a kitchen knows what a disaster that can be to a family’s routine. The process of how that gets done and the company that can get it done in a way that is less disruptive, that communicates and all the things that make it a good experience, that’s the problem that they solve. It’s not building the kitchen. It’s the process of how you got there. If you understand who you’re working for and the problem you solve for them then you can start communicating to the world that, “This is what we do. This is how we’re different,” in a way that’s going to attract more of them. It also is going to teach, in a lot of ways, a client how to be ideal.

If you have a certain process in place for onboarding, for getting work done, getting communication and you’re communicating that all along in the marketing part of your business, you’re going to attract more of that ideal customer and that ideal customer because you’re providing so much value is such a good fit. Some percentages of them are going to want to do 10 times or 100 times as much business with you. Rather than chasing every odd opportunity that comes along, you narrow your focus and then you grow with that customer.

Targeting who that ideal customer is and figure out what that problem is you’re solving. It’s not the new kitchen. Maybe it’s because your wife loves to entertain and she’s embarrassed by the quality of the kitchen she has. That’s what you’re helping them with. You said a couple of times, “It was subtle but I loved the process.” Have a process with this. It sounds so easy and common sense. You got to have a process. It blows my mind how many people I talked to that have never thought about putting a process in when it comes to how they deliver and the value they bring. Not just get the work done but how do you turn that one kitchen into ten kitchens or to that next big project.

BCC 58 | Grow With Customer
Duct Tape Marketing Revised and Updated: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide

The thing that’s funny too about that is sometimes they have a process or at least somebody in the organization has a process. That’s how they get the job done or get the work accomplished but they haven’t thought about it being their unique process, unique enough to document, to brand and to maybe communicate. “Here’s the process we’re going to go down.” We’re together because it’s a great marketing message and marketing materials to show somebody that you’ve got a professional process.

You’ve done it enough and you do it well enough that you can tell them it’s only three steps. It might take a year to get through all three steps but if you’ve got three steps and you can break it down that way, it does elevate that level of professionalism.

We had a client years ago that we developed this fortnight. It’s a remodeling contractor that I’ve worked with for going on over two decades. We outlined all the steps in the remodeling process. We called it the remodeling curve because, in their particular business, there are parts that approved the plans that are high. Drywall sanding is way down here. They went through and had about 47 steps along the way. They said, “Here’s how you’re going to feel during each of these.” Not only did they show that they have a very documented outlined process, they used it as a way to set expectations too.

That’s one of the things we talk about when it comes to building a team or partnerships. Often, these relationships don’t work out because expectations aren’t met, whether they’re spoken or not. Everybody walks into a relationship with expectations. It’s our job to say, “Here’s what the real expectations are and here’s what you can expect.” That’s fantastic.

I often tell businesses that our job is to lower their expectations because then they’re easier to exceed.

Someone told me a long time ago, “Do what you say you’re going to do and never say what you’re going to do.” It’s a very easy way to lower expectations. Let’s talk about these building partnerships. That’s a big part of the book. What’s that look like? What do you mean by partnerships?

I’ll re-emphasize something I said already. This idea of growing with our customers is a great, beautiful way to grow. We all have probably experienced getting a referral. You get that referral from an ideal customer. A lot of times that’s great because that ideal customer probably knows somebody else who’s like them. They don’t ask about price as much or at least that’s not high on the list. They typically remain more loyal. They might refer people too. It’s a great, beautiful circle with this idea of referrals.

In the book, what I try to do is say, “That’s great. You know that that’s valuable. Let’s do something about it intentionally. Let’s set up some processes where we are reminding our customers at least quarterly why it would be smart for them to refer us. Let’s reward our champion customers, those ones that are already referring us.” What could we do special for them, bring them together and impact the entire ecosystem of our best customers? If we are providing services of one kind, we know that they probably need all the other things.

Let’s say a homeowner. They need all the other things in their home fixed. Could we build a strategic partner network where we could go in at any time and say, “We did this great project. I know that you might have this project and this project coming up. We have a couple of great partners. Here’s 10% off for the next time you need them.” They’re doing that for you when they’re going on their service calls as well. This idea of intentionally bubbling up the fact that people want to refer you by making it easy is a big part of what I have had for years. I wrote another book, The Referral Engine, that’s all about referrals but in this particular book, I bring it into an overarching strategy as well.

It got me thinking when you were talking. As business owners, it’s the wrong perception of our clients. They’re happy. Referring is as easy. They don’t need our help. If they want to refer us, they’ll refer us. It’s like testimonials. Not everybody has the skillset to give you a good, well-thought-out testimonial, which is why you see so many reviews with just a star rating, no words. It’s equipping them and helping them through that process.

The idea of growing with our customers is a great, beautiful way to grow. Click To Tweet

Making it as easy as possible is one of the real keys. Everybody is so busy. The idea that somebody is going to stop what they’re doing and say, “I’m going to go do this.” The beautiful thing, as human beings, if we exceed people’s expectations and we surprised them, there are a lot of people out there that will be motivated to talk about it. “Look how smart I was to hire this company.” We want to take advantage of that.

How do you go about finding these partners and building these relationships?

The first place is to ask your customers. Who’s best in class that they work with? That to me is the first step because then you’ve got a mutually shared client or customer so it’s a great logical place to start. Their reputation and doing some research online, you can find people. Here’s what I recommend people doing them. If you take this mindset that, “I want to build this partner team of best of class providers,” first and foremost, when my client or my customer needs something, I have somebody to refer them to.

Nobody goes on your list because you think they can get you referrals. They go on your list because they’d be a great partner for you to provide to your clients. I would recommend building that list, maybe 8, 10 people. Send them a letter that says, “I have customers that I think might be able to use services like what you provide. I wonder if you could teach me the best way to introduce you to my customers.” If you got that letter, wouldn’t you at least go, “I’m going to check this person out?” They say, “I don’t know who you are but you want to refer me to your customers? Sure. Let’s talk.” That’s the way that you get on somebody’s radar.

You’ve got to have something that can activate the relationship. Can you interview them on your podcast, write guest content or provide guest content for their website? Could you do a video interview? If you do some sort of how-to educational series, could you offer that to their customers or their community for free? Recruit these folks but then have a way to activate them. Maybe there’s a co-marketing thing. You could all have your service technicians be passing out each other’s discounts when they go in and make calls.

There are so many good nuggets there in being able to start the conversation with those partners. What’s the next step? How do you make sure it moves forward? I’ll tell you, I’ve had this experience many times where we start this partnership, it’s great and then it fizzles out. Nobody knows what that next step is.

That’s why I say it’s so key to have that next step, have a workshop that you could do, have the content that you could create, do a podcast interview. If possible, become a customer or offer a service. I’m in the professional services business. I could go to strategic partners and say, “Let me do an analysis of your marketing or let me review your website just so you know how I work.” I’m not trying to sell that person anything. I just want them to experience how I work. A lot of times, even though we have a great meeting, we say, “Let’s work together.” We don’t have full confidence in how it’s going to work or how they’re going to work. You got to find ways to go deeper. You might even get together the three of you say, do offer a webinar or some educational step so that you’re all inviting each other’s folks there so you’re cross-pollinating in a way.

A lot of it too is finding people that are like-minded. They have that servant’s heart. When you were talking about getting that letter, the first thing I thought of was something I learned in BNI, givers gain. It’s that give the first mentality with zero expectation of anything in return because you want to be more valuable to your clients or more valuable in the community. That’s fantastic. There’s one question I want to ask you. Something that we teach when we’re helping people recruit is developing partnerships when it comes to who’s out in the marketplace. Who’s out there having these conversations with workers who may be looking at another job?

BCC 58 | Grow With Customer
Grow With Customer: Nobody goes on your list because you think they can get you referrals. They go on your list because they’d be a great partner for you to provide to your clients.

We teach a marketing plan process for how do you get in front of these partners. What are some things that we could do to open up that relationship besides that 10% discount? What are some of the things that you’ve seen work so that it’s easy to transition into, “Can we maybe help each other to hire some people? I might have people that might work better for you or they might work better for me and we can start getting out there and supporting each other.”

That’s another aspect of your strategic partner network. In most instances, your strategic partner network or non-competing businesses also have your ideal customer in mind but they’re probably in tangential industries. The idea of co-marketing for hiring ought to be part of the consideration with your strategic partners as well. We have a client that is looking for skilled trade lead carpenters. They’ve gotten together with a couple of other trades. They are doing apprenticeship programs and hiring fairs to where you come in. There are lots of those out there but these are very reputable names. They’re coming together and saying, “There are a couple of opportunities.” You want to get into the skilled trades of one shape or another. All of the educational institutions are looking for people that can teach or at least speak to those types of job opportunities. Doing a lot of outreach in the community is a big part as well.

Community involvement is big. I talk a lot of times about small businesses in particular. If you’re still involved in the day-to-day of your business, you’re still a small business. You might have 200 employees and you’re still a small business. If people can’t find you, they can’t apply for your jobs. I’m sure you talk about that when it comes to branding, marketing and everything else. If they can’t find you, they can’t become your customer.

Rather than chasing every odd opportunity that comes along, narrow your focus and then grow with that customer. Click To Tweet

What’s interesting is hiring messages. Hiring advertising is a pretty decent brand message unless it’s desperate with people. The fact that you are hiring and continuing to grow is a decent brand message for a lot of businesses too. If you start thinking, “This is very expensive,” and you’re shifting some of your budget that you might be spending on attracting clients, you can feel comfortable that if it’s placed in the right places, it will have the impact of building your brand as well.

You’re a credible source when it comes to marketing. We teach a process around redirecting advertising. Ads that attract good people will attract good clients but the other isn’t exactly true.

You might not be in a position to do this but we’ve all seen the particular industries that are like, “Marble countertop discount only today.” That’s all their messaging as opposed to messaging about the company and what it believes. That type of messaging in your marketing certainly is going to go a long way towards attracting people who believe those values who want to work there as well. Promoting your people, that they’re happy and doing great work. Having processes where you treat customers fairly, all of that goes into your ability to hire.

I was thinking about having those well-defined processes and creating these partnerships. Much of it has to do with, “Are you aligned? Do you have the same value system? Do you think the same way?” Those are the best partnerships.

I know because you focus on this so much too. Not having those processes until having balls dropped by no fault of the employee who happens to be there facing the brunt of the ball being dropped. It wears on people. Having great service, great values in action and having processes makes for happier employees. We’re square into the retention idea.

We’ve talked about having this process and some of this messaging. Any tips for our audience on how they can start working on that?

Guess who knows the answer? It’s your customers. Your ideal customers know what you do that nobody else is doing for them. Make it a point to talk to 8 or 10 happy customers. This is not research. You’re not doing NPS scoring or anything. This is you finding out the real things that people buy from you, the real problems that you solve for folks. I’ll give you an example. We worked with a tree service years ago. All of their website, their messaging, family owns, third-generation are all good stuff.

I’ll tell you another goldmine. First off, get those Google reviews but then scan them because you’re going to see so much messaging and the words that people say in a Google Review. Not just the five stars but the paragraph of, “Here’s what we get that nobody else does for us.” Back to my tree service, we interviewed their customers, scan their Google reviews. About 50% of them said some combination of, “They show up when they said they would and they clean up the job site every time.”

I don’t think anybody even talked much about the tree coming down beautifully. “If you got a chainsaw on a truck, you’d cut a tree down but you showed up exactly what you said you were going to so I didn’t have to wait for four hours. When I came home at the end of the day from work, I could hardly tell you were there.” That’s the problem they were solving for their ideal customers because we’ve all had the opposite of those things. It’s not just getting trees cut down. It’s pretty much everything that you have done probably on your home. That became their core message. Their strategy for their business is to build a whole on-time guarantee around it and communicated that because the customers told them, “Here’s what’s important to us.” I will tell you. Shockingly sometimes, it’s little simple things that you assume everybody else does but they don’t.

It has nothing to do with taking care of trees at all. You said there was a goldmine as well. Was that it?

BCC 58 | Grow With Customer
Grow With Customer: If you understand who you’re working for and the problem you solve for them, then you can start communicating to the world that, “This is what we do. This is how we’re different.”

That’s what I’m saying, those Google reviews you should be scanning. If you’ve got over 25 five-star Google reviews, I guarantee you that there are blog post ideas in there, email subject lines and messaging that probably should go above the fold on your website before you ever talk about all the great stuff that you do. You should be promising to solve your ideal customer’s greatest problem.

First off, if you don’t have Google Reviews, let’s solve that problem first but if you do, go through, read them and take the time to get to hear what your clients are saying about you.

If you don’t think prospective employees are looking at those, you’re crazy.

I’m close to 80% until job seekers Google the company first. The first thing that comes up for a lot of companies is not even their website.

No especially local businesses. It’s the map pack.

It’s the map, the Yelp or the Google reviews, all those things that you have less control over. Make sure you stay on top. This is great. Anything else you want to share about partnerships with us? There’s a whole book out there about this. I love that it’s five steps to ridiculously consistent growth. It’s only five. It’s probably a couple of hundred-page books though.

It’s a couple of hundred-page books. I’ll go through the five steps. Map where your best customers are and where they want to go. That’s a big innovation that I’m trying to bring to the world here. Most of our customers come to us in a certain stage, with certain characteristics and certain challenges. We can recognize that they’re in that stage that’s why they become a prospect or a customer. My idea is what would the next stage look like for them and the next? We were able to build our entire service offerings and processes around helping them achieve the milestones that would move them to the next stage.

It’s not just about solving nowadays’ problems, it’s about helping them in the future. That’s a different way of thinking about it.

It’s wherever they want to go. Not whether we’re here to sell them. What’s the transformation that we could ultimately provide? That’s a big one. Uncover the real problem you solve for your ideal customers. That’s step number two. That’s all about some of the things we’ve been talking about getting at that messaging. Step number three is going to challenge some people. Narrow your focus to the top 20% of your ideal customers. It’s a tough one and 20% arbitrary but what I have seen over the years is that there is a product or a service that you offer that typically is producing most of your profit for a certain type of customer yet when I go to your homepage, there are 27 services on there that you applied it.

If we exceed people's expectations and surprise them, there are a lot of them out there who will be motivated to talk about it. Click To Tweet

You did dig that trench around somebody’s driveway one time so you can offer that. We want to make sure that people know that. If you focused on the fact that you are the best basement waterproofing company on the planet because you are and that’s where you make all of your money, then anybody who comes to your website says, “These are the people we need to hire for that.”

It’s one of the things that I love about that step. I’ve seen clients that have gone through this process. Your marketing, your advertising becomes so much simpler. It’s less expensive and so much easier because it’s laser-focused on that 20%. I love that tip.

Once you know who you’re trying to attract, you know where you’re trying to take them. You know the problem you’re solving. It makes it a lot easier than to explore what channels you’re going to put that message out there. Your job is to be very focused on that narrow idea. The fifth step is to scale with your customers by serving their entire ecosystem. That’s my view of the whole referral, partnering, all those things. Once you know who that ideal customer is and you’ve lasered in on exactly what it is you do for them to solve their problems, then you can spend a lot of time growing with them by either partnering, getting referrals or finding ways to do more with them instead of chasing after every new thing that comes along.

It’s almost like I’m the only one that’s in their phone on speed dial. Anytime they need anything, they call me because they know I’m connected to high-quality professionals.

I can go as far as one line in the book. I say something like, “You can become the only company that matters to them.”

That is an exciting stop. I am looking forward to it. Does it come out in September 2021?

On September 21, 2021, it will be available.

You got a free offer for our audience.

If you’re one of those people who says, “I wish I could get something,” pre-order a copy of the book wherever you order books. You can find all the links to do that at, which is the name of the book. Come back there and you’ll find a big button that says, “Get the companion course.” Fill out that form and you’ll instantly get access to six training videos on some of these concepts along with worksheets.

Once the book is published, you buy a copy of it. There are some links in there to all kinds of resources, tools, checklists, things that we use every day working with business owners to develop some of these concepts. You’re going to have access to the whole library of 40 or 50 tools that come along with the book as well. You can get the companion course right away. On September 21, 2021, wherever you order the book from, it will show up on your doorstep.

John, thank you so much for being my guest. I had a great time talking about this.

You bet. I loved it. Thank you so much.

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About John Jantsch

BCC 58 | Grow With CustomerJohn Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker, and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, and The Ultimate Marketing Engine. He is also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, which trains and licenses independent consultants and agencies to use the Duct Tape Methodology.