April 27

Strategy First Marketing

Many claim it, few do it.

I spent this past weekend in Concord, North Carolina, for a ‘Strategy-First Bootcamp’ led by Duct Tape Marketing President, John Jantsch. Concord is located about 45kms northeast of Charlotte, the largest city in the region. The long-haul flights and three-hour time change was rough for an early start on Saturday, but Jantsch quickly got the seminar rolling, with his enthusiasm and humour. I furiously took notes in a caffeinated daze, as light bulbs went off for how I could apply this to my tourism clients.

As Jantsch pointed out, strategy has never been more important. Marketing today is more complex than it’s ever been in history, with literally unlimited methods to mow through money and an available tool arsenal that has grown exponentially. But when you get strategy right, the tactics always become apparent.

It begins by narrowly defining your ideal client (or clients) and the vision you have for your business. Once those ideal clients are identified, we talk to them. Here’s what I love about the DTM model: we get’em on the phone, and like a journalist, interview them to find out why they do business with you. By asking the right questions, we can unearth the attributes that attract them, things you’d never get out of a SurveyMonkey quiz or online reviews. Jantsch showed us several case studies where the real benefit to the client was not even close to what the business thought it was. Once those reasons are brought to light, a new message can be created, with content for all channels that differentiates the entire business.

Then comes the Marketing Hourglass and again Jantsch used some case studies to show where each of the customer touchpoints could be optimized. One thing I found interesting is that he now suggests beginning the customer journey in reverse at the ‘refer’ stage. Since this is such a critical part of any business, we work backwards, understanding everything that leads a customer to refer.

‘Strategy’ is one of those buzzwords everyone in this industry likes to throw around. I’ve never heard a marketer say they don’t do strategy, but I’ve yet to see a system as intuitive, organized and well-thought out as Duct Tape’s. If this system doesn’t help grow your business, marketing is not your problem, it’s something else.

DTM’s strategy first engagements typically run over 2-3 meetings and one or two weeks and can lead to either a full, retainer-based marketing package or a high-level game plan for in-house staff to follow. For small-medium sized tourism businesses, the value is immense.

On Sunday we touched on some of the trends going on in digital marketing such as the GDPR, the EU’s new data protection law, and the power of ‘Hub Pages’ the newest way to win at SEO.

After the bootcamp, I spent Sunday afternoon wandering downtown Charlotte, a modern city of 842,000 with glass skyscrapers and leafy green streets that resembled a landlocked Vancouver without mountains. As I rounded a corner, doors of a large, nondescript building opened and a crowd began spilling into the street; they were young and old, black and white, and for a moment I tried to figure out who they were and what they were doing. Then I noticed many wearing tee-shirts with scripture on them. It dawned on me that this is a business that really knows it’s ideal clients and also has a powerful message.


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