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Duct Tape Marketing

A Great Primer For Small Business Owners

I help entrepreneurs grow companies in my marketing consulting and coaching practice, so I am always looking for good books to recommend to entrepreneurs.

The process that Duct Tape Marketing outlines is the closest match to what my company offers, that I have found so far. I rate it as one of my top 5 book picks for outlining the entire small business sales and marketing process. One caution is that the coverage of each topic is very general, making it more of a road map – a good big-picture overview – than a practical how-to book.

How Does Duct Tape Marketing Work?

The book starts out with the assumption that you are a small business owner about to market your business and leads you forward from there. It’s divided into two sections: The Foundation, and The Lead Generation Machine. There is also a small third section with some afterthoughts and resources for learning more about the topics introduced in each chapter.

The Foundation section outlines a process for getting ready to market, a priming of the lead generation pump if you will. The Lead Generation section outlines what the components of a sales lead generation promotional machine look like, and how they work together to generate results. Each chapter directs you to some useful resources and tools that might help you along the way.

The book is very readable and can be digested fairly quickly. I suggest reading it once from cover to cover and then again chapter by chapter as you develop your go-to-market plan.

The Problem With Marketing Programs

One of my pet peeves with nearly all marketing programs is that they make the assumption that an entrepreneur is actually ready to market. Unfortunately, this book makes the same assumption. In my experience, many marketing programs begin with little to no professional due diligence; due diligence in determining if an entrepreneur’s business is sufficiently well defined and economically capable of supporting a sustained marketing effort. Without it, an entrepreneur runs the risk of wasting his limited time and money on marketing before he is ready to benefit from it. I’d like to see this book offer some wisdom in this regard to prevent costly premature marketing investments.

Advice To Entrepreneurs

As a marketing consultant, one of the hardest things I do after a due diligence review is say to an entrepreneur, “Your business isn’t ready for marketing yet. I’m not going to do you any favours by helping you market until a number of issues are addressed.”

I always say to entrepreneurs, “you need to be able to answer these questions specifically and with commitment, before you spend any money on marketing”:

  1. Who are you and what do you do?
  2. Whom do you serve, specifically?
  3. What core problem do you solve for your clients?
  4. What is your key competitive advantage?
  5. How does your business make money on first-time sales?

The last question is the most problematic for a would-be marketer and where he often needs to rethink his plans. When an entrepreneur works out the likely cost of a sale from marketing and realizes there is no margin left in an average first sale, there is no point going further until a solution is found.

This “am I ready to market” discussion continually gets left out of marketing books. We need a more sober discussion about how time-consuming, expensive, and risky marketing can be. I think this book would serve its audience better if more emphasis were placed on core business definition, marketing planning, budgeting, and forecasting. This would help an entrepreneur make informed decisions about how ready he is for marketing before he gets excited and jumps right in.

Should I Invest In Duct Tape Marketing?

Despite this gap in coverage, I think Duct Tape Marketing is a very useful book for helping to map out what your marketing program could look like. I also think it is a useful book to refer to as you implement your plan, as it offers very practical advice at each step along the way. Just don’t be too eager to jump into marketing until you are confident you can afford to finish what you start and can make money from the effort.

About the Author

John Watson is the president of Accrue Performance Marketing. John is a sales and marketing coach and strategist who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He's consulted to start-ups, business owners and corporate executives since 1993. John's passions include entrepreneurship, digital marketing and customer data analysis, leadership and personal development, writing and photography.

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