Turn prospects into buyers with customer journey mapping

How do you get those prospects to turn into customers? That is the million-dollar question all small business owners want to know the answer to. Today I’m going to teach you a customer journey mapping framework that will help you do just that in your business.

Traditional marketing advice will tell you to create a sales funnel – an idea that suggests you start with a large number of leads at the top of the funnel and work them through your funnel, losing some along the way, until a few pop out the bottom as customers. That, I can tell you with confidence, is a model that just doesn’t work in our current age.

Nobody travels a straight line from Point A (not knowing who you are) to Point B (buying your product or service). It’s more of a squiggly line, that jumps off the page all the time and comes back on where you least expect it. Nowadays, we have to understand the problem our ideal client is trying to solve and put our business in the path of their journey (not our funnel).

The other problem with funnels is that they tend to stop when someone buys and turns into a customer. This completely ignores the fact that the absolute best source of leads are referrals from your happy customers.

Instead of a funnel, you need a Marketing Hourglass, which focuses on seven key stages your prospects and customers will enter at various points in their customer journey: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer. By using the marketing hourglass framework, you create valuable information and experiences at each of these stages of the customer journey allowing prospects to get to know you and customers to love and refer you.

Getting a Baseline

The first step in creating your marketing hourglass is to understand how your business comes in contact with prospects and customers now.

Some you will know about and have some control over and some you won’t. The important thing is to document them all and what you are currently doing to engage with prospects and customers at these touchpoints.

Then you have to dig deep and REALLY understand your customer’s problems. The way they think about them. We all like to think that our products and services are what people are buying, but they’re not. People are buying a solution to a problem, sometimes a problem they didn’t know they had, sometimes a problem we didn’t know we could solve.

To get to this problem you can talk to them, look at the reviews they leave you, or hire someone like us to interview them. Whichever method you choose, you need to know the questions that prospects are asking themselves before they begin the search that could lead them to you.

Building Your Marketing Hourglass

Once you’ve got a good idea of how your customers interact with you now, what they’re looking for, and how they’re looking for it, you’re ready to build your marketing hourglass. This means taking each of seven stages and mapping out how your audience might engage with you and making sure you have content, or processes, or experiences for each (there’s a worksheet you can download to help with this).

Know – This is before they know you exist. Referrals are key here, also networking, PR, website articles that score well with Google.

Like – Once they know you, they need to get to like you. Here things like blog posts, social media updates, your community involvement, maybe some ebooks they can download.

Trust – To move them to trust they need to see reviews, referrals, testimonials, associations you may have with other credible organizations.

Try – Before they buy from you, they need to try you. This could be a free consultation, a phone call, a seminar, how-to ebooks.

Buy – Think about your onboarding or orientation process. How can you make it a great experience, how can you surprise and delight them?

Repeat – Make sure they understand the value they got from you. Make them feel important. Upsell them on additional products and services that will add more value.

Refer – Get this right and everything gets easier. You have to make sure you are referral worthy. Focus on your delivery and really add value. Then you need to put programs in place to create brand champions and make it easy for your happy customers to tell others about you and refer your business.

Once you have your marketing hourglass in place, you’ll be amazed, but you won’t be finished. You need to constantly monitor how different elements are performing and how your customers are evolving. Make sure you have the right triggers in place to convert them at each stage and in each channel that you are engaging with them in.

Download this free Marketing Hourglass worksheet if you’d like to give it try yourself.

To help you take stock of where you are now, try our free Marketing Strategy Assessment.

Thanks for reading and I really hope this helps you find a way to better engage with your prospects and customers along their journey. If you want to discuss how to most effectively use this tool in your business you can book a free consultation or even leave a comment here.

small business website

11 Essential Elements of a Small Business Website

There are a LOT of small business websites out there that are built for entirely the wrong purpose. Is yours one of them?

92% of consumers will visit a business’ website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase. I would say that 92% of small business websites are built for people ready to make a purchase. See the disconnect? Your small business website needs to be built for all those people who aren’t ready to make a purchase because they will get there if you set them on the right path.

Your website is the first step in the journey so make it one worth taking. The website is the hub for 99% of marketing for most companies today.

For that reason, a small business website has to start with strategy. It has to be built to attract and engage your ideal customer. Design has to be balanced with function and driven by strategy. To get there, you really should start with a strategy that defines your ideal client and your core difference that I’ve written about in another blog post.

Get a jump start on creating your successful website design with our free Website Essentials Pack, full of tools, templates, and checklists to make planning your website easier.

Small Business Website Must Haves

1. Promise

When a person first visits your website, all they know is that they have a problem they need to solve. They probably don’t know what it’s costing them, they’re certainly not sure your products or services are the solution. They want to know that you understand their problem.

The purpose of the promise headline, above the fold on your homepage, is to show the visitor that you understand the challenges they face. You need to make them a promise that will solve their problems. If you do a good job here, they’ll be encouraged to read your story.

2. Story

Your website should tell a story that speaks to the customer. It shouldn’t be a story about you, the prospect should be the star. But your business will play a key role. You have to immediately let your website visitors see that you know what they’re struggling with and that you’re the right person to solve it.

3. Core offerings

You want to highlight your core products or services. Create boxes with about 100 words of content summarizing these elements. You’ll probably have full pages or sections on your site for each of these, but you need to have them on your homepage to introduce your customers to them and you’ll also get some additional SEO value.

4. Personas

If you serve more than one ideal customer type, try having a representation of each that leads to a clear path that you want each target market to take.

5. Geo/local

If you’re a local business, adding local content and resources to your homepage is key. Include Google Maps, your name, address, and phone number, and links to any relevant local content on the website.

6. Testimonials and Trust signals

Part of any customer’s journey is coming to trust you. Different people require different things for this. Trust signals can be logos of your customers, testimonials, logos of associations that you belong to, or your partners. Make sure you have some or all of these elements on your homepage.

7. SEO content

Your home page is your best opportunity to rank for your most important keywords that your potential customers are using. For that reason, you want to make sure you have enough content on your homepage to make Google think it’s useful, and that will keep people on your site longer. It’s also a great idea to update it regularly. You can achieve this by posting summaries of your blog or social feed on the homepage that shows recent activity. You should try to have about 1,000 words of content in total on your homepage.

Try our free SEO Booster Pack to make optimizing your site a breeze.

8. Video

More and more companies are featuring video on their homepage, and there are good reasons for that. Video entertains and engages website visitors, keeping them on your site longer. There is evidence that it will improve your SEO. Video tends to be shared more than text and it can vastly increase your lead conversion when used correctly.

9. CTAs/contact

A call to action (CTA) is an image or text that invites a website visitor to take a specific action, like requesting a consultation, downloading some content, or joining a mailing list. CTAs provide the opportunity for visitors who are ready to take the next step to make that move. Because there are many different steps in the customer journey, it’s important to have multiple CTAs on a scrolling home page and throughout your website.

10. Mobile

More and more website traffic is coming from mobile devices. It’s a given today that a website should be designed to be mobile-first instead of simply responsive to mobile. This means making sure content is readable, phone numbers are clickable, images should be mobile-friendly.

11. Secure/speed

If you’ve ever visited a website and saw the “not secure” notice in your web browser next to the URL, you’re seeing a site that is not https (this is a higher level of encryption). The fact that Google is doing this is a clear signal that they want websites to migrate to this level of security and all websites should be making this move.

Check the speed of your website using a tool like GTmetrix or Google's PageSpeed Insights. If your page load speed is higher than 4 or 5 seconds, you are very likely losing a lot of potential visitors who won’t wait for slower websites to load. A few of the likely suspects to slow down a website include a sub-par hosting service, large images, older WordPress themes, certain plugins, and no caching.

Ready to make some changes on your small business website? Try our Website Essentials Pack today. 

You can also get a free website review just by filling out this brief form and we’ll deliver it right to your inbox.

Local SEO

Page One on Google Is Your New Business Card

SEO in the age of COVID

Pandemic SEO or Getting Your Business Found in the Age of COVID

COVID-19 has turned a lot about our lives upside down. The way we do just about everything has changed and continues to change as we navigate through this new reality. If you’re a small business owner, one of the biggest changes shocking your world (next to forced closings) are changes in consumer behaviour.

Research company McKinsey & Company has identified five key themes emerging in consumers around the world:

  • Shift to value and essentials
  • Flight to digital and omnichannel
  • Shock to loyalty
  • Health and “caring” economy
  • Homebody economy

You can read more about their research here, but I for the purpose of this post, I want to focus on just a few of the highlights:

  • 21% of US consumers are doing more research on a brand or product before purchasing
  • Most industries have seen more than 10% growth in their online customer base and most people plan to continue to make a portion of their purchases online post COVID-19
  • 75% of US consumers have tried a new brand, retailer, or method of shopping

For me, that points to the fact that businesses, especially local businesses, need to focus on their online presence now more than ever. If you aren’t showing up when your prospective – or even existing – customers are searching online, who is?

The good news is that there are some simple SEO activities you can undertake right now to improve your online presence and increase the chances that people who need what you provide will find you when they search.

local seo

1 Optimize Google My Business

  • Go to Google’s Free Listing Page: https://www.google.com/business and identify your business by finding it on the map or adding it for free
  • Confirm your identity - they will either call you or send you a letter
  • Double-check your details to make sure that the right category and subcategories are chosen and make note of the exact way your business name, address

Read more on optimizing your GMB profile in this post.

2 Get Markup Right

  • Simply visit Schema.org’s Local Business NAP generator and fill in the blanks
  • The tool will produce the HTML code you need to add to your site in place of your current address

3 Clean Up Citations

  • Citations are simply places on the web that reference your business. They could be directories or other websites mentioning you.
  • Using a tool like BrightLocal, look for inconsistent citations and ask the site owner to make any corrections.
  • Basically, you want your name, address, phone number, and other business information to be consistent across the web to avoid sending Google mixed signals.

4 Create Local Content

  • Include detailed information about your local area/service area in your online content.
  • Post about local events. Use your blog to talk about the community, customers, and employees.

5 Focus on Reviews

  • Set a goal of obtaining at least 5 Google reviews (the number that Google requires to display the review stars as a highlighting feature of local results)
  • Make it as easy as possible for your happy customers to log in to the sites that matter and leave a review
  • Repurpose reviews in email newsletters, on your site, or in local display

Taking steps like these will help improve your local SEO rankings and that means more potential customers finding your business. Try our SEO Booster Pack and supercharge your search engine rankings. 

If you’d like to make a big difference to your online presence, try our Total Online Presence Audit and we’ll tell you exactly what’s working and what you should focus on to improve.

I hope you are weathering this pandemic and wish you all the best. Stay safe.

7 Steps to small business marketing success

7 Steps to Creating Small Business Marketing Success

Do you find yourself struggling to stand out from your competitors? Are you attracting the wrong type of clients? Do you ever struggle to decide what marketing tactics make sense right now?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone. You’re in good company with millions of other small business owners. At its core, effective marketing is really a system. And when that system is in place and running well, things just seem to work – which is great when you’re a small business owner because then you can focus on running the business.

One of the best resources I’ve come across on small business marketing is 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success, by John Jantsch. (Full disclosure, I’m a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and partner of John’s).

Not surprisingly, the book outlines the 7 key steps to set up a marketing system for a small business. Here’s a quick summary or you can download the ebook for the detailed plan.

Step 1: Strategy Before Tactics

Marketing lives and dies by developing“Strategy Before Tactics”. If you don’t start with strategy, you’ll end up throwing money at SEO one month, social media the next, with no real plan or idea of whether it will move you closer to your goals.

Finding your ideal customer & Your Core Difference
Most businesses are built to serve a very specific type of customer and trying to serve too broad a customer base may actually detract from your business and lead to a bad customer experience. Finding your ideal customer will help you to focus on how to attract more of them.

The best way to find that ideal customer is look at your current customers. Better yet, spend a bit of time and interview a handful of them. Ask them why they hired you? What you do better than your competitors? If they refer you, why?

Answers to questions like these will also help you find out what your core difference is. That’s the thing that makes you stand out from all the other options your prospects and customers have. If you don’t have a compelling core difference, prospects will default to the one question they know they can compare based on: how much?

As a business owner, you know that competing on price alone is never a winning game.

Step 2: The Marketing Hourglass™

Once you know who your ideal customer is and what makes you stand out to them, The next step in installing an effective marketing system is to know your customer’s Marketing Hourglass, also called a customer journey.

The Duct Tape Marketing system is based on moving prospects through the Marketing Hourglass from their initial awareness of you right through to the point where they become a repeat customer and refer you new business.

Every customer you have went through a process. They first came to know you, then they learned a little more and decided they liked you, and eventually you convinced them to trust you. The Duct Tape Marketing definition of a successful marketing system is one that gets someone who meets your ideal customer profile to know, like, and trust you and then get that prospect to try, buy, repeat, and refer.

The right system has tools in place at each stage to manage a constant flow through the hourglass.

Step 3: Content as the Voice of Strategy

Once you’ve identified your ideal customer persona and created your core difference message you’re ready to create the content that will deliver it through all the touchpoints you identified on your Marketing Hourglass.

Content can include website copy, blogs, social media, reviews, and testimonials, white papers, seminars, and more. It should always be focused on two things: building trust and educating. It should never be random. All of your content needs to be driven by your strategy.

Step 4: Create a Total Web Presence

It’s no longer enough just to have a website, even a good one. Your entire online presence has to be in line with your strategy. Your website, your social media channels, your review channels, your online advertising.

That means consistent branding, delivering your core message on your website and through what you post in social media. All of it works together to create a total online presence that represents your brand and speaks to your ideal client (and to Google, telling it you are a valuable source of information). Your online engagement has to be at the centre of your marketing strategy.

Step 5: Operate a Lead Generation Trio

Like everything else, lead generation has evolved in the digital age. Generating new business is less about going out and finding it than it is about setting yourself up to be found. By setting up a lead generation trio using advertising, PR, and referrals, you can create an engine that generates valuable leads through three channels.

Advertising educational content gets the trust-building content you create in front of new eyeballs. Building relationships to generate PR extends your reach and credibility. Creating a referral program will deliver new leads directly from your existing customers, and these are usually your highest quality leads.

Step 6: Make Selling a System

Just like good marketing is a system, good selling is, too. A marketing system focuses on generating new leads, while a selling system focuses on nurturing those leads until they become buyers, repeat buyers, and referrers.

Your lead conversion system should contain a discovery process, a presentation, a nurturing cycle, an orientation process built into the transaction, and, finally, a review process to communicate results.

Step 7: Living by the Calendar

Congratulations, you made it to step 7. The final step is about making sure all the work involved in your marketing system gets done on a consistent basis, whether you’re doing it yourself or have someone like us doing it for you. That’s why it’s critical to live by the calendar and make doing your marketing a habit.

Have monthly themes driving your focus each month, weekly reviews to make sure you are on track, and schedule a time daily dedicated to your marketing.

Follow these 7 steps and you’ll build a marketing system that will grow your business. There’s a lot more great detail in the ebook that will help you set up your own successful small business marketing system. I strongly recommend taking the time to download and read it. You’ll thank me if you do.

If you want to talk about how we can help you create and install a marketing success system in your business get in touch.


What Our New Duct Tape Marketing Certification Means to Our Clients

At Good Ideas Marketing we are dedicated to taking marketing decisions, strategy, and tactics off our clients’ plates, so they’re free to make the big decisions that lead to growth and long-term success.

To further support that dedication, we are proud to announce our new Certification and Membership in the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

This Certification is an achievement of completion of the rigorous small to mid-size business marketing training of the Duct Tape Marketing System Methodology - some of the most thorough training the industry has to offer.

Providing our clients a roadmap to growth using the Duct Tape Marketing System

So what does our new Certification mean for the success of our current and future clients?

It means:

Predictable Marketing Results with the Duct Tape Marketing System

Life is unpredictable, but your marketing system doesn’t have to be. With the Duct Tape Marketing methodology, we offer our clients proven marketing strategies, supported by focused tactics, to meet their goals.

These approaches have been road-tested by the Duct Tape Marketing team and the Consultant Network and generate effective results for small to mid-sized businesses at a fraction of the cost of large agencies.

The Duct Tape Marketing System begins with building a solid marketing foundation our clients can expand on as their business grows. Each new marketing initiative is added strategically to ensure a strengthening of the entire system.

Our new Network Certification, coupled with our dedication to knowing our clients’ industries inside and out, creates a very effective marketing program our clients can count on.

Comprehensive Marketing Strategy Development

One of the most important reinforcements from our new Certification training is that your marketing strategy should always come before tactics. A solid marketing strategy based on research and experience prevents our clients from making fruitless marketing investments.

Through new research tools and the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network Certification training we ensure the strongest marketing strategies are created at the beginning of each client engagement.

This important step, overlooked by many in the industry, saves our clients time and money while providing a solid and strategic marketing roadmap we follow over time.

Implementation of the Most Impactful Marketing Tactics Available

With an established strategy, it’s time to execute on the plan. Our new Duct Tape Marketing Network membership keeps us at the forefront of resources that make the implementation of our marketing plans efficient and effective.

The Network gives us exposure to resource pools that help us ensure accurate execution of your marketing plan, from SEO, Content Marketing, Analytics reporting, and much more. Efficiencies we gain are passed on to our clients.

The Latest Information on Current Marketing Trends

Technology and opportunities move at a breakneck pace. Without dedication, it is hard to sift through what is truly an opportunity and what is just a distraction.

Our team is always on the lookout to better our clients’ experiences and outcomes. Our new Duct Tape Marketing Certification and Network Membership only makes us stronger by giving us direct access to over 120 marketing consultants around the world willing to collaborate, educate, and share their experiences.

It truly takes a village to keep up. Our new Consultant Network expands our village and ultimately benefits our clients.

We are excited to add this Certification and Network access to our list of offerings and know our clients will see even stronger marketing results as we move ahead.

If you’d like to talk more about how a Duct Tape Marketing System can work for your small to mid-size business contact us today.

Covid-19 resources for small businesses

COVID-19 Resources for Small Business

How are you doing? The best response I’ve heard to that recently is “pandemic fine”. Simply meaning, not bad, all things considered. And there’s a lot to consider, isn’t there?

As small businesses, we’re all dealing with this the pandemic, and business shutdown, in different ways. Some of us have been personally touched by an illness in the family. If that’s you, my prayers go out to you. Many others are wondering if there is a light for their business at the end of a tunnel that we can’t tell the length of.  Most of us are watching the news daily anticipating the re-opening announcements and trying to figure out where we fit and when our time will come. And will we be ready?

There’s a lot of great information out there and a lot of smart people sharing their advice, best guesses, and insights. I’ve captured some of the better resources I’ve come across in the hope that they can help some of you. I hope there’s something for you here. Stay safe and feel free to reach out with any questions about your marketing or just to chat.

Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses

If you’re not a member consider joining, but for now, they are offering many of their resources for free to help independent businesses during the pandemic. Everything from insights into government programs, free templates, weekly webinars, and more. Visit them at https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/small-business-resources-dealing-covid-19

Business Development Bank of Canada

The Business Development Bank of Canada is offering special financing for entrepreneurs affected by Covid-19.


This is one of the only private organizations I’m offering a link for. I have no affiliation with them. A lot of businesses right now are trying to figure out an e-commerce strategy for their business. One of the larger players in that field is Shopify and they are currently offering a 90-day free trial to get set up, free email marketing, and a gift card program. I came across this while reading a post on the Digital Main Street website. They have limited Covid information, but they’re a useful resource if you’re looking for guidance on digitally transforming your business (and so am I).

Covid-19 Resources for Restaurants & Bars

There are a lot of organizations putting out helpful information for bars and restaurants to get through the pandemic and prepare for re-opening.

Molson-Coors hosted a great webinar with Jon Taffer. You can watch the recording at https://molsoncoorswebinar.com/en/home

Restaurants Canada is compiling a lot of great resources on their website, including provincial reopening schedules, government program overviews, and updates from Restaurants Canada. https://www.restaurantscanada.org/industry-news/navigating-coronavirus-covid-19-resources-for-foodservice-operators/

Covid-19 Resources for Small Businesses

At a more generic level, there are many organizations offering assistance and advice to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Here are a few good ones:

If you have found other resources, please share them in the comments section so we can all find the support we need. Stay safe.

How to manage your online reputations

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

As a business owner, you need to know how to manage your online reputation. Your business’ reputation is everything. If you have a good one, people will hear and customers will come. If you have a bad one, people will hear that, too, and stay away - and worse, tell others as well. And if you have none at all, well, no one will hear about you and you’ll struggle to attract new customers.

In the online world your reputation is very much the sum of the reviews your customers leave on sites like Facebook, Google, Yelp, and the many, many niche business review sites. And these reviews are becoming more and more important.

Consumers are less and less moved by advertising and more and more influenced by recommendations from their peers. A recent study in the UK found that 8 out of 10 Millennials will not buy anything without first reading an online review.

There is also evidence to suggest that your reviews impact your SEO. Even if they don’t have a direct impact on how high you appear in search results, seeing those five little stars next to your business or product name in Google is definitely going to impact consumer decisions about whether or not to purchase from you.

So, how do you manage your online reviews and reputation?

It’s a three-step process to get started. You have to determine which review sites are important to you, ask your customers to post reviews on those sites, and manage your negative reviews.


Choosing the Review Sites That Matter to You

There are thousands of places your customers could leave a review about you. Which ones matter to you will depend on what business you’re in and where your customers go for advice. The most important sites are the ones where your business is already receiving reviews. If you’re not sure if you have any, try Googling “reviews for [your business name]” and see what comes up.

There are a few sites that are important to all businesses just because of the volume of traffic they receive:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook

If you’re in the hospitality or entertainment industry some important ones are:

  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Foursquare

If you offer local services, look into sites like Homestars, Trustpilot, and,  again, Yelp.

If you Google “reviews for” and insert your business type you’ll get a list of some of the more popular ones in your industry.

Another key place to be capturing and publishing your reviews is your own website. You want people who visit your site to see what others are saying about you. As I’ve stated earlier, this is what more and more consumers are looking for when making a buying decision, so make it easy for them to find.

Get Positive Reviews

Once you know where you’re getting reviews or identified the review sites where you want to get reviews, the next question to answer is how do you get positive reviews. Step one is to deliver a great product, service, or customer experience. Assuming you are already doing that, the next step is simple: ask for them.

You should have a process in place to ask your customers to give you a review. When you’ve made a sale, delivered a service, finished a project. Have a mechanism for asking that customer how you did. And, if the answer is positive, ask if they’d provide an online review for you.

The more specific you can be about the ask, the better the review you stand to get. A review that provides detail about their experience (and your product or service) is better than a generic “They’re great.”

There are online tools that can help you do this for a cost. But you can also manage it yourself with a short email template, a printed 3x5 card with a few questions on it, or even a phone call.

The other business advantage to asking how you did is that you’re going to find out when customers were unhappy about your product or service. This is hugely valuable. When this happens you have a chance to salvage that relationship and make things right. You can also prevent some of those unhappy customers from posting negative reviews of your company online.

Still, even with this process, you will still get negative reviews.

What to Do When You Get Negative Reviews

You will get negative reviews. It happens to everyone. The important thing is how you deal with it. Here are some tips to effectively manage those reviews so they don’t hurt your business.

Never, ever argue with the reviewer. Always take the high ground. If you get into an online debate with someone, you make the issue seem like a big deal and you, inevitably, end up looking petty. What you want to do is demonstrate that you are listening and you are a professional.

If there is merit to the complaint, acknowledge it, apologize and try to move the conversation offline. Never offer any compensation for a bad experience in your response. This will just signal to other readers that they can get free stuff if they complain. Just move the conversation offline.

If there is no merit, or you can’t do anything to make it better, simply acknowledge their feelings and move on. It will demonstrate to prospective customers that you take your customers' feelings seriously and are a true professional.

If you take these steps towards managing your online reviews, it will form the cornerstone for how to manage your online reputation and turn it into a business advantage that your competitors just can’t compete with.