Repair Your Small Business With ‘Duct Tape Marketing’

Update on 02/16/2013:

On Feb 16th, the author of Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch sent this message to his 75,000 followers on Twitter. Thank you, John!

Tweet by John Jantsch referring to the book review of 'Duct Tape Marketing'

The Review

According to my favorite source, Wikipedia, duct tape is…“commonly used in situations that require a strong, flexible, and very sticky tape”. If your small business needs a marketing program that is strong, flexible, sticky, and above all, practical, then Duct Tape Marketing might be one of the best marketing books for you. Read on for more…

4 Reasons To Buy This Book:

    1. Treats marketing as a complete system
    2. Equal focus on marketing strategy and marketing tactics
    3. Detailed advice and examples for creating your toolkit of marketing materials
    4. Advice is crafted for small businesses that have operated for multiple years but now want to focus on improving their marketing

2 Reasons This Book May Not Be Right For You:

    1. Focuses exclusively on the needs of small business; not the best for new startups or corporate entrepreneurs
    2. Author assumes your small business has been operating for a few years and has existing clientele


“This book is just like its namesake—duct tape—it’s good, incredibly smart, amazingly practical, and immensely sticky stuff. You can begin to put it to use immediately.” ~ Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth

I think Michael’s comment above does a great job of summing up this book. The author of the book, John Jantsch, is a practical small business marketing expert who has consulted small business entrepreneurs for over twenty years. He is the owner of the Duct Tape Marketing firm and the originator of the Duct Tape Marketing system. In addition to this marketing book, he wrote The Commitment Engine: Making Work Worth It and The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself. John wrote a genuinely helpful book that does not try to sell you on his consulting firm. You will only see a reference to his company and resources in the appendix to the book. You can do everything John suggests in his book without the need to buy anything from him. However, I know from personal experience that you may also find great value in other resources he provides such as his free Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

What You’ll Gain As A Small Business Entrepreneur

Here’s a summary of the main sections of the book:

  • Marketing strategy
  • Marketing tactics
  • Generating and converting leads
  • Marketing plan, budget, and calendar

What follows is a list of the things I found most useful or unique about the book’s lessons.

John Jantsch wrote this book around 7 core steps that he guides you through in order:

  1. Develop Strategy Before Tactics
  2. Embrace the Marketing HourglassTM
  3. Adopt the Content Publishing Model
  4. Create a Total Web Presence
  5. Orchestrate the Lead Generation Trio
  6. Drive a Lead Conversion System
  7. Live by the Marketing Calendar

One of the best aspects of this book is that John starts you on the right track by first making you think through a marketing strategy for your small business. John nicely describes the difference between strategy and your goals, mission, and objectives. He then launches into his 3-step process for creating your marketing strategy.

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. ~ Sun Tzu, author of The Art Of War


A unique concept in the book is that of the Marketing HourglassTM, which John uses in place of the typical “marketing funnel”. This concept is quite useful for small businesses in contrast to large corporations. Small businesses typically thrive on referrals, which turn a marketing funnel into an hourglass according to the author. John does an excellent job of showing a small business how to win through a referral program.

John reiterates what a previous book I reviewed, Inbound Marketing, said—-you must commit yourself to creating a significant amount of content online. Why? Because customers expect to find information about their problems on search engines like Google search. Your company must be there in the search results when customers are searching for solutions. Furthermore, the online content you create builds trust and credibility among potential customers. However, not all the content you need to produce will be for the internet. John reveals the necessary steps to create a complete toolkit of marketing materials that are low-cost and practical for small business. In addition, he gives excellent tips for easily multiplying your marketing content. He even covers in detail how to think about material such as your company logo.

Near the end of the book, John shows you how to generate leads after you have attracted customers with your marketing content. The big four he covers includes: advertising; direct mail; earned media; and, referrals. Then, John shows you how to convert these leads, not through a “sales” team, but through an education program. John claims that at this point, selling to your customers is not necessary because your previous marketing activities already sold them on your products/services.

Lastly, John nicely wraps up all of the strategy and tactics with a system of simple metrics, a budget, and a calendar. You will learn how to create all of these for one year out.


John’s purpose in writing this book was to provide you with a complete marketing system that is simple, effective, and affordable. I believe his book hits the mark on all three accounts, although as you read about the various marketing tactics you start to feel overwhelmed. However, John remedies this situation by providing you with advice on how to pace yourself with all the marketing tactics outlined in his book through a marketing calendar.

ducttape7I want to emphasize that John’s consulting business focuses on small businesses with five years of history and an existing clientele. As such, much of John’s advice in this book is targeted to this segment. If you are just now building a startup, you may find it difficult to create your marketing materials without an existing clientele that you can get feedback from. As one example, John suggests that you offer a free informative product to compel customers to sign up for your company emails. However, if you’re the new guy in town without existing clientele or deep knowledge of your space, it may be difficult to know what info to package up in your free information product.

On a personal note, I benefited greatly from John’s suggestion of using a Marketing Calendar although he provides few details about this. But, you can find an example on his website of a calendar of online marketing activities that he created. Another great bit of advice of his that I followed was for creating a Monthly Marketing Theme calendar. My 2013 Book Review Calendar is an example of such a calendar.

Final Comments

Overall, I think this is one of the best marketing books for a small business entrepreneur who has already been operating for years and now wants to focus on their marketing program. If you already have a successful small business with clientele but fear you need a better approach to obtaining new clients, this book is for you. John will help you patch up your marketing efforts with the highly practical and comprehensive system outlined in Duct Tape Marketing.

Click here to check out Duct Tape Marketing on


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