10 Steps to Building a Repeatable Marketing System

marketing system

Marketing is a system, plain and simple. Now, some people take that to mean that you simply create a one size fits all, turn-key set of tactics and call it a day.

The truth, however, lies not in the repeatable tactics, but in the repeatable process based on the right strategy.

There is, in my view, a very systematic way to come up with a predictable path for growing any business, but every business is different – so, their system is unique, while the process for getting there does not need to be.

So you see, you don’t need a marketing plan so much as you need a marketing process.

Below are the ten steps I’ve used over and over again to help grow every business I’ve worked with over the last two decades.

Strategy for where you are going

The fist step is to determine where you want to go. I know everyone says this, but few do it. Or, if they do, it’s based on some over the top world domination dream that nobody can buy in to.

In my experience, three years out is a long view for most and merely a target to get a sense of the vision for growth. You can surround this vision with things like revenue and hiring projections, but the main thing it to create something that can guide your decisions today based on even a murky map of the future.

Now, what’s this year need to look like to propel you towards the three-year picture?

Strategy for where you are

I like to work in 90-day chunks because few people can focus much beyond that and most of the time things are so fluid you need to remain nimble enough to change course throughout the year.

The key thing here is to identify the 2-3 highest priority initiatives and focus all of your efforts on meeting the goals you set for each.

So, for example if the highest priorities for the quarter are to grow a new revenue stream and to increase client retention then all of your efforts need to be focused on those priorities, even if some pet projects need to be put on hold.

Build community first

The secret to sustained growth lies in creating a loyal community, monetizing this community and leveraging this community for additional growth.

Many businesses focus only on trying to find people to sell to. Today’s most wildly successful companies build a following and then figure out what they want to buy. It’s a model that few get, but it is the most profitable way to grow a business.

Now, if you’re starting a business or in a business that you want to grow, you may have to make community building a priority while you do the things that generate cash flow for today.

You can, however, make the community building frame of mind, something that you use to evolve your content marketing efforts, customer service, and even product development.

Put a free version of your product out, create premium content and invite community members rather than subscribers, surprise the heck out of every customer by doing something they never imagined you would do.

Set your near-term goals

Set measurable goals for every aspect of your short-term priorities and use the scorecard for those objectives as a way to hold everyone accountable for the tasks and projects associated with the goals.

The discussions you have around why goals are met or not is how you course correct and keep everyone focused on the priorities you’ve already established rather than things that don’t matter beyond the day to day grind.

Decide on some bets

Here’s the fun part in my mind. It’s hard to know what will work and won’t work for sure when it comes to marketing, that’s the reality. The best marketers make informed bets, but they test and measure everything.

Now, what these bets or optimizations are for your business will vary largely depending where you are. If you’re in startup mode, you can try big things. If you’re locked down and just trying to acquire more market share you test little things.

These bets or tests should be based on your near term goals and some amount of educated brainstorming, but as a team you must commit to what they are going to be and see it through.

A bet might be a total repositioning of your value proposition. It might just be using a video on the homepage or trying lookalike audiences on Facebook.

Again, the key is that the bets are based on your priorities and will be fully developed rather than seen as the idea of the week.

Implement with tests

Once you have decided on your bets, you must figure out the proper plan to execute and perhaps more importantly test, retest and measure every element as though the life of the business depended upon it.

This is the difference between building a marketing system and simply throwing stuff at the wall.

This is how you prune that bets that fail and go all in on the bets that work.

Experiment and analyze

Now that you are starting to measure results you can begin to test a winning email subject line against another, a winning landing page against one with some element changed or even one sales page against another.

Once you have some things working, you always try to better through experimentation.

Document and delegate

Now, here’s the part that even successful marketers tend to gloss over.

Once your bets start to pay off and are headed towards long-term implementation, document the process or system or campaign in a way that allows you to delegate it to a marketing assistant type or even a VA so you can move on and make some more bets.

This is how marketing gain momentum and this is the essence of an effective marketing system.

Review and plan

Every 90 days review your priorities, your scorecard, and every bet you’ve made.

The goal of this review is to create a new set of priorities for the upcoming quarter and to start to learn what’s been working and what hasn’t been. This is how you start to develop patterns that make you better at making hunches for future bets


You probably knew this was going to end this way, but marketing isn’t ever done – the process never really ends – what you optimize will certainly evolve but working the system is your real job.

How Wedding Planning Taught Me How to Nurture Social Media Leads

As a marketer, sometimes it ‘s hard to stop thinking about marketing and remind myself that I am also a customer. I’ll find myself during commercial breaks on TV analyzing the scripts and how I would change the copy. I hear ads on the radio offering free content, and I immediately think about the strategy and commend them for using content to market their business. It is hard to turn it off.

Lately, I’ve gotten a nice little reminder of what it is like being a customer with not enough information. It has come during one of the most daunting events of many people’s lives: Wedding planning.

Table set for an event party or wedding reception


For those who have been here in the past, you can probably attest to the daunting nature of wedding planning. Not only is getting married a major step in life, but there are also plenty of venues and options to choose from. Each has their own rules, regulations and offerings and sometimes it is difficult to grasp all of those options. To me, this can make the decision scary. What if I miss something? To make it even more terrifying, this is probably the first decision you must make.

That’s why one morning while answering emails and scheduling venue tours, I tweeted about my planning. To my pleasant surprise, a venue I hadn’t even found replied.


This got me thinking about how businesses should be using social media. I’ve written about listening posts in the past, and how you can use social media to identify potential customers. But it takes effort to reach out to potential customers, effort that is easily recognized by your customers.

Seeking out Social Media Leads

To identify me as a promising social lead, the venue had to search for people tweeting about wedding venues, and had to narrow the search to only those in the Kansas City area using the “Near Me” tag. Luckily, there aren’t that many people tweeting looking for wedding planning advice at any one time. These select few are your prime candidates and are deliberately looking for someone to trust. Why not reach out? If it takes 5 minutes to identify and reach out to these customers, all it takes is one conversion to make this worth your time.

I may not rent out this potential venue, but I wouldn’t have even known about them if they hadn’t have reached out. With a simple 140-character tweet, they took me through several steps of the customer journey. They introduced their venue to me while getting me to like and trust them just because of the effort they gave to reach me. Now, I have scheduled a venue tour, bringing me up to the try level of the customer journey.

What you can learn

More importantly, they have some insight about my frustrations searching for a wedding venue long before the tour. As any salesperson can attest, the more you know about your potential buyers, the easier it is to relate to them and prove your product will solve their problems, and the easier it is to make the sale.

Social media is not meant to be a place to broadcast your message. You’re not going to convert people or gain followers and influence by simply sending out un-engaging messages. What makes social media special is that it offers a direct channel your customers and potential customers. If you want the most from your social media marketing, you must take advantage of this, reach out to your customers and nurture those social media leads.

Have you ever searched for or reached out to potential customers individually on social media? Or has someone sought you out to any success? Let me know in the comments below.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

Weekend Favs July Twenty Six

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week. I don't go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a Continue Reading

5 Mobile Web Usability Rules You Can’t Afford To Ignore

If content is king then your website is its kingdom and no matter how great your content is, if your website is not providing the users a smooth user experience, your visitors are going to abandon it for sure! But how can you make sure your Continue Reading

7 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your PPC Guy: An Easy-To-Use Checklist

As a small business owner, you know your business. But do you have time to master PPC? If not, you’ll want to hire someone to do this for you. That’s why I’ve created this checklist -- to help you pick the right PPC person and make sure they get Continue Reading

Why Leaders Eat Last with Simon Sinek

Marketing Podcast with Simon Sinek For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, we'll revisit my conversation with Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and the most recent Leaders Eat Last. First off, if you’ve not read either of Continue Reading

How and Why Periscope Might Make Sense for Small Business

Click to watch this archived Periscope recording from Katch.me Over the last few years, I've seen one of my roles as the practical beacon for new technologies and trends that I believe small business owners can make use of. I don't report on new Continue Reading

The Easiest Way to Ask for Referrals

We have a great opportunity in the small business world these days that can be simply defined by one word: collaboration.  Coming together and focusing on a common goal, contributing what resources you have, and working towards something bigger that Continue Reading