When most businesses create a new product or service offering they initially develop the attributes of the product or service. Makes sense, you don’t have anything to sell unless you create something people want to buy.

The Marketing Hourglass

Marketing Hourglass

But, the very next thing they do, once they think they have a winner of their hands, is go to work on the promotion of the new offering – the sales letter, landing page, brochure.

Again, another important marketing consideration, but I would like to suggest what is ultimately a much stronger path to take.

Begin with the end in mind.

In other words, the very first thing you should do when thinking about bringing a product or service to market is to think about what you want the customer to be thinking and feeling about your product or service180 days or so after they made the purchase and work backwards toward the point where they become interested in making a purchase.

The processes, touches and follow-ups you build by taking this “customer experience” approach can help ensure that you have a winner, promote a winner, and perhaps more importantly thrill your customer.

In the rush to create and promote our goods it’s this final, crucial point that often goes without thought or is made up after repeat sales and referrals lag.

Think of it this way – the sale is not complete until the customer is so happy they confidently make referrals.

So, a backwards process example for a training course you’re promoting might look something like this:

  • 180 days after purchase – customer receives free course updates and offer to meet with a select group of other course participants in an invitation only peer-to-peer group accountability program.
  • 90 days after purchase – customer receives email offering them 30% off of any other product or service of their choice as a current customer courtesy
  • 60 days after purchase – customer receives coupon offering free evaluation of their progress with the training course and the opportunity to engage a consultant to help them if they are stuck working on their own
  • 30 days after purchase – customer receives coupon for free 60 minute coaching session to help keep them on track
  • 14 days after purchase – customer receives coupon for 30 days of unlimited email support to keep them on track with their purchase
  • 7 days after purchase – customer receives mailing with additional bonus materials as a way of saying thank you for their purchase
  • Immediately on purchase – on successful shopping cart transaction customer is directed to Web page that hosts a welcome video that sets the expectation for when and how they will receive their purchase. Automated email provides instructions and orients the customer to the contents of their new purchase and how to receive support if they have questions.
  • Trial – After viewing video series prospect is offered the opportunity to download 2 free chapters from the course and receive free 30 minute coaching session to discuss their specific challenges.
  • Information gathering – After seminar prospect is offered opportunity to sign up to receive video series of client case studies and ebook featuring content covered in seminar
  • Awareness – Attends informational online seminar that dives into the problems most business face when trying to do X that your course addresses

Obviously, the components of this approach will vary greatly depending upon the offering and prospective customer, but it’s the thinking here that’s so important.

The process of beginning with the end in mind actually forces improvement on the product or service, creates opportunities to upsell and cross sell and focuses on the long term positive experience for the customer – which creates lead generation by way of referral and word of mouth.

Astute Duct Tape Marketing readers might recognize this as The Marketing Hourglass  – a process that suggests the development of logical processes that move prospects to customer and customers to loyal fans by way of 7 phases – know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

One final word of advice. Don’t make this a stiff, automated, spammy drip system. Put personality, fun, surprise and value in each and every contact.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • You must approach each customer on a paying for life thing. If your able to take care of them, then they will buy more.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • I love the idea of the marketing hourglass! I’ve been experimenting with different visuals of the customer’s decision making process lately, because I think the funnel is 1.) played out and 2.) has some implicit “people just fall through” ideas associated. Do you have a large version to print off and play with? 

    • Hey Ken, glad you like the hourglass concept. The Marketing Hourglass as applied here is a trademark of Duct Tape Marketing and while we do have poster size map, it’s something our consultants use with clients and that we include in our system when clients purchase it.

  • This is such a great post John! I really appreciate the specific example illustrating what you mean. Brilliant as always!

    • Thanks Deacon – examples are more work to create but people sure like them for everything related to marketing.

  • Killer Title!  Reading that was enough.  Though, glad I read further as I am planning a training program. 🙂

    • Good deal Jeff, let me know how it goes

  • The great thing about this concept is that it gives you the basic idea, but you can tweak it to tailor fit your own  marketing needs, as well as your consumer base.

  • Love this.  Not what is customer trying to buy… but what are they trying to accomplish.  Focus on the purpose/need, not the transaction!  http://bit.ly/cJnWgn

  • love this jpeg…any chance I can get a bigger copy to use in a presentation (with attribution of course!

  • Nikhil

    Great tip.Sending mail to all customers it takes away a lot of time. I though of using a software like Apptivo or Zoho which helps to send bulk mails.