Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s post comes from @chrisbrogan

From the very first day I opened my first company, I knew that I was bucking trends. Or so I thought. You’ll laugh.

Starting Without a Storefront: Or So I Thought


photo credit: Atelier Teee via photopin

I launched my business without having a website. So what, you’re thinking. But all my friends and models to follow at the time were built online. I learned what you know: your website is often not your business.

Stay Close to Your Community

I went on to market strictly through the digital channel. I blogged mostly, and neglected the value of asking my customers and audience to consider getting my (now beloved) newsletter. So I went years without having a good solid list of people to reach out and connect with about doing business. I bet you knew that long before me, as well.

Measure What You Want to Improve

I love the social networks as a digital channel, and I continue to believe they have value in selling. But I’ve been strongly over-valuing them as potential lead generation for my business without doing that essential step that you know already: I haven’t measured. And the moment I did, I found some startling results. I don’t sell nearly as much via my social networks as I do via my newsletter. And yet, I was spending a lot more time there than I was on developing ways to improve the one high-performing sales and lead generation platform I had.

Quick note: I believe social platforms have a huge role in business-making. Only, my experiences with directly selling into them has been very lackluster. Instead, I share insights, and lead people gently to get my newsletter. And then that converts.

Relationships Are Everything

You know this because you’ve read the Referral Engine and you follow one of the best relationship guys in the world here. John works hard to nurture relationships with his community and his colleagues, and what I’d come to realize was that I was serving a small set of buyers (huge companies) and wasn’t making time to connect with the people who matter (like John). With that in mind, I’m working on some ways (low tech and eventually a little more high-tech) to make sure that I keep the people who matter to me top of mind, even when I get bogged down and busy.

But you already knew the value of relationships.

In Praise Of YOU and Your Smarts

So, in the end, I suppose why I wrote this post was to validate the great learning you’re getting from John and others here. Because I launched a digital-first business, I’ve had to backtrack and learn what you knew from the start. And I’m better for it. Thank you for sharing what you know with learners like me.

Chris BroganChris Brogan is president and CEO of Human Business Works, a publishing and media company focusing on courses and tools for smart professionals like you.

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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.
  • Thanks for sharing your insight and journey Chris, have to admit list building is an area i defnitely need to focus more on and leverage. Did you utilize much ad spend either online or offline during this time period?

    • I’ve done zero ad spend. Not sure how I could. : )

  • Great comment on the social networks and how you discovered you’ve overvalued them for lead generation. I think many small business owners need to reassess the time they spend there vs. developing great content and ideas for their e-newsletters. Those folks already know, like and trust you and they’ve raised their hand.

    • Hey Kelly – you know as well as anyone that I’ve been beating that drum for about 10 years now.

  • As I read this, I’m enjoying a bean brew here at my local coffee shop. Great people. Not great marketers.

    For FIVE years I’ve been suggesting, begging, pleading they capture customer emails. They still don’t, but darn it, they have Facebook and Yelp and FourSquare logins posted near register….

    …And they are losing 10’s of thousands of dollars a year.

    Thanks Chris for sharing your momentary lapse and John for encouraging the capture of emails.

    • I know Robert that is so frustrating isn’t it – you find a business you really like and you just want to say please, just do this, it’s not that hard!

  • I hear over and over about email marketing being dead, but this is usually from people not using or not properly using newsletters and email. When they do, I always find they are surprised by the results. Thanks Chris (and John) for highlighting the importance of, what I feel, is the most overlooked digital marketing vehicle.

    • You know I’ve been saying this for years of course Nicole, but I have to say the social media types are clearly waking up to it. At Social Media Marketing World this past weekend it was a consistent theme.

    • My BIGGEST regret is not doing more with email marketing sooner.

  • Sheetal Sharma

    Great post, it will definitely help me in reaching goals in a accelerated way at Synechron.

  • Right! We can do our own business marketing strategies without relying online. We can set by other alternatives like paasing by our friends, promoting to newspapers or invite somes friends or group of people do you think can help to work out your business.

  • Great post, @chrisbrogan:disqus. I appreciate your honesty and showing you did not have it together out the proverbial womb.

    I would add that it is not just digital marketers who get it wrong. Direct mail folks get it wrong as well.

    We also learn from places like here and Godin’s that email marketing is a relationship of privilege. A lot of email marketing tends to be treated like an assumed transaction. There are many lists I have left, because I don’t feel I understand what the arrangement is anymore. Likewise, there are many flyers I have petitioned to cease having sent to my door. At least until they can their “personal” act together.

    I try very hard to keep both my physical mailbox and my email box lean and clean. Instead of getting a dummy email address, I want my marketing communications to feel like conversations that I was to engage in regularly. The sooner marketers of all sorts get that, the better we will all be.

  • Tori

    The way social media has boosted business’ in the past years is incredible, but like you said we cannot rely on them alone. They are an absolute great stepping stone for your business, but you still have to market it other ways, and like you said you don’t want to neglect the things that are making your business so successful! Doing things like growing an email list and sending e-letters to people helps keep your name in customers head and gives you the opportunity to share things with people who are personally interested in your company, and an email seems a little more personal versus a tweet. E-letters are also great ways to give exclusive deals, a way to make your customers feel a little more special and in turn they will be loyal customers who value your company. Great article! Thanks for being honest and sharing what you learned!

  • brentmkelly

    Thanks Chris. One of my biggest downfalls so far is not connected well with an email subscriber list or newsletter. The results seem obvious and as you have pointed out here provides a great return. Great post.