This week, we’re really thrilled to bring you the contents of John Jantsch’s brain! After founding his Marketing Consultancy Network 35 years ago, he has become something of an expert in agency/client relationships. In this episode, John is going to help you to build lasting relationships with your clients, particularly during this uncertain time.


About John:

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker, and author of several books, including Duct Tape Marketing; Duct Tape Selling; The Commitment Engine; SEO for Growth; and The Referral Engine.

His latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business, is a daily reminder to entrepreneurs that a better you makes a better business!

He doesn’t spend all his time speaking and writing books; he’s also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network and has had the honor of being featured in a TEDx Talk.

In his spare time, John can mostly be found outdoors enjoying nature, woodworking, and strumming his guitar.

Points of Interest…

You know the drill… there’s more info regarding each point in the notes below!

  • Maintaining client relationships during COVID 1:42
  • Reinforcing optimum client relationships 4:41
  • Removing uncertainty around client expectation 7:54
  • Reverse engineering the client experience 9:54


Maintaining Client Relationships During COVID

Obviously, there is an unprecedented circumstance in the market, and undoubtedly lots of agencies have unfortunately been on the receiving end of cost-cutting measures. Therefore, I queried John about the aspects – from a profitability perspective – that carry weight when it comes to maintaining those coveted longterm relationships with clients.

Interestingly, John cites that the agencies fairing best during these uncertain times have leaned into their clients to ask what specifically they can do right now to help. What do we need to be doing? How can we best help you navigate this?

Instead of trying to remain “true to your brand” during crazy times, get close to your customers to see how you can navigate this together. Asking ‘how can I help’ has always been good agency/client practice, but it’s definitely become more amplified in the current climate.

Reinforcing Optimum Client Relationships

Once you figure out who you want to work with, what next? Well, you need to ascertain if you and this optimum client are actually a good fit – if you’re suited to each other. How do you define that?! According to John…

“It’s typically the top 20%, it’s the ones that you are getting results for. It’s the ones that you’re actually really enjoying working with and vice versa.”

He would also challenge most business owners on whether they, in fact, know why their clients like working with them. You, as agency owners, need to have honest, heart-to-heart conversations with clients about your working relationship. Chances are, the reason your clients enjoy working with you may come as a surprise!

Now that you’re clear why your clients like working with you, how can you do that thing better?! You need to formalize and systemize it so it’s part of a concrete process – not something that sporadically happens when the collective whimsy compels you.

“If you can figure out who the ideal customers are, and then spend all of your energy on serving them better, lead generation will take care of itself.”


Removing Uncertainty Around Client Expectation

An ongoing client gripe is that they feel unsure of what’s going on, constantly having to pull updates out of their agency. Whereas, if you can lay out a roadmap and say, ‘Here’s where we are today, here’s where we’ll be next week, and here’s what you can expect from us after that,’ it alleviates so much of that uncertainty.

John finds the problem with not setting proper expectations is that you, in some ways, can never do enough for your client. Consequently, agencies complain about scope creep. So, outline a regular feedback loop for your clients.

We have a process where we do weekly catch-ups; we do monthly results reviews, and we do quarterly strategic planning. They know they’re going to get that process.

You have to keep reselling your value to your clients. Show them the results you got and how it benefits them. After a while, there’s so much trust there that client expectation is no longer an issue.

Reverse Engineering the Client Experience

No doubt, you – as an agency owner – will be well aware of the ‘marketing funnel’, well John has given that another facet. Welcome to ‘The Marketing Hourglass.’

For John, there are seven stages to his Marketing Hourglass, including ‘know’, ‘like’, ‘trust’, ‘try’, ‘buy’, ‘repeat’, and ‘refer’.

“Our job as marketers is to figure out how our clients’ prospects are in each of those stages and what we need to do to guide them, and move them to the next stage.”

Then, John re-engineers the experience… When you work backward that way, what he finds that the client’s company is completely re-engineered. The customer’s experience, in turn, has been re-engineered because any potential gaps will be obvious from the offset.

“People hire us to do marketing and they think what they’re going to get is a new website. We actually end up re-engineering their entire company because everything, in a small business at least, is marketing. A lot of companies underestimate that. So, we’ve found that if we work backwards from the experience, then everything we do is going to have more impact.”

All the real gold, as you know, is in the customer experience.

Key Takeaway:

There you have it! Start at what needs to be true for the optimum outcome to happen. Then, start to work back. That’s a great way to uncover some of those critical questions and milestones that need hitting.

To recap:

  1. We talked about finding the customers you want to work with and how best to serve them.
  2. Reverse engineer how you can deliver more value to that client than anyone else in the world.
  3. Lock that in to make it predictable by building processes around it.
  4. On the back end of that, ensure you’re getting those referrals.

Most importantly, the object of forging better relationships is to narrow your focus on your best-suited clients. Then, find out how to serve them better – that will help you break through that ceiling.

Want to see more from John? You can do that @…

Did you learn anything new from this episode? Let us know in the comments below – we value your feedback! Our next installment of #APP, on October 2nd, will see another Solo Cast from yours truly (the previous of which can be viewed here). This time, I’ll be breaking down how to make estimates faster and more accurate. To view our previous blog with Chris Ronzio, make your way here


Agency Profitability Tool Kit

If you’re looking for more resources to help you improve your agency’s profitability, then check out the Agency Profitability Tool Kit – it’s full of the same templates and checklists we’ve used with consulting clients to help them improve their profitability by over 100% in under 60 days.