Guiding the Customer Journey


Guest post by John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar is available online and in bookstores May 15.

Just a few years short years ago marketers were still heavily focused on broadcasting their message to create demand for their products and services.

Today, a kinder, gentler form of marketing called inbound marketing relies primarily on the creation and distribution of content in an effort to “be found.”

The foundation of the inbound approach is based to use heaps of content to draw people into you marketing funnel. And, while this has proven effective, many marketers simply interpret this to mean you create more demand by creating more content.

The problem with this thinking is that it’s really just the same old approach polished up with more information.
Today, marketing is about guiding a journey that the buyer wants to take rather than forcing them into the journey that fits our business model.

People don’t really need more information, they need insight, they need guidance and they need an experience that allows them to behave like they want to behave.
So, in many ways the future of marketing is less about creating demand and more about understanding and organizing behavior.

Over the years I’ve identified seven behaviors that most buyers desperately want to experience on their way to becoming loyal customers. Organizations that get this and create and organize opportunities for people to experience these behaviors at any point along the journey will win.
I’ll warn you that the journey is not always as direct and orderly as most marketers would like. Our job as marketers is to help buyers travel an often-crooked path that allows them to:

Know – They want to give permission to the companies they want to know

Like – They want to learn to like and respect companies that might be addressing their needs in a way that makes sense to them

Trust – They want to see that their friends and others they relate to have come to trust certain organizations for a variety of reasons

Try – They want to be able to prove to themselves that buying from certain organization won’t make them look foolish

Buy – They want to discover that there are companies that make the buying experience as awesome as the marketing experience

Repeat – They want to develop ties to organizations they can count on and that allow them to forget about other options

Refer – They want to have such a remarkable experience with organizations that so exceed their expectations they are compelled to share with the world how smart they are

If organization are to address these behaviors, marketing, sales and service must participate as one in guiding the relationship. The traditional silo walls must come down. Sales must participate earlier in the buyer’s journey and stay later. Service must become more social and marketing must learn how to personalize content while bringing front line sales people into the creation of messaging and positioning.

  • Keeg Burkholder

    Great article! Know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer, sounds like the funnel of champions! The more we work for the customer, the more the customer will work for us.

    It still amazes me after all of this time that we have such a narcissistic culture around customer development. In a time where 84% of consumers will pay more for a better experience the neglect of the customers emotional needs is astounding.

    • ducttape

      Thanks Keeg – I like to call this journey the Marketing Hourglass as the hourglass shape expands greatly after someone becomes a customer and acknowledges that aspect of service as part of the overall journey.

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  • friv 4

    New book published and what is there hope that what is possible and what is considered as useful and necessary. The number of books sold voiced its appeal.

  • Guest

    “Buy – They want to discover that there are companies
    that make the buying experience as awesome as the marketing experience”

    I’m sure there are many who will see the overlap of sales
    and marketing, a convergence of functions, as an opportunity, whilst others
    will see it as a challenge. In reality “Buy” perfectly demonstrates
    ‘Why’, clearly articulating the reason this must happen. Nobody wants to suffer
    through an average customer experience (which spans both sales and marketing
    interactions) to get to an awesome product or service…..

    Engaging with customers as subject matter experts, we sharing
    our insight, share our story. Understanding the journey customers seek to take,
    we collaborate to assist in achieving the customers’ goals. Our ‘story’ is where the power for authentic engagement
    now lies.

    Without a true sales and marketing collaboration how can
    this rich, conversational, educational interaction take place?

    • ducttape

      And let’s not forget the experience after the sale – service – whatever that looks like to your company is part of this equation as well – it’s one great big profit or relationship department

  • Marketing Fun With Mike

    Now this is a list to write home about! All of these go back in my eyes to the basic nature of human behavior. The more real, open, and honest we can be with our customers the more everyone wins in the long term. Thanks for the great post John and congrats on the book, I’ve heard read some of your past work. And of course thanks for having him on Brian!

    • ducttape

      That why I think we have to serve the customer’s behavior and not our desired process.

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  • JC Giraldo

    The best part : “People don’t really need more information, they need insight, they need guidance…” that’s awesome !

    • ducttape

      Thanks JC – it also allows, perhaps forces, you to think strategically about what content produce and share.

  • thomasknoll

    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you call these “behaviors people want to experience” instead of “7 steps to…” I realize that brands are desperately looking for silver bullets and simple steps, but I hope they will soon discover that acting human and being helpful is significantly more effective than shoving people through funnels. Thank you John!

  • danmac30

    As always, I am aligned with John’s take on customer interaction. It is not about manipulation but simply being helpful. Love your work John and your book. Two thumbs up!!

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog,, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

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