The Marketing Ladder - Caleb Jones

I’ve said it before: Marketing is the most important function in your company. It’s even more important than delivering your product, service or information to your customer. I’m not saying those aren’t important too. They are and very much so. The issue is that that you can have fantastic marketing and have a mediocre offering and stay in business. The reverse is also true in that you can have little or poor marketing, offer the most amazing thing in the universe and you’ll almost definitely go out of business. 

There are about 30 different ways to market, from cold calls to pay per click to advertising on billboards and numerous others. I talk about many of them in the SMIC Program. A good book that covers many of them for the marketing beginner is Guerilla Marketing In 30 Days. It’s your job to pick the marketing technique you are most comfortable with (and can afford, since some are free and some are not) and hit it very, very hard until you start making regular income. 

Once you reach that point, well done. It’s an important milestone in your business. But that’s just it. It’s a milestone, not a goal. You don’t want a business that relies on just one form of marketing regardless of how much money you make. Our world changes too fast. There are too many variables that can (and likely will) take your marketing method that works great today and eliminates it (or severely damages it) tomorrow 

There were tons of guys back in the 80s and 90s who made good money advertising in classified ads in newspapers. But then the internet came along and murdered classified ads (more or less). These guys were forced to learn how to do HTML web pages and start figuring out email. Those that didn’t went out of business. 

There were guys just a few years ago making huge money doing Facebook ads or monetizing YouTube channels. Then these big companies changed the algorithms. These guys saw their incomes go from $30,000 per month to $2,000 per month overnight. And they were fucked. 

Relying on just one form of marketing is stupid. Your Alpha 2.0 business needs to be more long-term, resilient, and flexible than that. Instead, you need to rely on multiple marketing methods, not just one. 

I view this as a marketing ladder of sorts where I do this: 

  1. Focus on one type of marketing and hit it hard.
  2. Get to the point where that form of marketing reliably makes money whenever I execute it.
  3. Automate it as much as humanly possible, removing myself from the workflow (either completely or partially).
  4. Pick a new form of marketing and go back to step one to repeat the entire process.
  5. Keep repeating this until I have at least 5-7 forms of marketing that I can rely upon.

Then, and only then, do I have a reliable, long-term source of income from that business.  

Most business owners don’t do any of this. They either don’t market at all (or enough) and go out of business, or they market one way, do well with it, and rely on that one way 100% until it’s ripped out from under them. 

To give you some reallife examples, here’s the marketing ladder I used for my consulting business, in the order in which I did it: 

– Cold calls 

– Referrals 

– Direct mail 

– Joint ventures 

– Radio ads 

Here’s the one I used for my Blackdragon/Alpha Male 2.0 online business: 

– Posting on forums 

– Blogging 

– Social media 

– Banner ads 

– Joint ventures 

– Pay per click 

– Affiliate programs (working on this now) 

Both of those companies were started for less than $50 and today both generate six-figure incomes for me. With all the different marketing I do, you can see why. It’s hard to not make money when you utilize a marketing ladder. 

You should have your marketing ladder mapped out in your head or on paper. Don’t focus on all of it at once. Like I said, focus on one marketing technique at a time. Don’t move to the next one until the one you’re working on makes consistent, regular money whenever you do it. Then move to the next one on your list. 

Also, be flexible about which items are on your list. Perhaps you have an online business and are mastering SEO or SEM as a marketing technique and the next item on your marketing ladder is Instagram ads. It’s possible that by the time you master SEO/SEM, the algorithms for Instagram will have changed, or some new social media platform knocks Instagram from its perch. So, make sure that your marketing ladder isn’t set in stone and leave lots of room for flexibility. 

Just make sure you do it. Marketing techniques and systems will change over time. Don’t let this discourage you like it does so many other business owners (or potential business owners). The entire point of the marketing ladder is to not have to rely on any one technique.  

With a marketing ladder in place your business will be truly bulletproof.  

16 Comments on “The Marketing Ladder

  1. One of my sisters has done very well for herself as an MLMer…I hope.

    Ofc, it worries me greatly, but what can I do lol…

  2. What if let’s say you try to master email marketing(or any marketing technique) but over time you see it doesn’t make you decent return. Then you waste time(and money).
    How do you know if a marketing technique worths your time or when to stop when a technique doesn’t work well?
    Even if some are free they still cost money as time goes by.

  3. One of my sisters has done very well for herself as an MLMer…I hope.

    Ofc, it worries me greatly, but what can I do lol…

    MLM works if you work it. The problerm is 98% of people in MLM don’t.

    What if let’s say you try to master email marketing(or any marketing technique) but over time you see it doesn’t make you decent return. Then you waste time(and money).
    How do you know if a marketing technique worths your time or when to stop when a technique doesn’t work well?

    When it stops becoming profitable based on your income goals. Let the numbers tell you.

    If it used to make a 500% return and now it makes a 15% return, it’s time to find drop it in favor of other techniques. (Or perhaps keep it as your 4th or 5th favorite out of the ladder.)

  4. Your consulting ladder looks very 1990s. What would it look like if you were starting that business today?

  5. Your consulting ladder looks very 1990s.

    Correct. That’s when I did it.

    What would it look like if you were starting that business today?

    – Cold calls 

    – Referrals 

    – LinkedIn / Blog

    – Joint ventures 

    – Direct mail 

  6. – Cold calls

    – Referrals

    – LinkedIn / Blog

    – Joint ventures

    – Direct mail

    Hmm … Ok, why in that order? For example, wouldn’t you need to gain some traction/reputation first before being able to work referrals? Wondering why this is #2 instead of further down?

    And why didn’t blogging/posting make this list …. seems like those things would help you establish reputation as a consultant if you’re just starting out and don’t have word of mouth/referrals to go on yet?

    And is direct mail still a thing? People don’t just throw it in the trash? I’m interested to hear about how that still works. It costs money obviously …. do you find that people are more likely to respond to an actual letter than to a spam email?

    Also it would be interesting if you were to elaborate on “joint ventures” …. what might those look like exactly?

  7. Hmm … Ok, why in that order?

    Because cold calls are the fastest way to get to the money when starting from absolute zero.

    For example, wouldn’t you need to gain some traction/reputation first before being able to work referrals?

    No. Once you get 2-3 clients you can start asking for referrals. I did.

    And why didn’t blogging/posting make this list

    It did. Item #3.

    …. seems like those things would help you establish reputation as a consultant if you’re just starting out and don’t have word of mouth/referrals to go on yet?

    Yes, over a long period of time. But in the meantime you need business. That’s where the cold calls and referrals come in.

    And is direct mail still a thing?

    Yes. My marketing company is based on direct mail.

    People don’t just throw it in the trash?

    98-99% do, yes. But you can make a six-figure income from that remaining 1-2%.

    Plus my direct mail is B2B rather than B2C so it A) doesn’t look like trash and B) has much higher open rates.

    I don’t think I would bother with B2C direct mail.

    I’m interested to hear about how that still works.

    Too big of a topic and somewhat off-topic for this post. I discussed it in great detail in my business courses and have information about it at my SMIC Program. I’ll have more resources on it next year as well.

    Also it would be interesting if you were to elaborate on “joint ventures” …. what might those look like exactly?

    As above.

  8. It did. Item #3.

    Ah yeah, my bad. I was focused in on the LinkedIn part of that bullet and I overlooked the “blog” part. I think a discussion about how you utilize LinkedIn is a topic unto itself.

    So on the B2B side of things you find that you get a more effective response to direct mail than email? Kind of surprising to me in 2019 but very interesting. That could amount to a lot in postage …. but you get enough qualified leads from that 1 percent to make up for it?

  9. Very good post Caleb, and very very important information.

    So for anyone reading Calebs post and thinking that you just need one or two really good marketing sources: This is EXACTLY what happened to one of my offline businesses. I knew when I started out, that I need as you say atleast 5 marketing methods. I started with 5 different ones but one made so much money/leads so I just did that one. And now, that method is not working. I had this business for 7 years and it made me good money. It wasn’t to bad and it didnt bother me because I was planning to change location anyway and do the same business but in a bigger city. But I knew the whole time that if Marketing method nr1 stops working this business is fucked. And I knew it was stupid. And actually, I feel stupid about it and this can’t happen in my new location since I know have consultants doing 80% of the work for me and I need to keep my clientbase and add new ones every month.

    So, with my new offline business which I am working on I’m right now on marketing item #1 and it works. So… now on to marketing nr2. I do B2C, and I’ve been thinking about doing direct mail but been hesitant. It would be very good to get it to work because it’s a marketing method I can’t see going anywhere. I make good returns on every new client.

    What I currently do now is:

    Facebook ads (works superwell now) – built form zero to 6 figure plus income in less than 3 months.
    instagram ads (works superwell right now)
    SEO – works well but not so many leads (maybe 5 a month)

    youtube bumper ads – testing out
    google search ads – testing out
    google display ads – testing out

    snapchat ads
    bannerads

    All of these above are online ads. So may I ask: would you consider it to be bad that 100% of the marketing is online even if its 5 different ones? or should one have atleast one offline form of advertising? (billboards, newspapers, direct mail etc..)

    Offline ads I’m thinking about:

    -Newspaper
    – Posters (paint the whole city in em… 🙂 )
    – Direct mail

    Also working on outsourcing all the tasks, but the thing is that the business needs to be multi-six figures if I’m going to be able to pay consultants locally to do the work. It’s doable but its then superimportant that I have, as you say atleast 5 different methods of marketing.

    Referals is something I should start doing… If I may ask another question, is there any good book on this? I know the obvious one is to just ask my clients to recomend a person to me 🙂

  10. So on the B2B side of things you find that you get a more effective response to direct mail than email?

    No. I’ve never done 100% cold email marketing so I couldn’t say. I just know direct mail works.

    That could amount to a lot in postage …. but you get enough qualified leads from that 1 percent to make up for it?

    Fuck yes. I can make $40,000 or more from just one new consulting client. So do you think I give a shit about $3000 in postage? Haha.

    Facebook ads (works superwell now) – built form zero to 6 figure plus income in less than 3 months.
    instagram ads (works superwell right now)

    Glad to hear that. I do a few right now but in about 30 days I’m going to spend a shitload of money on FB/Insta to Unleash Hell on the internet. I expect to be very profitable.

    SEO – works well but not so many leads (maybe 5 a month)

    Yeah that sounds about right.

    I’m starting to think that SEO is moving away and SEM is becoming more important.

    would you consider it to be bad that 100% of the marketing is online even if its 5 different ones?

    Not at all. My marketing company is 100% offline and I want to keep it that way.

    Referals is something I should start doing… If I may ask another question, is there any good book on this?

    Not a book but an audio program. 93 Referral Systems by Jay Abraham.

  11. Not at all. My marketing company is 100% offline and I want to keep it that way.

    Why is it important to keep it that way?  Promoting it online would somehow hurt it?

  12. While those are good things, I’m amazed at the current creepy technology.

    You can target people called “lookalike customers” for example.

    I can upload a list of my current customers and it will find buyers who have similar buying habits and interests and other factors.

    As a libertarian, this is an aberration.

    As a businessperson, this is gold.

  13. Thank you for answering the questions Caleb, gonna check out the 93 Referral Systems by Jay Abraham immidiately (After listening to Zig Ziglars secrets of closing the sale again 🙂 )

    What I noticed thou with facebook is that nowdays, all my leads are 40+ men or 50+women. Like there is NOBODY under 40 hanging out on facebook anymore. My intuition says that in a few years facebook will be a ghosttown and for advertisers we have only little time left to use it.

  14. Why is it important to keep it that way?

    I want diversified income streams, so I don’t want three purely online companies. I want some to be online and some to be purely offline. That way if something down the road happens to online, I’ve got my offline businesses to carry me, and vice versa.

    Like there is NOBODY under 40 hanging out on facebook anymore.

    That is the trend, yes. There are still tons of younger people on FB, but it’s not their preferred place anymore; they’re on Instagram and Snapchat.

    My intuition says that in a few years facebook will be a ghosttown and for advertisers we have only little time left to use it.

    That is true with any social media platform, eventually.

  15. I was thinking to do marketing via hiring an expert who will do it for me and I pay him entirely commission based. I am however not sure where to find such people?

    Has anyone got experience with this and can suggest how to find someone like that? So far the only people willing to work like that were agencies and they were not very effective at finding contracts for me.

  16. I was thinking to do marketing via hiring an expert who will do it for me and I pay him entirely commission based. I am however not sure where to find such people?

    Start with your own network. Ask friends and family. Then go to Upwork. Then go to LinkedIn. Plan on spending a very long time and going through several hires and fires before you find the right guy.

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