Commitment, clarity and fanatical customers and employees – Interview with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing


Today’s interview is with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing who has recently added The Commitment Engine to the set of books that he has authored.

The Commitment Engine

John is a legend when it comes to small business marketing and in our interview we talk about his latest book, why commitment and clarity are important to any business if you are to create fanatical fans and employees and shares some tips on how he keeps up to speed as a small business owner himself.

This interview follows my recent interview (CRM, social media, social business and the future – Interview with Jon Ferrara of Nimble) and makes up number forty in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping create businesses that customers love.

Below are highlights from our interview:

  • Owned his own small business, a small business marketing consultancy/agency, for the last 25 years
  • About 12 years ago, created a marketing approach/system called Duct Tape Marketing aimed at small businesses that focuses on delivering simple and cost effective marketing to small businesses.
  • Now, he has a network of certified Duct Tape Marketing consultants around the world
  • Has published a couple of books: Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.
  • However, has recently published a third book called The Commitment Engine: Making Work Worth It
  • The book aims to set out to do is outline a business model that has purpose and clarity at the heart of it.
  • This then helps business owners clarify and communicate to their customers and employees why they do what they do and what they are trying to achieve.
  • This book grew out of John’s experience of writing The Referral Engine where he found in writing and researching the book a number of companies that had ‘fanatical’ fans and he wanted to unpick what it was that they were doing to create these fans.
  • He found that businesses that had fanatical fans also had fanatical and really loyal employees who really shared the vision and commitment of the business owner.
  • There is a virtuous circle that operates in a business that has these sort of fans and employees where the leadership and clarity and commitment is directly linked to the employees that the business attracts, retains and develops. This then feeds into the level and quality of products and service that employees deliver to customers. (Insert diagram)
  • Building a commitment engine is based on three foundational planks: the clarity path, the culture patron and the customer promise.
  • However, if you want to build your own commitment engine you have to start with the clarity path ie. why am I doing what I am doing, how does this business serve my life, will this message attract and resonate with others and can I build a business around that?
  • There are a lot of case studies in the book and in the interview, John talks about 37signals and Jancoa as particularly great examples of companies that are operating this way, getting great results and doing wonderful things. Listen to the podcast for more details and insight.
  • This might seem easier if you are a start up but John found when researching the book and interviewing lots of different companies that many established businesses get great benefit from revisiting their clarity and purpose, particularly when facing a challenge.
  • Towards the need of the interview, John shares some great tips about how he as a small business owner manages his time and maximises his productivity.
  • As part of his ‘shameless’ plug at the end of the interview John encouraged people to check out and he also mentioned that he has never been to the UK before and would like the opportunity to come and share a few ideas via a speaking gig.

About John (taken from his profile page)

john jantsch

John Jantsch has been called the World’s Most Practical Small Business Expert for consistently delivering real-world, proven small business marketing ideas and strategies.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best selling author Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine .

He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network that trains and licenses small business marketing consultants around the world.

His blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast, a top ten marketing show on iTunes, was called a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine.

He is the featured marketing contributor to American Express OPENForum and is a popular presenter of workshop and webinars for organizations such as American Express, Intuit, Verizon, HP, and Citrix.

His practical take on small business is often cited as a resource in publications such as the Wall St. Journal, New York Times, and CNNMoney.

You can check out the website for The Commitment Engine at, pick up a copy here, and connect with John on Twitter @ducttape. John has also prepared a great free ebook that contains the answers and stories of business owners telling – What It Is About the Work They Do – that makes it worth it. You can download a copy here.

Thanks to eschipul for the image.

Note: I write these posts and conduct these interviews because I am passionate about companies that do great things and provide great service to their customers. I consult to companies to help them achieve this sort of greatness too. If you’d like to find out more then go here or get in touch here. Alternatively, to stay in touch and get access to more ideas not published here on the blog, then do sign up for my monthly newsletter here.

16 comments On Commitment, clarity and fanatical customers and employees – Interview with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing

  • Fascinating Interview Adrian, thank you

    It had never occurred to me that organisations where the customers are fanatical would also have fanatical employees, but you only have to walk into an apple store to see it.


    • Hi James,
      Apple, Richer Sounds…..there are many retail brands that seem to get this and probably many more examples in other sectors.

      For me it is a virtuous circle…..fanatical employees are more likely to create and lead to fanatical customers which is more likely to lead to fanatical results for the leaders and owners of the business…..who in turn are more than likely to make sure their employees stay happy and fanatical. Simples, right?


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  • Hello Adrian
    The following speaks to me:

    “However, if you want to build your own commitment engine you have to start with the clarity path ie. why am I doing what I am doing, how does this business serve my life, will this message attract and resonate with others and can I build a business around that?”

    Put differently, everything starts with self and getting clear about what it is that pulls one heart, what it is that one is willing to put oneself into, what it is that one is willing to risk for? And once that is clear then one can get busy on using one’s intelligence, contacts. resources to walk the path.


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