The Tragedy (and Truth) of Small Businesses Marketing

Daniel Bussius

January 9, 2018

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I started out writing this blog post with the theme; 2018, The Future of Small Business Marketing. I was going to talk about the trends I am seeing in the world of digital marketing and how it could hurt or help small business owners.

But a problem immediately arose that stopped me in my tracks.

The problem is something I see every day in my consulting business and my digital marketing agency

Most small business owners - and when I say most, I mean 97% of the ones my team and I come across - suffer from having an incomplete Customer Ascension Path.

The tragedy & truth of marketing by small businesses is they lack an Ascension Path. They have no way to lead their customer to maturity.

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In case you are wondering what a Customer Ascension Path is, let's define that real quick.

dynamic flash sale-customer-journey-map

A Customer Ascension Path is the ideal path that you want your customer to move through from awareness of your products/service to the entire lifetime of engagement and purchases. Cradle to grave, big picture.

You're looking at the entire forest, and seeing all that you can do, not just today, but every day. 

 Add More Sales Without Spending More Money
Download Your FREE Customer Ascension Guide

Simply enter your details below to claim your free Customer Ascension guide.
Afterwards, you'll be brought right back to this page!

You may be thinking, "This is a funnel, isn't it"?

Here's what makes this so much more than a funnel.

After the primary product purchase is typically where a funnel stops. The funnel is focused on flowing and filtering people through a specific process to achieve a specific result for a specific product.

  • A Funnel looks at one tree or maybe 2-3 trees but ignores the entire forest around it.
  • Your Customer Ascension Path looks at the entire forest.

Your Customer Ascension path maps out your ENTIRE process so you know what they are to do after they buy Product "A", then into Product "B," and further along into Product "C". It moves them through your entire world and presents them with a clear path so they know what to buy next.

If your customers and leads don't know what to do next, they'll do nothing.

If you don't guide your customers to what to buy and do next, they'll do nothing with you and instead buy from your competitor.

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Guess what you'll be doing if you don't know what your Ascension Path is?

You'll be constantly behind the ball, feeling like you can't get ahead, wondering why your customers aren't buying more.

When that happens, uncertainty sets in and then that horrible virus afflicts you - chasing shiny objects - listening to people telling you how they're "crushing it doing this simple thing on Facebook" or "use this special technique to make $3M in 3 months". 

You get the point.

The Tragedy of Small Business Marketing-Shiny Object Syndrome

Don't get the shiny object virus! Focus on your foundation!

I cannot begin to tell you how important a Customer Ascension Path is for your business.

Your Customer Ascension Path is more important than:

  • Your lead magnet.
  • Your tripwire.
  • Your funnel.
  • Your social media strategy.
  • Your marketing platform/tools.
  • Every shiny object you see at a conference, in a webinar or an ad.

You need a Customer Ascension Path and the good news is I'm going to show you how to do it right now. 🙂

Download Your FREE Customer Ascension Guide

Simply enter your details below to claim your free Customer Ascension guide.
Afterwards, you'll be brought right back to this page!

If you haven't downloaded your FREE copy of the Customer Ascension Guide, make sure to do it now.

We are going to use this moving forward so you can custom build your entire Ascension Path (and strategically design forecasted revenue)!

Step One:

Open the spreadsheet you downloaded (it looks like this).

Customer Ascension Plan Worksheet

Now, I want you to list the products or services that you offer. If you have a large amount of products, simply list the main category. 

Step Two:

There should be a natural rhythm to your customer's purchase cycle. I want you to think about how this should "flow."

dynamic sales

To give you a clear understanding of how this should work, here is an example for you:

A college university is crystal clear what you need to purchase in order to move through their Customer Ascension plan (think you buying what they want you to buy in the order they want you to buy).

It's so clear that you can just buy their products and services without question to know the next level of where you are in their Ascension Plan.

Looking at college in this perspective should make a light bulb go off for you.


Stage 1



Stage 2



Stage 3



Stage 4



Stage 5



Stage 6



Stage 7



Stage 8


Your Customer Ascension Plan can be as simple as this:

My Perfect Customer Will Buy My Products/Services In This Order:

  1. Year 1 they will buy: ________________________________________
  2. Year 2 they will buy: ________________________________________
  3. Year 3 they will buy: ________________________________________
  4. Year 4 they will buy: ________________________________________

In case you are stuck at this part and saying,

"But my customers are supposed to buy the same thing again and again. How can I build an Ascension Plan? Your strategy doesn't work for me!"

My response to you is, it will work for any business.

Here's a quick example of how:

Apple has a plan. They know that most people do a payment plan for their new phone. It takes one year to pay that phone off. What does Apple want you to do?

They want you to keep buying so they do something like this to keep your interest (among many other tactics like swapping accessories, etc).

Year 1:

Buy iPhone plus apps and accessories.

Year 2:

Buy iPad plus apps and accessories.

Year 3:

Buy new iPhone plus apps and accessories.

Step Three:

  1. Follow the worksheet by adding your list of products (or categories) into Year 1. The rest of the years will auto-populate.
  2. Enter the prices of those items.
  3. Next to the prices in Year 1, input either "Y" or "N" for whether you want the customer to buy that product (or category of product(s)) that year.
  4. Moving further to the right, input the number of times the customer will buy that specific product (or category) for the entire year. Example: if they buy once a month then that item would have the number "12" next to it.
  5. Then, repeat for Years 2-4. That's it!  

This Customer Ascension Plan worksheet is designed to make you think about your macro-strategy, not your micro-strategy (a funnel). 

Customer Ascension Plan Worksheet

The numbers are forecasted estimations but should help to give you some clarity on how you can design your marketing to push people into increasingly higher priced products and services.

As prices increase, typically this purchase requires more knowledge of the topic, more trust with your brand, and more personal commitment to the item/topic in order to spend that time and money. 

The-Tragedy-of-Small-Business-Marketing-cost versus commitment level

Think how much more invested a college senior would be with one semester left to pay college tuition versus a college freshman with at least 3 more years left.

Step Four:

Now you have a blueprint to scale. Your blueprint gives you a plan on what to market and sell and at what time to sell that product/service.

You are now ready to build your funnel!  

Hopefully this now makes sense to you; don't put the cart before the horse, or better yet, don't put the cart before your strategy!

If you ever need help building a rock-solid strategy designed for your success or you'd like a professional team to do this work for you, we're here for your business!

Schedule your free consult with me and see what success looks like when working with an award-winning marketing consultant and agency.

Get Some Good Karma. Share This With Your Network.

Questions? Comments? Write It Below And I'll Respond.

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Daniel Bussius

Daniel is the CEO for the award-winning full-service digital agency, Built By Love. He is also an award-winning Marketing Consultant that has been flown around the world to consult for and train CEO’s and marketing agency owners. He is one of the top Infusionsoft/Keap Certified Partners in the world. Daniel holds a number of acclaimed marketing certifications, including being the world’s only StoryBrand Certified Agency and Infusionsoft/Keap Certified Partner.

He is a member of the Infusionsoft/Keap Partner Advisory Group as well as a Digital Marketer Certified Partner, PandaDocs Gold Partner, Memberium Partner and PlusThis Certified Partner. Daniel’s agency, Built By Love, offers full-service digital marketing, strategy, creative, and execution.

You can learn more at:
Built By Love (full-service agency): www.builtbylove.com
Daniel Bussius Consulting (strategic consulting): www.danielbussius.com
In The Mix Agency (live events): www.itmpromos.com

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