The Single Most Important Marketing Tool—Danny Decker, Founder Automatic Marketing Machine

If you had just one marketing tactic or strategy to use for the rest of your career what would it be? Any ideas? 

Our guest today is Danny Decker and he is the author of a new book called The Automatic Marketing Machine. Danny is a podcast host, author, and marketing expert. He built and sold his first marketing agency and is now leading his next venture. In this episode, he shares with us the one marketing tool he would choose if could only have one.


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Danny Decker is a speaker, author, podcast host, direct-response copywriter, and marketing consultant for ambitious entrepreneurs. In 2018, he successfully sold his marketing agency which he built from zero to seven figures in just five years, despite operating in a highly-competitive industry.  

Danny is the co-author of a recently published book, entitled The Automatic Marketing Machine, which he wrote to help ambitious business owners learn how to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work and learn how to instead create simple, effective marketing systems that actually generate a profit. 


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Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):

Before we start the episode, I wanted to let you know that we have our upcoming franchise sales training workshop on September 22nd, so that’s in just a few weeks. It’s a seven-hour training session where we teach you how to create a clear and defined sales process, how to overcome common franchise sales objections, leadership roles, and how to disclose an FDD and use that as a tool in your sales process. If you’re new to franchise sales, if you have new staff, or you’re an emerging brand or a franchise company looking to get that extra sale or two a year, this is the workshop for you. It’s only $1,500, it’s a full-day workshop, and we provide you with a 130-page workbook. Go to And now on with the show.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:49):

Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team, and as we open today, I’m wondering, if you had just one marketing tactic or strategy that you could use for the rest of your career, which one would it be? Any ideas? Well, our guest today is Danny Decker and he’s the author of the new book called The Automatic Marketing Machine. And Danny is a podcast host, an author, and a marketing expert, and he actually built and sold his first marketing agency and he’s now on to leading his next venture.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:36):

On this episode, Danny shares with us the one marketing tool he would choose if he could have just one that he would use for the rest of his career. So you’re going to want to stay tuned and listen all the way in. So let’s go ahead and jump into my interview with Danny Decker.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (01:52):

Yeah. Thanks, Tom. It is a pleasure to be here. I’m a fan of what you guys do. My name is Danny Decker and I am the co-author and co-founder of The Automatic Marketing Machine. The Automatic Marketing Machine is a new book that just came out and it’s also the name of my business.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:08):

Ah, beautiful. Well, I love that that’s the name of your business. And this is a great segue, let’s jump right into it, let’s talk about your new book that came out, The Automatic Marketing Machine. It’s a great, compelling title. What does that mean? Marketing, lead generation, we hear lots of these words thrown around, so what is that?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (02:28):

Yeah. No, great question. So it’s really two things. The more obvious answer that probably won’t surprise you is it’s about teaching small business owners how to create a marketing machine for their business that works consistently, that feeds them a consistent flow of qualified leads so that they can plan ahead so that they can scale up their business, and so it’s a deep dive into sort of the mechanics of that, and we can talk about that later on.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (02:57):

But possibly even the bigger objective of the book is really to help small business owners catch the vision of what marketing should even do for their business. So many small business owners view marketing as kind of like a necessary evil or they think that marketing is just a sign outside their building or a logo and they don’t really understand that when you build a marketing machine that generates a consistent flow of quality clients, quality customers, it literally changes everything, it’s the lifeblood of your business. And so that’s where the title of the book comes from and that’s the vision that we’re trying to get small business owners to get excited about.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (03:38):

So number one, it’s get excited about what your marketing can and should do for your business, and then number two, it’s a very tactical kind of roadmap for how to start building that stuff out.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:49):

Okay. And thanks for that overview. And as I’m listening to you talk, I’m thinking about, okay, well, our clients, by the way, are generally very successful entrepreneurs, they’ve got businesses that are running so they may be saying, “Oh, all right, Danny, well, I look, I’ve got a great business, we seem to be doing things pretty well, our clients very often, we’re helping them franchise their business or they’re already growing through franchising.” So how can a business that’s maybe not starting from zero with marketing, they’ve got some good things in place, but they’re also looking at the same, “But I know I probably could use some help.”

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (04:27):


Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:27):

So what are some things out of The Automatic Marketing Machine, from your new book, that maybe could be a nugget or two to talk about for that business that’s doing pretty well but could certainly be doing better?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (04:39):

Yeah. I love that question. And there’s really two things that come to mind immediately. One is there’s always room for improvement, right? There’s always the opportunity to… maybe you’re happy generating, let’s just throw a number out there, 100 new leads a month. Okay, well, how can we optimize that and how can we improve that, right?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (04:59):

But then number two, and this is what I think is lost in this conversation is marketing is not just about the volume of clients and customers you bring in, it’s about attracting the right customers and the right clients. And, Tom, I’m sure you’ve probably experienced this, I’m sure you have plenty of listeners in your audience who have had that scenario, I certainly have as a business owner, where you’re dealing with a client that kind of turns into a nightmare and it sucks the life out of you, it causes issues with your staff. Maybe they’re not paying their bills on… Whatever the case may be, we’ve all had those nightmare clients that are just not good for our mindset, for our profitability, for our systems, all of that.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (05:42):

And so I always tell people, “Marketing has two jobs. One, it’s attracting the right clients in, but two, it’s keeping the wrong ones out.” And I always say, “It’s a screen, it’s not an open window. You don’t want to just invite anything and everything through the window, you put a screen up to keep the bugs out,” right? And so if I’m working with a business owner that has a lot happening with their marketing and they’re seeing some success, that’s usually one of the immediate opportunities for improvement is, “Okay. Now, how do we make sure that we’re only attracting the types of customers that you really want to deal with?”

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (06:18):

Yeah. I really like that concept of the visualization of the screen. I mean, it’s very simple but it makes so much sense, right? We have screens on our windows to keep those pests out from coming in and we view our business as the same way with our marketing. I like how you do that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (06:37):

And one of the things I actually noticed, I’ll give you a plug here, but just on your website, I noticed you have a free form to download to help figure out how to evaluate or identify your best customer. Would you talk a little bit about that?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (06:53):

Yeah. No, love to. And that’s where it starts is getting clear on who your ideal customer even is. And it’s really, it’s a mechanical process, right? You have to define demographics. Do you prefer working with men or women, or does it not matter, right? Income levels, zip code, what are the characteristics of the people that you want to be working with, right? And it’s a simple process of basically writing that down and getting clear on, “That’s who I want to work with and these are the people I don’t want to work with.”

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (07:26):

But the exercise that I always suggest for people who are trying to land on that formula is, and this is a fun thing for anybody that’s listening to the podcast, is look back over say the last two years, maybe the last five years or so of your business, and make a list, the 10 favorite clients or customers that you liked working with over the last couple of years, your 10 all-time favorite clients or customers, and then spend some time looking at that list and just look at what they have in common. And you may be surprised, right? You may realize that they have specific hobbies, they have specific values, they’re a specific age, right? Whatever it is. But you take the time of looking through those 10 names and say, “Okay, what do they have in common?” And that’s the profile you go after, right?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (08:13):

But then you do the opposite too, you look back and you say, “Who are the 10 all-time worst customers or clients I’ve ever dealt with, and what do they have in common?” And you do the same exercise and you define, “All right, these are the people that I will not work with and so I do not want to attract them.” And so you calibrate your marketing message to attract the people that you want to work with and keep the other people away. It sounds simple but running through that exercise is super, super powerful.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (08:42):

That’s a great suggestion. And I just think back for our own business and clients I’ve worked with over the years, sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint right out of the gate who that best customer is because you probably have a lot of customers that pay their bills, they don’t really cause any grief, they just go through as a customer. And so you don’t have a lot of, “Well, I’m happy with them as a customer or a client.” But that negative side, those top 10, top 5, sometimes it’s easier to start there, at least as I think about, it would be easier to start there to say, “Okay, well, which clients or customers are not a fit for us? There are plenty of competitors in the space, they can go work with those competitors, but we’re not the best fit for them.”

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (09:32):

Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (09:35):

Yeah. Well, I love what you’re doing. Well, one thing I thought would be fun to talk about. You have this on our website, you talk about 10 ways to generate leads without spending a penny, and I thought that would fit in well with our conversation, as we’re talking about The Automatic Marketing Machine and creating these things because whenever, at least I know I hear that, I think, “Oh man, how much is this thing going to cost?” So that’s why I was excited to talk to you, Danny, because you said, “I’ve got an automatic marketing machine,” but you also have 10 ways to generate leads without spending a penny. So if you wouldn’t mind, we’re not going to go through all 10, for a sake of time, but talk to maybe two or three highlights that you would like to point out.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (10:17):

Yeah. And well, here’s what I’ll do. And I love this topic. I would say, Tom, it’s less about technology and bright, shiny objects, which might be surprising. Most people, when they talk to a marketing person, if they know I’m a marketing guy, they expect that I’m going to be talking about Google pay-per-click and TikTok and all that stuff. And don’t get me wrong, that stuff is super, super important, but this report that you’re referencing is really for that business owner who’s like, “Oh God, I got to generate some leads now, I’m in a cash flow crunch, I’m trying to get my business off the ground, I don’t have much of a budget to start with.” And so what’s funny is that it’s usually not a technology solution in that case, it’s really about leveraging the relationships and the sort of relationship equity that you have.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (11:04):

So I don’t have the report, I’m not looking at it this exact moment, but it’s things like call all of your past clients, literally call every single one of your past customers and clients and check in with them, and don’t call and say, “Hey, will you give me money?” Call and say, “Hey, how are you doing? How’s life? What’s changed since the last time we spoke?” take a few minutes to connect with them, and then when the time is right, say something like, “Is there anything else I can take off your plate? Is there anything I can do to support you?” And so often they’re going to be like, “Oh my God, yes, I’ve been struggling with this thing, can you help me with it?” Cool.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (11:43):

And if you have 50 of those conversations, you’re going to get 5 or 10 new engagements out of it, you just will, it just consistently works, right? And so that’s kind of the first few items on my report are just about having those relationship conversations, talk to your past clients, talk to your referral sources, get serious about your networking strategy. The bottom line is there’s a lot you can do if you’re in the stage in your business where you don’t have money to spend on automated marketing but you have some time, there’s a lot you can do focusing on relationships, focusing on networking, do real low-cost things like have a lunch and learn, right? There are lots of ways you can get people together without worrying about Google or Facebook ads or anything like that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:33):

Brilliant. Brilliant. I appreciate that. And you’re right, so often it just requires a little bit of time or a little bit of sweat equity to go into it to produce those results instead of that cure-all, quick fix magic pill or magic bullet people might be looking for, it just literally requires just a little bit of time and you could probably do that, goodness, if you spend an hour a week, I would imagine, you-

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (13:03):


Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:04):

… knock out a few 5, 10 phone calls and repeat.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (13:08):

Yep. And people sleep on that strategy because it’s… Listen, I get it, it’s not exciting, it’s not sexy, but it works, it just works. Getting on the phone with somebody that you have a relationship with, catching up with them, and looking for an opportunity to solve a problem for them, make their life easier, it just works, it really works.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:30):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, Danny, one of the things I was curious to get your opinion on is, as we start thinking about your book, your agency, The Automatic Marketing Machine, and what you have going, our clients are typically successful entrepreneurs that are now franchising or thinking about franchising and now they’re in the franchise business. And so now their customer becomes a franchisee, as a franchise or your customer is your franchisee, and supporting them and going through that, and then you have franchisees out in the field. So I’d be curious how you can design or if you have any thoughts on how something like what you’re doing might fit or apply to the franchise community.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (14:18):

Yeah. So basically what we did in The Automatic Marketing Machine, we created the vision, like I talked about at the beginning, but we also kind of just broke down the different tools that go into an automatic marketing machine, right? And so some of them are maybe more applicable to a given industry than others, but there are some tools that I just sincerely believe every single business owner, no matter what business they’re in, should be using. And one great example of that is a simple newsletter, and it can be an email newsletter, it can be a print newsletter, but some sort of monthly or weekly communication that goes out to your past clients, your current clients, your customers, your referral sources, just really anyone and everyone in your community where you’re just bringing some value to your readers on a regular basis.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (15:15):

Again, once a month is kind of a minimum, but if you can pull it off to do once a week, that’s great. And what that creates is you just have this constant touch point every week where you’re just creating that top-of-mind awareness, you’re reminding them what you do, you’re reminding them the problems you solve, how you make their life better. And it’s something, especially on the email side, it’s incredibly easy and it’s very cost-effective. There are platforms like Mailchimp and Constant Contact that cost 20 or $30 a month, might take an hour of somebody’s time to put the thing together, but that’s it. And then if you have an email list of 5,000 people, click one button and they all hear from you.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (15:57):

I always tell people if I had to choose just one single marketing tactic that I could use for the rest of my business life, my career, it would be email marketing, it sometimes gets a bad rap because people think of spam and they think of like, “Nobody wants email,” but I’ll just tell you in my own experience and with dozens and dozens of clients, when you create an email newsletter that brings real value to people, it works, it just works. People look forward to getting it, they open it, they click on it. I have clients all the time that say, “My favorite day of the month is when my newsletter goes out because I’m guaranteed to get a few calls in response, people asking for my help or making a referral.” It just works.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:46):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s a great suggestion. And so from a franchise standpoint, it sounds like then that something that, I’m thinking out loud here, but as a franchisor could supply a template and help build something out to send out to their franchisees that the franchisees could then repurpose to their own customer base-

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (17:06):


Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:06):

… and maybe add one or two local things that’s going on in their local market.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (17:11):

Yeah. And that makes so much sense in the franchise space because you could basically create templated content, right? And like you said, all that needs to happen is it just gets customized a little bit with something local, but that just makes a ton of sense, that’s a great example.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:30):

Great. Great. Well, this would be a great time, I’d love to make a transition here to ask you the same four questions we ask every guest before they go. And the first question is: have you had a miss or two in your career and something you learned from it?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (17:46):

Yeah. I almost don’t want to quite call it a miss because it led to success, but it really was a miss. When I first started my first marketing agency back in like 2010 or so, I did it with a vision of, “We’re going to be everything to everybody, we’re going to work with landscapers and electricians and lawyers and anyone that’ll write us a check,” right? And I had this just wide range of services that we wanted to offer. And it turned into, number one, it was hard to find customers because when you market to everybody, you’re not really marketing to anybody. And then two, it created just an operational nightmare, right? Because every time I got a client, I’d have to like reinvent the wheel because client A wanted a website and client B wanted a radio commercial, and it’s like, there’s no way to systematize that. And so the painful lesson from that was: get narrow.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (18:49):

And so what I ended up doing was, with a partner, focusing our agency exclusively on small law firms and only doing a few specific things, websites and social media and a couple of other things. And when we made that shift, number one, our marketing got so much better and it was so much easier to attract clients, and number two, it became so much easier to fulfill the work, and that’s how we were able to scale the agency, which I eventually sold, and that was a few years back, but that’s the number one sort of miss that jumps out at me is just this, don’t go try to be everything to everybody, choose your niche, decide what you’re going to focus on, decide what you’re going to be good at, and kind of go a mile deep and an inch wide.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:33):

Yeah. Well, let’s flip it on the other side and talk a little bit here about a make or two that you’ve had, and you kind of shared it from the miss to a make in one look there, but is there anything else you’d like to highlight?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (19:46):

Yeah. And this is kind of getting tactical, but one of the biggest breakthroughs that I had in building that marketing agency and now doing the consulting work that I do is just the value in really figuring out a sustainable lead gen strategy, to have leads just flowing in. And so back in like 2014 or 2015, when our agency was kind of hitting a wall in terms of, “How are we attracting new clients?” we were doing well, but we were kind of… we had kind of run into a plateau and we just couldn’t really figure out how to get beyond that because we were going to trade shows and we were doing networking, but we just weren’t doing a ton of scalable, automated stuff.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (20:34):

And so I got really serious about learning how to create drip campaigns, where you start by offering some sort of free report, lead magnet, webinar, whatever, and you run ads promoting that, people sign up for it, and then you get their contact information, you follow up with them. And getting really serious about that and creating a few funnels that just worked, all of a sudden, we just had a steady flow of leads coming in from then on. And if things were slowing down, we could increase our budget and we’d get more leads, if we were too busy, we could decrease our budget and we’d get less leads, and so that sort of breakthrough of automated, scalable, turn up, turn down, adjust the volume, adjust the temperature marketing was a huge breakthrough.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:24):

Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And let’s talk about a multiplier that you’ve used to grow yourself or your business as you’ve grown throughout the years.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (21:34):

Yeah. So what jumps to my mind, honestly, is actually maybe it’s not sexy at all, it’s just learning how to use a calendar because I, as a business owner, have so many different things that I’m dealing with at any given time, I’ve found myself at times just kind of overwhelmed, feeling not productive, feeling like I wasn’t able to give my full time and attention to any anything, and so I adopted a strategy, probably a lot of people are familiar with, of just time blocking, where you just say, “Okay,” where you don’t just put on your calendar your appointments, but you put like everything you’re going to do that day. So I’m an early riser, and when I’m doing creative work like writing and messaging strategy, I like to do that in the morning. So it’s like 7:00 AM until 9:00 AM I dedicate that to any creative writing, messaging work that I need to do. And then from 9 to 10, I’m having a meeting with my team, you know what I mean?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (22:33):

And just like daily time blocking this stuff out has just made me incredibly productive. I feel like I get a lot more done than the average person that I talk to, and certainly a lot more than I used to get done before I started doing that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:48):

That’s great advice and a great suggestion for anyone. When I’m actively used in it I relate, when I’m doing it well it works, when I fall off from it, I’m significantly less productive in what I can do.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (23:06):


Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:06):

Yeah. Well, the final question, Danny, that we like to ask every guest is: what does success mean to you?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (23:14):

Yeah, such a good question. I’ll answer it briefly but I have two answers. One is that my business and what I’m doing is making a positive impact around me, which is mostly seen through clients, through the work we do for our clients. When they grow, they’re happy and I’m happy because our strategies and our tools are helping them grow.

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (23:42):

And then the second, more personally, is just, honestly, freedom. I have young kids, I’ve spent a lot of time at the pool with them this summer. It is important to me to have freedom and flexibility in my schedule and so I’ve built my business to provide that. And that’s success for me, in a nutshell, is really freedom.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:10):

Well, and as we bring this to a close, is there anything you were maybe hoping to share or get across that you haven’t had a chance to?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (24:18):

No, I think this was a great conversation. I really enjoyed it. So I talked about The Automatic Marketing Machine, our website, we have just a whole bunch of totally free resources. So even if you don’t want to buy the book, we have resources, everything from how to identify your ideal client, how to sharpen your messaging, how to use KPIs to track your marketing performance, and so anyone who’s listening to this who just wants some sort of free tools, they’re available at

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:49):

Great. Well, perfect. And then how can they get a copy of your book? Where can they find that?

Danny Decker, Automatic Marketing Machine (24:53):

So it’s on Amazon, it’s through Barnes and Noble, but the easiest is, honestly, just go to and there’s a link right there to buy the book.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:02):

Danny, thank you so much for a fantastic interview. And let’s go ahead and jump right into our three key takeaways.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:09):

So takeaway number one is when Danny gave us such a practical exercise to do when he said, “Make a list of your top 10 favorite clients or customers. And what do they all have in common? See if you can figure that out. And then do the same exercise for what you’ve viewed as your 10 worst or least favorite customers and clients, and do that same exercise. What do they have in common?” And look at those two and say, “Well, we want more of those top 10 and less of those bottom 10.”

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:39):

Take away number two is when he described using a simple newsletter as the number one marketing tactic he would choose to use for the rest of his marketing career. So if there’s one main takeaway here, it’s that he uses that marketing newsletter. And I think it’s one of my favorite tools as well that I think is just a great way to communicate with your current customers, prospective customers, and your previous customers. So make sure you’re using that in your marketing messaging. And especially, I think, this is advice I give often to franchisors, if you do not have a regular monthly newsletter going out to your franchisees, you need to, it’s just something simple just to communicate. And it can have customer-focused topics as well because they want to share this with their customers and their clients. So have one that goes to your franchisees and then have one that goes out that the franchisees can then push and share with their franchise net, with their customers.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:41):

Take away number three is when he talked about the value of figuring out how to create a consistent lead generation strategy. I thought that was a great takeaway, very simple, but if you don’t have that in place, it’s a great marketing goal to be shooting for.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:00):

And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win is when Danny summarized the two jobs that marketing has. I thought this was a great summary. Job number one of marketing is to attract the right clients and job number two is keeping the wrong clients out. And he said, “Think of marketing sort of like a screen to let the right clients, the ones that you want to work with, in and those that you’re not interested in working with or maybe just you are not the right fit for, that client is not the right fit for you and you’re not the right fit for that client or customer, and keeping those out and maybe finding other service providers that will be a better fit.”

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:48):

And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone you know might be ready to franchise their business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at Thanks for tuning in and we look forward to having you back next week.

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