a Complete Business Development Machine

Chapter 4. Marketing


The Purpose of Marketing is to place the right prospect in front of a salesperson.

The definition of “the right prospect” is the person who needs and wants what you sell, and, has the ability to pay for it. It is difficult, or even impossible, to sell something to someone who does not want it.

You cannot sell to or attempt to attract the attention of the entire world, so……

A perfect Customer or Client must be defined before you begin looking for them, because it is the person who meets the definition of perfect Customer/Client who should be placed in front of a salesperson. We call this an “A” Customer/Client.

Four things to know thoroughly and be able to communicate clearly:

I. What are you (your organization) doing?

What exactly is it that you do that adds measurable value to your customers and their organization? What is it that makes life better in some way for them? Neither you nor your customer may have given the topic any thought. You may believe that such a question is insignificant. You may say to yourself, “We provide them with this product, or this service, what’s the big deal?”, but you may be providing a more valuable service than you realize. In general, the better you are able to understand just how what you deliver (whether it be a product or service) adds value to your customer, and communicate it properly, the stronger your relationship will be and the stronger your marketing machine will be.

What you do may add value through:

1. a problem that you solve directly for them in the production of their product or service,

2. a product that you produce for them that is a component in a product that they produce,

3. a problem that you solve for your customer’s customer via a product you produce or service you deliver,

4. some combination of the above, or something else entirely,

Simply going through this exercise will be useful. Your customers may not understand, or at least fully understand your value; to the extent this is true, you are under-appreciated and possibly underutilized and/or underpaid. It is your responsibility to understand this as fully as possible and communicate it in a simple manner that resonates with your customer.

If you answer this question with something like, “We make widgets.”, it could be that you have not fully appreciated your value to your customer. The more organizations there are that make widgets like or similar to yours, the more of a commodity you are, and the job of a commodity buyer is to find the lowest price. This is not a good business model for you. Your job is to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Question  So why is it that we need to know what we are doing? Answer  To de-commoditize ourselves!

II. For whom do you do it?

Our Perfect “A” Customer or Client Looks Like This:

Personal Characteristics

1. Position

2. Core Values

3. Goals

4 Any other characteristics that you can use to define your “A” customer/client

Organizational Characteristic

1. Industry

2. Size of the organization: Gross Revenue, Number of Employees

3. Geographic location

4. Project

Length of time engagement or project should last

Add to the list all the other organizational characteristics that come to mind


The “AA” Customer or Client is an “A” that knows other “A’s”

The “AAA” Customer or Client is a “AA”, that will provide you with a personal introduction to the other “A’s” that they know.

The objective is to find “As” and turn them into “AAAs”.

III. What three things make you unique?

List three things about your product or service that are unique. If you have not given this much (or any) thought, it may require some. Even one is good, but three is better. These three unique things provide your customers with the reason to buy from you and not your competitor. Simply saying, “We are better.” is not enough; these three reasons speak clearly as to why you are better.

Differentiators. Your company’s ability to grow faster than your competitors and earn higher-than-average profits is largely dependent upon its ability to exploit a competitive advantage. Your company’s competitive advantage, in turn, is largely determined by its ability to differentiate itself. Differentiators are unique-to-your-company features and/or benefits that your customers are willing to pay for.

There are many possible sources of differentiation but, in general, differentiators fall into one of two categories: product-level and activity-level:

Product-level. Product features and benefits can be a good source of differentiation. The idea is to identify unique characteristics that make your product offering more valuable to your customers than your competitors’ offerings. Product-level differentiation can include both design features (e.g., durability, ease of use) and benefits (e.g., performance, outcomes). Product level differentiators are, unfortunately, often easy for competitors to imitate. As such, constant innovation is usually required in order to maintain a product-level competitive edge.

Activity-level. Choosing to perform activities differently than the competition (or choosing to perform different activities altogether) is, perhaps, the best strategy for differentiation. The idea is to create a “signature” process for how your company will deliver its products or services. Many times, this “signature” process will form the basis for your brand. Netflix, for example, put Blockbuster out of business; first, by changing how movies were delivered to people’s homes and, second, by offering a new subscription-based pricing model which eliminated the late fees (the one thing that everyone hated about Blockbuster).

IV. What is your guarantee

State clearly the guarantee you will make that ensures the value to your customer.

If you have never completed this four-step exercise or not updated it recently, you should do it now. Upon completion, you know who to target and you have a powerful story to tell them.

Now, and only now, are you ready to determine the Methods to reach the right person.

There are many approaches to categorizing the methods to reach a target market. I have selected three general headings. Under these, many variations exist; I’ve listed a few. Employing and synchronizing the right mix for your business makes a strong Marketing Machine. In many cases, this mix will include something: general (*to a wide audience), more targeted (possibly to an industry), to very focused (an individual with an organization). Relying on just one method might prove insufficient to maintain and grow a business.

* Sending a general message to the entire world does have value. It provides a presence; exposure to both potential “A” prospects that you do not even know exist, as well as those you know, and points them both to you. But, general messaging does not replace a targeted message to the right person, it simply augments it.

Personal or “Person to Person(s)” 

  1. You:
  2. might visit local businesses in your community just to say hello, introduce yourself and possibly even speak with someone in their organization that finds interest in your ability to “make their business and their life a little better”.
  3. might join an organization that has members likely to be your customers. A few hours each month invested in an organization such as this might prove worthwhile.
  4. might give presentations consisting of material that the right audience would find interesting and useful. There are various organizations that may be in need of speakers and would welcome you. These presentations should provide value to the listener. Try to leave each person with something they can use immediately or at least be thinking about employing the idea in the near future.
    1. If possible and practical engage your staff, be creative, get them involved in the sales process in some manner appropriate to their position. Compensate them for it! See Commission Matrix.
    2. Add a dedicated salesperson in your employee.
    3. Add a strategic relationship with an outside representative. This seems best with an individual that is already selling a non-competitive product or service to your “A” customer. This might make a personal introduction a natural event, and you may be able to provide the same for them and compensate them. See Commission Matrix.
    4. Might acquire another company. This can be a very good method to meet new “A” customers/clients, and the process may be much more within your reach than you imagine.
  1. Digital
  2. Web Presence
    1. Webinar – small to large group
    2. Blog – a broad audience
    3. Landing Pages – specific from a blog or newsletter
    4. Videos (YouTube) – a huge source of information for many
  3. Social Media
    1. LinkedIn – from very general to very specific
    2. FaceBook – from very general to very specific
    3. Other – there are many
  4. Pay for Click Advertising (PPC)
    1. Google Adds
    2. Bing Adds
  5. Email (appropriately done)
    1. NewsLetter – a specific group and/or person
  1. Direct Mail – yes, direct mail – very specific
    1. Proper packaging, the item must make it to the intended recipient and not be discarded
    2. Powerful Content that must immediately capture the reader’s attention
      1.  three questions addressing the most serious problems that the reader is currently experiencing and must answer with a yes
        1. Do you have this problem?
        2. Do you have this problem?
        3. Do you have this problem?
      2. a graceful explanation regarding our business in helping with these precise issues
      3. an invitation to contact us by phone or email
    3. A properly timed series of letters that slightly differ in subject matter, but remain focused on the customer’s most serious hurdles

Note: The concept of properly timed messages must also apply to the digital distribution fo the message when the target is specific.

  1. Phone Follow up with a properly timed & a strategically designed message

Delivery, some thoughts.

Our tendency is to deliver our message like this:

Self-centered which is less effective. (This was and in many cases still is, considered a standard method of selling.)

A better approach looks more like this:

Customer-centered and more effective.Both approaches deliver the same content. The first follows what we do by nature; the second is counter-intuitive and against our nature, so it is difficult and requires thought and intentional action, but it is more effective. It indicates that you have taken the time to know your customer, understand their challenges, and are able to help them personally and their organization at the same time.

 Questions vs. Statements:

The last comment regarding the presentation of The Story is in regard to the reception of it in the mind of the reader or hearer of the message when being told or asked something.

  1. Much of what we are told goes “in one ear and out the other” or may stick momentarily but does not remain in the mind for long.
  2. A question, on the other hand, tends to engage the mind more and the topic may go deeper and stay longer. If it hits the target, it may actually be taken a good deal more seriously resulting in favorable action.
  3. Using questions to communicate your story is applicable in both verbal and written communication.

For Example:

This example may be exaggerated, but it’s intended to demonstrate that if you ask one to three questions that immediately addresses the problem your prospect or customer is experiencing, it indicates that you understand their business and their problem, and you just might be able to help!

This is powerful. We want to work with someone who understands us and can help us now.

A final thought for this section

The process of a. understanding this section, b. arranging and documenting to fit your business, and then finally c. putting it into practice is, like many things in life, iterative. You complete one piece and then move to the next, and you realize that thinking through this next piece causes you to make changes to the one just completed. It has been my experience that three iterations are required to get really close to something you like and feel comfortable applying to your business. You will tend to improve it as time goes by. It seems as thouogh the sooner you get from a. to c. the more valuable your business becomes.