A Complete Business Development Machine

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. 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. But first……

Four things you must thoroughly know 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 organizations? What is it that makes life better in a specific way for them? Neither you nor your customer may have given this topic sufficient (or any) thought. You may believe that such a question lacks significance. You may say to yourself, “Isn’t it obvious? We provide them with this product or this service”. But it is not obvious. The better you are able to understand just how what you deliver (a product, a service, or both) adds value to your customer, and communicate it properly, the easier the initial sale will be and the stronger your relationship. Indeed, this is a key component of a Marketing Machine.

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 a service you deliver,

4. some combination of all the above,

5. 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 under-utilized and under-paid. 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 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. The way to do this is to understand that the value you bring, apart from and in addition to the commodity, is what makes you valuable.

Question:  Why must we know what we are doing?

Answer:  To de-commoditize ourselves and become uniquely valuable!

II. For whom do you do what you do?

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

Personal Characteristics

1. Position

2. Core Values

3. Goals

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

Organizational Characteristics

1. Industry

2. Size of the organization: gross revenue, number of employees, etc.

3. Geographic location

4. Project: length of time engagement or project should last

5. Add to this list all the other organizational characteristics that come to mind


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

The “AAA” Customer or Client is a “AA”, who 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 topic much thought, it may require some. Even one unique thing is good, but three are 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.

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. Because of this, constant innovation is usually required in order to maintain a product-level competitive edge.

Activity-level. Choosing to perform activities differently than the competition is, perhaps, the best strategy. 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 have 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 you are ready to determine the Methods to reach the right person.

There are many approaches to categorizing the methods to reach a target market. I’ve selected three general categories. Many more exist. 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), and very focused (someone). 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. General messaging does not replace a targeted message to the right person; it simply augments it.


by Robert Jolles


A Principle to Consider


Grasping the message portrayed in the pictures and table above is helpful in the design, build, and maintenance of your Marketing Machine.

Most of us are not completely satisfied with most of our things; the graph indicates 78%. Bear in mind this may be where your prospect is in their thought process regarding the product or service you want to sell them.

Timing has a great deal to do with you making a sale. Until the time that the buyer is ready to make a decision to change, there is no sale, no transaction.

The circular graphic above represents both the mind of the customer; as well as what the salesperson might be doing to guide the process. While the mind of the buyer is (generally subconsciously) moving through the inside circle, you as marketing and sales professionals should know where they are, and, to the extent possible, be guiding them through the process. This may be difficult, sometimes not possible, or cost-prohibitive, but the more deliberate and consciously aware of it you are, the better you get, the more sales you make, and ‘at a higher margin’.

Some sales professionals teach that “right at the point of the end of the Acknowledgement stage and the beginning of the Confirmation stage is where we want our involvement to begin. Their logic is, “They’re ready to buy; let’s act now!” This may be best for some products and services. But I believe it is best for many products and services to begin building a relationship with the prospect/customer earlier, in the Acknowledgement Stage. This permits the salesperson to develop the type of relationship to influence the prospect. The best case is for you to be considered both a salesperson and a trusted advisor. To the degree this relationship exists, you are able to:

  •  Influence the Decision
  • Guide the development of the Criteria and Measurement
  • Lead the Investigation
  • Assist in making the Selection (if all else is done properly, your product or service will be the obvious choice)

Person to Person or “Person to Persons” 

You, along with your team members, might:

  1. Visit local businesses in your community just to say hello, introduce yourself, and possibly speak with someone in their organization; a Cold Call.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 be thinking about employing in the near future.
    1. If 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 to your team.
    3. Develop a strategic relationship with an outside representative. This works well with an individual that is already selling a non-competitive product or service to your “A” customer. Your strategic partner can make an introduction a natural event. You should be able to provide the same for them. You may also want to compensate them for business they bring to you. See Commission Matrix.
    4. Acquire a competitor. It may be more within your reach than you imagine and can be a very good method to meet new “A” customers.


  1. Web Presence
    1. Webinar – from a single individual to large group
    2. Blog – a broad audience
    3. Landing Pages – specific from a post, article, blog, or newsletter
    4. Videos (YouTube, etc.) – a source of information for a wide audience
  2. Social Media
    1. LinkedIn – from very general to very specific
    2. Facebook – from very general to very specific
    3. Many other platforms
  3. Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
    1. Google Adds
    2. Bing Adds
    3. Other
  4. Email (if overdone, is offensive and counterproductive)
    1. Newsletter – a specific group and/or person

Direct Mail?  Yes, direct mail; this must be specific: to the right person, in the right position, asking the right questions. 

    1. Unique 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, consider:
      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. This implies that you understand your customer’s problems and that you have the ability to solve them.
      3. An explanation describing how these issues can be addressed (solutions).
      4. Invite the recipient to contact 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 of the message when the target is specific. Direct mail is similar to the digital form of direct marketing or messaging, only tangible.

Message Delivery, digital or tangible:

A 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 is 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. Take the time to know your customer and understand their challenges, so that you can help them personally and organizationally.

 Questions vs. Statements:

When asked a question, it seems that our minds engage differently than when we are simply told something. We must give a little more consideration to the topic in order to provide an answer.


With this in mind, the presentation of the story may be more effective when given in the form of a question rather than a statement.

  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. On the other hand, a question tends to engage the mind more and the topic may go deeper and stay longer.
  3. If the question hits the target, it may actually be taken a good deal more seriously resulting in favorable action.
  4. Using questions to communicate your story is applicable in both verbal and written communication.

For Example:

This example may appear to be exaggerated, but it is real. It is intended to demonstrate that if you ask questions that address the problem(s) your prospect is experiencing, they will know that you understand their business, and will be more inclined to listen.

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

A final thought for this section

The process of a. understanding this section, b. arranging and documenting it to fit your business, and, c. putting it into practice is, like many things in life, iterative. (You complete one piece and then move to the next, realizing 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 it to your business. The sooner you get from a. to c., the sooner value is added to your business.