Choosing a Direction

Purposeful Marketing Method: Great Customers – Yours and Theirs

Let me tell you a story about a woman named Maggie. 

About six months after I moved to a neighborhood just north of Pasadena, I signed up for a boot camp. On the first day, I got paired in an exercise with a woman named Maggie. As we were rowing a band back and forth, I decided to make small talk to distract myself from the pain my out-of-shape body was feeling. 

“So, what do you do?” I asked. 

“I’m a Landscape Designer,” she said.  

“How serendipitous!” I yelped. “I just bought a home that needs a LOT of landscaping work. Can I get your card?” 

We set up a time for her to come to my house and take a look at what we were hoping to do. One morning, after another treacherous boot camp, she came by and I began explaining to her my vision for the yard. 

“I want artificial turf in the front, so everything looks clean…” 

“No, I wouldn’t recommend that.” She said. She went on to explain how her work is about using all-natural plants and grass with a strong emphasis on drought-tolerant species. It was clear that she was BRILLIANT when it came to this stuff. She knew every plant, how they would survive in my front and back yards, and had a million suggestions for other plants, flowers, and sod I had never heard of, KurapiaKurapia took less water and would give me everything I wanted. 

I left the meeting deciding two things were true:  

  1. Maggie was great at her job and there was a reason why she is one of the highest-reviewed landscape designers in my area. 
  2. I was not going to be her customer. 

Maggie has an incredible point-of-view. She’s a green thumb. She knows how to get the best plants to grow in the toughest places at the cheapest prices. She cares so much about her customers and her work. That is her priority. 

My priority, however, was completely different. I work at a Creative Agency and I am obsessed with clean and sophisticated design. I think Kurapia and other plants look wild and out-of-whack. They are not at all a part of my vision. I wanted my Pinterest boards full of turf, rocks, and floating decks to come to life. 

I love this example because it perfectly illustrates how to be a great business person through the lens of losing a customer. Maggie knows who she is, stands for something, and resonates with our neighborhood.  As a result, she has a successful business. However, we don’t have the same priorities or shared beliefs, which means I’m drawn more to a competitor. And that’s okay, we see this with big brands all the time.  

Starbucks is for yuppies. Dunkin Donuts is for the blue-collar worker. Yetis are an eco-friendly product for people who want their beer cold at a NASCAR race and their coffee warm while hunting in the winter. Patagonia makes eco-friendly clothing for people that share their love of nature and land conservation. 

Having a point-of-view that resonates with a target market is not new in the B2C space. However, B2B has been a little slow to play catchup. A lot of this can be attributed to the number of niche industries we see in B2B, usually with a smaller pool of market share available.  

But with competition consistently on the rise, businesses need to find a way to stand out in a crowd. The answer is to have the courage to have a point-of-view and identify Great Customers who share it 

Now let’s be clear what a point-of-view is and what a point-of-view is not.

A point-of-view in this prism simply means the brand has prioritized non-business factors that can be shared with an audience. Seth Godin uses this concept in his 2019 book, This is Marketing, using the phrase “people like us, think like this.” So this doesn’t mean your business should engage in some “MSNBC vs. Fox News” political battle. It just means that outside of business, your brand should cling to something that matters. 

 Let’s use a couple of examples in the B2B space to give you a better idea of the concept. 

I have a client, YouBar, which is a leading contract manufacturer of protein bars. Companies come to them and YouBar formulates, develops, and packages the delicious protein bars you see on the shelves in Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and your local grocery store. They’re an industry leader and are consistently approached by leading breakfast brands of the past about creating a new bar for them. 

Unfortunately for the old guard, YouBar is not interested in them. 

YouBar is interested in innovation. As new food diets and trends emerge, they want to help their customers, the brands selling the Protein Bars in the stores, by supplying them with the most cutting-edge options available. They see the space as a frontier for innovators. They don’t believe that the consumer is looking for a new bar from a General Mills or a Kellogg’s, but rather, gets excited by the newSo they partner with these emerging brands and showcase to them the opportunities at hand. They have seen these startups grab market share for the past decade and don’t see things changing anytime soon.  

They value innovation and the new, and so they work with companies trying to create the Protein Bar of the future as a result. 

On the other hand, my agency, ATAK Interactive, has zero interest in working with startups, even when VC funded with a healthy budget. Startups utilize the old cliché “work fast and break stuff” and we’ve seen the amazing technological advances that have resulted with that mentality.  

However, it’s not how we want to help companies market their products and services. We believe in laying a foundational strategy and helping companies pragmatically grow. We don’t want to break anything and we’re not in a hurry to have companies spend away a lot of money without knowing why they’re doing it. 

Startups prioritize and value speed. We prioritize and value purpose. Neither of us is wrong, and that’s okay. 

In the aforementioned This is Marketing by Seth Godin, he lays out the idea of the Customer Promise: 

Blank Simple Marketing Promise worksheet

Part one of our “Great Customers” exercise is challenging businesses to fill this out honestly. I emphasize honestly because this is a much harder exercise for businesses to grasp. They constantly are looking for outs. If I gave the CFO the option to fill out this chart, here’s what it would look like: 

Completed Simple Marketing Promise worksheet

And that’s why they’re the CFO and they should count all of our numbers and leave the storytelling and brand resonating to those of us that utilize the left side of our brain.  

Taking a shortcut on this exercise is easy, but it doesn’t help businesses get where they need to get, which is admitting that there are certain types of customers that are GREAT customers, however, they are not your great customer. 

Let’s repeat for all the business owners reading out there who are trying to skim over this part because they don’t want to believe it – “there are GREAT customers out there who are NOT your great customer.” 

Before we make these stunned and saddened business owners identify who this person is, let’s really honein on what makes our Great Customer using the lens of the Customer Promise. 

1: Our product/service is for people who believe…  

For most brands, this does not need to be anything political or controversial. But we need to put a priority on something. What is it?  

An IT company I did this exercise with decided their answer to this question was “people who believe that technology is an essential component to their business development.”  

That makes sense. IT companies sell automation, efficiency, and security tools. If you think these are important, you’d align with them.  

2: I will focus on people who want… 

This takes “belief” one step ahead and brings in “ambition.” What does our target customer want? And again, avoid the easy cliché answer here. All businesses can say they want “to grow the company.” That’s a given. But why does this company exist in the first place? And what’s its grand purpose? Where is it headed? 

3: I promise that engaging with what I make will help my customers… 

This is a key component of this exercise. Part of running a great business is identifying where your product or service is the best solution. Ask yourself “who can we REALLY help better than our competition? And why is that?” Nobody likes admitting they aren’t the best answer to this question, especially when their company has the capability to fulfill the order. 

But if you go to the “Mom Lens,” that is, pretend that the customer is your mother who you love deeply and only want to pair her with the best solution for her problemLooking through that lens, where are you the answer? How will you help these types of customers?  

When we add these all up, it becomes clear: we can identify the psychographics that makes up our GREAT customer. Regardless of Persona type, which focuses more on demographics, ALL customers we go after should share these three attributes. 

Now comes the hard part: Identifying the GREAT Customer that is not yours. 

For this, we flip the Customer Promise on its head: 

Blank "Great Customer That Isn't Mine" template

Uh oh. Now it gets hard. Let’s go back to our old friend, the CFO, to identify the “cop-out” way of answering this: 

Completed "Great Customer That Isn't Mine" template

What’s the big problem with these answers? These characteristics don’t make a Great Customer. They make a very, very bad customer. They’re rude and don’t want to pay full price. 

But there’s plenty of customers out there that are great that are not yours. Before we dissect the questions, let’s be clear on the purpose of this exercise: understanding how to build a stronger brand by identifying who does and who does not resonate with your beliefs. This does not mean that any successful company with strong relationships should fire a great customer that doesn’t fit this exercise to a T. It means that we will move forward trying to connect with our Great Customer and not waste time chasing someone else’s Great Customer. Is that clear? Good, let’s start the breakup process… 

1: Our product/service is NOT for people who prioritize… 

Thinking of your shared beliefs from the first part of the exercise, you can see that there’s a thread between your beliefs and your priorities. What is the opposite of that?  

Using our IT company as an example, if they resonate with people who believe in the role of technology with business development, then it’s fair to say that the Great Customer who is not theirs prioritizes efforts other than operational efficiency for their growth. Or maybe they just prioritize everything above technology until their computer stops working and they need to be bailed out. 

When you dig deep, you realize that the priority of the Great Customer who is theirs is proactive with their technology needs where the Great Customer who is not theirs is more reactive. Reactive clients pay bills on time, they have computers that break down, and they can be perfectly nice when troubleshooting a problem. But for this IT company that believes so deeply in the opportunity of using technology as a biz dev tool, they recognize that the reactive client takes a lot of the time to troubleshoot the kind of problems they are proactively avoiding with their Great Customer.  

2: I will AVOID people who want… 

Are our ambitions aligned? Do we both see the Promised Land as the same place? 

This is a good opportunity to go back to the idea of the customer as the hero and you as the guide. If Luke Skywalker’s ambition is to go somewhere Yoda can’t guide him to, then there’s probably a better guide for Luke, right? 

Think about where a Great Customer may want to go that isn’t the Promised Land you can help guide him or her. Again, no cop-outs. Different directions don’t mean one direction is bad, it just means it’s different.  

3: I can’t help customers that are hoping to… 

You’re not as good for this customer as one of your competitors. Admit it. It will set you free and help you run a more honest and effective operation. I’ll give you an example. 

I’ve recently explored the idea of building a sales team. I sat down with a sales consultant whose company prides itself on being able to build out effective sales teams. He asked me a bunch of questions about my operation before politely telling me his company could not help. 

They were more geared for SaaS sales, not services, typically coming in when a team had at least three reps and needed additional support and structure.  

How did I react to that? It made me love the guy. We spoke for another hour or two and he led me to resources and vendors much more in line with what I need. If I ever get the chance to send him business, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. 

And that’s the magic here. By identifying the Great Customers that are yours and those that are theirs, you’re creating an authentic business that makes you 1000x more likable. You are being realistic about who you can help and setting your company up to have success when you do get the customer. You’re building trust with your team and your prospects by being clear about your capabilities and strengths. 

Trust, authenticity and a point-of-view that resonates will give you the bump you need against the rising competition. You’ve got the opportunity, now you need the courage to go through this exercise and break up with a Prospect Archetype you’ve long known you needed to walk away from. Be bold, be brave, and most importantly, be honest with your company and who you can help.  

How the Purposeful Marketing Method Sets A Company’s Focus

One of the funny quirks about writing teachers – creative types that constantly preach to students the value of being original – is that they all use the same adages. Whether in a college setting or a screenwriting course in Hollywood, I’ve been in countless rooms where the lecturer in the front of the class preached to his or her adoring listeners lines like “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote you a long one” and “I hate writing. I love having written.” But the winner of the “Most-Overused Writing Cliché by Any and All Professors” is the lovely William Faulkner line “in writing, you must kill your darlings.”

The humorous (at least by 19th century standards) metaphor is a nice way of saying “you have a million ideas, but you need to edit and integrate them into your work cohesively.” For creative people, staying focused is difficult. Creative people want to create…all of the time, sometimes to their detriment.

(Full disclosure: I’m one of these people! My long-lost book would be titled 975 Brilliant Ideas I Never Followed Through On.)

One of the biggest problems I see with business leaders is staying focused on a singular message or plan. In the book, Rocket Fuel, by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters, they tackle the relationship between two executive archetypes: the visionary and the integrator. The simplest way to describe the connection is visionaries are the big-picture thinkers consistently architecting where the company should go, and integrator is the dirt-on-the-hands builder of the plan who ensures the engine is running day in and day out.

For visionaries, their work revolves a lot around ideas. Wickman and Winters write:

The Idea Generator 

As a Visionary, you have lots of ideas. You typically have 10 new ideas a week. Many of them may not be so good, or at least not a fit with the company’s primary focus. Some may even be dangerous. However, a few are absolutely brilliant. And those few great ideas keep the organization growing. Those great ideas can take companies to the moon. For this reason, you are invaluable.

The hard part with visionaries, however, is getting them to work within the right system. Visionaries can often feel trapped in systems. “System” is not a bad word, per se, but rather, something the rest of the company needs to build to scale. Visionaries understand the importance of systems but adapting to them is not easy.

That’s why the Purposeful Marketing Method is built to be flexible. It’s constructed to harness the brilliance of the visionary and implement it into a framework that can keep the visionary – and the company – on a singular track.

For visionaries, great ideas never end. And they shouldn’t! But you need to know where these ideas should live, when they can come to fruition, and how they fit into the overarching plan.

How the Purposeful Marketing Method Sets Companies Up to Focus

The first part of the Purposeful Marketing Method is about getting universal clarity for a company on its brand, audience, data, and marketing-to-sales operation. Some companies have elements in place – they track data granularly or perhaps have a tagline/message or style they’re committed to – but they need to bring everything into a single path that becomes “the way”.

This is why we have three PMM strategy days to help companies build this plan for themselves. Together, we sit with the 3-5 vision-builders on the client-side and facilitate clarity on those four elements: brand, audience, data, and marketing-to-sales operation.

The end result of the strategy days is to leave them knowing exactly how the company will:

  • Persuasively communicate their brand through messaging and visuals
  • Develop a marketing budget focused on what will provide a return
  • Invest effectively in marketing efforts at each step of the customer lifecycle
  • Eliminate the noise and focus on the things that really help you grow
  • Organize, execute, and track your marketing system

Some companies charge millions of dollars to help businesses with just 2 of those 5. But the truth is that it’s not that hard to create a focus. Creating a focus is fun. Staying focused and committed to what we’ve built is difficult.

It’s important to keep this in mind when building out your vision. As you’ll see later on, our Marketing-to-Sales Maps force businesses to stick to a budget, assign responsibility, and build proper expectations for their plans.

How Focus Elements are Built

“First of all, you’ve got to have a vision of ‘What kind of program do I want to have?’ Then you’ve got to have a plan to implement it. Then you’ve got to set the example that you want, develop the principles and values that are important, and get people to buy into it.”

– Nick Saban, 6 Time National Championship College Football Head Coach

The Purposeful Marketing Method is taught to businesses by B2B Marketing guides.

The guides each are trained to use the toolbox of B2B marketing tools that are needed for business to obtain the alignment between brand, audience, data, and M2S operation.

Guides host full-day strategy sessions where they help businesses integrate these tools into their operation. The guides segment the work into three full-day sessions: Brand Day, Audience + Data Day, and Marketing-to-Sales Day. These workshops are generally spaced out one month apart.

Within each day are a series of decisions. Leading requires making the right decisions, even when it may be difficult. We challenge companies investing in Purposeful Marketing to make the following series of decisions to build the focus and vision of their growth efforts.

Brand Day

Communication Strategy:

  • The Why, How, and What of how we conduct business
  • The paragraph that sells our business
  • How we communicate our offering to our hero (the customer) in 7 words or less
  • The most valuable aspects about us and how they bring value

Visual Identity:

  • Our top collateral needs
  • A cohesive style direction we can agree on

Creative Campaigns

  • How will we create a Leadership Messages to Attract new Customers?
  • How do we develop + integrate our proven process into our sales cycle?


  • How do we take this work and put it into our current collateral?
  • What SMART Goals can we add to Obstacle List?

Audience + Data Day


  • Identify our 3 Target Personas to market to and their:
    • Obstacles
    • Desires
    • Tendencies
    • Demographics

The Customer Promise:

  • Identify who we will do business with, the values we share with them, and the help we can give to them
  • Identify the Great Customer who is not our customer

Most Important Metrics (MIM):

  • The most important metrics that contribute to your growth.


  • Identify the supporting metrics that feed into each MIM and the numbers you have to hit to get the desired end results.


  • Audit the current marketing budget and resources. Determine what we think we need to spend to hit our goals.


  • How do we begin simplifying and tracking our data each week?
  • What SMART Goals can we add to Obstacle List?

Marketing-to-Sales Day

M2S Maps:

  • Determine the three sales funnels you will market to and how will you market at each step of the Customer Lifecycle.

The 90 Day Obstacle Sprint: 

  • Before we begin executing the M2S Maps, what needs to be developed beforehand and how much will it all cost?


  • How will we track our Obstacle Sprint progress on a weekly basis to stay on track?

As you can see, the implementation is just as big of “focus” as the ideas. We can’t create a vision without tangible S.M.A.R.T. goals to get us moving down the road, one mile at a time.

Company Culture: The Secret Benefit of Having the Right Focus

The key to implanting your newfound focus is getting your leaders to buy-in first, and bring everyone along with them. One question I often ask companies is, “if I go out and ask every employee why [your company] does what it does, would they all give me the same answer?”

Spoiler alert: I rarely get a “yes.”

One of the hidden components to having a strong focus is its role in having a strong culture. When people think about great company culture, they see ping-pong tables, iced coffee on tap, and dogs roaming throughout the office. But culture is a lot more than toys and perks.

Companies get this wrong all the time. They believe stereotypes about millennials needing to be coddled to be happy and try to “buy” their way to employee joy.

But the truth is that a fun environment with happy hours and Kombucha Mondays can make employees happy, but not fulfilled. The best company cultures take it way beyond the fun and create meaning. They develop the central mission that tells their team “this is where we’re going and if you want to be a part of the ride, we need you to get here!”

When companies go through three strategy days of Purposeful Marketing, they create that path. Creating a focus for the company has to include both where the businesses are headed, but also, how the employees can be a part of that journey.

Next Steps

Let’s create the path together! In the next few chapters, we will outline the exercises we go through during Purposeful Marketing strategy days. We will identify how you can make the right decisions for your brand, audience, data, and sales operations to get aligned so you can start marketing with purpose.

The 11 Principles of Purposeful Marketing

“A man gotta have a code.” – Omar Little 

The Purposeful Marketing Method is a three-part framework. It is an easy-to-adopt system that small to mid-enterprise businesses can use for pragmatic growth. It is built on 11 principles that guide customers through exercises and processes that increase efficiency and profitability.  

As you will read below, the idea of businesses and customers having shared beliefs is one of the most important parts of any fruitful relationship. After seeing what’s been successful in my decade-plus experience in marketing for SMBs, these are the beliefs that I hold about marketing in 2019They touch on the brand, audience, data, and marketing-to-sales operations of a company and are based on real experience and real results. 

Without further ado, here are the 11 Principles of Purposeful Marketing:

1) Your Brand, Data, Audience, and Marketing-to-Sales Operation must be aligned.

What does it mean to be aligned? Let’s go to the basic definition: 

a position of agreement or alliance. 

If your brand is projecting messages and visuals that have a distinct point of view, you are simplifying your data by focusing only on the most important metrics, you are segmenting your messaging to the right audience, and you’re executing actions specific to your marketing-to-sales operation, you have alignment. 

Most businesses do not have that alignment, unfortunately. Brands lack clarity in messaging, have their data spread all over the place, they try to speak to everyone and be everything they can be to them, and market for awareness and impressions more than they do lead generation, sales, and growth.  

This isn’t because they wish to have things all over the place. There’s a ton of noise out there and people get distracted by the “latest and greatest.” That’s why establishing a foundation of alignment is so important. 

Here’s an overview of what alignment looks like:


  • Everyone in the company knows why you do what you do, how you do it, and what it is you do. 
  • They understand the three differentiators that make you unique and how those provide value to your customers. 
  • All of your visuals have this clarity as well and represent the why-how-what you defined previously. 
  • There’s a visualization of your proven process that showcases your ability, credibility, and flexibility. 
  • You have a message to attract your customers that makes them the hero and creates a leading message in your industry. 


  • You can calculate your current data as it relates to budget, goals, and results. 
  • The Most Important Metrics (MIMs) to your company’s growth are identified and tracked. 
  • The S.M.A.R.T. goals needed for each of those MIMs to hit their targets is clear. 
  • The current budget and resources are allocated clearly and concisely in a way where the whole organization knows why you’re spending money on each initiative and what you expect in return for that investment. 


  • You know what your shared beliefs are with your customer. You’re not afraid to ignore those who do not share these beliefs. 
  • You have fully defined the different segments which you will market as your Target Personas and identified the desires, challenges, and tendencies for each. 
  • You know specifically how you can help each Persona and can avoid any prospect you cannot help.


  • Your marketing initiatives are tied directly to each step of the customer lifecycle: 
  • Attract the prospect 
  • Connecting with the prospect 
  • Closing the prospect into a customer 
  • Delighting the customer 
  • Each of your target personas are being specifically marketed to

2) Every action taken and every dollar spent must have a purpose within the Customer Lifecycle 

If there’s one thing we often see in marketing, it’s that the creatives involved can rarely agree on terminology. Even entities like HubSpot, which frequently make up terms like “The Buyer’s Journey,” consistently change how they define each step. 

In the Purposeful Marketing Method, we aim to simplify things. We identify the Customer Lifecycle as:

Customer Lifecycle Journey

Everything we recommend a business invest in feeds one of those four stages of the Lifecycle. If a company is doing something just to do it without any reason or purpose, we take it away. If you’re chasing BS data like impressions so you can show something big and shiny to your boss, we tell you why it’s not important. 

This is what marketing should look like – a never-ending continuum of work that supports these four functions.  Within each, specific measurables get defined, a single person becomes responsible for the outcome, and the appropriate budget goes towards each.


3) Quality is 360 Degrees 

In Phil M. Jones’ “How to Persuade and Get Paid” Sales Workshop, he talks about the importance of creating a good representation of yourself and your company. He uses a vivid example from his life before sales when he almost made a bad purchase from a company that couldn’t fulfill its promise and how he sniffed it out because of the pen he was about to use to sign a contract. 

Here he was, ready to give this salesperson their deal, and as he took the pen, he realized something – it had been chewed. He began looking over the salesman a little further – dissecting his clothes and manners before deciding he wanted a little more time to think it over. 

The salesperson lost the deal because it was clear that his pitch was a mirage. He wasn’t what he said he was.  

We see something similar a lot in marketing. A company boasts of its commitment to quality, even outlines the features that make their product or service the best, but they do so with a poor design that gets translated to an outdated website or flimsy marketing material. 

If you are asking a customer to invest in quality, you need to make it clear that you do, too. Every aspect of your marketing needs to be as pristine as your promise. If you’re an industry leader, you better dress like, talk like it, and look like it. Otherwise, you’re going to be looked at like a chewed pen. 


4) Your Customer is Luke Skywalker, you are Yoda 

Nancy Duarte is the first to use this analogy for marketing. An expert in the presentations space, Duarte teaches her students the concept that as the presenter, you are being looked at as Yoda. Everyone in the audience thinks they are the hero, Luke. Your job is to show them how all of their dreams can come true with your guidance. 

Author Donald Miller took this concept to the next level with his book, “StoryBrand,” drawing an even more distinct parallel between the analogy of the hero/guide and tying it into a traditional film narrative.  

He writes: 

“Here is nearly every story you see or hear in a nutshell: A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in SUCCESS.”  

 Purposeful Marketing shares these viewpoints. We believe that taglines particularly should make it clear how a company as a guide helps take the hero to the Promised Land. 

 Through other marketing materials, we look at the stakes, the vision for success, and showcases the transformation this hero would have if he/she were to let us guide them. 

 To steal one more quote from Miller, “In every line of copy we write, we’re either serving the customer’s story or descending into confusion; we’re either making music or making noise.”  


5) Lead. Always Lead. 

“The Future of Marketing is Leadership.” – Seth Godin  

In early 2019, Edelman, the global PR firm, released their B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study. Among the eye-popping stats that came from the report was that “58% of B2B decision-makers made buying decisions based on thought leadership.  

The study had four main takeaways on Thought Leadership: 

  1. There’s currently a deficiency in the marketplace because B2B marketers and sales teams are underrating its impact 
  2. Decision-makers will spend more to work with leaders 
  3. Decision-makers are hungry and interested in more thought leadership 
  4. You need to put in the elbow grease to make sure your leading message is actually unique, knowledgeable, and persuasive 

It’s clear that thought leadership is a great way for companies to stand out.  

With trends like influencer marketing showing its warts, it’s important for businesses to understand that real purchasing influence, particularly in the B2B space, comes from prospects feeling comfortable being led into a new direction by someone they trust. Remember, as their guide, they are looking at you to lead them. 

Showcasing thought leadership in the Attract phase is a great way to illustrate your ability to be a prospect’s guide from your initial interaction. Businesses just meeting prospects for the first time have to get over a credibility hump. By illustrating a unique perspective, proving your knowledge in the field, and persuading your prospect to take action, you can ease a customer’s hesitations rather quickly. 


6) If somebody doesn’t hate you, nobody will love you  

One of the major transitions we’re going to see in the 2020s is a shift away from the lantern and towards the laser. The job of a lantern is to emit as much light as possible. The job of the laser is to pinpoint exactly where the light needs to go. 

Marketing strategies for decades have focused on the mass market. Whether its commercials/billboards or simply social media following, the idea of thinking big was always applauded.  

But with the evaporation of the monoculture, mass markets are far less effective. The world has been taken over by the Long Tail. Over 75 million people watched the Seinfeld series finale in 1998. 21 years later, the most popular series of its decade, Game of Thrones, had just 19.3 million viewers. We are not all tuned in to the same TV, music, or cultures because so many exciting avenues now exist. 

This shift into a Mass Long Tail of Subcultures challenges businesses to build brands that resonate with smaller viable audiences. Companies need to market more like a laser and less like a lantern. 

To achieve this connection with the less populated subcultures, brands are going to have to start building tension with their messaging. This doesn’t mean taking any drastic political stance or purposely alienating good paying customers. Rather, it’s looking through the lens of “people like us, do this” to talk to our prospects and customers.

Many companies are terrified of this. The idea that they can’t be everything for everybody seems so…limiting. But this is a sliding doors moment for companies. They can do the status quo in Door #1 and continue to play it safe and they will absolutely avoid the haters. Unfortunately, no one will love them because they’re not speaking with enough substance to elicit that passion. Behind Door #2, they will find the courage to adopt the laser and begin narrowing their message to that smaller viable audience. They will find more people turned off than ever before, but they will earn true evangelists who will recruit others to join their cause 

This takes courage, but now is the time to step up. For instance, at my company, ATAK Interactive, we’ve adopted a little motto for ourselves: we’re the marketing agency that hates marketing. We know every trick in the book that agencies use to project their value, the metrics they fall back on when the work isn’t meeting the goals, and the ready-made excuses in their back pocket when things fail. We want our work to support growth, support sales, support the company leaders. And we’re not afraid to say things like much of inbound marketing is a well-intended mirage.” If 200 other HubSpot agency partners hate us, that’s fantastic. It just means all the companies they couldn’t land an ROI for will love us a little more for speaking out against idealism posed as a marketing strategy. 

7) There’s a lot of great customers that are not YOUR customer.  

One of the hardest concepts of Purposeful Marketing for business owners to grasp is the idea of “breaking up” with a customer type. Just like messaging has been focused more towards the lantern in the past, defining a target market has as well. 

There’s a big difference between “breaking up” in the prospecting stage vs. the client stage. It would be foolish for any company to break a long-standing relationship with a top client because they read some hotshot marketer talking about it. But much like companies need to hone-in on a message that resonates with a smaller target market, they need to accept that this means there will be a LOT of great customers that are not OUR great customer. And that’s okay. 

We can recognize that varying industries, psychographics, and business practices can make a great customer a competitor’s great customer. We can admit that companies that specialize in certain areas may be better than us. 

Let’s use a contractor as an example. 

This contractor, we’ll call him Hank (strong contractor name, btw!), has 20 years of experience working effectively on Craftsman-style homes. His mother, Alberta, needs a kitchen remodel in her Spanish Colonials. Obviously, Hank has the experience to complete the job, but probably not as well as someone who has specialized in the Spanish style. So if money isn’t an issue, and Hank just wants his mother to get the best service possible, there’s no doubt he’d recommend the right contractor for her, right? 

Additionally, if he did Mr. “I Specialize in Spanish Colonials” a favor, there’s a good chance that would be repaid down the road when the shoe was on the other foot. 

The best barometer you can use is “who can I help better than almost everybody else?” This is your great customer. “Who can I help, but not as good as (insert competitor)? That’s the great customer who is not yours. Make sure to know the difference. 

8) All metrics that matter feed some sort of conversion 

Take a look at the chart below: 

Purposeful Marketing Method Conversion Metrics Chart

As you can see, we segment the different brand-focused metrics that companies track vs. the conversion-based metrics.

A lot of the brand-focused metrics make companies feel good. When their PR team lands a story on the news and they see a bloated $3.1 million in publicity value data point, they feel like the media relations ROI is strong. When they get 1,000 comments on an Instagram post, they feel even better. People are ENGAGING with us!

But what do those numbers mean if they can’t be traced to the conversion metrics? Sure, not every lead and/or deal will be able to be tracked to each event in a marketing campaign. But businesses need to know how these brand metrics affect the conversion metrics.

For every _____ amount of site visitors, we get ______ amount of form fills. For every _____ amount of form fills, we get ______ amount of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). And for every ______ amount of MQLs, we get ______ amount of customers.

Because in a vacuum, site traffic doesn’t matter. I can buy you a couple of thousand visitors from a third world country tomorrow if you want to feel good about your volume. But traffic does matter when you understand where it fits into the formula. Building, measuring, and optimizing that formula is the only way you can keep your brand metrics accountable and have them feed directly to your conversion metrics.

Making data work for your company goes beyond tracking it. Anyone can track numbers. You must track the purpose of each activity, and identify how it affects the overall success of a campaign.

9) Data must be tracked in a simple way to drive behavioral change.

In over 10 years managing clients, one of the most surprising discoveries I’ve had is just how many of them hate looking through reports. My project managers would send them, ask to review, and get no response. After a while, I started diving deeper to find out why.

Every client who dismissed reports had a similar reason that can be summed up as “there are too many numbers, things I don’t care about, and it’s so long I don’t care to spend the time looking through to figure out what actually matters.”

Of course, these were generally exported, summarized, and analyzed for context. We always wanted to show how “thorough” and “robust” we could be that we were feeding our own desires and not the customer’s needs.

So we flipped it around and made two big changes:

  1. Instead of a monthly report, we started looking at the numbers every week.
  2. We narrowed it down to 7-13 interesting numbers that went well beyond what a Google Analytics export could pump out.

Instead of focusing on things like “bounce rate” and “average page session,” we put a spotlight on “B+ Leads” and “(Persona Type) Leads” to make things more relevant to the client.

What did we find?

The days of pumping out reports that nobody read or reacted to were gone. Now, we were having data-driven conversations about these metrics that mattered and making weekly decisions on how we could execute differently to achieve great results.

This is the spirit of data with Purposeful Marketing. It doesn’t mean that the robust analytics don’t matter, but rather, how we track them, review them, and most importantly, REACT to them starts from a place of simplicity.

10) Systems can be scaled, people cannot be cloned

In almost every B2B sales team I have ever worked with, there’s an archetype I refer to as the Superstar Sales Person. This ace, we’ll call he or she the SSP, is such an asset to a company, at least on paper.

The SSP has the best relationships, the happiest customers, and consistently brings in new business. Often times though, the Superstar Sales Person can lead to SSPS – Superstar Sales Person Syndrome.

When you’re the rainmaker of the sales team, and you have all the leverage, oftentimes, you play by your own set of rules. I’ve seen plenty of great salespeople who rarely touch CRM, use talking points/presentations others don’t have access to, and use their successful relationships to threaten management in negotiations. Most of the time, the SSPS is not that extreme, but it gets in the way of the company structure because the top sales performer is not the top sales LEADER.

This is why it’s so important for companies to have growth systems they can build, train, and scale, regardless of human capital. Many times, the SSP is the perfect person to help create the system (even if he or she is NOT the right person to lead the company in adopting it).

The elements of Purposeful Marketing aim to create the initial roadmap for companies to build this system, while keeping it flexible for sales teams and their superstars to adopt seamlessly.

11) All Projects Must Be Broken Down into S.M.A.R.T. Goals

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

SMART Goals make everything manageable. Let’s say you’re planning a road trip from Jacksonville, FL to New York City. Google tells you that you’ve got 14 long hours ahead and with stops and traffic factored in, you’re probably looking more at 16 hours. You leave Florida at 5am with the hope to get to the boroughs before midnight.

As you begin the drive up I-95 you don’t see signs for New York (900 miles away!), but rather Savannah, then Fayetteville, then Richmond, then Washington DC, and so forth. You make small strides and incrementally hit checkpoints along the way.

Achieving a goal is no different. We all want to get to NYC, but there are all sorts of Richmond, Virginias we have to pass through to get there.

This is where SMART goals come into play. They help us breakdown the long road to success into necessary checkpoints we need to hit our destination.

Throughout the Purposeful Marketing Method, in each stage of the process, we MUST work with SMART goals to get from one point to the next. They keep us accountable and they keep us on the right track.

So, those are the Principles…

The principles above are the backbone of Purposeful Marketing. They are the beliefs that drive our method. They should be shared beliefs. If you read through these and recognize this approach is the guide you’ve been looking for, dive in. I’ve built this method for people like you. And for everybody else, you may just be a great customer who is not my customer. And that’s okay, too.

I’m here to help small to mid-size B2B companies grow pragmatically. If you’re ready to see how, let’s start getting focused.

Office conference room meeting

How to Create the Perfect Why-How-What Positioning Statement

Editor’s note: This is the first of many posts introducing the Purposeful Marketing Method. For more on the PMM, click here.

Even if you’ve done so multiple times, give yourself 6 minutes and watch Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk, “The Golden Circle.”

All finished?

Good, let’s get started.

The Golden Circle concept comes from Sinek’s book, Start with Why. In it, Sinek repeats over and over “people don’t care what you do, they care why you do it.” He illustrates the communication pattern that businesses need to inspire their prospects and customers: start with why, then how, then what.

But how do you apply this concept to your business? Is it in your tagline? Where does this message get disseminated? We’ll get there.

But before we do, we need to have a quick chat about positioning statements.

Traditionally, positioning statements are stale, internal documents to help organizations understand what they do and where they sit in the marketplace. Branding agencies can eat up a lot of billable hours helping you with the perfect positioning statement (that will never see the light of day and only exists for internal use).

Here’s a simple rundown from Cult Branding on How to Create a Brand Positioning Statement.

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Why We Created

Why We Created The Purposeful Marketing Method

In my 10-plus years leading a marketing agency, I have seen a lot of smoke and mirrors.

I’ve learned about data points built on fantasy like “publicity value.” I have met a con-artist who uses an alias and a P.O. Box to sell his software. I have watched companies pay “influencers” whose followers are 90% fake. It’s marketing. There’s a lot of BS out there.

On the flip side, I’ve watched companies scale and grow exponentially by marketing “the right way.” With authentic messages, promotions that provide real value, and creativity that inspires. That is the work that I am so humbled and excited to be a part of each and every week. After asking myself over and over, “why doesn’t everybody market this way?” I decided I would create a path to make it easier for companies to follow.

I spent 2018 becoming a student again. I studied my clients’ success. I studied my clients’ failures. I listened to a million biz dev books while stuck in LA traffic. I adopted methodologies I believed in and customizing them to be effective for my clients.

The result? A new marketing system called The Purposeful Marketing Method, a process that makes marketing more efficient and accountable. With a blend of creativity and follow-through, the PMM isn’t just a strategy, it’s a simple, easy-to-adopt system.

Our team has worked on perfecting this product for the past 8 months. We’ve walked through the strategies with many of our clients and tested the exercises on companies across different industries. The method is proven, flexible, and can easily integrate into current initiatives.

Today we introduce to you the Purposeful Marketing Method, ATAK Interactive’s proprietary growth model for B2B companies. If you’re looking to scale your business, organize your processes, and hold your marketing dollars more accountable, I invite you to explore Purposeful Marketing and see if it’s right for you.

Thank you to everyone who worked hard to make this a reality and for the superstars out there that inspired us to follow their unintentional lead. We hope our work reflects everything you’ve taught us.


Austin LaRoche, CMO

ransom ware interview

Protecting Small Business Systems from Ransomware: Interview

Last month, one of the largest globally targeted ransomware attacks in history hit the news – taking out the computer systems in England and Scotland, disabling digital records and equipment in their healthcare facilities.

Most businesses are much smaller organizations than the globally-recognized NHS, but we wanted to know – does that make them safe from ransomware attacks? If not, what can be done to protect systems and data? ATAK Interactive reached out to our technology partner, INC Technologies. President Aramis Hernandez gave us a primer on what you need to know.

1. Do you see ransomware attacks with your IT clients?

AH: Fortunately, we don’t see it as much with our existing clients. However, most of our new IT clients arrive at our doorstep because they lacked the proper care and security. The process starts with home or business computers. Usually, these are machines running Windows – since it’s the most popular operating system, and many users don’t keep their computer security and operating systems up to date, making that computer the most likely candidate to be subjected to a phishing attack.

While everyone has learned not to trust email attachments, email links are another story. Think about how many links you click every day – that’s the most common way we see ransomware make its way into a machine. You’re much more likely to click a link, than download an unusual looking file.

2. Tell us some more about that – how does ransomware end up on someone’s machine?

AH: In an email phishing attack, an attacker represents itself as a person or group that you trust, like Paypal or Google. Then you download a file or click a link, and the software will exploit a vulnerability in your computer.

This can also be links posted in other places, too –  like social media sites, or search results. The page you end up at exploits a weakness in your browser or your operating system, and installs the ransomware.

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