2. Research

The scope and depth of research depends on resource constraints, time constraints, and the overall corporate/business/function’s purpose.

Maximising corporate value creation divides into 2 dimensions:

  1. Market attractiveness (the potential opportunity that exists within a certain market)
  2. Competitive strength (the organizations competencies and assets available to capture those opportunities in the face of competition)

Each of these areas of research are relative to eachother and highly overlap. We divide them in order to create a focussed view from each perspective.

  • Market Research
  • Niche Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Product Research
  • Prospect or Customer Research
  • Internal Research

Market Research

Research your target market so you know exactly where, when, and what to ‘hit’ with your marketing campaigns.

What is the real big picture of the marketplace in which you are marketing? What are the possible niche areas within the broad market?

E.g. If your project is in the area of ‘how to invest’, what broader marketplace does that fit into? Is it Personal Finance or Financial Investing or is it simply ‘Investing’ or maybe ‘Stock Market Investing’ is the more accurate Market.

How big is that market? What demographics and psychographics can you learn about it?

I generally begin market research with the big picture. And then move on to…

Niche Research

Once you know about your broad market, its time to pick and choose your target niche. Perhaps your product is about ‘how to invest in the stock market – for short-term day traders who want maximum leveraged, that have high net worth and are happy to take on a lot of risk by trading on margin’.

Now that’s a specific target niche 🙂

And one that I am quite familiar with at the time of this writing as my major client has a project in this area.

So what can you find out about your target niche? Where do people in this niche hang out?

Forums, discussion groups, etc.

  • How much money can you determine is spent in this niche annually?
  • What are the major changes happening in this niche market at present?
  • What is on the horizon?
  • What are the biggest challenges that people in this niche face… both generally, and at the present time?
  • What are the biggest news and information sources for this particular niche?

Use sites like:

Competitor Research

How big and powerful are the competitior businesses in your chosen market/niche that you will be competing against for customers? Who are the largest players in the market categories space? What are the opportunities (market gaps)? Can you cherry pick tiny but profitable niches that the major competitors do not bother with, or do you have the same level of resourcing taht you could go head to head with the competition and fight them openly for broad market share? What do the competitors do well? What are their weaknesses?

Product Research

Next comes the Product Research. Here you want to find out any of the comparable products to the product you are planning on selling? Or perhaps you have uncovered good information from your niche research that you have ideas for a new industry product.

Buy available products for the niche. Read all promotional materials used in this niche that you can get your hands on. Understand the history and current status of products being sold to the target niche. This is genuine marketing power for effective aggressive marketing.

  1. What is your market categories major inherent wants and needs?
  2. What “miracle product” would deliver their biggest desire, achieve their ultimate
    outcome, and eliminate their biggest problem or frustration?
  3. How would this miracle product work? What would it do, specifically? What would it
    look like? What would you call it?
  4. In what way does your product fulfill that ‘miracle product’ description?

Don’t just make stuff up. I’ve been guilty of that in the past. I get a ‘big idea’ and run with it, only to find that with some more diligent niche and product research, I could have made a much stronger product and promotional offer.

For information products a good way to review various offers and glean ideas is by sifting through the popular ClickBank market place. Try http://cbengine.com

Prospect or Customer Research

As a Direct Response copywriter I begin examining my prospect insight by taking what I’ve found out about the market, niche and existing products, and then writing about my prospects beliefs, frustrations, and desires, (BFDs) in relation to my findings so far.

Here’s a great question to use:

If my prospect could have the absolute magic bullet that would deliver every possible feature, benefit, and advantage to them with regards the product/market/niche area, what would that ‘magic bullet’ be like? Look like? What would it do? What would it include?

If you are marketing to businesses, then the ‘prospect’ will be a DMU (decision making unit) often including more than 1 person, each with their own agenda, needs, and thus ‘hot buttons’. You need to account for everyone that will have a hand in making the buying decision, to communicate appropriately in your marcomms (marketing communications).

Use the Prospect Insight page for a more thorough process of prospect research..

Internal Research

In SMEs or Large Enterprise, an Internal View of the organization, including culture and capabilities is a serious consideration for any business plan.

If you are running a SOHO, then that internal view will be a little more personal, as everything depends on you.

Summary of Research:

And with that information, you have done your research.

  • You know the broad market place you are dealing with, general demographics, monetary value of the market, etc.
  • You also know the possible niche markets you will create your marketing campaigns for. The specific topical areas within the market that your product offering will focus on.
  • Then you have researched the existing range of products currently and previously available to that niche market.
  • And you have done the vulcan mind meld with your target prospects to determine their beliefs, frustrations and desires.

Now you are ready for the next aspect of the Marketing Matrix… Development.

Tools for Research


“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”

The measurement and evaluation of performance requires answering 4 basic questions:

  • What has happened?
  • Why has it happened?
  • Is it going to continue?
  • What are we going to do about it?

Financial & Non-Financial Indicators

The above 4 questions are taken from a very interesting article well worth browsing at www.fpm.com/journal/mattison.htm which explains that financial indicators (such as KPIs – key performance indicators) are not indicative of effective business management or business progress.

Financial indicators can ‘encourages management to take a number of actions which focus on the short term at the expense of investing for the long term’.

“Research in support of this approach has come up with new dictums for the workplace : “the less you understand the business, the more you rely on accounting numbers” and “the nearer you get to operations, the more non-financial performance indicators you realise could be valuable aids to better management.”

Financial indicators can ‘encourages management to take a number of actions which focus on the short term at the expense of investing for the long term’, and it goes on:

So what do non-financial indicators relate to? They relate to the following functions :-

  • manufacturing and production
  • sales and marketing
  • people
  • research and development
  • the environment

Adapting A Balanced Scorecard

business-score-card-logicThe Balanced Scorecard (BSC) provides an excellent starting point for developing a tailored methodology for tracking both financial and non-fincnail key performance indicators of company performance.

BSC identified ‘4 perspectives’ in the early 90s by which to monitor long-term strategic progress in the company:

  1. Financial
  2. Customer
  3. Internal Business Process
  4. Learning and Growth

And I have adapted it to suit my own approach to business development (as detailed within this Tracking section of the site) as follows:

  1. Compensation
  2. Contribution
  3. Operations
  4. Innovation

1. Compensation

“Money isn’t everything… but it ranks right up their with Oxygen”, said the great sales trainer Zig Zigler.

Whilst compensation comes in such forms as ‘sense of achievement’, due to the essential goal of business being to ‘make money’, it is financial metrics of the business unit that form the basis of this Compensation View on my suggested Balanced Scorecard for any company. With intangible compensation being considered as a close second.

At the highest level, you are tracking shareholder value and sustained competitive differential advantage.

> Visit the Compensation page

2. Contribution

This really covers the external output of the buiness. What societal contribution has your business created? This relates to the customer, as well as other resources throughout the supply chain and value chain, and speaks to the mission of the business strategy and values.

Ultimately, these measurements are based on the customer experience and customer performance management.

Back-End (Customer > Retention) Intelligence

Now at the level of campaign management for customer acquisitions and retention programs, including soft measurement and hard measurements. See the Marketing ROI page and Customer Performance Management page.

To identify the value of your expenditures, stick to this simple rule: If you cannot measure it, do not do it.

Front-End (Prospect > Acquisition) Intelligence

Here we are foussed on the metrics of lead generation campaigns such as traffic generation through SEO, SEM, Social Media, offline advertising, etc.

At the most basic, adding Google Analytics to your websites will deliver insightful information about your visitors and where they are coming from.

Campaign Metrics

Tracking of Marketing Campaigns ultimately lead to a handful of numeric measurements.

For a marketing manager these are known as your KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. These few numbers provide an overall at-a-glance view of the effectiveness, growth, and ‘health’ of your marketing campaigns.

The Aggressive Marketer seeks to have under-the-thumb control of those KPIs through a series of Tracking Reports that track and measure the progress of each and every marketing campaign, source of revenue, and influence on the bottom line that exists for the business.

Your KPI’s must be measured with vigor to validate any and all marketing campaigns you run.

LTCV: Lifetime customer value… What is the long-term average dollar value of my customer?

Tracking can be time consuming, but very helpful in helping to direct marketing spend.

> Visit the Contribution page

3. Operations

Here we cover the processes and protocols of project management. The time and task management of each individual within the company. The efficiency drivers for optimal performance.

> Visit the Operations page

4. Innovation

Creating new and improved operations as well as customer experiences (which includes product development, promotional activity, and company image).

> Visit the Innovation page

Contact me for recommended resources and techniques for Tracking.


You have a plan, a selected target market, a product, and a conversion mechanism.

Now you need traffic. People, prospects. Folks with cash and a desire for what you have available.

Let’s consider key traffic sources in modern marketing:

Online Traffic Sources

My advice is to group sources of online traffic into 5 areas.

  1. Search Engine Marketing Programs
  2. Paid Advertising Programs
  3. Email Lead Gen Programs
  4. Partner Programs
  5. Social Media Programs

Search Engine Marketing Programs

SEO – ‘Free visitors from search engines’ is what some SEO’s call it. But having worked as SEO Manager for the largest independently owned loan brokerage in the UK, I can tell you that traffic from the search engines is not free. Despite not paying per visitor, you still pay in resource time and expertise to be able to rank highly for enough key terms to bring consistent and targetted traffic from SEO.

PPC – A very fast and relatively easy way (easy if you know how I guess) of bringing hordes of traffic to your site almost instantly, and completely trackable for performance measurement. As SEO Manager for the loan brokerage we managed a Pay Per Click budget of thousands of pounds every month (I won’t disclose past clients figures of course).

Social Media Programs

A relatively new phenomenon that has evolved with technology beyond the old Internet’s bulletin boards, and message boards, into full blown personality profile driven, video enhanced, user generated communities.

Tapping into Social Media is expensive, but vitally important to 1. keep up to date with trends in your market. 2. survey and understand your target prospects. 3. Develop inlinks to your site important for SEO. Tapping the viral distribution of your marketing messages by users sharing with their friends. Etc.

Paid Advertising Programs

Banner advertising/display is often the first resort of corporate marketing. Paid Ads should be seen as a significant yet small part of the overall generation of new visitor traffic. Also consider sponsor opportunities that is tied with lead generation.

Data Acquisition Programs

List rental and co-registration.

Joint Venture Programs

Affiliate Marketing – Having a horde of loyal affiliates that actively promote your product to their client / customer database is fantastic, important, and just as complicated as the other sources of traffic.
Partners and revenue share opportunities such as CPA.

Offline Traffic Sources

There are many ways to skin a cat. Here’s how I skin my offline traffic sources into 5 broad categories:

  • Broadcast media – tv, radio, newspapers, magazines
  • Space advertising – flyers, billboards, print-ads
  • In-person events – industry events, exhibitions, conferences, trade shows,
  • Direct marketing – leaflet distribution, direct sales, direct mail
  • Partnerships – Individual or company, formal or informal – other people of influence that can bring you leads

Converting Traffic Into Leads

All that new visitor traffic according to the Aggresive Marketing Traffic Model above, should be directed to open content which attracts them into an optin process so that you acquire their contact details (at minimum this should be their first name and email), and only then do you introduce them to your actual sales offers.

This gives you the opportunity of building a Database Program with a pool of prospects that can be educated and enticed over time, so that at the right moment for them, when their desire or pain is most pressing, you will be in contact with them so they see your offer and by.

Extend your keyword research with buyer terms such as ‘buy’ ‘wholesale’, ‘cheap’, etc.

The final aspect of the Professional Marketing Matrix to help you successfully generate traffic and convert them into beaming customers is Tracking.


Conversion generally means executing the process of changing the current situation to the desired situation.

In terms of marketing, Conversion is about taking an opportunity for business from one stage of involvement with your service to a higher stage of involvement.

The full customer lifecycle passes through various conversion funnels:

  • Lead generation (front-end marketing)
  • Customer acquisition (front-end marketing)
  • Customer retention (back-end marketing)
  • Customer value (back-end marketing)

As a direct response marketer, I must approach marketing from the point of view that before you can see customers as numbers and data, you must first see them as humans: people with feelings.

Those feelings are in essence:

  1. Seeking pleasures, and
  2. Avoiding pains.

The marketing numbers must evolve naturally out of dealing with those pleasures and pains. Marketing targets must be true to the dynamics inherent in the marketing funnel.

David Maister has a great way of categorising 5 main areas of marketing activity in a human sense:

  1. Broadcasting – lead generation including seminars, articles, newsletters, etc in the hope to generate enquiries
  2. Courting – engaging with a single, specific prospect on a particular targeted deal-making process
  3. Superpleasing – existing clients on existing matters to make them delighted
  4. Nurturing – bringing extended service opportunities to existing clients
  5. Listening – otherwise known as gathering market intelligence

By conducting the various aspects of Research you will have a very good idea of your prospect. And now we are at the point of communicating with our target audience about the value of our offer.

Beliefs, Frustrations and Desires

Your prospects beliefs, frustration and desires must be considered when creating your marketing funnel.

  • Don’t try to sell something until you know how to emotionally involve the prospect.
  • Don’t have copy written until you have identified the objective of this piece of copy in moving the prospect one step closer to being involved with your product by exchanging their time and money for the benefits of what your product offers.
  • Don’t make the mistake of trying to entertain your prospects with fancy graphic work, cute slogans, or humurous adverts.

Key Question to ask: What are the inherent emotions involved between what your product does, and what your prospect is experiencing in their life that makes them a suitable candidate for your product?

Then make the first step easy for the prospect.

If you are marketing online, your costs are cheaper, and you can create a multi-step sales process that has a higher overall conversion rate, than trying a 1-step sales process that makes your offer immediately, and loses the prospect if they don’t immediately buy.

Acquisition and Retention Model

Here is a simplified model of online traffic generation and conversion for acquisition and retention.

Your Prospects Journey
Through Your Marketing Campaign…

His final destination?

Your order form.

But not before a few stop-offs along the way…

marketing-model001First, something grabs his attention with an optimal mix of creative and copy, stirring an interest or problem simmering somewhere in his awareness.

Your advert compels him to action.

The diagram shows his journey through an online model of lead generation, acquisition, and retention.

He comes from 4 general traffic sources online, or various possibilities offline…

Your prospect visits a landing page that matches and expands on the advert which brought him here…

Further into your marketing funnel he goes, through information and links which tap his interest ever deeper, until he reaches that crucial decision point:

  • Perhaps he buys, thus you capture his details for back-end retention.
  • Or perhaps he does not buy, so you capture his data by offering an incentivised offer in exchange for his details for further front-end acquisition marketing via email or phone.

This model does not say…

  1. Advertise your product to anyone that will listen.
  2. Squeeze your marketing team to meet your targets.
  3. Drain your database as fast as possible by blatant sales pitches without bonding with and educating your prospects.

No, the model diagrammed above says:

  1. Create value for your target audience by offering openly available content.
  2. Involve them by a special offer for even more valuable and prized information that will help them with their wants and needs, in exchange for their contact information.
  3. Offer them more valuable information including segmented sales offers until they buy.

How can this simplified strategy be planned and managed? We can achieve this in various ways by evolving our Front-End Acquisition and Back-End Retention plans by answering…

…Your Prospects 3 Questions

There are 3 far-reaching questions your prospect must have answered before they will buy.

  1. Is it desireable?
  2. Is it credibile?
  3. Is it worth the risk?

Copywriting – The Heart of Marketing

Visit the Copywriting page for the full process of exactly what you need to cover to answer those 3 crucial questions in any and every marketing campaign you run.

Dig Further Into The Business Development Matrix

Database Management: Your database is the most valuable physical asset of your company. Check out pages for Lead Generation Opt-in Pages and Email Marketing for how to build and use your database.

Or continue onwards to the Traffic Generation section of the Matrix.


Based on your Preparation and Research you move into Development.

The Marketing Matrix recognises these broad areas for Development. Click on any of the main headings to visit each main page.

Summary of Development

Development varies greatly depending on the purpose of your project, the size of your available resource (Developers, Budget, Time, etc.), and the focus of your Strategic Business Unit.

By considering the above aspects of Development you will find a good balance for necessary Development in the success of your marketing project.

From Development we will consider Conversions.


The Prime Directive of Business Development

Business growth through profitable servicing the needs of a market.

There are 6 practical areas of business development from a marketing orientation:

  1. Preparation – Including team selection, customer orientation focus
  2. Research – Market, customer, product, company competencies, etc.
  3. Development – Web presence, product development contribution, team development, etc.
  4. Conversion – Promotion, advertising, landing pages, sales videos, events, etc.
  5. Traffic – SEO, affiliate marketing, email marketing, social media marketing
  6. Tracking – Web analytics, ROI analysis, etc.

These 6 areas of practical marketing project management are unlocked by the trialectic of management:

  1. Outcome – Being crystal clear on what results are possible and are required for high marketing performance.
  2. Constraints – Understanding and controlling the bottlenecks that exist both within the marketing team environment as well as the external market environment.
  3. Performance – Managing daily productivity and overall ROI of marketing projects.

The 7 Meetings Protocol provides a very fast acting and supra-effective approach to marketing project management – without superfluous shelfware (software investments that are shelved on your staff’s hard drive collecting digital dust), and scaleable to whatever size marketing function you operate.

Pick up a copy of the Invisible Team Management white paper and apply it to your marketing project management.

Other Tools for Development

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