TOC Mafia Marketing Offer 

 June 10, 2010

By  Gavriel Shaw

The Unrefusable ‘Mafia Offer‘ for Marketing…

My experience of working in corporate environments including on several senior management teams exactly matches the poignancy that Eli Goldratt makes about marketing…

In most companies today, you will not find marketing. Instead, you find a host of tasks such as sales support, sales training, advertising, collateral development, promotion, and others. Labeled as marketing, these tasks do not come close to accomplishing the vital role of marketing. Further, if the real problems of the markets are not addressed, the company ends up wasting its sales effort.

Eli Goldratt defines marketing and sales as:

Marketing = spreading the corn so the ducks will want to come to your field.
Sales = taking a gun and shooting the sitting ducks.

Marketing should begin by considering the market… not the short-term marketing schedule, PR opportunities, email campaign or SEO project, nor the product or service to be promoted.

My background training as a direct response sales copywriter involves ‘getting inside the emotional (irrational) mind of the prospect, to understand their inner motivations’.

This has great use for higher level strategic marketing. Which attempts to convert that consumer psychology into predictable metrics, ratios, matrices and volumes.

And the basic bottom line of effective marketing is to bring to market an offer that makes sense to the market segment being targeted to such a great extent that they find it ‘unrefusable’.

Do not start with a product. It’s features, or even its benefits. As until you understand the consumer, you will never be able to find the real ‘hook’, the real ‘USP’ of the product.

Start with [private_free]the needs of the end user. What pains do they want to avoid? What pleasures do they want to move towards? What set of variables in their current experience compared to what they really want will set your marketing offer beyond anything else currently available in the market?[/private_free]
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Because THAT is your

Mafia Offer.

…By focusing on and understanding the prospects problems, and then evolving a value proposition beyond that of the competitors in the market space, we can construct an ‘unrefusable’ offer… a Mafia Offer.

The book Viable Vision explains Eli Goldratt’s view on developing the Mafia Offer…

[widget id=”ad-continue-marketing”]ad-continue-marketing[/widget]What problems do the clients in our markets have that no one in the industry is addressing? This question is the core of market research.

When a marketing person can access senior customer management and learn about the business through this approach, the resulting analysis often leads to a huge competitive advantage.

How To Create A Mafia Offer

First, a Mafia Offer is a value proposition that:

  • your market category finds compelling possibly to the point of disbelief, and
  • your competitors are incapable of competing against it.

Is such a thing possible?

Sure, it doesn’t say that you will capture 100% of your market, but developing a Mafia Offer makes business growth much easier.

The Mafia Offer must combine realistic market demand with a genuine competitive advantage and convincing presentation.

  • It begins with a focus on strategic alignment within the business
  • It requires careful and diligent market analysis for target audience insight
  • It depends on customer-oriented service development
  • It solidifies through presentation development
  • [widget id=”ad-continue-marketing”]ad-continue-marketing[/widget]It gains attention through insight driven promotion
  • It evolves through market testing
  • It comes alive through promotion and gaining access to buyers
  • It proves itself through measurable market share growth

Crafting Your Mafia Offer In-Situ to Re-Invigorate Business Growth

Combining my approach as a copywriter with my love of Theory of Constraints methodology provides us with a powerful blueprint for developing Mafia Offers (the irrefusable offer for your marketing strategy)

Here it is:

1. Elicit Perceived Constraints

From the customers perspective – what is in your way? (customers beliefs and frustrations related to the market)

  • What are the UDEs (undesireable effects) – meaning, negative issues, fears, frustrations, problems, as related to the market?
  • Why do you (the customer/market) think the UDEs exist? (searching causes)
  • Begin with the frustrations they recognise, and then carry them to a deeper understanding of the hidden causes.

TOC Tools

  • Evaporating Cloud
  • Current Reality Tree


  • Real-life systems have one, maximum two, constraints (current reality tree)
  • A problem is not precisely defined until it can be presented as a conflict between two necessary conditions (evaporating cloud)

Consider a generic outline of the constraints for a B2B based market:

  • Of course, the ongoing question of business strategy is identifying where to place investment for maximum long-term returns.
  • Identify the companies internal (resource and policy) constraints
  • Identify the companies ‘market forces pressure on ROI’ (from competition, industry innovation, market trends such as product lifecycle, increasing costs, etc)
  • Now: Link the companies internal constraints (what the real problem is) with their external forces pressure on ROI (the problems that they can better relate to, see and feel)
  • Demonstrate the negative effects on ROI. I.e. Income (which is being forced down) – costs (which are being forced up) / costs = reducing ROI
  • Advanced step: Represent in TOC lingo as ROI = Throughput – Operation Expense / Investment
  • Get buy-in confirmation from market / prospect

2. Elicit Aspirations

Find out what the market/prospect actually [thinks they] want – regardless of connection with the previously identified problems and constraints.

  • How do you want things to be?
  • How would they be ideally?
  • Do you know anywhere that such exists already?


  • Here we are eliciting buying criteria and researching features/benefits/advantages for what is necessary to create a Mafia Offer. This insight will be used in new service development.
  • Besides what the market/prospect tells you through this conversation, you can also flip the previously created CRT on its head to help craft the complete FRT, essentially turning existing constraints and problems into an illustration of desired solutions and advantages.

TOC Tools

  • Future Reality Tree

3. Elicit Expectancy

Again, from the customers (markets/prospects) perspective:

  • What would need to happen, and what would need to exist, to actually achieve the aspirations (FRT), given our current staring position?
  • What are the easiest parts to accomplish, and which parts are the most difficult, or even seemingly ‘impossible’?

TOC Tools:

  • Pre-Requisite Tree
  • Transitions Tree

4. Identify the ‘Magic Bullet’

Now you just need to magically combine all of this research into a winning offer.

If you want to know how, pick up a copy of my white paper on the copywriters process. Check it out: The Copywriters Selection Process white paper.

5. Take the Magic Bullet to Market

The complete engagement process to develop a Mafia Offer can not happen in a stuffy meeting between company directors who prefer to play with numbers and pat each-other on the back yet remain little more than ‘spreadsheet millionaires’… rather than facing the necessary nitty-gritty detail of primary market research. It’s a dirty job. But for the sake of profitability, someone’s got to do it…

…However, the most powerful form of market research is not through customer satisfaction surveys or expensive focus groups, but an in-situ process of taking an idea to market and letting the market show you what they want to buy — an exciting and reliable approach to market research that facilitates rapid business growth for long-term competitive advantage.

Understand more about Theory of Constraints Marketing or see blog posts on the Mafia Offer.

Gavriel Shaw

Gavriel has product and marketing expertise from a variety of roles, including CMO, Head of Growth, Head of Marketing, eCommerce Director, Web Marketing Director, Product Marketing Manager, and Senior Copywriter in various sectors, both B2C and B2B.

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