“There is no greater impediment to the advancement of knowledge than the ambiguity of words.” –Thomas Reid

The following glossary is meant to be understood in the context of my coaching program and may not necessarily represent the global definition of these terms in the strictest sense.

Since this document is directed specifically at students, I have used the words “you” and “yours” for clarity in places where I felt the concepts might be too abstract. In virtually all cases, these pronouns can be considered synonymous with “seller” or “vendor”.

NOTE: This is a living document; more links and definitions to come.

Answer Bomb #

A value-packed post written in answer to a question posed by someone in a Watering Hole. The goals of an Answer Bomb are to increase your authority, attract prospects, and inspire trust with Buyers within your Target Market. Care must be taken to not appear spammy or self-serving.

Assumption Gap #

The Assumption Gap is the delta between what an expert service provider believes is obvious and what a non-expert client believes is obvious. The problem with The Assumption Gap in a service context is that the buyer and seller don’t find out about it until it’s too late – i.e., the service has been rendered and the client is not happy. This is different from a knowledge gap because by definition, an expert is going to have knowledge that the client does not have. A knowledge gap is fine, an Assumption Gap is not.

Audience #

The collection of all the people who pay attention to you (e.g., Facebook fans, Twitter followers, email subscribers, webinar attendees, etc).

Benefit #

The positive outcome gained by the client from your product or service. See also: Return On Investment, Value.

Beta Service #

A new service that you provide for free to a test client in exchange for feedback, pricing, and testimonials/case studies. See also: Testimonial.

Buyer #

Synonymous with Client in the context of abstract pricing discussions (e.g., “Value minus price equals the buyer’s profit”). Synonymous with Economic Buyer in the context of sales and marketing discussions (e.g., “What conference do your buyers attend every year?”).

Call To Action #

A request for someone to do something, typically associated with a button or a link on a web page or in an email message (e.g., “like my Facebook page”, “join my mailing list”, “schedule a call”, “buy my book”, etc).

Charm Pricing #

The practice of using non-round numbers for pricing in an effort to make them seem smaller. Probably works best for no- and low-touch offerings in the two- and three-figure range. Low four-figure prices can be okay depending on the context, but once you get to high-touch premium services in the five- or six-figure range, they’re probably insulting to the buyer.

Client #

A business or person who pays you for services. Often conflated with Customer. Sometimes used synonymously with Buyer. See Sales Funnel for more info.

Cocktail Party Answer #

A succinct and conversational version of your LFPS. The name comes from the common scenario of someone at a cocktail party asking, “So, what do you do?”

Conceptual Agreement #
The goal of a value conversation is to reach conceptual agreement, whereby you and your prospect come to an explicit and mutual understanding of the underlying motivation, desired outcome, and progress metrics for an engagement. I believe this term was coined by Alan Weiss.

Conversion #
An executed call to action.

Cost #
The least amount of money a seller will accept for a product or service.

See Call To Action.

Customer #
A person or business who has purchased one of your products. Often conflated with Client.

Decision Maker #
Person who decides whether or not s/he wants to hire you. Preferably (but not necessarily) the same person as the economic buyer (e.g., the CMO could be the decision maker, but s/he needs to get budgetary approval from the CEO).

Deliverable #
Typically a low-value, tactical activity or artifact self-prescribed by a client who believes it will reach some underlying goal. Deliverables emphasize your labor, not your smarts, and are therefore to be minimized because they are not very profitable.

Demographic Market #
A market segment defined by personal attributes of an individual (e.g., Baby Boomers, New York residents, millionaires, Asian Americans, migraine sufferers, etc).

Demographic Specialization #
Niching Down on a Demographic Market.

Desired Outcome #
See Objective.

Diagnosis #
Assessment of a business’s situation and underlying goals. A diagnosis should be performed before prescribing a course of action. Professionals have a moral obligation to do a diagnosis prior to prescribing action. Failure to do so would be considered incompetent. See also: Self-Diagnosis.

Discipline #
Your craft, specialty, or job title (e.g., web designer, iOS developer, systems architect, etc).

Drip #
Email marketing automation software. Others include MailChimp, ConvertKit, Constant Contact.

Economic Buyer #
Person who controls the money in the client organization. Preferably (but not necessarily) the same person as the decision maker (e.g., the CMO could be the decision maker, but s/he needs to get budgetary approval from the CEO).

Effective Hourly Rate #
The dollar amount obtained by dividing a fixed bid price by the number of hours worked.

See Effective Hourly Rate.

Engagement #
Can be used two ways: 1. as a synonym for a project or other collaboration between you and your client, or 2. as a measure of audience interaction (e.g., “my audience is much more engaged now that I’m spending more time on my Facebook page”).

Expensive Problem #
A painful issue that a business is aware of and would happily pay money to alleviate. Potentially the answer an owner would give to a question like, “What keeps you up at night?”

Fixed Bid #
A pricing model in which the sellers (i.e., you) provide a single, specific price for an entire project. Typically, this price is based on the seller’s costs (e.g., time and materials). Compare to Hourly Billing and Value Pricing.

Flywheel #
A metaphor for building a body of work that becomes more self-sustaining over time. Given a central topic (the hub or axle), you can increase momentum by applying more energy (publishing more content). Without a central topic, momentum is impossible because the rotation will be off. Also like a real flywheel, decreasing friction (in the publishing and consumption processes) will result in more momentum. And once spinning, it becomes hard to stop or change direction. See also Solar System Content Model.

Funnel #
See Sales Funnel.

Gatekeeper #
Person who blocks your access to the Economic Buyer.

Generalist #
A person who markets themselves as capable of doing many different types of work for many different types of clients (aka “Jack of all Trades”). Contrast with Specialist.

Growth #
Increasing profits. It’s important to point out that many things are mistaken for growth. For example: hiring more employees, increasing gross revenue, capturing more market share, etc. These are growth tactics, and may lead to growth, but could just as easily lead to decay. Here’s a fitness analogy: regular weightlifting will probably lead to muscle growth but it is not synonymous with muscle growth. A number of factors could prevent weightlifting from resulting in muscle growth. When your bicep is bigger today than it was yesterday, that is growth.

High-Touch #
A sales process or service delivery that requires a lot of direct attention from you (i.e., the seller). Typical with custom software development projects.

Home Page #
The top-level page of your website hierarchy. Not necessarily a landing page or sales page, but could be.

Horizontal Specialization #
Niching Down on a skill that can be applied to a very broad range of client types. e.g., responsive web design, iOS development, MySQL administration. See also: Platform Specialization.

Hourly Billing #
The practice of charging clients by the hour for your services. In the context of accounting and tax, the process typically goes like this: you provide the client with an estimate that includes your hourly rate and the number of hours you expect it to take to complete the work. The client approves the estimate and you begin working. You track your hours as you do the work and invoice the client in arrears on a periodic basis (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). Compare to Fixed Bid and Value Pricing.

Inbound Marketing #
Engaging in activities that will passively attract leads (e.g., guest blogging, appearing on podcasts, speaking at conferences, etc). The desired outcome of inbound marketing is to encourage prospective clients to reach out to you (i.e., the opposite of Outbound Marketing). See also: Marketing, Outbound Marketing.

Acronym for “Just Fucking Ship” by Amy Hoy.

Landing Page #
A standalone web page distinct from your main website that has been designed for a single focused objective. Your landing page should have no navigation or other distractions. This is to limit the options available to your visitors, helping to guide them toward your intended conversion goal.

Laser-Focused Positioning Statement #
A two sentence message that tells people what your product, service, or business is, how they will benefit from it, and how it is different than others. It is typically not used verbatim in marketing materials, but rather as a guide for crafting various types of messaging (e.g., tagline, slogan, cocktail party answer, etc).

An LFPS takes the following form:

I’m a [DISCIPLINE] who helps [TARGET MARKET] with [EXPENSIVE PROBLEM]. Unlike my competitors, [UNIQUE DIFFERENCE].

NOTE: My LFPS was heavily inspired by the lovely and talented Dan Janal: Fool-Proof Positioning Statement.

Lead #
Person who is in your Target Market but has not been qualified yet as a Prospect. See also: Sales Funnel.

Lead Magnet #
Something you offer for free in an effort to persuade people to subscribe to your mailing list. Typical examples are one-page PDFs, white-papers, reports, cheatsheets, email courses, and so on.

Leverage #
An effort multiplier. For example, a pre-recorded video course has more leverage than a custom development project because the effort it took to create the course will continue to generate sales income in the future with no additional effort, whereas the custom project work only pays once.

See Laser-Focused Positioning Statement.

Acronym for Level Of Effort.

Low-Touch #
A sales process or service delivery that requires little direct attention from you (i.e., the seller). Typical with productized services.

Marketing #
Things you do to make people in your target market aware of your products and services (e.g., positioning, guest blogging, appearing on podcasts, speaking at conferences, advertising on Facebook, cold emailing/calling, etc). The goal of marketing is to create leads. See also: Lead, Prospect, Sales, Sales Funnel, Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing.

Mercedes Option #
Slang term for a your most premium offering. Typically your highest price, highest profit, highest touch, custom service.

Niche #
A specialized but profitable corner of the market.

Niching Down #
Moving from a generalist position (e.g., full-stack web developer) to a more specialized position (e.g., Shopify consultant).

No-Touch #
A sales process or product delivery that requires no direct attention from you (i.e., the seller).

Objective #
A desired outcome. For example, “Destroy the Death Star.” See also: Strategy, Tactics.

Offering #
Something you sell (i.e., a product or service).

Orthogonal Guarantee #
A guarantee that is not directly related to the offering itself, but instead allays an indirect fear that exists in a buyer’s mind.

A classic example of an orthogonal guarantee is Domino’s Pizza’s “30 minutes or it’s free!” guarantee. They don’t guarantee that the pizza will be delicious or hot or satisfying or filling or anything else directly related the core product.

Outbound Marketing #
Marketing efforts that seek to initiate conversations with potential buyers (e.g., advertising, promotions, cold calls, email blasts, etc). See also: Marketing, Inbound Marketing.

Outreach #
Initiating a conversation with a someone from whom you want something.

Perceived Value #
See Value.

Pipeline #
Scheduled work (e.g., “my pipeline is full through the end of this year”).

Platform Specialization #
A subset of Horizontal Specialization that targets a tool or platform that your ideal buyer was involved in choosing. Niching Down on Xero, Quickbooks, or Freshbooks are examples of Platform Specializations because your buyer almost certainly was involved in choosing the technology in question. Niching Down on tools like LivePlan, Jirav, or JetPack Workflow are not Platform Specializations because the buyer probably didn’t directly or consciously choose them.

Positioning #
A marketing technique used to make your business, product, or service more memorable. For service providers, this is done by focusing your marketing message on a particular facet of your business, your offering, your target market, or some combination of the three.

Price #
The amount of money exchanged between Buyer and Seller. A price is typically known to the buyer in advance of making his or her purchase decision. A notable exception to this is hourly billing wherein the buyer makes the purchase decision on the basis of an estimate.

Product Ladder #
A series of offerings priced in a graduated “order of magnitude” fashion (e.g., $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000). The idea of the product ladder is to make it easy to turn prospects into buyers regardless of the level of trust you have engendered with them. In other words, people who have just heard of you will most likely enter at the bottom rung of your ladder (e.g., $10). Assuming that they benefit from that purchase, they will have increased trust and be more likely to move up the ladder.

Productized Service #
A fixed-scope high-touch service that you offer at a published price. It’s fundamentally a service, but with product-like benefits that allow you to optimize the packaging, pricing, marketing, sales, delivery, and follow-up. Examples: KPI Review, expense audit, Profitability Assessment, Stock Option Selling Model, etc.

Project #
A collaborative enterprise that is designed to achieve a particular aim.

Prospect #
Person who is likely to buy from you but has not done so yet. See Sales Funnel for more info.

Psychographic Market #
A market segment defined by personal beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors of an individual (e.g., environmentalists, skeptics, flat-earthers, dreamers, etc).

Psychographic Specialization #
Niching Down on a Psychographic Market.

Roadmap #
A plan for getting from current state to desired state.

Retainer #
A specific type of productized service where you offer your clients access to your expertise on a subscription basis – typically monthly but sometimes quarterly or even annually. A client asks you a question over an agreed upon channel (e.g., phone, email, Basecamp, Slack, etc) and you answer within an agreed upon time frame (e.g., “within 90 minutes for requests made during business hours, next business day for after hours requests”). Think of it as a hotline to your brain. NOTE: Not to be confused with a typical legal retainer or a maintenance contract, which are really just pre-payment for blocks of hours.

Return On Investment #
The client’s profit, typically measured in financial terms. Calculated by subtracting the price paid for a product or service from the value of the outcome. Ideally, ROI is positive but can be negative. Positive ROI can be thought of as a benefit.

See Return On Investment.

Rolodex Moment #
A Rolodex Moment (RM) has occurred when someone you’re talking to is inspired to mentally run through the list of people they know and successfully comes up with one or more who they should introduce you to for business reasons. This will typically be in response to the listener’s first exposure to your CTA or LFPS. RMs are most likely to occur in your audience if you have adopted a Vertical Specialization or a Demographic Specialization (e.g., “I help dentists” or “I help people who suffer from migraines”). RMs are unlikely to occur in your audience if you have adopted a Horizontal Specialization (e.g., “I help people who need QuickBooks integration”).

Sales #
The things you do to convert a lead into a prospect, and hopefully into a client. See also: Sales Funnel.

Sales Safari #
A term coined by Amy Hoy for doing research on your target market by lurking in their online “watering holes”. The concept is to observe your prey in its natural habitat rather than doing focus groups or interviews. It’s a good approach if your target hangs out online but many don’t. Amy would probably say “if your market doesn’t hang out online, it’s a shitty market.” I tend to disagree but she’s smart so… YMMV. Video Reference »

Sales Funnel #
A system or process for turning a Lead into a Client. For custom software projects, this process would look something like:

  1. Engaging in marketing activities to attract Leads
  2. Receive a Lead via email
  3. Have a Value Conversation
  4. Reach Conceptual Agreement
  5. Lead is now a Prospect
  6. Submit a Project Proposal
  7. Prospect approves the Project Proposal
  8. Prospect is now a Client

Sales Page #
A specific type of Landing Page where the conversion goal is to persuade the visitor to make a purchase. See Landing Page for more info.

Self-Diagnosis #
Clients often come to consultants with a self-prescribed course of action based on an unstated self-diagnosis. It is the responsibility of the consultant to validate the client’s desired course of action prior to any engagement. Doing otherwise would be unethical and is grounds for losing the right to practice in other professions (e.g., medical, legal).

Slogan #
See Tagline.

Social Proof #
Endorsements (tacit or otherwise) of your work from third parties. For example: testimonials, case studies, client lists, etc.

Solar System Content Model #
A mental model for organizing a wide range of topics (i.e., planets) around a central theme (i.e., the sun). An SSCM keeps complex topics approachable by making it clear how each discrete subject relates to the whole. For example, if your “sun” is “increasing the profitability of service offerings”, then some planets might be, “positioning your business”, “writing a book”, “speaking at conferences”, “building a mailing list”, “running a sales interview”, “writing proposals”, “value pricing”, “productized services”, and so on. See also Flywheel.

Specialist #
Someone who markets themselves as having a sharply focused area of expertise. The area of expertise is typically defined by the overlap of the specialist’s Discipline and the needs of the specialist’s Target Market. See also: Vertical Specialization, Horizontal Specialization, Platform Specialization, Demographic Specialization.

Squeeze Page #
A specific type of Landing Page where the conversion goal is to persuade the visitor to subscribe to a mailing list. See Landing Page for more info.

Strategy #
A concise, high-level approach for reaching an objective using various tactics. For example: “Take the Empire off guard by sending an absurdly small force to exploit a critical vulnerability.” See also: Objective, Tactics.

Street Cred #
Evidence of expertise. Some kind of irrefutable proof that you know what you’re talking about. The more impressive the evidence, the more credible your claims of expertise. The better your street cred, the easier it is to build trust with people in your target market. For example, Stephen King’s street cred as a writer would instantly make him trustworthy as a writing coach.

Tactics #
Specific, individual steps used to execute a Strategy and reach an Objective. For example, “Send 3 small squadrons of x-wings. Get close to surface of the space station and head for the exhaust port. Stay deep in the approach trench to avoid surface guns. Once the TIE fighters show up, have two x-wings flank the leader and defend against enemy fire…” See also: Objective, Strategy.

Tagline #
A memorable, succinct, and descriptive version of your LFPS for use in places like the title tag of your web page. It is typically expressed in written form, but could also be spoken in certain business contexts (e.g., as you’re being introduced prior to being interviewed on a podcast or walking on-stage to present at a conference). Synonymous with slogan.

Target Market #
A specific group of people who you specialize in serving. This group can be defined in terms of:

  • Vertical (e.g., quick service restaurants, cosmetic dentistry, ski resorts)
  • Demographic (e.g., Baby Boomers, New York residents, millionaires)
  • Psychographic (e.g., environmentalists, skeptics, flat-earthers)
  • Platform (e.g., businesses who use WordPress, Shopify, Salesforce, etc).
  • Horizontal (e.g., businesses who need people with certain skills like responsive web design, iOS development, MySQL administration, etc).

A rough test for determining the viability a potential target market is whether or not there is a conference that is attended by buyers from this group. See also: Vertical Market, Demographic Market, Psychographic Market.

Teardown #
Constructive criticism of a web page, email message, sales letter, or other marketing piece. A teardown can’t be done properly without knowing the desired outcome of the marketing piece.

Testimonial #
Kind words from a client about your product or service. Used in your marketing materials to build trust with members of your Target Market.

The Why Conversation #
A line of questioning used in a sales meeting to uncover the prospect’s root motivation for the proposed engagement. It is called the “Why Conversation” because you ask a series of Why questions in an attempt to talk the client out of hiring you. There are three categories of Why question:

  • Why this?
  • Why now?
  • Why me?

Here are some sample lines for each category:

Why this?

  • Why not just leave things the way they are?
  • Why not use an off-the-shelf solution?
  • Why embark on such a costly and/or risky project?

Why now?

  • Why do you need to tackle this now?
  • Why not keep an eye on this for six months and decide then?
  • Why have you waited so long to address this issue?

Why me?

  • Why not handle this internally?
  • Why not outsource to an overseas team?
  • Why not hire some junior contractors?

Having a Why Conversation forces the prospect to articulate their reasons for doing this project now and with you. It will give you a rough idea of the perceived value of the proposed engagement in the client’s mind. You can use this value as the basis for a value priced quote.

Unique Difference #
Component of a LFPS meant to make you stand out from your competition. Your primary differentiator.

Value #
The largest amount of money a buyer would pay for a product or service. IOW – what a given product or service is worth to a given buyer. This is a purely subjective measure; different buyers will value the identical product or service differently. Furthermore, buyers will usually be unable to assign a dollar amount to a value if asked. However, they can usually react to a dollar amount suggested by the seller as “worth it” or “not worth it.”

Value Conversation #
See Why Conversation.

Value Billing #
A common misnomer for Value Pricing. Billing is that act of invoicing a client in arrears for work done. It’s technically possible to bill for value after the fact, but it’s virtually unheard of.

Value Pricing #
A form of Fixed Bid in which the price is based on the value to the buyer instead of the seller’s cost. Compare to Value Billing, Fixed Bid, Hourly Billing, and Why Conversation.

Acronym for Value-Based Fees by Alan Weiss.

Vertical Market #
A vertical market (or simply “vertical”) is a market in which vendors offer goods and services specific to an industry, trade, profession, or other group of customers with specialized needs. Typical examples of buyers in a vertical market would be quick service restaurants, ski resorts, pet shelters, auto repair shops, and so on. See also: Target Market, Demographic Market.

Vertical Specialization #
Niching Down on a Vertical Market.

Watering Hole #
A place where Economic Buyers from your Target Market discuss business matters. Could be conferences, professional associations, meet-ups, industry periodicals, podcasts, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, private forums, Amazon book reviews, and so on. Watering Holes are a great place to do market research and drop Answer Bombs.

XY Positioning Statement #
The core value proposition at the center of your LFPS which takes the form of “I help X with Y”, where X is a Target Market and Y is an Expensive Problem. Your XYPS typically makes a great Cocktail Party Answer. Note that this is not the same thing as “I do X for Y” (e.g., I do websites for architects) nor “I’m like X but for Y” (e.g., I’m like Uber for professional photography). See also Cocktail Party Answer, Expensive Problem, LFPS, and Target Market.