Performance Targeting

By  •  Updated: 10/05/22 •  6 min read

Today’s issue is more of a mindset shift than a tactic, but it’s a relatively simple one that can have a massive impact on the simplicity and profitability of your business.

First, let me tell you how I discovered this way of thinking, in the misunderstood world of affiliate marketing…

How I learned to think about client targeting

I had a typical business school education where I was taught to worship at the altar of big brands like Nike, Apple, and McDonalds, but when I went out into the workplace it wasn’t in brand marketing but in direct response marketing, where you live or die on your ability to create sales TODAY.

I worked in a few agencies and saw a fair amount of money spent on things that weren’t tied at all to sales.

Fun fact.

I used to run the Action Man website, where most of my day was spent coming up with games to promote toys like this.

(Yes. It was weird.)

I learned online marketing in the early days through just getting stuck in and trying to sell things, and it wasn’t long before I came across affiliate marketing.

As an affiliate you don’t need to”win” clients like an agency does. Anyone can sign up to a company’s affiliate programme, send them traffic and get paid when you make a sale.

I learned a few surprise facts doing this.

The first is that “brand” counts for next to nothing when someone can buy an equivalent product elsewhere.

I’d promote small specialist retailers who were selling the same things with free shipping and maybe a slightly lower price, who would blow high street brands out of the water with their ability to convert traffic to sales.

Also, I was really good at building email lists so I had a lot of email traffic, but I was amazed at how few programmes gave us any creative we could use in emails.

The affiliate managers would urge us to build our own emails, or to “pre-sell” by building additional pages that would convert better than the client’s own site.

I learned to nod politely and find clients who could already convert my traffic to sales.

Affiliate managers will call you lazy. I say “right back at you”. Why should I learn another skill, create more work, for the same result, when I can simply find another client who doesn’t need it?

That thought rattled round in my head for a while until a legendary marketer, Dean Jackson, distilled it in one question:

“If I only get paid when I get a result for my client, what does the client need to have in place for it to be a no brainer to work with them?”

Here’s a short video where he digs deeper into its power.

Applying The Performance Marketing Question to your product

A very common problem I see with course creators is they build something like an MBA to justify their price. They try to cover every single base.

That means that when they do get customer successes, they’re all over the place.

If it’s an online business course:

• Some people will be learning about generating traffic

• Some people will be learning about building an email list

• Some people will be learning about writing sales pages

• Some people will be learning about creating products

• Some people will be learning about creating membership communities

and so on

By picking just one problem, when you get a result your testimonials will match your next prospect’s pain and you build an everlasting flywheel of customer proof.

Your only job is to decide what step you want to solve for, and who you’re targeting with your solution

This isn’t easy.

Whichever step you choose, you’ll immediately wonder if there’s more business to be had by picking another one.

But remember, this is just the first step you’re going to solve.

So what you’re really picking is what level of experience you want a new customer to have.

Someone worried about lifetime value and acquisition costs is a lot more experienced than someone still stuck on building an email list.

The email list-building problem has a huge market, but it’s also low value. The more experienced you go, then bigger the payout if you can solve their problems, but also the fewer customers who need it.

That’s why I picked sales conversion.

My clients have enough traffic to be able to run tests, and when we win, we win big. I can confidently point a multi-million dollar raises in revenues and say “I did that”.

An example: Gathering proof

Two customers in the same business of gathering proof who have targeted different markets:

Case Study Buddy knows the importance of testimonials and results in big B2B sales, so they JUST solve this one step, and they charge thousands for each one.

It’s all they do, they have a nailed-down process and all their own testimonials are 100% relevant to the prospects that come after them.

On a smaller value, higher volume level, helps websites gather, organise and share short testimonials. Their market is smaller SaaS and course creators whose problem is getting the first few positive bits of proof

Lower value problem, but bigger market.

In the background though, they’re building enterprise plans as their customers grown and they attract bigger accounts.

A tool to help

A way I attack the decision of which step to solve for is a combination of two tools:

  1. What I call the “99 problems” test.

Here you simply brainstorm 99 problems that you can fix for your clients. 99 is a lot, it’s force you to break them down into small, often tactical parts.


Next, you score each line by these 4 criteria

• How many people need it

• How much they’ll pay

• How good you are at it

• How much you love doing it

I did a short video about this a while ago.

By the end you’ll have picked a high value solution that you can deliver confidently, that you’re happy to do for years and that there’s a big enough market for.

What can YOU do that’s just a single step, that will unlock a big result for your prospect?

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.