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  • Bob Dumouchel

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Solve this marketing equation and explode your sales potential.


Yes, responses happen at the intersection of Audience, Message, and Timing. Below is a formula visualization using intersecting circles.

So that’s the secret in 50 words.

Sales Formula as a graphic

The rest of this article is a deep dive into the details of how to influence these factors. Your goal is to make the small yellow intersection larger while consuming the smallest amount of resources. Generally speaking, businesses have two forms of resources they can use to move these circles. They are creativity or cash.

Solve this equation for your business and the Internet becomes infinitely scalable and you become rich beyond your wildest dreams. The devil is in the details and the rest of this article is a discussion of those details. Take it from me, if this was easy, everyone would do it. While we doubt anyone will ever fully solve this equation, all you have to do is improve the performance and that starts with an understanding of the variables.

y = Yes

I am going to be Mr. Obvious here and state that yes responses in Sales make the world wide web go round. The key is how to drive this number and that is our subject for today. The first thing to consider is how much to ask for. All businesses want to jump to the final order but in many cases, this is simply unrealistic. It is a rare business relationship that goes hello to thank you in one touch. So be careful what you ask for.   

Ultimately the business goal is the final sale but in most cases, you need to guide the customer through that path. While studies vary, everyone will tell you that one touch to a sale is not something that happens very often.  

a =  Audience AKA Your Who

Understanding and defining your Audience is the start of this process and there are some beginner’s mistakes you absolutely need to avoid. First is, many rookies make the mistake of thinking EVERYONE is a prospective customer. The problem is that 16-year-old Emily isn’t interested in the same things as 35-year-old Ryan. Failure to define your audience is how you create a marketing disaster. If you cannot define your audience you are not ready for this article.

Audience selection is a classic quality versus quantity problem. The tighter the targeting the smaller the audience and if done right the higher the quality. The game here is to tighten the target the best balance between the highest quantity and quality. Rookie mistakes are thinking that everyone is a potential customer or over tightening to a point where you cannot reach your volume goals for the business. Marketing is a messy business so there is no right answer but there are answers that are more right than others.

In the world of digital advertising, there are lots of controls over Who you are targeting and like all marketing data, it is generally correct but never accurate.

Messagem = Message

Think about your marketing message strategy as the painting of an image in the minds of your audience. Each touch is one more brush stroke towards completing the work of art. As touches accumulate your marketing image emerges and forms in your Prospect’s mind. Like art your marketing message is appreciated by different people in different ways, influenced by their life experiences. Like art, your message needs to uniquely reflect your business why, mission, and goals. If you copy someone else people will consider it printing not art and they will value you less.  

Marketing messages can be both positive and negative. Current politics is a great way to illustrate this. Merely mentioning President Trump causes a reaction: good and bad. An ad in support of President Trump will get you a positive from some and a negative visceral reaction from others. Pick your side but I can assure you that different people will take the message in different ways. Not all messages have such an easy to see the positive and negative value but almost every message has it to some degree. The tighter you define your audience the better you can fit the message to create the communication experience you are seeking.

Many will tell you to measure message delivery with reach and frequency but this is far too simplistic. As a business, you must consider the strength and delivery cost. Reach is the volume of your target audience that sees the message. Frequency is how often they see it and this decays over time. Strength is the degree of emotional reaction you get from the message and audience. Delivery cost is a constraint because nobody has an unlimited budget to work with.

Timingt = Timing

Many think that markets are driven by Need but I propose to you that it is Want. You think they need it but it only happens when the customer wants the product or service. The transformation of a need to want typically is event-driven and in many cases, this is outside your control but not outside your considerations.  

Let me illustrate the transformation with a true story. Many years ago our agency was contacted by a business that wanted to increase their sales. They had good service, strong execution, and solid business that served a customer’s need. We created a marketing strategy with solid campaigns with the right keywords, good ads, and bids tuned to get their site on the top of the results. We turned this on and nothing happened and as you might expect the client was upset. This went on for some time before we got the dreaded “What have you done for me lately?” call. We managed to survive this call but we knew that our client relationship had a clock on it. We tried everything but nothing would move the needle because the customer’s need had yet to morph into a want. Then we got lucky and the client’s phones lit up to the point where they called and said: “Turn it off – We are buried!”- our favorite type of call!! To create some suspense in this story I withheld the service involved. The client’s service was snow removal and a big snow storm rolled into town. In this case, the reason for the bad response was known and understood but the conditioning of the market was part of the excellent ROI they saw on this campaign.

In most cases, the reason is not this simple or easy to understand but the same dynamic is always there. Advertising can raise awareness and drive revenue but it cannot make it snow.

Timing is driven by events that cause the message you have painted in the audience’s mine to morph the need into a want. So ask yourself, “what events cause the metamorphosis of your customer’s want into a need?” Then look for ways to refresh your touch to them at that time. If you have done this right they will come to you. You will never get the juggling of time and resources perfect but you can get past the random chance you probably operate with today.

Getting it Right

When you look at the formula visualization, it is easy to see why prospecting efforts have such horrible response levels. Fortunately, your competitor faces the same challenges so remember that you do not have to be perfect – just better than them! Grow, shrink, and refine your audience. Fill in the blanks in your message and try to get lucky on the timing (clue: the harder you work the luckier you get). Balance your resources and by all means, spend your creativity before your cash. We can tell you with 100% certainty, which one you will run out of first.

Author: Bob Dumouchel
Senior Data Scientist at Systems & Marketing Solutions Inc. Bob has worked with internet data and content since 1994 and as a programmer specializing in sales and marketing systems since 1978. Learn more and connect with Bob at his LinkedIn Profile. or continue your journey with Google Search