Student Glossary

“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.

# Cocktail Party Answer

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

# 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.

# Digital Product

A zero marginal cost product that sells in a self-service fashion (i.e., without intervention from the seller).

# Discipline

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

# Drip

Email marketing automation software.

# 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.

# “Helicopter Option

Slang term for a your most premium offering. Synonymous with “Mercedes Option”. Typically your highest price, highest profit, highest touch, custom service.

# 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 a software project, 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

A potential customer who has shown an interest in your brand, products, or services. For example, they may have visited your website, signed up for your email marketing list, attended a webinar, or asked questions at a trade show. See also: Prospect, Sales Funnel.

# Lead Magnet

Something you offer for free in an effort to persuade people to subscribe to your mailing list. Typical examples are whitepapers, reports, cheat-sheets, 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.

# Mats

Slang for materials (e.g., “I have to finish my mats for the webinar tomorrow”).

# Mercedes Option

Slang term for a your most premium offering. Synonymous with “Helicopter Option”. Typically your highest price, highest profit, highest touch, custom service.

# Negative Externality

A negative externality is an economic concept that refers to a situation where an activity or transaction imposes costs on third parties who are not directly involved in the activity. In other words, it’s a side effect or consequence of an action that affects others negatively, without compensation. Negative externalities can lead to market inefficiencies and an allocation of resources that is not optimal for society.

# Niche

A specialized but profitable corner of the market.

# Niching Down

Moving from a general target market (e.g., “businesses”, “people”) to a more specific target market (e.g., pediatricians, environmentalists, research scientists, etc).

# 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”. More examples here. See also: Strategy, Tactics.

# Offering

Something you sell (i.e., a product, service, or productized 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 someone from whom you want something.

# Perceived Value

See Value.

# Pigeonholing Yourself

Some combination of niching down on a target market and specializing in an area of expertise to become the “go-to” guy or gal for people in your target market who want what you have.

# 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. Specializing on Shopify, WordPress, or Salesforce are examples of Platform Specializations because your buyer almost certainly was involved in choosing the technology in question. Specializing on tools like Photoshop, JavaScript, or MySQL 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.

# Preso

Slang for Presentation. A lecture-style event delivered live in person (e.g., conference session, workshop, keynote presentation) or over the internet (e.g., webinar). A recording of such event may be referred to as a preso for short, but really it is a recording of a preso - e.g., "Here’s a link to (a recording of) my preso at SXSW".

# 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 and the actual price is only known once the last invoice is sent.

# Pricing

The act of calculating how much money you would accept in exchange for a thing.

# Product Ladder

A series of offerings priced in a graduated “order of magnitude” fashion (e.g., $50, $500, $5,000, $50,000). The idea of the product ladder is to make it easy to turn prospects into buyers regardless of how much trust you have built 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., $50). Assuming that they benefit from that purchase, they will have increased trust and be more likely to climb 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: Website teardown, mobile usability report, on-boarding analysis, security audit, application architecture, etc.

# Project

A collaborative enterprise that has a beginning, middle, and end, and is intended to achieve a particular business outcome. See also: Objective, Benefit.

# Prospect

A Lead that is in your target audience and can realistically make a purchase now or soon. See also: Lead, Sales Funnel.

# 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 advice 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, 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 also: Price, Benefit.


See Return On Investment.

# Rolodex Moment

A Rolodex Moment (RM) has occurred when someone you’re chatting with 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 CPA 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”). See also: Cocktail Party Answer.

# Sales

The things you do to convert a prospect 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 attracting Leads and turning them into Clients. 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 also: Landing Page.

# 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 also: Landing Page.

# Strategy

A concise, high-level approach for reaching an objective using strengths against weaknesses, often in a surprising way. 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:

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.


Acronym for The Brain Audit by Sean D’Souza.

# 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.

# Testy

Slang for Testimonial.

# The Magic Email

A simple and effective email template you can use when you’re being ghosted by a client. Full description at

# 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:

Here are some sample lines for each category:

Why this?

Why now?

Why me?

Having the 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.


Acronym for The Positioning Manual by Philip Morgan.

# Unique Difference

Component of a LFPS meant to make you stand out from your competition - i.e., your primary differentiator. NOTE: This is virtually impossible to define well if you don’t know who your buyers think your competitors are.

# 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 The 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. See also: Value Billing, Fixed Bid, Hourly Billing, The 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, subreddits, private forums, Amazon book reviews, and so on. Watering Holes are a great place to do market research and drop Answer Bombs.


Acronym for “word of mouth”.

# 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.

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