Blue Penguins, Marketing And A Sales Strategy That Works

Being right and getting hired are not always the same thing. If you spend a lot of time proving your point to prospective clients it's an unproductive uphill...

Photo: Michael Katz, founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development; Source: Courtesy Photo

They’re cute, quite harmless and, if Morgan Freeman is to be believed, remarkably dedicated parents. They’re also well-dressed which, given the frigid conditions of the Antarctic, is all the more impressive.

But you know what they’re not?

They’re not spelled with a “Q”. And as someone who’s owned a company called Blue Penguin for over 14 years now, I can tell you that approximately 20% of English speakers (okay, it’s always Americans) attempt to spell penguin like this: Penquin.

Over the years I’ve received invoices, checks, direct mail, email and any number of communications in which this spelling error is made. It happens so regularly, in fact, that I went out and purchased the misspelling of my company’s domain name, just so everyone could find me.

I really don’t know why people make this particular mistake. It’s not like the word is pronounced with a ‘q’ sound. Nor are the letters ‘q’ and ‘g’ next door neighbors on your keyboard (something which might otherwise account for the occasional slip up).

But you know what? It doesn’t matter.

Many people commit this error. If I worried about why or, even worse, spent time to educate the world on the correct spelling of penguin it would be a waste of time.


Get more clients with this marketing approach

When it comes to marketing, as a solopreneur, the same logic applies. You can waste a lot of time and effort trying to convince people that they need a solution to a particular problem.

You can drone on about how your research, experience or logic itself suggests they need whatever you’re selling. But you’re not going to convince many people.

Until (and if) they decide they have a problem that needs fixing–they’ll never hire you. It doesn’t matter how right you are. 

So here’s what I recommend instead:

Adjust your marketing messages to match what they already believe.


  • Find five people who look like the kind of people you want to work with and ask them what their problems are. What keeps them up at night? What do they believe gets in the way of their success? What specific words and phrases do they use when they describe all of this?

  • Then find five more people and ask again. (Believe me, your questions will have changed just from talking to the first five people).


Repeat this process until you don’t hear anything new (it won’t take long). At the end of this exercise you will have a very clear sense of how your ideal client sees the world. 

Then, take whatever it is you do and line it up, both in terms of how you describe what you do, as well as what you actually offer.


Here’s the bottom line.

Being right and getting hired are not always the same thing. If you spend a lot of time proving your point to prospective clients it’s an unproductive uphill slog. You’ll find it’s easier to sell when the services you offer line up with the way your prospects already view the world.


This article has been edited.

Michael Katz is a Boston-based marketing consultant and founder of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in helping professional service firms stand out from the pack by positioning them as Likeable Experts. Get a free copy of his report, “The Professional Service Provider’s Essential Reading List – 11 Recommended Business(ish) Books,” here. Connect with @MichaelJKatz on Twitter.



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