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I just listened to a fantastic interview with Tim Larkin over at the always amazing I Love Marketing.

Besides being a world-class marketer, Tim runs Target Focus Training (TTF), an insanely successful self-protection program with 52 instructors across the globe. In their own words, TTF is “the most devastatingly powerful, scientifically-proven self defense system in the world today.”

So, what does a 20-year veteran of elite military special forces and law enforcement units have to do with marketing?

In a word: research. (In two: market research.)

Here’s how Tim described his secret to not only surviving but dominating what the S.E.A.L.s call “hell week”:

My boat crew won every major event.

We won something called “hell week,” which is a five-day event where they keep you up for five days doing all sorts of physical evolutions.

And the reason I did so well … was because as a young kid—at thirteen—I did all the research.

I knew where to hide food. I knew where the instructors looked and didn’t look. I knew the best routes to take. I knew certain ways you could protect your guys so that while everyone else was working you could be hiding and saving up your strength. I knew all these strategies.

And the reason was: I had the complete clarity of focus about what I wanted to do.

It wasn’t because I was tougher than anybody else.

It was because I did the market research.

It’s like sales guru Jeffery Gitomer likes to say about preparation:

It’s an advantage that very few salespeople use.

They make the fatal error of getting all their own stuff ready. PowerPoint slides, samples, literature, business cards—you know, all the same things the competition is doing.

Biggest mistake in sales. And almost every salesperson makes it.

If it’s good enough to dominate “hell week,” just imagine what laser-focused market research could do for your next ad, presentation, or (yep) even your next blog post.

“The only easy day was yesterday.” – Navy S.E.A.L.’s Motto

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