The Marketing Doctor

Marketing’s Missing Links…

The Three Criteria of Fulfilment

John Counsel

By John Counsel,
CEO and Marketing Doctor
at The Profit Clinic

The Three Criteria of Fulfilment are also referred to as the Three Criteria of Excellence in some of our materials. Fulfilment is a more precise term, especially in the context of our proprietary model, the Fulfilment Spiral.

Over the past 20 years or so, the idea of excellence in business has become increasingly focused on — and, to some extent, sidetracked by — the Total Quality Management concept. What this seeks to do is to systematise the myriad processes that ensure quality in every aspect of business operation. It’s the Oyster Principle at work.

For many small business people, though, the issue of TQM certification has become confusing, even vexed. Concerns over the high cost of accreditation, the relevance of some standards and whether or not it will make any lasting difference to an organisation’s marketing success and bottom line, haven’t made the issue any clearer or easier.

It’s something each small business owner must decide for themselves. It’s certainly not an issue I want to explore here. What I want to show you instead is a simpler, less technical approach that offers measurable, profitable benefits and, if done properly, should make it easier for you to implement Total Quality Management procedures if you decide that’s what will be best for you and your business.

These are the Three Criteria of Fulfilment*

Three Criteria of Fulfilment

1. Safety

There’s little or no risk involved.

2. Efficacy    (What does it mean?)

It does what it says it will do. It keeps its promises. It works.

3. Value

The benefits received outweigh the conditions that must be met to obtain those benefits (including the purchase price, where relevant).

The Three Criteria of Fulfilment are not limited just to your products or services. They apply to everything about your business and the way it operates, including you and your staff.

The diagram above shows how the three are linked.  As you consider them, notice how interconnected they are. Each is actually one facet of a single, priceless jewel that will enhance your business success dramatically if you apply this concept consistently. This includes teaching it to your staff and business advisors.

Too often, customers are lucky to receive just two out of three:

  • if the product (or the business — or the person) works and is safe, it costs too much;
  • if it gives value and it works, it’s risky; or,
  • if it’s cheap and safe, it doesn’t work.

These are usually all Barker’s Eggs, in fact, because the deficiency is typically concealed.

Let’s consider each of the Three Criteria of Fulfilment in more detail.


Safety is really a euphemism for “no risk”. Whether it’s risk of losing your money, paying too much, the product not working properly, losing face with others, damaging the environment, jeopardising relationships, harming yourself or your family… these are all elements of risk that this criterion of fulfilment seeks to avoid, prevent, eliminate or reduce.

It’s the first priority, always, because it’s directly associated with peoples’ fears. If people are afraid of what you might do to them, you’ll find it almost impossible to focus their attention on what you can do for them. Since the other two criteria are the positive benefits, while this one is actually something negative that doesn’t happen to them, it becomes imperative to address this one first.

In selling, the first level of perceived risk is the seller, and the seller’s motives – not the product or service. Not WHAT you do, but WHY and HOW you do it.


Efficacy ensures that your products, your business, your staff — and you — all keep your promises. You’re predictable and desirable. You deliver quantity and quality. Efficacy and value create the positive emotional fulfilment that results in customer referrals and repeat, profitable business (see “Essentials of Free Enterprise”).


Value is about more than just money. It’s about all the conditions that must be met in order to gain the benefits promised. This includes the purchase price, any instructions for use, as well as other variable or fixed conditions.

If people have to change their behaviour (ingrained habits are the toughest), especially over a period of time, such as in dieting or study, they usually lack the self-discipline to do so. When they fail to gain the promised benefits, they’ll rarely blame themselves. Instead, they’ll blame you, your product or service, because it’s less threatening to their defensive emotional state.

Perceived value is the difference between the benefits offered and the conditions on which they depend. The bigger the difference, the greater the emotional payoff. (But be wary — this emotional payoff can be either positive or negative, depending on whether the difference is positive or negative.) 

3 out of 3 — guaranteed!By guaranteeing your customers three out of three — preferably in writing, in the form of a total satisfaction guarantee — you enshrine a commitment to excellence and total customer satisfaction (of unmet needs) and fulfilment (emotional payoff) in all aspects of your business, protecting and enhancing all your key relationships.

It’s the emotional fulfilmentof all promises, hopes, desires and expectations — that impels your customers to share how they feel about their experience with you, your business and your product or service with others.

And this is why the Fulfilment Spiral — and the critical Three Criteria of Fulfilment (the missing keys to Stages 5, 6 and 7 of The Fulfilment Spiral model of Marketing that can deliver 700% higher results!) — is the little-known secret for turning your buyers into your most productive, profitable SELLERS!

The Fulfilment SpiralThe 8 stages of The Fulfilment Spiral

© 1996-2014 John Counsel and The Profit Clinic. All rights reserved.

Don’t Go Into Small Business Until You Read This Book!Taken from 
“Don’t Go Into Small Business 
Until You Read This Book!” 
by John Counsel 
Small Business Books 1996
© 1996, 1997 by John Counsel

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© 1996-2008 by John Counsel. All rights reserved.
© 1997 The Profit Clinic. All rights reserved.


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