Introduction: What Is a Mafia Offer?
A Mafia Offer sounds like something out of a movie, not something that could seriously help you make more money in your business by increasing and controlling your sales.
Dr. Goldratt first introduced the concept of a Mafia Offer in his book It’s Not Luck (Goldratt, 1994, 133). Later, he defined a Mafia Offer as “an offer they can’t refuse” (Goldratt, 2008, 67). But in writing, he more frequently refers to it as an unrefusable offer (URO; Goldratt, 1999, 120) and more recently he (and Goldratt Consulting) emphasizes the need to establish, capitalize, and sustain a decisive competitive edge (Herman and Goldratt, 2008).
For this chapter, I will use the term Mafia Offer and have defined it as follows: An offer so good that your customers can’t refuse it and your competition can’t or won’t offer the same. In addition, I will refer to the operational improvements required for a Mafia Offer as the decisive competitive edge, operational advantage, or competitive advantage.
A Mafia Offer is simply the offer you make to your market—your prospects and customers—to make them desire your products or services and something that your competition cannot quickly match. And, of course, the offer you make is a combination of your products, services, and how you deliver them. Moreover, for your offer—the solution you’re selling—to be unrefusable, you are most likely offering something of equal or greater value than the price you are charging.
Many people confuse a Mafia Offer with a unique selling proposition (USP), customer value proposition (CVP), or a sustainable competitive advantage (SCA).
At first blush, it would seem that a Mafia Offer is similar to these other terms; however, when most people are talking about these alternatives they are actually quite different from what TOC experts mean by a Mafia Offer.
USPs, CVPs, and SCAs take what you already do and state it succinctly and with more specificity aimed at one or a few of their customers’ problems or gaps in current market offerings. These alternatives can be Mafia Offers, but most of the time they are not. Furthermore, an SCA is, in my view, an operational or technological (although these are not typically sustainable) advantage and not an offer per se.
Most companies offer solutions that solve their customers’ various problems or symptoms. With a Mafia Offer, we are addressing our customers’ core problem as it relates to doing business with our industry.
A Mafia Offer typically requires that you do something different (make operational improvements to establish a decisive competitive edge) to address your prospect’s core problem. These operational improvements allow you to actually deliver something unrefusable to your customers and something that your competition can’t or won’t do because they are not willing to or don’t know how to make the same improvements. In other words, you have to establish an operational advantage.
In this way, a Mafia Offer is a sustainable market offer built on this advantage. Mafia Offers are not a positioning or a tag line and “can only be created by satisfying a significant need of the market to the extent that no other significant competitor can” (Herman and Goldratt, 2008). A Mafia Offer is where we start if you have a market constraint.
Spend just two hours reading this chapter and if you don’t get at least one good idea for your business, contact me and I will give you a refund!
That’s a Mafia Offer and it’s real. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce you to the Mafia Offer—the Theory of Constraints (TOC) marketing solution. The chapter progresses from the discovery of what a Mafia Offer is, to the guidelines for creating an offer, to how to present an offer, and ends with how the reader can create their own Mafia Offer.
The best way to read this chapter is in order. Each section builds on the subsequent sections, so that when you reach the summary you will have a very good understanding of what we in TOC call the “Mafia Offer.”