AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerSales Goal Stuck? Try Moving Goal Closer

Subscribe to AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

Sales Goal Stuck? Try Moving Goal Closer

When I was in charge of sales at a TV station, we had a contest to win a trip based on reaching a sales goal. We pushed hard to hit the goal, but it was the last few months where we really hit our stride and exceeded the goal line. It seemed like all our sales efforts gained traction at the end of the contest.


The original research showed that rats running a maze ran faster as they got closer to the food or goal. It seems we are the same as rats.

This is an example of the “goal gradient hypothesis” that states that the closer we get to a goal, the more effort is expended to achieve it. Some call it momentum, but Columbia University found that people will drink more coffee if they know they are getting close to the end of their punch card for a free drink.

So what to do with this information? The book Brainfluence, by Roger Dooley, suggests you should seed your goals to make it appear closer to the goal from the very beginning. You see this in loyalty programs for plane tickets. Many credit cards will give you 10,000 points toward your goal of 25,000 for a free ticket. Now you’re really ready to spend on that card with the reduced goal requirement. The 10,000 points also seems like a valued gift from the credit card.

All can benefit — sales, fundraising, productivity, punch cards – -from this simple perception-bending approach. Quickly moving toward a goal will make people more engaged and a lot more motivated.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.