The ugly truth about problem-solution marketing
If an image consultant tells me I’m ugly, I feel bad, offended, hopeless… certainly not ready for a makeover.
But if an image consultant tells me I’m pretty, and she can make me prettier, I may well hire her.
Or this expert may tell me she likes my earrings. I then feel comfortable enough to tell her I don’t know what to do with my hair. If she’s smart, she’ll seize the opening I have created.
Zip your lips
So why do so many marketers go with the problem-solution structure? If the customer does not want to acknowledge or be reminded of the problem, this approach doesn’t work. Sure, the marketer needs to understand the problem he can solve. But often he should keep his mouth shut about it.
That was my main insight from Michel Neray‘s talk earlier this week at the Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs.
As soon as I got back to the office, I revised some marketing materials I was working on.
I want to help experts who are good talkers write better. They could look smarter and get better results with the writing makeover I will show them how to do. Just like the image consultant will show me how to look prettier.
Open their minds
But how do I get them to open up about the problems that I can solve?
Most of these well-educated people believe they know how to write. So that’s not what they perceive to be their problem. But many are distressed about not getting the results they want. They have trouble squeezing in the time. They feel like they’re having a root canal. Even though they have not related these problems to how they write, I have to show how I can help.
Like the image consultant, I have to start with how pretty they are then move to how I can make them prettier.
Pull out ideas
In the traditional hire-a-writer approach, we write for them, which is often expensive and laborious. The expertise is in their heads; they need to pull it out and put it on the page.
In today’s do-it-yourself world of content marketing and continuous social media and email, experts need to write. We can’t do everything for them, much like few of us can afford to hire a 24/7 personal stylist to keep us looking our best.
If I were talking in person to these experts, I could tell them how impressed I was with something they said. But what do I say in a writing conversation? How do I find the button that will encourage these people to open up ?
Focus on results
When I returned to my marketing materials, I added sincere compliments about how people in my target market are smart and how the world needs their expertise. Then I shifted to the frustrations that my ideal customer feels when people don’t seem to read what they send them, remember what they’ve written or respond in the way they want.
I focused on the results, just like the image consultant will elude to what I see in the mirror, compliments from friends and looks from men.
I’m not going to solve a problem. I’m going to help them get better results and feel good about themselves.
That’s not to suggest problem-solution never works. When I have a problem I can’t overlook or ignore, such as a headache, debts or a sick kid, I am all too aware of the problem and wide open to open to solutions.
From pretty to prettier
But when it’s a subjective question of how the world perceives me, whether it’s my writing or fashion style, problem-solution does not work.
I don’t have all the answers. But thanks, Michel, for giving me the questions I need to ponder.
How do you help your customer go from pretty to prettier?
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