“Oh my God! I absolutely must find a marketing consultant!”
Literally, no one in the history of mankind has ever woken up, drenched in sweat, thinking that they need to hire a marketing consultant. No one has ever lost sleep over needing to hire a consultant or needing to buy something.
People are focused on their problems, not your solutions. The problems they are experiencing are a part of their life and those problems exist whether they know about your solution or not.
This is perhaps one of the hardest shifts to make in customer-centric messaging. It’s a paradoxical thought to have when of course you know that your solution exists but you need to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
The customer’s problems have got nothing to do with your solution. They’re looking to fix a problem or change something and it just so happens that if they learn about your solution, they might be interested.
Customers are way more interested in their problems than your solution. I once heard an amazing quote from Daniel Priestley saying, “You need a Ph.D. in your customer’s problems.” The reason this is so powerful is that it’s not suggesting that you need a Ph.D. in your own solution or method.
Above all else, you need to be an expert in your customer’s problems. Care about their problems and their life and you won’t go far wrong. Instead of marketing your products and solutions, market their problems and their life.
We spend a massive amount of energy telling people how great our solution is and how different and unique it is. Websites, videos, brochures, events, talks, podcasts.
All talking about us and our product and services. Instead, every ounce of your marketing, sales, and content needs to be promoting and talking about your customer’s problems and their life.
It’s remarkably simple and there are only two reasons I can think of that explain why more businesses don’t do it.
- They have no idea/clue about their customer’s problems or they don’t care.
- They feel they’ve invested so much in their clever marketing and slogans that they’re worried about scrapping it all in favor of customer-centric messaging.
Number 1 is a problem, but not the end of the world. Either find a customer you do care about, or a problem that you have experienced and start getting deep into it.
Number 2 is a massive problem because it’s usually hinged on the premise that the business owner or marketing manager can’t let go of their own ego.
Years ago when I ran a marketing agency, I was so proud of my latest marketing angle and slogan. It was something like “rise up and fight against mediocre design.”
I had powerful faux-protest signs made and revolution style posters and leaflets made up. I thought I was a creative genius.
My ego had totally taken over the project and I insisted this was something that my customers cared about. That was until my mentor asked me “Mike, do your customers really care about the quality of design work out there by other agencies?”
“Of course they do!” I replied, my own ego blinding me to the obvious truth.
If they didn’t care then why had I just spent a load of time and money on this new campaign?
“Have any of your customers ever complained about the design quality of other agencies to you?”, he asked.
Slowly, it became apparent that my aim had been off. Rising up against mediocre design wasn’t something my audience and customers cared about, it was something I cared about.
I was making the assumption that my problems and their problems were the same. I was making the assumption that my solution and their problems were tied together.
My mentor asked, “What do your customers really worry about? What are they lying awake at night thinking about?”
The answer was pretty simple Basically, they’re worried about being ignored by their customers and being left behind by their competition.”
“Right.”, said Steve (my mentor). “So, why isn’t your marketing focused on that?”
The moral here is that my own investment, energy, and time had obscured my vision of the goal. It was a sunk cost fallacy cognitive bias that meant the more I invested into the slogans, marketing, and message, the better I thought it was.
I doubled down and committed to a bad idea, simply because I thought it’d be a waste to not see it through to the end. I was refusing to cut my losses and learn from my mistake and kept digging deeper, failing to see that I was going in the completely wrong direction.
Eventually, I changed my entire approach and started talking about getting left behind by the competition, being ignored by customers, and getting clarity on a plan. It was almost so simple that I couldn’t believe it would work, but work it did.
I focused all my content, messaging, and offer around the problem that the customer was experiencing and it made it 100x easier for them to understand what I did. They knew exactly what their problems were, so I didn’t need to explain or educate them.
If they weren’t worried about attention or getting left behind, fine, I didn’t care. I was so focused on who I could help and what their problems were, that I didn’t worry if it didn’t resonate with everyone.
Stop thinking about your business in terms of the solution you bring to the market. Start defining it by the market you’re serving and what their biggest problem is.
Your customers are not thinking and worrying and focused on the solution. Amazingly, they’re not worried about lead generation, traffic, or cash flow management.
They’re worried about feeling like they’re not making progress or the right choices. They’re worried about protecting their wealth for their family (or from their family).
They’re having sleepless nights over scaling, growing, and sustaining. They’re worried that their husband, wife, kids, parents, friends, and family are going to be disappointed in them (a staggering number of successful CEOs deep down are afraid that their family doesn’t see them as successful).
Your solution is totally exclusive to their problems. Yes, while your solution might help with their problem, it’s not your solution that’s going to get their attention and it’s certainly not what they’re thinking about. They’re thinking about themselves and their life.