You make a product, hone your pitch and then get busy prescribing the benefits of your tools to anyone who’ll listen.
That’s the way it works. You know what people need, and you tailor your solutions to meet what they need. You even give your unique methodology a fancy name and construct branded processes to deliver results.
Then one day you conclude that sales aren’t what you had hoped. That sometimes when you recommend work your proposals go nowhere.
Fear not, I’m about to give you a dose of reality. Get what I’m about to share, and you’ll start writing, selling, and proposing in an entirely new way.
Hold on, though, as I’m about to shatter your world view – but I’ll do it as gently as possible.
Here it is.
Very few people want what you sell.
That’s not a knock on you or your business or your solutions. I’m sure all are amazing.
What people buy
But what you must realize is that there are only a few things people actually want, and unless you sell food or sex you’ll have to figure this one out.
People don’t want what you sell – they want what they believe they will get, achieve, relieve, dodge, or acquire based on buying what you sell.
So, your job as a marketer is to understand the problems people are trying to solve and match your solutions to those very specific problems.
What are your best customers saying to themselves when they get up in the morning?
I sell marketing consulting services, and I guarantee you that very few people who eventually engage our services wake and utter, “you know what I wish I had, some marketing consulting.”
But they might say something like, “why don’t my customers refer me to their friends?” or “why do I keep losing projects to Acme Consulting?”
Creating trigger phrases
In the past, I’ve referred to these kinds of statements as trigger phrases.
Your customers don’t know how to solve their problems, but they usually know what their problems are. If you can get really good at demonstrating that what you sell is the answer to their problem they really won’t care what you call it, they’ll just buy it to make the pain go away.
If the pain is big enough, you may have to put out the fire before they will even consider the comprehensive solution you know they truly need.
Take some time and break down every solution you sell, every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”
These phrases can be questions or statements or even anecdotes, but they must come from the point of view of the customer.
In my book The Referral Engine, I advise creating a one-page tool that you can share with your referral sources. The idea is to create a cheat sheet of trigger phrases that signal that the person saying them needs your service.
So, for example, if you sell accounting services to small businesses a trigger statement might be, “I can never get a handle on my receivables.”
That’s a real problem that your accounting solution can cure.
Problem-solving as strategy
Frankly, creating a list of trigger statements should be very high on your strategic list.
People aren’t searching for your solutions, but they search every single day for ways to address problems they see and feel.
Marketers that build their content, web design and SEO practices around problem solving will intersect their ideal client’s buying journey at a much earlier point – the point at which you can do the kind of trust building that makes your solution the obvious choice.
Google the phrase – “problems we solve” and you’ll see that some marketers are building web pages with this very idea at the center of their content strategy.
So the next time you see a marketing consultant selling a “reputation management” solution, know that no one wants that – what they want is to make the one-star review go away. I’m a marketing consultant, so I sell the “we can make the one-star review go away service.”
For illustration purposes, I’ll outline my entire problems vs. solutions map. If you’re a marketing consultant, then this will make total sense to you, and you should probably look into becoming a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
If you own or market for any other type of business you’ll have to do the work to create this map for your business based on brainstorming with your staff, the questions you find in forums, and through some planned, quality one on one time with your existing customers.
I’ve formatted these as questions, but you can see how they could just as easily be formatted as statements.
I’ve broken what we do into the logical chunks of the Duct Tape Marketing System.
- Have you lost or never found the passion for your business?
- Do you feel like you’re drifting without any real plan?
- Do you feel a lack of clarity and control in your marketing efforts?
- Do you have a good sense of why you do what you do?
- Do you have a vision for your business one year from today?
- Do you have a revenue goal for one year from today?
- Do you feel like you’re trying to sell to anyone and everyone?
- Do you feel like your business is a commodity?
- Is price always and issue with your clients?
- Do you seem to be attracting the wrong types of clients?
- Are you struggling to stand out from your competitors?
- Do you have clients or customers currently?
- Do you know who makes an ideal client for your business?
- Do you have a unique message that answers “why you?”
- Do you know the greatest problems your clients face?
- Do you have graphic elements (logo) that appeal to your ideal client?
- Do you have a complete view of your competitive landscape?
Local Online Presence
Local presence problems
- Do you feel like you’re getting left behind in the ever-changing online world?
- Do you feel like your website isn’t performing as you had hoped?
- Do you wonder why your competitors show up for local searches and your business does not?
- Are you weary of the constant pitches from SEO companies?
- Do you find the need to produce content and participate in every social network exhausting?
Online presence solutions
- Have you ever had a different business name, address or phone number then you have today?
- Do you have a Google My Business Page?
- Do you have a marketing based website?
- Do you publish articles/blog posts regularly?
- Are you using and SEO plugin (WordPress)
- Are you familiar with “schema” location mark-up?
- Do you have a plan to acquire reviews from customers?
- Do you have a way to capture leads/emails on your website?
- Do you have profiles on major social networks?
- Do you wonder why anyone would want to read blog posts about your business?
- Do you feel like your website homepage is cluttered and confusing?
- Do you feel stressed out by the idea that you are being asked to produce more content with less time?
- Do you feel like you have no idea what to write about?
- Does is seem like no one else in your industry is blogging?
- Do you know the most important keyword search phrases used by your ideal client to find businesses like yours?
- Does your website home page promote a clear and simple message about why people should hire/buy from you?
- Do you have local content such as blog posts about events, client stories in neighborhoods where you work, etc.?
- Do you have a blog or other way to consistently publish new content?
- Do you have any written customer success stories?
- Do you create any video content?
- Do you publish an email newsletter?
- Do you sometimes feel like a dinosaur because you like real books and brochures and in person meetings?
- Do you sense that some of your marketing tactics are outdated in today’s online world?
- Do you have a suite of printed or downloadable education materials?
- Do you have an automated way for people to make appointments with you?
Lead generation problems
- Do you feel like you’re simply guessing at how to generate leads?
- Do you wonder what it would take to consistently generate the right leads?
- Do you sometimes feel your wasting money on ineffective lead generation tactics
- Do you feel like you’re flying in the dark when it comes to choosing the right lead generation tactics?
- Do you find the technical aspects of online advertising a bit intimidating?
Lead generation solutions
- Do you know the best place or way to generate leads for your business?
- Do you have a way to attract ideal client leads who want to know more?
- Do you have a way to follow up with leads?
Lead conversion problems
- Do you hate the thought of selling?
- Do you find it difficult to get in front of the right prospects?
- Do you spend way too much time chasing meetings, proposals, and deals?
- Do you sometimes drop the ball when it comes to getting a new client started?
- Do you get frustrated that sometimes clients leave as fast as you can generate new ones
Lead conversion solutions
- Do you have a consistent way to respond to leads?
- Do you have a set way to present what you do to prospects?
- Do you have a way to nurture leads before they convert?
- Do you need a proposal process for your type of business?
- Do you have a process to orient new customers?
- Do you have a process to reactivate dormant customers?
- Do you ever wonder what’s working and what’s not?
- Do you struggle with confidently know where to invest your limited marketing budget?
- Do you sometimes feel like you are simply responding to the marketing idea of the week rather than working a plan?
- Do you find it very difficult to measure the return on your marketing and time investment in your business?
- Do you have Google Analytics installed on your website
- Do you have Google Search Console integrated with your site
- Do you have any Google Analytics Goals created to track website conversions?
- Do you use call tracking tools on your website?
Key performance indicators
- Do you know the key indicators of success in your business?
- Do you set and track revenue and customer goals?
- Do you track leads generated?
- Do you track leads converted?
- Do you know the cost to acquire a new customer?
Okay, your turn. Demonstrate that you understand the problems and you’ll get the opportunity to pitch your solutions.
If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Marketing Strategy.