Solving Problems: How to Get Customers to Listen
If you’re interested in marketing, one of the many clichés you’ll hear is “customers don’t want 10mm drill bits, they want 10mm holes”. The distinction is meant to highlight the difference between selling product features and customer benefits.
However, that analogy doesn’t go far enough. People don’t want 10mm holes either. What they really want to hang a picture, or put up some shelving – these are the problems they need solving.
When someone has a problem, he or she can be single-minded and selfish about finding a solution. If you, as a company, can provide that solution, it’s an opportunity for you to get them to listen to your message and make a sale.
When I first met with David Granger Architectural Design Ltd (DGADL), a local architectural design company, they had a problem. They had been in business for thirty years and had plenty of repeat business and referrals, but they needed to attract a broader range of customers, especially from a younger generation. However, they didn’t know how to do it, and although they employ 15 people they didn’t have the capacity in-house – everyone at DGADL had their own jobs to do.
So, they asked me to help.
What’s the plan?
After meeting with them, I carried out a complete marketing audit and proposed a plan of action. Here’s the very much simplified version:
- Ask yourself “what are your customers’ problems and how does your expertise solve them?”
- Put those issues at the heart of your messaging to get customers’ attention.
- Put the messages out there and ask customers to respond.
Businesses say they know what their clients’ problems are
The trouble is, it’s not unusual for a company to make assumptions about its customers. What a business thinks is vital to its clients is often not borne out if you ask those clients directly. So, to find out the problems my client’s customer were facing, I arranged phone interviews with a dozen of them.
The calls generated a shopping list of problems, as well as valuable feedback and great testimonials. Some issues were self-evident – the reason people wanted to build an extension was that they needed more space.
However, other problems were less obvious. For example, nearly all the clients hated the process of getting their projects through the planning system. They placed a high value on my client’s extensive local planning experience – indeed much more so than my client had realised.
All the new content addressed those customer problems head-on and helpfully demonstrated how my client could solve them, highlighting their expertise and knowledge along the way.
Then we needed to get the messages out there
We’ve publicised our new content on a range of social media and through digital advertising. However, we’ve put the bulk of our efforts into writing 4-6 articles per month for the website and sending links to those articles in a monthly newsletter to their email subscriber list.
We’re about ten months into the project, and the results are promising – leads, website visitors, newsletter subscribers and, most importantly, orders, are all up.
The other day I asked managing director David Granger how he thought it was going: