What’s your problem?

You’ve probably been advised on more that one occasion that the way to communicate your message is to put it in terms of your audiences’ problems.

But what does that really mean and why is it so important?

Often, when we come up with a business, product or service idea we are thinking about in terms of our own needs. What special talents do we have? How can we monetize that idea? What is our passion, our purpose?

At some point, you need to think about who will pay for your service and what will make them choose you.

But before you respond with: “Well, I do this…”, let’s consider the point of the question.

When we talk about problems in marketing strategy, the exercise is really about putting yourself in your target audience’s shoes. It challenges you to think in terms of how they might describe their problems, how they might talk about what they need.

Being able to express what your audience needs in a way they would describe them is at the heart of making work that matters.

The best way to do that is to imagine your business doesn’t exist.

What problems does your audience have now? And do they know they have a problem? Why is it important to them to solve the problem? What pain points might trigger them to act on that problem?


The thing you have invented - it has to be better than the alternatives, it has to be different, it has to work so well that it turns one customer into two, then four, eight and so on.

But it also has to be packaged in a way that people recognize. That helps them overcome the fear of switching, the cost of making the wrong choice.

Because believing you are better isn’t enough. You also need to communicate why you are better in a way your customers are primed to hear.

Where are the ravers?

How many customers do you need?

Getting the word out to 10,000 people or even 1000 people is hard. But getting the word out to 10 people? 10 people who already like and trust you? That’s easy.

In his new book, Seth Godin talks about finding your minimum viable audience - the smallest group of people you can build your business on serving because “we can’t buy our way to mass anymore”.

And if your 10 people don’t rave about your work and bring in another 10 people, ask them why. Ask for advice. Then make better work.

What do your clients really need?

What do your clients really need?

As a small business owner, I bet you spend countless hours thinking about the service you provide - what to name it, how to improve it, how to price it, how to promote it. All good and noble questions. 

Now consider how much time you spend thinking about your clients' problems. Like, really thinking about them. 

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