Musings on

marketing

By October 9, 2008

Think Before You Design: Solve Problems in Your Marketing Materials

People don’t buy things. They buy solutions to problems; they want to fulfill a desire or meet a need. To market your business effectively, you have to KNOW your target audience and what problems they face. In your marketing efforts – whether written, online, or in person – you should be able to provide your audience with a solution that is specific and directly benefits them, AND you should care about their problem. Examples of powerful motivators include making money, saving money, having more time, reducing effort, decreasing stress, increasing comfort, good health, being fit, losing weight, romance, and praise.

collaboration

This is a crucial step before you work with a design team to create your materials. By answering how you solve your customers’ problems, you can create marketing materials that sell for you before you ever have a conversation with a prospect.

So, what are your customers trying to figure out, overcome, fix, heal, or prevent? What is their biggest concern on a daily basis? How are they feeling about their problem? And what unique solution do you provide to their problem? Don’t get sidetracked by describing your service or product – stay focused on solving their problem.

How do you want your target audience to feel when they purchase your services or products? Trust? Motivation? Inspiration? More knowledgeable? Begin to think about the emotions you want to evoke in your target audience and the lasting impression you want make. What will they experience after they’ve hired your company?

Let me give you an example to show you how you can begin to develop this type of strategic thinking. Let’s pretend you are a financial planner who focuses on working with new parents to invest money for their infant’s future college tuition. You determine that their primary problem is not having enough money right now to pay for their child’s education. They feel worried and scared that they won’t have enough, confused about how to make the right investment choice, and committed to sending their child to a good school. You are going to help them to create a secure future for their child without exorbitant tax consequences. With your planning services, they will feel more in control, confident, and relieved.

By focusing on this part of your marketing planning and thinking strategically about your message, you will begin to understand exactly what motivates your target audience. You know the problems that keep them up at night. This will make all of your marketing efforts easier because you can explain the outcome your customers get as a result of working with you (and how your products and services will solve their specific problems).

It’s easy to get the inside scoop on your target audience – simply ask them about their specific problems related to your industry. Talk to your current and past customers. Take them out for coffee and ask for their assistance. Most people are flattered to be asked for their opinion. Ask them questions such as: Why did you need my services? What were you struggling with before you sought my help? What was the biggest improvement in your business since we worked together? How did you feel as a result? (By the way, if they give you fantastic feedback, this is a perfect time to also ask if you can use what they said as a testimonial!)

Interview several people about their particular challenges, needs, and problems. Try to get enough data to help determine the trends among your target audience. You may be surprised at what you find out. In fact, you may even come up with an idea for a new product or service because you uncover a need you didn’t understand prior to your interviews. By tailoring your marketing to solving your customers’ problems, you will position your company to be magnetic to your audience.

ABOUT Wendy Maynard

Wendy Maynard is the Strategic Director and co-founder of Kinesis, an award-winning marketing firm and business consultancy. She has over two decades of experience as a marketing strategist, business consultant, and executive coach. You can find her on Twitter and

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