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What’s Your Problem?

By Maryrose Solis : Atlanta Business Member

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On Monday, I asked 39 people that question during Part 1 of my new Before We Brand learning series, and all I got was silence. Okay, I should probably mention that it was during my first live broadcast on Periscope. So, technically I wouldn’t be able to hear them if they were talking, but I did get a few hearts. Anyway, I continued by sharing a compelling statistic reported by Forbes: Approximately 543,000 new businesses open every month! I used this information to build an argument for identifying a problem worth solving that differentiates them from their competitors.

No One Will Buy a Solution Until You Give Them the Problem

You’re at a networking event and you meet someone who clearly needs your product/service. You share the benefits and features while they smile and nod politely. They abruptly excuse themselves but they do leave with your card (note they didn’t ask for it you handed it to them). Now flash forward to another event and you run into that same person. You learn they hired a competitor after they ask your name and what it is you do. Insane, right? Well what can you do about it?

Stop selling the solution! Start selling the problem!

I’ve been privy to some amazing sales events over the years and have delivered several of my own. I’ve become really good at spotting the great salespersons versus that “not so good”. It has a lot to do with an inherent passion and/or skill to cultivate an authentic relationship. They are socially adept yes, but also have the skills to identify the specific problems that matter to their prospective clients. Basically, they do their homework. They make sure that they come across as an expert in the problem facing, or potentially facing, their audience. Before you know it, that audience is held captive until the solution is revealed.

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, it’s important to identify the problem that will resonate most with your target audience so that you can craft a unique value proposition to incorporate into a brand strategy. I know this sounds challenging because no one wants to admit they have a problem, much less one you may benefit from, right? To prepare for this, don’t just identify a problem, support it with compelling data or information that helps someone recognize, that living with this problem will cost them much more than implementing a solution. So what do you do?

Just like any great salesperson, you do your homework!

3 Simple Steps to Help You Identify a Compelling Problem

1. Research the current trends of the markets that your solution benefits.

You need to know the market(s) your solution impacts. You may consider the market(s) you have expertise or experience in, if it applies. Read top stories, annual trend reports and/or any source that gives you the most accurate and current assessment on the market(s). The more knowledgeable you become, the better equipped you will be to identify and sell the problem.

2. Identify the major problems your solution solves.

If you have existing or past clients, ask them what problems you solved and make sure they were satisfied with the outcome. Your knowledge of the market should give you some insight as to who would pay for your product/service. Take that assumption and conduct surveys , “on the street” interviews or even small focus groups with that prospective target audience. Don’t exclude your social and extended networks. There’s always someone willing to give their opinion!

3. Choose a problem you can solve and sell.

Gather all the data and information you uncovered from first two steps and find a resonating theme. Most problems are stated in variety of ways but they tend to revolve around a core theme. If you’re lucky, it’s clear cut an you can see not only crafting your unique value proposition from it, but the brand messaging you can use to sell to and attract your target audience.

So lesson of the day? Do this homework and you should have a problem worth branding.

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