A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham McGregor: Problem-solving marketing

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A wise man once said "You'll always get paid consistent with your ability to solve problems. Solve little or no problems and people will want to pay you little or nothing. Solve big problems and people will gladly pay you big dollars."

A helpful marketing strategy is to ask yourself this simple question:

"What common problems does my product or service solve for my customer?"
This can often identify a large number of new selling opportunities.

Here's a simple example:

Many years ago I was selling self-improvement seminars. People would attend these seminars and use the ideas in them to improve their performance and results in a wide range of areas. They would also feel very motivated and positive as a result of attending. Many business people would pay for staff to attend these seminars to help them improve their performance and productivity.

I used to think that most people attended to improve their performance and productivity and get more motivated.

However one day, a client told me something quite startling:

He explained that the real reason he had sent two of his staff to the seminar was to reward and thank them for doing great work for him. In other words, the people he sent were already his most productive people. But by giving them two days to attend a seminar that would leave them feeling even more positive and motivated, he was saying thank you to them for all their great efforts in his business. He had told these people that this was why he was giving them two days off at his expense to attend the seminar. He was delighted with their efforts and wanted to reward them.

It worked out just as he hoped. His people attended the seminar and come out feeling even more positive and motivated. They were thrilled he had rewarded them in this way.

A light bulb went off in my head.

I understood immediately that this client had used the seminar to reward and thank some of his top performers for doing such a great job. He was not looking for improved performance or productivity; he wanted to use the seminar to thank his people. (His problem was 'How do I reward my key performers?')

I then wondered how many other potential clients might want to reward and thank key people in their organisation for doing great work.

So I then began asking all of my prospects if they had someone really special in their organisation that they wanted to thank and give a memorable gift to. If they said yes, I explained how this seminar would make a fantastic gift that the person receiving would always treasure and would be a wonderful way to reward great performance. Many of my clients decided to take my recommendation and invested in this self-improvement seminar for some of the top performers in their organisation. This opened up a whole new avenue of sales for me as I now had another way to help my clients get what they wanted.

Another example is the baking soda manufacturer who found that their sales were declining a few years ago as fewer people had the time to do home baking. They asked their customers what other uses they had found for baking soda. They discovered that baking soda was being used to deodorise fridges, clean clothes and so on. The baking manufacturer released a range of new products that contained baking soda and showed people how they could be used to solve some common problems. (Like making their fridge smell better.) They ended up making millions of dollars in new sales.

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem." - Theodore Rubin

Action Exercise:
Ask your customers what problems they have solved by using your products and services. You may discover some interesting uses for what you sell that you have not thought of before.

Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and the creator of the 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.' www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com (This is free and has now been read by business owners from 27 countries.) You can email him at the link above.

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A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham has had 36 years 'hands on' experience in sales and marketing. He has sold a range of services including advertising, sales training, personal development, life insurance, IT services, investment property and business consulting services.

Read more by Graham McGregor

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