The other day someone in a Facebook group ask for advice on getting access to someone at a company for which they had an idea for a new promotional tagline and marketing campaign. Rather then answer the question they were asking (which had long odds on successfully selling a random new tagline the company most likely wasn’t looking to buy), I tried to refocus their thinking on ways of finding problems the company was interested in solving and then seeing if their existing idea could be adapted to be part of a proposed solution.
The most successful marketing campaigns (good for the customer, good for me, and good for the people who responded to the campaign and became buyers) that I’ve ever had a hand in selling have always been created by finding customer problems to solve and building out a strategy with the solution to that problem at its core.
Sometimes it was possible to adapt a “preconceived notion” of an idea I might have prior to a meeting with my prospective client, but usually plenty of new ideas would spring to mind triggered by the challenges I learned about during the client discovery session.
The best place to learn about problems a customer needs to solve is directly from the customer in a one-to-one conversation.
The best way to get a customer to open up about the challenges they are facing is to do a little research in advance, so that you can ask intelligent questions during your time together which are design to illicit the additional insight you’ll need in order to craft an effective solution.
Here are some places you can explore when finding problems to solve for your customer…
- Press Page
Many company websites feature a page of Press Releases containing news about new product launches, features updates, business expansion plans, and details about new categories of customers they are trying to pursue. Reviewing these official company announcements will allow you to ask specific questions about active initiatives within their corporation. “Tell me about your plans to open a store in every state this year” sounds a lot more insightful than asking “So, how is your business doing?”.
- LinkedIn Company Profile Page
Like the Press page on their website, a LinkedIn Company page will usually include corporate announcements about company growth, new products, etc. If you Follow their page, those updates will be fed to you in your LinkedIn news stream.
- Local Business News
Your city likely has an edition of the American City Business Journal. It can be a great resource for keeping up to date on company news in your town. They keep most articles behind a paywall, but even if you don’t have a budget for a paid subscription there is still value in their free email newsletters.
- Google Alerts
You can program free news alerts sent directly to your email based on specific keywords. Use your prospect’s company name, industry, products names, etc. and get fresh ideas for problems to solve sent to you as they appear.
- Industry Associations
The next best thing to finding company problems you can help solve is finding industry challenges for which you can can create solutions. There are associations for ever industry and at every level from city to international. If you want to work with Real Estate agencies, just do a simple search for “City Real Estate Association” or “State Real Estate Association” or “International Real estate Association” and check out their Press page, any email newsletter archive (don’t forget to sign-up for their official email newsletter), and any print publications they may distribute. If you want to get an idea of just how many associations there are, there is actually an association OF associations — visit their website and learn about the more than 7,400 organizations that make up their membership.
Mining these resources for problems to solve will likely overwhelm you with possibilities. Use what you find to educate yourself about your prospects business and concerns. Convert that knowledge into smart questions you can use to get a meeting with your prospects and they’ll will gladly tell you the things they need your help with and exactly which problems they’re willing to spend money on in order to solve them.