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7 Problem Solving Skills Marketing Managers Need & How to Improve Them
Updated: November 19, 2021
Published: November 03, 2021
Think back to a time you had to solve a problem but didn't have all of the right information. What did you do? Situations like this pop up all the time at work and put your problem solving skills to the test.
As a marketing manager, one may think your job doesn't revolve around problem solving. But it's an essential part of putting out fires at work — and making sure there's a process in place to prevent issues from happening again.
Whether you're making decisions that affect an entire team or simply creating solutions for yourself, strong problem solving skills can help you grow as a person and a professional.
In this post, we'll cover what it means to come up with creative solutions and how to hone the skills to approach problems like a pro.
What are problem solving skills?
Problem solving skills allow you to notice an issue, identify the root cause, design an effective solution, and successfully implement it. This includes the skills to evaluate whether or not your plan achieved the results you wanted.
The best problem solvers can anticipate problems before they arise and take action to prevent them or lessen the impact. They use logic to define what needs to change and creativity to propose innovative solutions.
Having strong problem solving skills can help you impress your manager, contribute unique ideas, and achieve your goals. It also means you can work through the core steps of solving a problem:
- Identify and define the problem.
- Come up with possible solutions.
- Evaluate the options.
- Choose the best solution.
- Implement the solution.
- Evaluate the outcome.
While there are many types of problem solving skills, many are considered soft skills that you develop over time. Think communication skills, people skills, social skills, and personality traits. For example, a marketing manager needs to be able to solve a conflict between team members or devise a plan to keep their campaigns going if the company marketing budget is cut.
While problem solving skills can require you to use your technical ability, you have to establish a number of specific soft skills to identify issues and implement solutions.
Problem Solving Skills Examples
No matter your career path, being an effective problem solver is beneficial for personal and career growth. Here's a look at the skills you may use when solving a problem:
Problem Solving Skills Marketing Managers Need
A marketing manager who notices issues and makes decisions to solve them is a valuable addition to any company. This type of person gets things done and motivates others to do the same.
The further you grow in your career, the more problem solving skills you need to have in your toolkit. The higher up you get in an organization, decisions become riskier, solutions are often more vague, and the potential impact can be monumental to the company.
Let's look at the top problem solving skills you need to be a successful marketing manager.
1. Analytical Skills
Solving any problem starts with analyzing the issue — you have to go beyond the symptoms of the problem to find the root cause.
Maybe your team is routinely going over budget on social campaign spend. Instead of micro-managing every detail, analytical skills help you dig into the problem to see what may be going wrong. You find that your social media coordinators can set up campaigns correctly, but they lack the basic budgeting skills to keep spending on track. So you devise a training program to teach them about profit, loss, and financial forecasting.
Being analytical can include a number of essential problem solving skills for marketers:
- Attention to detail
- Data collection
- Historical analysis
Once you discover the true problem, you can come up with the ideal solution. This is where you put your creative problem solving skills to the test. And for those who question whether creativity plays into solving problems, creativity is one of Indeed's top 20 in-demand skills for 2021 across all industries and fields.
Sometimes the solution to a problem is not always straight-forward, and can require creative thinking and other points of view to be resolved.
Creativity comes in many styles. Engineers can create innovative code, and writers can come up with new blog styles. For marketing managers, creativity plays out in a number of problem solving skills:
- Project design
- Project planning
- Editing the aesthetics of marketing materials
- Creating new promotional methods for products
- Planning and executing events
With dozens of solutions before you, how do you choose the best one? Through exercising sound judgment. Developing good judgment lets you consider the nature of a problem, possible setbacks, costs and resources, decision makers, and how to implement a solution. You can compare between options and select the solution that's right for each unique situation.
As a marketing manager, you can showcase your judgment skills through:
- Critical thinking
- Test development
Communication skills are the foundation of problem solving and one of the top leadership skills . As a manager, you need to be able to articulate your opinions, brainstorm with a colleague, and give feedback to a direct report. Being a good communicator also helps you relay your decision on a solution and align everyone to tackle it together.
Without specific problem solving communication skills, issues can't be resolved quickly and efficiently. That's why to be an effective leader and expert problem solver, it's important to make sure you have the following communication skills:
- Active listening
- Clarity of expression
- Public speaking
- Reading body language
- Verbal communication
- Written communication
- Building rapport
Once you've chosen a solution to a problem and communicated it to your team, you still have to create a process to carry out your plan. Organization skills help you implement the steps everyone needs to take, which can improve alignment and efficiency.
Setting up a strategy for your solution uses a number of problem solving skills including:
- Project management
- Time management
- Meeting facilitation
- Recording and filing information
- Creating strategic schedules
No marketing manager is an island. Teamwork is essential for working with others and contributing to a company's mission. It's necessary for exchanging ideas, delegating tasks, and working toward a solution.
Even if your role is largely independent work, you still need teamwork to collaborate with colleagues in different departments and keep your goals on track. But as a marketer, your role usually involves interacting with multiple people (if not dozens) per day. So you need to develop the skills that will make everyone want you on their team.
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Goal setting
- Resource allocation
- Prioritizing tasks
- Setting expectations
- Assessing employee strengths and weaknesses
- Performance evaluation
- Identifying outcomes
When problem solving, evaluation skills let you assess if a solution is working and help you make the necessary adjustments. These are similar to analytical skills, but often require more patience and flexibility in case your strategy didn't go as planned. It's important to know whether or not your plan is working as quickly as possible so you can pivot and try another solution.
- Data analysis
- Creating and evaluating surveys
- Customer feedback
- Identifying patterns
- Open mindedness
How to Improve Problem Solving Skills
Developing your problem solving skills isn't as straightforward as mastering Excel. But marketing managers can take several steps to improve their skills and advance their careers.
Question your decisions.
Relying on your gut instinct isn't the path to expert problem solving skills. Instead, try taking time to consciously question why you make decisions and what the outcomes may be if you choose one option over another. You can ask yourself:
- How important is this decision?
- How will this impact me a year from now?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen?
- What effect will this decision have on my team and the company?
- What can I do if I make the wrong decision here?
Look for opportunities to solve more problems.
Many experiences in your personal and professional life help you hone your problem solving skills, often without you even realizing it. You can gain or improve your skills by doing any of the following:
- Figuring out a technical problem with your phone or computer.
- Taking up a DIY project you've never tried before.
- Resolving a customer or employee complaint.
- Organizing a team bonding activity, overcoming obstacles along the way.
- Acting as a mentor for direct reports and helping them tackle their problems.
- Re-budgeting your finances to fund an out-of-the-blue trip.
- Finding out why there's been a dip in activity on your company's social media channels.
Find models and games to improve your problem solving skills.
A combination of proven models and fun mental games can help you develop problem solving skills. Some can hone your decision-making abilities, while others let you determine the cost of the possible solutions. Depending on which set of skills you want to improve, look to options like:
- 5 Whys (root cause analysis)
- Fishbone diagram (cause and effect analysis)
- Brainwriting (brainstorming technique)
- Starbursting (exploratory brainstorming)
- Hurson's Productive Thinking model (creative problem solving)
- Lego Master (decision-making and communication)
- Escape Room (group communication and collaboration)
- Line-Up (non-verbal communication)
- Hackathons (brainstorming and creativity)
Demonstrating Problem Solving Skills
Knowing how to solve problems at work is not only crucial for contributing to company goals — it's also a must-have for moving to management positions. That's why it's important to highlight the skills you already have. This includes adding problem solving skills to your resume and showcasing your abilities during job interviews.
Whether you're looking for a marketing manager role or wondering what to say next time an opportunity to advance at your current company opens up, start with the STAR method . It's designed to help you think through your experiences so you can articulate your specific problem solving skills. Make sure to give an overview of a challenge you had to overcome, how you approached it, what solution you found, and what outcome you achieved.
Honing your problem solving skills makes you more valuable as a manager and team member. So putting in time to develop the skills most relevant to your current (and future!) roles can make it easier to climb the ladder and come up with efficient, effective solutions.
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- Why Problem Solving is the Golden Ticket For Your Marketing Efforts
People are always going to have problems, so as a marketer or business owner, your job is to solve these problems for your ideal clients. This really is the key to business success.
Here’s the thing, problem-solving is easier said than done. You can’t take this lightly and can’t just go halfway with it because people will always look for better and faster ways to get what they’re looking for.
I’m not going to sit here today and tell you how to build your product, that’s your job, but I am going to give you helpful tips on how to market it.
Why people buy
It never gets easier to hear this, but at the end of the day, people don’t want or care about what you sell. All they care about are that their problems are solved, and your products or services are simply a means to an end.
Some of the most successful and satisfied entrepreneurs I know figured this out early on. They weren’t necessarily after all the fancy bells and whistles that could have come with their products and services at the beginning. Instead, they were obsessive in solving their customer’s problems. Once they figured out how to do that, they could add the “cool” factors.
Your customers don’t often know how to solve their problems, but they often know what those problems are, which is why they are searching for solutions like yours. Show them that you are the answer they are looking for and the experts equipped to make their pain points go away. As a marketer or business owner, that’s really all you need to do. Period.
How to discover problems
Do you have the answers to the following questions (this is a long list, but to truly be effective, you’ll want the answers to each and every one of them):
- Who are you selling to ?
- What are their goals and dreams?
- How do they gather information to solve their problems?
- What are some things that are important to them?
- Do you know what the biggest unmet need is in your marketplace?
- What is the biggest pain point your customers experience?
- How hard have you worked to try to solve their problems in the past?
- Why is the problem so hard for them to solve?
- Who else is trying to solve the problem and how are they approaching it?
- What does success look like to them?
- What might hold them back from buying a product or service?
- How do they come to a purchase decision?
To truly get the answers to these questions, and understand them front to back, start your research by sitting down with current customers and simply ask them some of those questions directly.
Additionally, look at online forums and sites they visit and see what they’re talking about, and also take a look at your emails, look at your online reviews, and chat with your sales team to pinpoint common complaints or issues your customers are having. You’d be amazed at the amount of information that can come from those sources.
How to effortlessly include problem-solving in your marketing
Refocus your messaging
Your ideal customer should always be top of mind and it is imperative that your message is directed to them and resonates with them.
They want to see a message that revolves around solving their problems. It should be clear and concise so that they have little doubts as to how you can help them.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to focus on themselves, products, and services in their messaging. It’s important that you scan your content and refocus your message on your customers and the problems they want to be solved.
Create trigger phrases
This is a bit time consuming, but worth it. Break down the solutions you sell and the benefits of what you do. Map these back to what I like to call “trigger phrases.” These should be attention-grabbing statements or questions and should come from the point of view of your customer, not your own.
Develop an attention-grabbing headline
Take a second and write a bold statement that might be the first thing anyone who visits your website will see and test this headline with your ideal clients. Ask them to be honest and details in their feedback.
Online reviews can also provide valuable insight for writing these headlines. They can often write your promise for you.
Be educational and informative in your content
Be helpful with the content you create, even if it doesn’t directly discuss your products or services. Show that you are knowledgeable on the issues they are facing in a variety of formats. Content is essential to any business today so get started on writing blog posts, creating how-tos, recording videos, and so on. Through content, show them that you are experts in the field that will help to make their pain points go away. Providing actionable advice can go a long way.
Make your prospects’ and clients’ lives easier through content upgrades
As part of your lead generation efforts, provide valuable information through content upgrades that people can download by giving at the very least their email address. This allows you to nurture them with additional helpful information down the road, which will continue to remind them that you are there for them and have the answers they are looking for.
Be responsive to comments, emails, and social media
Remember, these channels should not be one-way streets, they should be conversation tools. By responding quickly and providing thorough answers on these platforms, you’re just giving them one more reason to trust you and see you as an authority in your field that has their backs.
Dive deeper than basic keywords
Keyword research is essential for speaking to and getting your audience’s attention, but to really have an impact, go further than the surface level keywords and focus on long-tail keywords to really get targeted and get to the root of their problems.
Personalize your lead generation efforts
While problem-solving in itself will help drive you towards success, to really make an impact in your market, you must be unique and creative in how you solve these problems because everyone in your industry is trying to address the same problems.
Are you focusing on problem-solving in your marketing efforts? Have you seen a change with this type of focus?
If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Building a Small Business Marketing Consulting Practice .
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10 Step Process for Effective Business Problem Solving
Posted august 3, 2021 by harriet genever.
When you start a small business or launch a startup, the one thing you can count on is the unexpected. No matter how thoroughly you plan, forecast , and test, problems are bound to arise. This is why as an entrepreneur, you need to know how to solve business problems effectively.
What is problem solving in business?
Problem solving in business relates to establishing processes that mitigate or remove obstacles currently preventing you from reaching strategic goals . These are typically complex issues that create a gap between actual results and your desired outcome. They may be present in a single team, operational process, or throughout your entire organization, typically without an immediate or obvious solution.
To approach problem solving successfully, you need to establish consistent processes that help you evaluate, explore solutions, prioritize execution, and measure success. In many ways, it should be similar to how you review business performance through a monthly plan review . You work through the same documentation, look for gaps, dig deeper to identify the root cause, and hash out options. Without this process, you simply cannot expect to solve problems efficiently or effectively.
Why problem solving is important for your business
While some would say problem-solving comes naturally, it’s actually a skill you can grow and refine over time. Problem solving skills will help you and your team tackle critical issues and conflicts as they arise. It starts from the top. You as the business owner or CEO needing to display the type of level-headed problem solving that you expect to see from your employees.
Doing so will help you and your staff quickly deal with issues, establish and refine a problem solving process, turn challenges into opportunities, and generally keep a level head. Now, the best business leaders didn’t just find a magic solution to solve their problems, they built processes and leveraged tools to find success. And you can do the same.
By following this 10-step process, you can develop your problem-solving skills and approach any issue that arises with confidence.
1. Define the problem
When a problem arises, it can be very easy to jump right into creating a solution. However, if you don’t thoroughly examine what led to the problem in the first place, you may create a strategy that doesn’t actually solve it. You may just be treating the symptoms.
For instance, if you realize that your sales from new customers are dropping, your first inclination might be to rush into putting together a marketing plan to increase exposure. But what if decreasing sales are just a symptom of the real problem?
When you define the problem, you want to be sure you’re not missing the forest for the trees. If you have a large issue on your hands, you’ll want to look at it from several different angles:
Is a competitor’s promotion or pricing affecting your sales? Are there new entrants in your market? How are they marketing their product or business?
Is your business model sustainable? Is it realistic for how fast you want to grow? Should you explore different pricing or cost strategies?
How are world events and the nation’s economy affecting your customers and your sales?
Are there any issues affecting your team? Do they have the tools and resources they need to succeed?
Is everyone on your team working toward the same goal ? Have you communicated your short-term and long-term business goals clearly and often?
There are a lot of ways to approach the issue when you’re facing a serious business problem. The key is to make sure you’re getting a full snapshot of what’s going on so you don’t waste money and resources on band-aid solutions.
Going back to our example, by looking at every facet of your business, you may discover that you’re spending more on advertising than your competitors already. And instead, there’s a communication gap within your team that’s leading to the mishandling of new customers and therefore lost sales.
If you jumped into fixing the exposure of your brand, you would have been dumping more money into an area you’re already winning. Potentially leading to greater losses as more and more new customers are dropped due to poor internal communication.
This is why it’s so vital that you explore your blind spots and track the problem to its source.
2. Conduct a SWOT analysis
All good businesses solve some sort of problem for customers. What if your particular business problem is actually an opportunity, or even a strength if considered from a different angle? This is when you’d want to conduct a SWOT analysis to determine if that is in fact the case.
SWOT is a great tool for strategic planning and bringing multiple viewpoints to the table when you’re looking at investing resources to solve a problem. This may even be incorporated in your attempts to identify the source of your problem, as it can quickly outline specific strengths and weaknesses of your business. And then by identifying any potential opportunities or threats, you can utilize your findings to kickstart a solution.
3. Identify multiple solutions with design thinking
As you approach solving your problem, you may want to consider using the design thinking approach . It’s often used by organizations looking to solve big, community-based problems. One of its strengths is that it requires involving a wide range of people in the problem-solving process. Which leads to multiple perspectives and solutions arising.
This approach—applying your company’s skills and expertise to a problem in the market—is the basis for design thinking.
It’s not about finding the most complex problems to solve, but about finding common needs within the organization and in the real world and coming up with solutions that fit those needs. When you’re solving business problems, this applies in the sense that you’re looking for solutions that address underlying issues—you’re looking at the big picture.
4. Conduct market research and customer outreach
Market research and customer outreach aren’t the sorts of things small business owners and startups can do once and then cross off the list. When you’re facing a roadblock, think back to the last time you did some solid market research or took a deep dive into understanding the competitive landscape .
Market research and the insights you get from customer outreach aren’t a silver bullet. Many companies struggle with what they should do with conflicting data points. But it’s worth struggling through and gathering information that can help you better understand your target market . Plus, your customers can be one of the best sources of criticism. It’s actually a gift if you can avoid taking the negatives personally .
The worst thing you can do when you’re facing challenges is isolating yourself from your customers and ignore your competition. So survey your customers. Put together a competitive matrix .
5. Seek input from your team and your mentors
Don’t do your SWOT analysis or design thinking work by yourself. The freedom to express concerns, opinions, and ideas will allow people in an organization to speak up. Their feedback is going to help you move faster and more efficiently. If you have a team in place, bring them into the discussion. You hired them to be experts in their area; use their expertise to navigate and dig deeper into underlying causes of problems and potential solutions.
If you’re running your business solo, at least bring in a trusted mentor. SCORE offers a free business mentorship program if you don’t already have one. It can also be helpful to connect with a strategic business advisor , especially if business financials aren’t your strongest suit.
Quoting Stephen Covey, who said that “strength lies in differences, not in similarities,” speaking to the importance of diversity when it comes to problem-solving in business. The more diverse a team is , the more often innovative solutions to the problems faced by the organization appear.
In fact, it has been found that groups that show greater diversity were better at solving problems than groups made up specifically of highly skilled problem solvers. So whoever you bring in to help you problem-solve, resist the urge to surround yourself with people who already agree with you about everything.
6. Apply lean planning for nimble execution
So you do your SWOT analysis and your design thinking exercise. You come up with a set of strong, data-driven ideas. But implementing them requires you to adjust your budget, or your strategic plan, or even your understanding of your target market.
Are you willing to change course? Can you quickly make adjustments? Well in order to grow, you can’t be afraid to be nimble .
By adopting the lean business planning method —the process of revising your business strategy regularly—you’ll be able to shift your strategies more fluidly. You don’t want to change course every week, and you don’t want to fall victim to shiny object thinking. But you can strike a balance that allows you to reduce your business’s risk while keeping your team heading in the right direction.
Along the way, you’ll make strategic decisions that don’t pan out the way you hoped. The best thing you can do is test your ideas and iterate often so you’re not wasting money and resources on things that don’t work. That’s Lean Planning .
7. Model different financial scenarios
When you’re trying to solve a serious business problem, one of the best things you can do is build a few different financial forecasts so you can model different scenarios. You might find that the idea that seemed the strongest will take longer than you thought to reverse a negative financial trend. At the very least you’ll have better insight into the financial impact of moving in a different direction.
The real benefit here is looking at different tactical approaches to the same problem. Maybe instead of increasing sales right now, you’re better off in the long run if you adopt a strategy to reduce churn and retain your best customers. You won’t know unless you model a few different scenarios. You can do this by using spreadsheets, and a tool like LivePlan can make it easier and quicker.
8. Watch your cash flow
While you’re working to solve a challenging business problem, pay particular attention to your cash flow and your cash flow forecast . Understanding when your company is at risk of running out of cash in the bank can help you be proactive. It’s a lot easier to get a line of credit while your financials still look good and healthy, than when you’re one pay period away from ruin.
If you’re dealing with a serious issue, it’s easy to start to get tunnel vision. You’ll benefit from maintaining a little breathing room for your business as you figure out what to do next.
9. Use a decision-making framework
Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, generated a number of ideas, and done some financial modeling, you might still feel uncertain. It’s natural—you’re not a fortune-teller. You’re trying to make the best decision you can with the information you have.
This article offers a really useful approach to making decisions. It starts with putting your options into a matrix like this one:
Use this sort of framework to put everything you’ve learned out on the table. If you’re working with a bigger team, this sort of exercise can also bring the rest of your team to the table so they feel some ownership over the outcome.
10. Identify key metrics to track
How will you know your problem is solved? And not just the symptom—how will you know when you’ve addressed the underlying issues? Before you dive into enacting the solution, make sure you know what success looks like.
Decide on a few key performance indicators . Take a baseline measurement, and set a goal and a timeframe. You’re essentially translating your solution into a plan, complete with milestones and goals. Without these, you’ve simply made a blind decision with no way to track success. You need those goals and milestones to make your plan real .
Problem solving skills to improve
As you and your team work through this process, it’s worth keeping in mind specific problem solving skills you should continue to develop. Bolstering your ability, as well as your team, to solve problems effectively will only make this process more useful and efficient. Here are a few key skills to work on.
It can be very easy to make quick, emotional responses in a time of crisis or when discussing something you’re passionate about. To avoid making assumptions and letting your emotions get the best of you, you need to focus on empathizing with others. This involves understanding your own emotional state, reactions and listening carefully to the responses of your team. The more you’re able to listen carefully, the better you’ll be at asking for and taking advice that actually leads to effective problem solving.
Jumping right into a solution can immediately kill the possibility of solving your problem. Just like when you start a business , you need to do the research into what the problem you’re solving actually is. Luckily, you can embed research into your problem solving by holding active reviews of financial performance and team processes. Simply asking “What? Where? When? How?” can lead to more in-depth explorations of potential issues.
The best thing you can do to grow your research abilities is to encourage and practice curiosity. Look at every problem as an opportunity. Something that may be trouble now, but is worth exploring and finding the right solution. You’ll pick up best practices, useful tools and fine-tune your own research process the more you’re willing to explore.
Creatively brainstorming with your team is somewhat of an art form. There needs to be a willingness to throw everything at the wall and act as if nothing is a bad idea at the start. This style of collaboration encourages participation without fear of rejection. It also helps outline potential solutions outside of your current scope, that you can refine and turn into realistic action.
Work on breaking down problems and try to give everyone in the room a voice. The more input you allow, the greater potential you have for finding the best solution.
One thing that can drag out acting upon a potential solution, is being indecisive. If you aren’t willing to state when the final cutoff for deliberation is, you simply won’t take steps quickly enough. This is when having a process for problem solving comes in handy, as it purposefully outlines when you should start taking action.
Work on choosing decision-makers, identify necessary results and be prepared to analyze and adjust if necessary. You don’t have to get it right every time, but taking action at the right time, even if it fails, is almost more vital than never taking a step.
Stemming off failure, you need to learn to be resilient. Again, no one gets it perfect every single time. There are so many factors in play to consider and sometimes even the most well-thought-out solution doesn’t stick. Instead of being down on yourself or your team, look to separate yourself from the problem and continue to think of it as a puzzle worth solving. Every failure is a learning opportunity and it only helps you further refine and eliminate issues in your strategy.
Problem solving is a process
The key to effective problem-solving in business is the ability to adapt. You can waste a lot of resources on staying the wrong course for too long. So make a plan to reduce your risk now. Think about what you’d do if you were faced with a problem large enough to sink your business. Be as proactive as you can.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2016. It was updated in 2021.
Posted in management.
the intersection of marketing and digital media
Problem-Solving for Your Business: A View from Marketing
July 9, 2021 by Angela Hausman
Running a business is a high-pressure job and every day you face making decisions with incomplete information. Y ou must make important and impactful decisions that affect how your business handles the market with little lead time, in some cases. The impact of those decisions affect everyone with any level of relationship to your business, including creditors, employees, and vendors, not to mention the impact of firm performance on you and your family. Implementing a thoughtful and thorough problem-solving approach build on relevant metrics improves those decisions and helps achieve success.
Implementing a problem-solving process appropriate for the types of decisions you face using relevant metrics; one that involves the people responsible for implementing those decisions helps you reach the right decision in a timely fashion. Everything you do as a business is time-limited; since you often must respond almost immediately to challenges you face from your competition or other elements beyond your control. Consider the pandemic and you see an excellent example of how businesses were forced to pivot almost overnight to survive the shutdowns and other challenges they faced.
Responding quickly to your competition and the environment separates those who succeed from those who fail. If you find yourself constantly putting out fires, especially when those fires threaten your very survival, you must consider a change. Putting out fires also takes time away from other activities necessary for the ongoing survival of your business.
Today, we’ll focus on marketing decisions and how to develop a problem-solving approach to avoid problems and make the right decisions.
What is a problem-solving approach?
Effective problem-solving starts with scanning the environment to uncover emerging issues that might impact your business before you start to feel the effects of those changes on your business operations. We talk about this approach as a “sense and respond” approach that mimics the biological approach taken by organisms that survive to increase their chances of survival. For instance, a rabbit in the wild senses changes in the pattern of light and shadow as an early warning system that a predator is nearby.
Among the elements to consider in your scan are:
- Changes in customer needs, problems, and preferences
- Technological changes that might offer opportunities or threats to your brand
- New products, messages, and pricing offered by your competition
- Economic shifts in critical elements such as inflation, interest rates, and international exchange rates, which are often precursors to expansions and contractions in consumer spending. Also, consumer confidence, which greatly impacts consumer spending.
- Legal pressures and regulatory changes that might impact your business. For instance, recent privacy concerns force companies to consider ways to protect consumer privacy, thus reducing the need for government regulations and laws. For instance, Google will eliminate all 3rd party cookies on its Chrome browser in 2022 as a means to support consumer privacy.
This process of scanning often culminates with a SWOT analysis, like the one shown below, designed to highlight proactive changes the company should implement to adjust to changes in the environment.
Marketing problem-solving questions
Am i solving the right problem.
It doesn’t help your business to implement changes when you’re not solving the underlying problems with the greatest impact on your success. For instance, solving a symptom doesn’t make the problem go away any more than getting rid of your headache makes a serious neurological problem go away even though it might make you feel better. By the same token, solving a minor problem doesn’t produce much in the way of improvement for your bottom line.
This also goes for your consumer market. Recognize that people buy solutions not products. Hence, you must solve a problem faced by a large enough market, one that’s sufficiently annoying that consumers want to spend money to solve their problem, and solve the problem better, at least in some respects, than your competition.
Am I spending enough money on marketing?
Marketing costs money, yet the returns on the marketing investment often occur over a long period of time rather than immediately. For instance, it can take 6 months to a year, or more, to see a return on your digital marketing spending even if you’re doing your digital marketing right.
The marketing campaigns your business develops and implements determine the difference between success and bankruptcy, but it’s not always easy to find the right combination of strategies necessary to achieve a high return on your investment.
An effective marketing campaign brings you positive ROI given sufficient time for the campaign to play out. After all, you need to move consumers from awareness, to interest, to desire, to purchase, which takes time.
Determining how much to spend on marketing is a persistent question with no universally accepted answer. Some advise spending between 2 and 5% of your gross sales while others recommend 7-8% of revenue on marketing. The reality is you need to spend as much on marketing as needed to reach your goals and there’s no easy formula for that.
You should first make sure you find effective ways to market by choosing tactics with high rates of return, such as email marketing that delivers $44 for every dollar you spend . Going with cheaper marketing methods, like social media, helps to save money while still creating a presence for your business and offering highly targeted appeals to reach your audience.
Am I listening to the right people?
It might not sound like a great idea to pay someone to tell you how to run your business – but it can change a lot in terms of your success. Having a legal advisor, or a financial advisor to offer professional insights that help solve problems often keeps you out of trouble, while hiring a marketing consultant means you don’t repeat common mistakes made by those with less expertise and experience.
You won’t have the answer to everything all of the time, and some problems can put your business in serious trouble. For example, being on a list of high-risk merchant accounts makes it hard to maintain needed inventory and costs you customers. Losing the ability to operate poses a huge threat to you as a business owner, and even if you’re able to get that back later on – it might be too late in the eyes of your customers.
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About Angela Hausman
I manage Hausman and Associates, a full-service marketing firm operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. We provide a host of digital marketing solutions including content marketing, email marketing, SEO/ SEM, social media marketing, lead generation as well as marketing strategy, branding,, market research, and a variety of other marketing programs to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits.
I hold a PhD in Marketing from USF. I live in Alexandria with my 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 3 cats.
I'm a featured contributor to Business2Community and was named to Content Marketing Institutes 40 digital luminaries for 2014.
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Sequential steps for solving marketing problems.
Sequential Steps for Solving Marketing Problems!
The research process involves identifying a management problem or opportunity translating the problem opportunity into a research problem and collecting, analysing and reporting the information specified in the research problem. It refers to a set of sequential steps to be followed to complete the task of research.
Each step is independent but is closely related to other. The steps are independent because each step has a unique and decisive role. Dependent on the other hand because the results of preceding step is the basis for the step.
The marketing research design is the specification of procedures for collecting and analysing the data necessary to help identify or react to a problem or opportunity such that the difference between the cost of obtaining various levels of accuracy and the expected value of the information associated with each level of accuracy is maximised.
In applying marketing research for solving marketing problems, the researcher has to go through several steps or stages. Each stage has its own decisive role in the total process. Right from defining the problem, down to the preparation of the report, the researcher has to proceed step by step. The steps are as follows:
I. Identifying and stating the Problem:
a) Identifying and defining the problem
b) Setting up specific research objectives
II. Developing the Research Plan and Research Design:
a) Decision on the data sources
b) Estimate the value of information
c) Decision on research approaches
d) Decision on research instruments
e) Decision on sample plan
f) Decision on contact methods
g) Select the data collection approach
h) Select the measurement technique
i) Select the sample
j) Evaluate the ethics of the research
k) Estimate the time and financial requirements
III. Collection of Information:
a) Designing data Collection forms
b) Data collection
IV. Analyse the Information:
e) Drawing Conclusions
V. Presenting the Findings:
a) Preparation of the research proposal
b) Preparation of report
c) Recommendations and follow up
I. Defining the Problem:
a) Identifying and defining the problem:
The first and foremost and most probably one of the most important parts of the marketing research is to identify the problem. If the identification is not accurate the processes after that will lead to an inaccurate result, wastage of time and money. The next stage is to define the problem. Problem well defined is half solved. Unless the problem is properly defined, the research process is unlikely to have any value.
Therefore problem definition is the most critical part of the research. Problem definition involves specifying the information needed by management. Researchers have to identify, define and conceptualise the real problem. Real issues may not be apparent and apparent issues may be deceptive. Care has to be taken while defining the problem. The problem definition must include the following elements:
(i) What data
(ii) From which source(s)
(iii) How to collect
(iv) How to contact the source
(v) How to select the units
(vi) What analyses to carry out
(vii) Costs and timing
Steps in defining research problem:
a) Management problem/opportunity clarification:
The basic goal of the problem clarification is to ensure that the decision-maker’s initial description of the management decision is accurate and reflects the appropriate area of concern for research, the probability of providing management with useful information is low.
b) Situation analysis:
The management problem can be understood within the context of the decision. The situation analysis focuses on variables that have produced the stated management problem/ opportunity. It also involves giving careful attention to company records; appropriate secondary sources such as census data, industry sales figures, economic indicators and interviews with knowledgeable individuals both internal and external to the firm. The persons interviewed will include the managers, sales per other researchers, trade association officials, professionals and consumers.
c) Model development:
Once the researcher has a sound understand the decision situation, it is necessary to get as clear an understanding as possible of the situation model of the manager. A situation model is the description of the outcomes that are desired, the relevant variables and the relationships of the variables to the outcomes.
d) Specification of information requirements:
Research cannot provide a solution Solution requires executive judgment. Research provides information relevant to the decisions faced by the executive. The output of problem-definition process is a clear statement of the information required to assist the decision-maker.
Setting up specific research objectives:
Once the problem has been defined the researcher has to frame the specific research objectives. There should be a broad frame within which research has to conducted. To this, the researchers have to address themselves to the ‘why’ aspect of the study. There could be 4 research objectives:
It is used to gain ideas and insight to define the problem and suggest hypotheses. It is particularly helpful in breaking broad, vague problem statements into smaller, more precise problem statements. Exploratory research lays down the foundations enabling the rest of the research exercise to be built soundly:
The role of predictive research, as the name suggests, is to enable the marketing researcher to predict something about future market conditions. Market growth or decline, increased competition, greater import penetration in a particular market, future price levels or changes in consumer taste, to name but a few examples.
This research in contrast to exploratory research is concerned with describing the characteristics of certain groups, to estimate the proportion of people who behave in a certain way or to make predictions. As a result of an exploratory study, the researcher already knows a amount about the research problem, before the project begins. Descriptive information is often useful for predictive purposes, but the causes of what is being predicted improve understanding.
Also known as conclusive research, it goes further than merely describing a situation or predicting future conditions, although conclusive research does have a predictive element as well. It is used in order to establish causality of a particular phenomenon, which in a marketing context is usually a sale or some form of buyer behaviour.
While using conclusive research techniques, the researcher is striving to establish causal relationships between marketing variables such as the sales or patterns of consumption. In order to accomplish this kind of test it is essent.al to employ a formal experimental design in order to be able to test a specific hypothesis.
Studies on the effectiveness of advertising generally attempt to discover the extent to which adverb sing causes sales or attitude change. We can use three types of evidence to make inferences about causation:
1. Concomitant variation or invariant association:
This is a common basis for ascribing cause. Suppose we note that our advertising expenditures vary across a number of geographic areas a measure sale in each area. To the extent that high sales occur in areas with large advertising expenditures and low sales occur in areas with limited advertising expenditures, we may infer that advertising is a cause of sales. It must be stressed that we have inferred this, but we have not proven that increased advertising causes increased sales.
2. Sequence of occurrence:
It can also provide evidence of causation. For one event to cause another it must always precede it. An event that occurs after another event cannot be said to cause the first event The importance of sequence can be demonstrated in our last example of advertising causing sales Suppose that further investigation showed that the advertising allocation to the geographic regions had been based on the last periods’ sales such that the level of advertising was directly related to past sales. Suddenly, the nature of our causal relationship is reversed Now, because of the sequence of events, we can infer that changes in sales levels cause changes in advertising levels.
3. Absence of other potential causal factors:
A final type of evidence that we can use to infer causality is the absence of other potential causal factors. That is, if we could logically or through our research design eliminate all possible causative factors except the one we are interested in, we would have established that the variable we are concerned with was the causative factor.
Unfortunately, it is never possible to control completely or to eliminate all possible causes for any particular event. Always we have the possibility that some factor of which we are not aware has influenced the results. However, if all reasonable alternatives are eliminated except one, we can have a high degree of confidence in the remaining variable.
A manager is most likely to be involved in all these stages. Defining the real problem is crucial, and needs careful thought. What might appear at first sight to be the problem may be merely a symptom, or part of a wider problem. Further, market research may be able to contribute to some parts of the problem, but not to others. This problem definition stage is therefore the responsibility of the manager who suffers the problem, but demands joint discussions with the market research expert.
The detailed questions of research design are really the province of the expert, but a manager needs to be able to understand enough to judge whether the design will produce the information needed. Do not be afraid to ask questions, and make sure the expert can explain everything in a way you can understand.
The process is the same as buying any outside service, whether the provider is actually outside the firm or just in a different department. Good questions to ask are, ‘Why use that particular method? , ‘What other ways could it be done?’, ‘What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?’
II. Research Design:
It is the blue print of research project and when implemented must bring out the information required for solving the identified marketing problem. It calls for following decisions.
a) Decision on Data Sources:
The researcher has to decide which data sources to use. There are two data sources available. They are:
i) Secondary data that are collected for some other purpose
ii) Primary data or data collected for specific purpose
The first thing to do when information is needed is to see what is available already. Such information is referred to as secondary data’. In order to distinguish it from primary data, the secondary data is collected for the first time. This first step is usually called desk research. A carefully designed information system should provide much of the data you want.
Once the possibilities of desk research have been exhausted, new data may be required to be collected. There are three main sources: experimentation, observation and respondents.
b) Estimate the Value of the Information:
A decision-maker normally approaches a problem with some information. If the problem is say, whether a new product should be introduced, enough information will normally have been accumulated through past experience with other decisions concerning the introduction of new products and from various other sources Ito allow some preliminary judgments to be formed about the desirability of introducing the product in question.
There will rarely be sufficient confidence in these judgments that additional information relevant to the decision would not be, accepted if it were available without cost or delay. There might be enough confidence, however, that there would be an unwillingness to pay very much or wait very long for the added information. .
c) Decision on Research approaches:
There are 5 types of research approaches. They are:
i) Observational research:
It calls for data collection by observing the situation and the people in the situation. Observational studies include the use of consumer panels and retail audits.
ii) Focus group research:
This method includes collecting information from few people who are invited to discuss the matters.
iii) Survey research:
In this type, information is collected by conducting elaborate survey regarding people, knowledge, beliefs, tastes and preferences via mail, telephone, personal, e-mail, fax or post.
iv) Behavioural research:
In this method, information is collected by learning the behaviour of the consumer through depth interviewing, group interviewing, and projective techniques
v) Experimental research:
It involves collecting information by conducting experiment in a controlled environment or field studies such as a test market where one or two elements are left to operate and other factors are being controlled.
d) Decision regarding research instruments:
There are mainly two types of research instruments. They are:
A set of questions logically arranged presented to the respondents to answer.
ii) Mechanical devices:
Mechanical devices such as galvanometer to measure interest & emotions, eye cameras to study eye movement etc. can be used.
e) Decision on sampling plan:
The preparation of the sampling plan calls for the following decisions:
i) Sampling unit:
The researcher has to define the universe in which he is conducting research. He has to answer of who is to be surveyed.
ii) Sample size:
He has to decide what should be the size of the sample or answer the question how many people to be surveyed.
iii) Sampling procedure:
Further he has to decide what should be the method in selecting the samples. There are two methods of sampling. They are:
This is further classified into simple random sampling, stratified random sampling and cluster sampling
This is further classified into convenience sampling, quota sampling, judgement sampling.
f) Decision on contact methods:
Lastly the researcher has’ to take a decision regarding the contact methods. The respondent can be contacted through mail, telephone, personally or on line interviews.
g) Select the data collection approach:
There are, three basic data collection approaches in marketing research:
a) Secondary data
b) Survey data
c) Experimental data
Secondary data are collected for some purpose other than helping to solve the current problem, whereas primary data are collected expressly to solve the problem at hand.
Survey and experimental data are therefore secondary data if they were collected earlier for another study; they are primary data if they were collected for the present one. These data-collection approaches and their major sub areas are as follows:
h) Select the measurement technique:
There are four basic measurement techniques used in marketing research:
ii. Attitude scales
iv. Depth interviews and projective techniques
As was the case with selecting the data-collection method, selection of measurement technique is influenced primarily by the nature of the information required and secondarily by the value of the information. Selection of the measurement technique interacts with both the preceding following steps in the design process.
For example, it is difficult or impossible to use many projective techniques in telephone interviews. Similarly, it is impossible to use complex questionnaires or scales with g children. Selection of the appropriate measurement technique requires the simultaneous consideration of other characteristics of the research design.
i) Select the sample:
Most marketing studies involve a sample or sub-group of the total population relevant to the problem, rather than a census of the entire group. The population is generally specified as apart of the problem-definition process. As was indicated in the previous section, the sampling process interacts with the other stages of the research design.
For example, in most Statistical techniques, probability-sampling techniques are assumed. Therefore, the use of non-probability samples restricts the types of analyses that can be performed. The major considerations in sampling are as follows:
Determines who (or what objects) can provide the required information.
ii) Sample Frame:
Develops a list of population members.
iii) Sampling Unit:
Determines the basis for drawing the sample (individuals, households, city blocks, etc.).
iv) Sampling Method:
Determine how the sample will be selected.
Members are selected by chance and there is a known chance of each unit being selected.
Members are selected on the basis of convenience or judgment or by some other means rather than chance.
v) Sample Size:
Determines how many population members are to be included in the sample.
vi) Sample Plan:
Develops a method for selecting and contacting the sample members.
Carryout the sampling plan.
j) Evaluate the ethics of the research:
It is essential that marketing researchers restrict their research activities to practices that are ethically sound. Ethically sound research considers the interests of the general public, the respondents, the client and the research profession as well as those of the researcher.
k) Estimate the time and financial requirements:
Once the research design(s) has have been devised and checked for ethical Soundness, the researcher must estimate the resource requirements. These requirements can be broken down into two broad categories – time and financial. Time refers to the time needed to complete the project. The financial requirement is the monetary representation of personnel time, computer time and materials requirements. The time and finance requirements are not independent.
III. Collection of information:
a) Designing the form:
For eliciting the required information the researchers have to prepare the form, which contains questions to be asked to the respondents. The form should be designed in such a way that the information can be collected with speed and accuracy. The form of the questionnaire depends upon the nature of the information sought, the kind of respondents and data collection methods.
b) Data collection:
The data collection stage is, as the name suggests, everything to do with the process of going out into the field and obtaining marketing research data. It will involve conducting m- depth interviews to obtain qualitative data, including recruiting people to attend group discussions as well as organising the venue. Instructing, transporting, monitoring and controlling the interviewing field force is also an important job and also necessitates the hiring and training of field supervisors, usually freelance researchers with many years of experience of working in the field.
IV. Analyse the information
Raw data in itself is not useful to the practical marketing manager who is expected to make plans and draw up effective marketing strategies. Analysis of data starts with the examination of secondary data and the extraction of salient facts and figures. This part of data analysis is usually carried out prior to the collection of primary data, after all there is little point collecting primary data on an area where you already have adequate secondary data. Primary data will fall into two broad general categories, qualitative data and quantitative data. There are 5 stages to analyse the information.
It is done in two stages. The first stage is the field editing is done to detect the glaring omissions and inaccuracies, immediately after collection because the interviewers have fresh memory al lapses and wrong statements. The second stage editing is office to evaluate completed return. This is done by a complete thorough scrutiny of the questionnaire.
It consists of assigning symbols and numericals to the answer. It is a technical procedure for categorising the transforms the raw data into symbols and numericals.
It is the process of arrangement of data in row and columns to identity what is the number of cases in each category
d) Data analysis:
The tabulated data has to be analysed. Appropriate technique of analysis should be utilised to analyse the data. It is a process of converting the data into information, which helps in making divisions by eliminating useless data and making the useful data comparable.
e) Drawing conclusion:
It is converting data into information requires a high interpretation skill. There are two methods of drawing conclusions.
i. Induction method:
In this method, a statement is drawn from observed data to specific conclusions.
ii. Deduction method:
This starts from a general to particular towards observation.
V. Presentation of Report :
Once the data, both qualitative and quantitative, have been analysed and interpreted for its statistical meaning and significance, the marketing implications of the findings will have to be established and firm recommendations for future marketing actions formulated. The effectiveness of the research report depends upon the methods of communication and presentation of the research report, very useful research if not presented properly may not serve the purpose.
a) Prepare the research proposal:
The research design process provides the researcher with a blue print, or guide for conducting and controlling the research project. This blue print is written in the form of a research proposal. A written research proposal should recede any research project.
b) Preparation of the report:
The user of the data is not the researcher himself. The managers use those findings, which are properly understood. Therefore the report has to be prepared in such a manner, which helps the manger in understanding data and conclusions. It should be simple to implement and easy to understand. It should contain the title page, table of contents, executive synopsis, methodology, objectives, limitations, findings, conclusions and recommendations, appendix and bibliography.
c) Recommendations and follow up:
Recommendations given in the report should be practicable and implementable. The efficacy of the research report can be maintained by follow up activities. The principal researcher has to take a careful review of the facts found in the research report. He must try to find out the inefficiencies in the report and make it a clear report. This process includes control, quality, appropriateness and acceptability.
The advertising research in details :
The advertisement effectiveness is the main concern of a market researcher. But then what is advertisement effectiveness and which variables explain the degree of advertising effectiveness?
Sales remain till date the ultimate criterion of ad effectiveness. But then sales is an ultimate action. Many factors are instrumental in the increase of sales and some of them are as follows:
i. Increased awareness of customers
ii. Customer knowledge of the product
iii. A change in attitude of customers
iv. The development of certain motivating factors.
Now the effectiveness of the advertisement can be measured from physiological (increased heart beat or perspiration on being exposed to the advertisement), behavioural (after seeing the advertisement the customers goes to the shop and purchases the advertised brand) and verbal (a satisfied customer tells others about the brand) responses of customers.
Also, an advertisement as a whole cannot be tested and hence is broken down into three parts: the message, the media and the scheduling. Testing an advertisement should also involve testing the effectiveness of media alternatives. The timing of advertisements, their frequency and continuity are a rare subject for advertisement research but then consumer behaviour is influenced by time – the season of the year, festival times of the year, etc.
Some ads are more effective if run through a particular period with a concentrated schedule rather than run throughout the year. The frequency of advertising makes much difference to its effectiveness. Ad effectiveness also depends on the advertising budget. Even advertisement research and its effectiveness depend upon the budget allocated for them.
There is also a difference of opinion in regards to the justification of measuring the advertisements. Some opinions that when so much of budget is allocated to the advertisement making and media purchase, then they should also know how effective that investment has been. Today advertisers go much beyond traditional sales figure to find out the effectiveness of the advertisements. On the contrary, some are of the belief that creativity cannot be put to test and that it is much beyond the parlance of measurement.
There are several types of advertising research, but most will fall into one of the following categories:
i. Planning research, to help define the objectives of the advertising against an overall marketing strategy
ii. Creative development, to provide guidance on developing adverts
iii. Evaluative or pre-testing research, to test a finished or near finished adverts
iv. Campaign evaluation, to test the effectiveness of the advertising campaign
Advertisers will set strategic objectives ahead of advertising campaigns, such as raising awareness, increasing sales of particular products, promoting a new product, etc. Market research can be used to help develop or refine the advertising strategy by gathering information on:
i. The primary target audience
ii. Key marketing messages
iii. Attitudes, beliefs and images of the brand
iv. Consumer behaviour
Let us now move into the various types and ways in which this specific kind of market research is conducted. There are various ways of explaining the types and we in this book will try to explain in as many ways as possible. To start with, let us see different types of research based on the point of time at which the research is to be conducted.
Communications research is useful at two points in time. The first point is once strategy has been decided upon exploratory research of a qualitative nature is often helpful to the agency and the brand group. This is called creative development research. Its purpose is to provide feedback from target customers to rough ideas, concepts and exceptional directions for the benefit of the creative group. Research can be used to help create advertisements which incorporate the most appropriate messages to reflect the advertising strategy and, which communicate the messages in the most interesting and effective way. Research is often used to narrow down the choice of advertising themes, or refine the presentation of the messages.
Creative development research can be done with focus group sessions, one-on-one interviews or small groups. Respondents are exposed to a variety of stimuli, rough executions, headlines, concept statements and the like, and are questioned about the reactions, feelings, associations and attitudes associated with these stimuli.
It is up to the moderator and the creative people who are observing to interpret and draw conclusions from what they see and hear. There is no structured set of measurements for creative development research. It is successful when the creative people come away with new ideas and insights.
Measuring Advertising Effectiveness:
The second point where communications research is more than useful is after a campaign has been executed but before it has been placed in the media. This is the time for evaluative research. This is where pre-testing comes in and there are formal guidelines and protocols to follow. Such issues as technique, exposure method and measurements are vitally important to the pre-testing of advertising.
The goal of pre-testing an ad or commercial is to determine if the proposed advertising is effective before exposing it in the media. Effectiveness is defined as the ability of the advertisement to achieve the goals for which it was created. In most cases there are three criteria that comprise effectiveness: awareness, memorability and persuasion.
The three basic yardsticks of advertising effectiveness are awareness, memorability and persuasion. These can be measured individually or in combination.
Awareness refers to the ability of an advertisement to attract the attention of a reasonably large proportion of people who have an opportunity to see it. There are different levels of awareness, ranging from being broadly aware of the company name, to having a good knowledge of a company and its products, to being considered a potential, suitable supplier, to being a regular user of the companies’ products. Measuring awareness is important since the first job of any ad is to get people to notice and attend to it.
There are a number of ways that the awareness-getting ability of an ad can be measured. Placing the ad in an environment that contains many other ads as well as entertainment material creates a realistic test. Measuring the number of people who attend or read the ad in this environment and expressing this number as a percentage of the total number or a person who were exposed to the environment (or had an “opportunity to see” the ad) provides an “attention score”.
This is the simplest of the three main criteria of effectiveness to measure. Awareness is usually measured by placing the test ad or commercial in the context of other advertising and editorial (portfolio or magazine) or programming (TV or cinema) without any prior notice to the respondent. Those who are exposed to the portfolio, magazine or program are generally questioned immediately after exposure.
They are asked to recall advertising they read or saw in the test vehicle, and if mention is made of the test brand or ad, they are asked to describe what they remember seeing or reading. This is considered “unaided” recall. Those who do not mention the test ads are asked if they recall seeing or reading an ad for test brand. If they do, they are also asked to describe what they remember seeing or reading. This is called “aided” recall.
Awareness is expressed as the percentage of people who had an opportunity to see an ad or commercial who recall reading or seeing it at some time after the exposure. In a sample of 100 people, 30 say they recall reading an ad for (test brand) and are able to describe something specific about the ad, the awareness or “recall score” for this ad would be 30%.
Whether this is a good, bad or indifferent result depends upon the action standards, which were set prior to the test. If the brand and category have a history of test results for comparable situations, this “score” can be evaluated in the context of that history. Without such a context, there are no absolute standards against which this result can be judged.
Another important aspect of the profile of a brand or company is its image. Perceptions of a brand can be positive or negative, and a well known brand may not necessarily have a positive image. Hence, it is important to measure the image along with the awareness levels of brands. Understanding current market perceptions can provide a measure of the success of previous marketing efforts as well as highlighting potential corrective actions in the future. Image research can be undertaken both qualitatively (using focus groups or depth interviews) and supported by quantitative techniques, such as telephone research.
Quantitative techniques include, for example, recording the level of respondent agreement against image descriptions or statements, or by rating the performance of brands on known brand values. Image and awareness research is a fundamental component in assessing the overall health of a brand, sometimes referred to as ‘brand equity’.
Memorability refers to the extent to which people who are exposed to an ad retain something about the message as a result of seeing the ad. This is important, since most ads are designed to impart information as well as have an emotional impact on readers/viewers. Memorability is particularly important in the case of a new to market introduction, where there are no residual impressions on which to build a brand image, and the product has a limited time to establish itself in the competitive environment.
Measuring Memorability :
Memorability is a more complex dimension to evaluate than is awareness. Usually, memorability is determined by the amount of information that people can recall or “play back” in an interview some time after exposure to the ad or commercial. The “playback” obtained in the post-exposure interview described above is the source of the “memorability” information. The more people who can accurately recite the content of the advertising, the more effective it is in registering its message.
However, there is a catch to this issue. Memorability does not necessarily mean that people are persuaded by the message. In fact, sometimes people can recite the copy points of an ad almost verbatim, but their perceptions or image of the product that those copy points were designed to change remains unchanged! There are instances where playback of the copy content does not reveal the true impact of an advertisement on people’s perceptions of image of the brand. In other words, what people say you said is not necessarily what they feel you meant to say.
An ad designed to communicate “prestige” may successfully convey that this is its intent, but the image of the brand’s prestige could remain unmoved by exposure to the ad. Therefore, it is important to measure the impact of an advertisement on people’s perceptions or image of the brand in addition to knowing what they can recall from its content.
Persuasion, on a macro level, refers to the ability of an advertisement to affect people s attitudes towards buying or using the brand. On a micro level, persuasion can mean the ability an ad the change the way people perceive the brand, particularly with regard to the strategic issues being addressed by the advertising.
Measuring Persuasion :
On its most macro level, persuasion is the ability of an advertisement to increase a person s the propensity to buy the brand as a result of exposure to the advertising. Since most people do not like to admit that advertising influences their buying decisions, direct questions will not successfully measure the persuasive power of an ad. It must be measured indirectly.
This can be done in one of two ways: one is a Pre-Post design, whereby the brand preferences of the sample are measured before exposure to the advertising and again after exposure. Differences in the percentage of people who choose the subject brand after exposure are attributed to the test advertising. The strength of this design is its sensitivity.
It does not take very large differences between pre and post levels to reach “statistical significance”. The weakness of this design is bias caused by transparency of the test. When people become aware that the test is measuring their brand preferences, their answers are affected by more than just the impact of the test.
The second design for measuring persuasion is called Test-Control, whereby separate and independent samples of people are used, one is exposed to the test ad and a second sample is exposed to a control ad or no ad for the brand at all. The level of brand selection or attitude toward buying the test brand is compared between the test and control samples. If a larger number of people in the “test” cell favour the advertised brand than those in the control cell, the difference can be attributed to the test advertising. In such tests, it is important to have large enough cells to make statistical comparisons (at least 100 people per cell), and to make sure that the cells are as evenly matched in critical characteristics so their pre exposure attitudes to the test brand will be comparable.
The test-control design can also be used to measure persuasion on a micro level. That is, a set of image dimensions can be included in the interview, and the ratings of the test brand on these dimensions can be compared between the test and control cells.
The dimensions should be strategically relevant to the advertising, and in this way, a more valid measure of the advertising impact on brand image can be obtained than by using verbal playback of advertising copy. For example, by comparing the rating of the brand on a dimension such as “prestige” in the test cell with its ratings in the control cell, the impact of the ad on this dimension will be revealed.
Criteria for evaluating testing techniques:
There are basically four standards that can be applied to any test design:
1) How “normal” is the test situation?
2) How normal is the exposure technique?
3) How many exposures to the advertising (film/video) are incorporated?
4) How actionable will the results be?
Taking each in turn
1) The test situation:
The test situation should ideally be in the respondent’s own home or the environment where the advertising is most likely to be seen under real life circumstances. To the extent that the exposure situation is unlike “reality”, the effect on the responses of respondents may bias the results of a test.
2) The exposure technique:
The advertising should be exposed in the context that most closely parallels its “normal’ environment. This means in a magazine or billboard for print or in a programme for video or cinema for film. Removing an ad from its normal context will cause it to be perceived differently in unknown ways.
3) The number of exposures:
Most advertisements are seen two or three times before they have n impact. This is particularly true for video, which usually has too short a duration (30 seconds) to deliver its message fully on first exposure. For this reason, tests that incorporate multiple exposure should be sought over those that rely on a single exposure. In the case of print, techniques that permit repeated and/or prolonged exposure should be favoured over those that use a single brief exposure at one point in time.
If a pretest is being done for a go/no-go decision, the action standards need to be outlined in advance and the ways the test will be interpreted should be clearly spelled out beforehand. To the extent that “norms” can be used, this is helpful, though norms must be viewed with a critical eye.
Only those tests, which most closely parallel the one being done with respect to strategy, target, category etc., should be used as yardsticks.
Some of the issues involved in choosing a pretesting service include:
Geographic location: Locations of test sights may vary or be standardized. The appropriateness of the markets for standardized services should be evaluated for each brand. Cities with atypical consumption of the product or category should be avoided for test purposes.
Each pretest service has its own methods for selecting and drawing the sample tor a pretest.
i. Method for recruiting:
Central location intercepts, Telephone, Mail, Social groups
ii. Nature of the sample:
Cross section of general population. Screened for specific characteristics
iii. Sampling method:
Quota, Probability, Haphazard
iv. Sample size per test cell:
The location of the test site is important to consider. Generally there are four alternatives offered by pretesting services: a mall/hall research suite, a commercial meeting room in a hotel or hall, in-home, or the private testing sites of the service.
Keep in mind that the more natural the method of exposure, the more valid will be the test results. As exposure techniques become more unreal, the chances increase that the test situation will influence the results. Pretesting services offer a range of exposure techniques. Some use forced exposure with a captive audience others use a partial “forced exposure” by inviting the audience to view, and the most desirable use a natural exposure either on-air or in-home.
For print testing, some services place the test ad in a “portfolio” which is a mock magazine, while others use slides that are exposed for brief intervals, and others simply place the test ad in a folder with a group of eight to ten “clutter” ads. For TV commercial testing, some services place the ad into a programme along with other commercials. The programme may be exposed in a studio, over cable or closed circuit TV or via video CD on a monitor. Again, the more normal the context of exposure, the more valid will be the test results.
Timing of the interview:
For the most part, it is desirable to limit the questioning of respondents prior to exposing the test advertising. This limits the degree of “forewarning” or calling undo attention to the test subject. Basically, pre-exposure questions should be limited to qualifying matters, preferably disguised in the context of other questions.
Post exposure questioning can take place immediately after exposure, if a measure of awareness and persuasion is taken, or it may be delayed as much as 24 hours, to measure residual memorability and persuasion.
- Marketing Research: Nature and Scope of Marketing Research
- 7 Stages or Steps Involved in Marketing Research Process
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7 Key Solutions for Marketing Problems
Many marketing problems are common to several businesses. Want to learn how to solve them? Access our tips and increase your sales.
Mar 11, 2022
Digital marketing is key when it comes to boosting the sales of the majority of companies. This is why it’s essential that it is implemented correctly in your business. Have you ever stopped to think about the marketing problems in your business?
If you haven’t, it’s high time you did it. Good marketing planning starts by understanding what you do now and what can be improved.
And believe me, there’s always room for improvement. Moreover, there are a few common mistakes that have simple solutions.
In order to explain what I consider to be a marketing problem, in this post I’ll present the most common ones. Especially regarding digital entrepreneurship and of course, the solutions.
Check out which problems we’ll go over on this post:
Have you ever had to face any of these issues in your business?
So, if you wish to improve your marketing to increase sales, keep reading.
What no one says about marketing problems
Not long ago, marketing was seen as an expense for any business. You have probably heard this story somewhere, but it’s worth remembering.
When a company’s marketing department has created a piece, gotten price quotes and has installed a billboard on the main avenue of Seattle, it generated an expense. Obviously, the goal was to make sales.
But how could the company know the direct impact on sales? And what was the action’s ROI ?
It’s practically impossible to say. Mapping out which sales were generated directly from this strategy was a challenge. And so marketing became an expense.
Up to the arrival of digital marketing , which revolutionized this process.
From a distance, it looks like it’s easy to make money in this market. But it actually requires a lot of dedication and practice.
And this is where I’m going to talk about what everyone tries to hide: without good planning, you’ll have a lot of marketing and sales problems.
So, if you’re starting with your digital marketing strategies now, the first step is to plan, study and put theory into practice.
And if you’ve already taken the first steps with digital marketing, making your first sales, our tips are:
- Assess all your processes;
- Find the flaws;
- Prioritize improvements and make adjustments.
So far, I’ve explained why digital marketing isn’t as easy as it seems and I’ve told you how to get started or how to adjust your strategy.
Another important point here is the number of possibilities to improve sales with marketing. So, focus on the strategy that generates the most results for your business.
And how do we know this?
Here are four topics for you to consider:
- Analysis of the market and competitors;
- Strategy tests in your reality;
- Measuring results;
- Deciding on which strategy to concentrate your efforts.
Here’s an example to make it clearer:
Let’s suppose that you’re an Affiliate of a product in the health-food niche. Through an analysis of the competition, you realize that the big market players use Instagram to make sales .
Therefore, you decide to concentrate your initial efforts on Instagram. So, you prepare your content, take the first steps to attract an audience and transform it into customers.
It this clearer now? Well, this is an example of which channel you should prioritize. You can analyze a lot of things within the scope of digital marketing.
It is also from the analysis that you can identify your business’ marketing problems. And now comes the best part.
How to identify marketing problems
Everything starts with your sales funnel . You need to understand each point, each sale you make within your funnel. This is the famous customer’s journey with your business.
I won’t go into a lot of detail about this here. To learn more about it, you can read our full post on the customer’s journey .
The issue is understanding where you’re going wrong or what you can do to improve your marketing during the sales funnel phases.
In order to help you answer this issue, I’ll introduce an analogy.
Imagine a linear industrial process in which there are four steps to get to the final product. In other words, step 4 depends on step 3, which depends on step 2, which in turn, depends on step 1.
In this process, a problem with any of the steps will interfere with the final product. It is up to the person in charge of production to identify the bottlenecks of the process and solve them.
You’re probably wondering, “What does this have to do with marketing?” Everything.
In the case of marketing, the final product is the sale. And in short, the steps are as follows: awareness of the problem, consideration of the solution, search for the solution and purchase.
Therefore, if at the top of your sales funnel, you are collecting an expressive number of leads and in the end, you aren’t converting them into customers, there’s a problem.
As we’ve said before, the advantage of digital marketing is that everything is measurable. Therefore, after identifying your funnel’s bottleneck, you need to analyze the data of your actions.
In addition, it is essential that you understand the conversion rates of the digital market and of the niche in which you operate. And thus, you can optimize your company’s marketing.
In a nutshell, if you aren’t selling, this means that there’s something in your process that can work better. In order to identify it, measure your results both quantitatively and qualitatively.
In order to help you with this analysis, we will list the most common problems and how to solve them below.
The most common marketing problems:
There’s a Chinese proverb that is quite popular on the internet, and that is relevant to this topic:
“The wise man learns from the mistakes of others, fools learn from their own mistakes and idiots never learn.”
This is why we need to value our mistakes and learn from them.
Better than this, is realizing where businesses or people like you have made mistakes, to understand how you can avoid them.
1. Focus on the wrong audience
This is the most common problem in digital marketing. And it is an important part of the process due to being the start of everything. After all, how are you going to connect with potential customers if you don’t know who they are?
The creation of a persona is a repetitive subject, given the frequency in which we talk about it. But many people still get this part wrong.
Developing a persona, especially in digital business, shouldn’t be such a big problem. Considering that during their purchase journey, users provide important information about them.
The mistake usually happens when it comes to analyzing the information and creating the persona.
And why does it compromise sales results?
Knowing your persona allows you to:
- Be more assertive when targeting your ads;
- Improve your copy;
- Target organic content that creates interest;
- Improve the nurturing of your leads in email marketing campaigns.
Now, do you understand the importance of mapping out your persona? At the end of the list of marketing problems, you’ll see my proposal to solve them.
2. Lack of process definition
Within the entrepreneurial world, defining processes is important in any area. But first of all, what is a process in this context?
I checked the dictionary and found the following definition: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
From this, we can infer that without the continuous activity processes of your business, you’ll find it more difficult to reach your goals.
As mentioned earlier, digital marketing allows the use of various strategies on various channels. And we also mentioned that you have to focus on what generates the most results.
This is where I explain the importance of the process. By defining processes, you optimize your work and know exactly where to act.
If during your work routine you start tasks and don’t finish them, this is a sign that you need to define your processes.
The path is defining where you are and where you want to go. The gap between these two points in the process, which we can also call the how .
3. Lack of knowledge about the activities in each funnel step
Visitors go to your blog for the first time after being impacted by a blog post on social media. And as soon as they enter, you immediately offer them your product.
Visitors will probably ignore the possibility of a purchase because they aren’t prepared to buy yet. They are still considering and understanding the problem they have, without knowing that your business can help.
Obviously, there are different realities in various niche and entrepreneurship possibilities.
So, I need to emphasize this with you: It is essential that you understand your customers’ journey until they reach the point of making a purchase.
Digital marketing, from the many tracking and data analysis tools, allows you to know each action of potential customers until their conversion. The conversion, in this case, is the purchase.
When you know the overall behavior of a considerable sample of your buyers, it becomes easier to define the activities in each step of your sales funnel.
In addition, it is yet another way of optimizing the processes of your digital marketing strategies.
4. Error in data analysis
The volume of data on the internet is huge. Certain experts affirm that data must be considered as company assets .
This is why giants such as Google and Facebook are always trying to take the utmost care of this valuable asset.
Being able to capture a lot of data in digital marketing is magical. But collecting data isn’t enough. It is necessary to extract information to help you make decisions.
This is also one of the reasons that corroborates with what I said earlier in this text, digital marketing isn’t as easy as it seems.
Making decisions based on guesswork hasn’t been accepted for a while now. However, deciding on the direction of your marketing campaigns with poor data analysis for example, also doesn’t work.
You should know that as the owner of a digital business, you are the person who understands it the most. Combining your tasks with good data analysis will be a market differential and avoid marketing problems.
5. Lack of alignment with the sales team
This is a very common problem in medium and large companies. Because they are the ones that have marketing and sales departments.
But if you dream of becoming an entrepreneur and are taking your first steps, you need to keep this problem on your radar.
Most companies find certain difficulties in establishing a valuable connection between the two teams.
If digital marketing, by means of inbound marketing, is collecting too many leads, the role of the sales team is to convert them into customers.
It sounds easy, but in order for it to work well, there are certain complexities, and as I said earlier, many people still make mistakes.
And what is the consequence of this?
Your business loses many sales opportunities.
6. Lack of attention to detail
An idiom that I really like, and that applies to several everyday situations is, “The devil is in the details”.
What I mean to say is that in certain situations you need to look closely to your business and also at a specific point. I’ll give you an example to make this clearer.
In terms of digital marketing, the user’s experience with your business’ points of contact is very important nowadays. In fact, it’s one of the factors that Google uses to rank it on a search page.
So, the layout of graphic elements on your capture page can be an important detail when capturing leads. Details such as:
- Page colors;
- CTA positioning;
You should worry about the details after your basic strategy is working correctly and performing well.
7. Lack of time to carry out actions
Who doesn’t suffer from not having enough time?
Days seem to be too short for all of the activities that we need or want to do, whether for work or leisure.
For those who undertake, this increases tenfold. Therefore, optimizing your time and being productive is a huge differential for a successful entrepreneur .
If time seems to go by faster, certain technologies are ready to help you. Currently, in the area of digital marketing, the automation of activities is convenient and everyone can have access to it.
I’ve already provided a solution to this problem: marketing automation. I’ll explain in detail how this works in a daily routine when I’ll talk about the solutions.
The best solutions for marketing problems
Now that the 7 problems have been listed, it’s time to talk about the solutions. After all, your energy needs to be always focused on overcoming obstacles along your path to success.
This being said, I want to tell you about my main goal with the solutions I propose below.
I want the solutions I propose to help you expand your awareness of the business.
In other words, I won’t propose magic formulas that will make you improve your entire digital marketing and make money. What I wish to convey are insights that are useful for the analysis of your business.
1. Perform a search in order to define your persona
The trending term nowadays is “data-driven persona”. Do you know what this means?
It’s the definition of the persona based on data. This means that you set up the target of your ideal customers based on the information you already have of those who have already purchased your product or service.
It means using the data, the most precious asset in the digital world, in your favor from the top of your sales funnel.
It’s by knowing your audience that you will set up the best marketing strategies.
And what does this mean?
It’s very simple. If you are sending your message to profiles that are likely to buy your product, you will greatly increase your conversions.
2. Understand how to define your processes
First of all, I’m going to list the advantages of having well-defined processes in digital marketing:
- Greater business organization;
- More productivity in your routine;
- History of activities for the analysis of possible gaps;
- Well-defined workflow.
To start setting up your process, I have a valuable tip regarding a tool: Trello . The free features provided will already be useful for you to start your internal processes.
With this tool, you can set up activity boards, defining the tasks in each flow in order to achieve your goal.
Remember to prioritize which campaign goals will make you achieve your best results in less time.
3. List the activities of each funnel step
To avoid problems with conversions, make a list of the tasks you will fulfill at each step of the funnel. In order to be accurate, carefully consider your users’ purchasing journey.
It is here that you will define, for example:
- Which free materials to offer;
- Which information you’ll request in the filling out of the form;
- To which leads you will offer the product.
These are a few examples. What I need you to understand is that all of your sales funnel strategies need to be aligned with your user’s actions.
The main advantage of this is that you’ll have more engaged leads, i.e., more likely to purchase your product or service.
4. Invest time in data analysis
It’s common to see businesses neglecting the analysis of certain data. As well as it is common to take certain general market data as irrefutable truth.
Understanding the context and numbers of the market, in general, is important. However, they should only serve as a guideline for your actions.
When the time comes to make decisions, you should essentially focus on your business’ data.
If you have planned and defined your business’ major goals, it is time to define the indicators of success.
Your question here should be, “Which metrics do I need to analyze in order to know if I’m on the right path?”
After defining them, it’s time to understand which tools will be necessary to measure everything.
I must tell you that if you have a digital business, Hotmart offers many possibilities for the analysis of your performance.
Hotmart Analytics , for example, can help you understand all of your buyers’ actions up to the moment that the purchase is made. It’s great to understand the journey of those who buy from your business.
The main thing is to gather the most relevant data for your analysis on spreadsheets and observe them at least once a weak.
You will notice how much easier it will be to make strategic business decisions.
5. Bring marketing closer to the sales team
I venture to say that harmony between your marketing and sales team is essential in the current market scenario. Marketing is responsible for transferring qualified leads to the sales team.
On the other hand, the sales team needs to convert the leads into customers. Well, nothing new so far, right?
So, now I’ll provide you with insight. The first step to integrating the marketing and sales teams is to align expectations.
In your business, you need to understand which leads are qualified (MQLs), i.e., those that have a better chance of being converted by the sales team. This is the way to optimize and increase conversion productivity.
The solution is to set up the ideal customer profile (ICP) on the sales side and understand which leads are closer to doing so. This is where the sales team will increase the company’s sales.
And with marketing directly involved.
As I mentioned earlier, you have to understand in which context your business is inserted. There’s no one better than the business owner to understand who the ideal consumer is.
6. Make the necessary adjustments
If your business’ sales machine is already operating well, the best path is to make adjustments. Always optimize in order to be able to increase your sales even more.
The adjustments lie in the details. Changing the color of a CTA may increase the conversions of the capture page, for example.
The motto for this solution is to test all possibilities, measure each one and choose the one that delivered the best results.
The famous A/B tests are accurate when adjusting details of the majority of activities in your sales funnel.
Would you like a detail that may help you really stand out from the competition?
Special care with after-sales. After buyers purchase your product and start using it, they need to receive the best service possible. And this goes beyond good support service.
This is the moment that we call captivation in the sales funnel table at the beginning of the text. This is the opportunity to engage buyers to purchase another product from your business or recommend it so a friend can buy it.
If well executed, it will probably help you increase sales.
7. Automate your actions
Among the dozens of advantages of digital marketing, automating the actions is one of the main ones. If you’re already outlining your strategies, you need to automate.
Your email marketing campaigns to warm up your list of leads can be 100% automated. This is the channel that allows you to set up flows from the engagement of the lead with your content.
There are several providers that allow you to set up an email stream that converts well with your list. Ideally, you should research the options carefully and choose the one that makes more sense to your reality.
At Hotmart, we have the Automatic Lead Management ( Listboss) that, when integrated to your inbound marketing strategy, automates purchase recovery campaigns, for example.
Why is digital marketing so important for sales?
After all the content that I’ve presented, answering this question is easy, right?
Do you remember that funnel with the problems? Now we present it with the solutions:
In practically all areas of businesses, digital marketing contributes to sales.
It’s with digital marketing that you increase the number of commercial opportunities for your business.
The sales machines that perform better on the market, work well with digital marketing.
You can generate sales with the following:
- Email marketing;
- Paid media;
- WhatsApp, etc.
Digital marketing has been a reality in the market for some time now and new features keep appearing to make the life of entrepreneurs easier. Much more than using digital marketing strategies, it is necessary to carry out the work efficiently in order to avoid marketing problems. Therefore, we’ve provided you with all of these insights.
One final tip is to study hard to apply digital marketing in this business. If you have any questions, leave us a comment below!
Hotmart is a complete digital distribution platform, built with solutions for those who wish to buy, promote, or sell online courses, videos, subscriptions, ebooks, and much more. If you want to start your business from scratch, give new life to an old idea, push your career in a different direction, or just learn a new skill, Hotmart is for you. Here, you’ll get the solutions you need to start living your passions.
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Skills for Effective Problem Solving
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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:
An effective problem-solver uses many skills to devise and implement solutions including:
Research skills, team-working skills.
- Decision-making skills, and
Creative skills allow big and boundless thinking. They involve the consideration and analysis of ideas, concepts, and solutions that no one else has considered before. Thinking creatively requires you to set aside any biases or assumptions that you may hold and to take a different look at things. By approaching a problem with an open mind, you allow yourself the chance to think creatively. Often, a problem may seem to be insurmountable and it is only by practicing creativity and innovation that a workable solution can be found. Considering a problem from different viewpoints and being open to a change in perspective is key.
For example, the US Air Force Research Laboratory required an update for their supercomputer but the cost was well over their budget. So, by thinking creatively and looking for alternative solutions, they realized that they could purchase 300 PlayStation 3s that would fulfil their computing needs instead. To quote their creative decision: “The processors in the Sony PlayStation 3 are the only brand on the market that utilizes the specific cell processor characteristics needed for this program at an acceptable cost.”
Another example of creative problem-solving is from the inventor and founder of Dyson® vacuum cleaners, James Dyson. While his competitors were focused on how to design a better filter for the paper bags in their vacuum cleaners, he came to the realization that he had to approach the problem from a more creative direction. The result was that he created a ‘cyclone’ vacuum cleaner which could separate dust from air, and brought the world's first bagless vacuum cleaner to the market.
Another important set of skills for problem solving are research skills . How can you find out what you don’t know? By doing research.
Being able to demonstrate the following competencies is key to ensuring your research is effective:
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking
- Planning and scheduling
- Technical skills
- Statistical and Graphical Analysis of Data, and
Because data is so easily accessible these days, it is important to check that the data you are relying on has come from a trusted source.
Team-working skills are also very useful when it comes to problem solving. If you lead a team, you can help your team or colleagues to solve problems in many ways.
Create easy wins to begin with. Pick the ‘low-hanging fruit’ for the team to practice upon, that is, the tasks that are easiest to achieve, or the problems that are easiest to solve. Resist the temptation to offer a solution to hurry the process along; act as a facilitator instead and guide your team toward the answers. The greatest impact can come from giving the accountability of owning both the solution and the implementation of the solution, to the team. By delegating the problem, you reinforce your confidence and trust in the work of the team.
You can also use the 'framing effect'. The ‘framing effect’ is a cognitive bias, whereby people decide on options based on whether the options are presented with positive or negative connotations; for example, as a loss or as a gain. Show your team or colleagues how to practice the skill of framing an issue from differing perspectives, for example, positive, negative, or neutral, and how to devise specific solutions for each frame.
Another method is to remove yourself from the team problem-solving equation. Consider the unintentional influence you may have that might lead to potential biasing of the group with your views. In addition, be understanding and willing to support the team by working across the organization to acquire resources and budgets.
Avoid getting angry at a failure by the team as this is almost always destructive. Instead, instruct the team to take a step back and pause to consider the situation and analyze what did and did not work. Give them time to consider how to respond, learn, and move on.
Be sure to avoid group-think by drawing in individuals with areas of expertise and knowledge not currently held by the team. A common pitfall of group-think is that the team narrowly focuses on their own held-knowledge and plays down any outside or differing viewpoints, limiting the possibility of the most effective solution as an outcome.
Decision-making skills are another key component of problem solving. According to the economist Evan Davis, “If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard.” This is true of many people, because due to their lack of experience, confidence, or authority, they resist the taking and making of decisions. The more decisions you make, the stronger your decision-making skills become. As long as you learn from your decisions and mistakes, then the more mistakes you make, the better it is for your decision-making ability!
Having the ability to take risks is an important skill for effective problem solving. It is usually better to take determined risks rather than undetermined risks. Being able to distinguish between the two takes experience, skill, and knowledge.
An undetermined risk is a risk that is taken without performing due diligence or accounting for possible negative outcomes; that is, you may have found a positive solution, but you don’t know what the final cost will be or what the ‘knock-on’ effects are.
A determined risk requires detailed research, and while you may not actually achieve success, you know that enough research has been carried out to ensure that there is a high likelihood of success.
Many people become risk-averse from building pros and cons into every single decision they make. We tend to avoid taking risks for the following reasons:
- A fear of failure
- A fear of the inflated consequences of failure, and
- A fear of handling the consequences of risk
However, a certain amount of risk-taking is necessary for every new solution, particularly in the beginning. Aiming to take calculated and well-informed risks only is a healthy and effective approach to problem solving.
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Kevin J Reid and Cathal Melinn
Kevin Reid is CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com.
- A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
- Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
- Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa
In this module, Kevin is the instructor for the ‘Enhancing Your Problem-Solving Skills’ and ‘Improving Your Presentation Skills’ lessons.
Cathal Melinn is Digital Marketing Manager at Digital Marketing Institute.
- 13 years’ experience in search and display
- Worked at Yahoo! Search in 2005 as a Senior Search Strategist for the UK Financial Services vertical
- Moved to the world of agency in 2010 as Head of Search and Online Media for five years
- Currently working at the Digital Marketing Institute as a Digital Marketing Manager
- Previous clients include Apple, Vodafone, Expedia, Virgin, Universal Music Group, Amazon, Compare the Market, and HSBC
In this module, Cathal is the instructor for the ‘Enhancing Your Creativity’ lesson.
The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.
You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library
- Article: Setting Yourself Apart With ‘Soft Skills’
- Article: Delight Your Audience: How to Create Content That Excites and Entertains
- Case Study: LEGO, The Building Blocks of a Modern-Day Superbrand
- Webinar: Brand Storytelling - Should Digital Marketers Lead with the Heart or the Head?
You will not be assessed on this content.
ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
Creative skills aren’t just for artists and designers! Everyone can learn to be more creative. In fact, the ability to think creatively is an invaluable skill in today’s workplace.
In this module, you will learn how to enhance your creative thinking skills – which should help you generate new ideas, find innovative solutions to problems, and develop new products and services. You will also learn how to remove barriers to creativity and the importance of persevering when your ideas fail.
When it comes to tackling specific workplace difficulties, you will be introduced to a six-step method you can use to solve problems. And you’ll learn about the skills you need to cultivate in order to be an effective problem-solver.
You will also turn your creative attention to the art of giving presentations. You will discover how to create and structure an effective presentation, and the preparations you need to make in advance, as well as useful tips on how to deliver an engaging presentation and how to hold a Q&A session at the end.
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6 Steps to Problem Solving
- April 15, 2015
My youngest child came home from school the other day and handed me a paper explaining his second grade Open Circle session that day. The topic: Problem Solving. I am impressed that our kids are being taught such practical skills. This topic relates to everyone! These second graders were presented with 6 simple but smart steps to empower them to resolve their daily problems. After reading through the program synopsis I found myself thinking about how everyone could use this approach. In fact, we can substitute any words for “problem solving” into the method… Try using the context of conflict resolution, business planning or business development instead. Here’s my take on the topic:
- Calm Down. Before we can begin to solve any problem, it is important to calm ourselves down. Taking a moment to absorb a situation allows us to think more rationally. Emotional responses are never productive. Often driven by fear and excitement, we can easily be distracted by the need to try to “fix” a problem before we understand it.
- Identify the Problem. Know exactly what the problem is. Are there underlying issues driving the conflict? Are there outside forces effecting behaviors?
- Choose a Positive Goal. Envision the most positive outcome and then determine how you may get there (or close to it!). Sometimes it is hard to think positively when faced with a difficult task. Take the time to turn things around to the most positive place possible.
- Brainstorm Potential Solutions . There is often more than one method we can take to achieve the same or a similar outcome.
- Evaluate the Method to Reach Resolution. Once you have some options identified, consider each of the solutions, how they may affect those involved, as well as what the potential outcome may be.
- Make a Plan. Once you have weighed all of your options, select the best one and identify the steps needed to move forward.
- Resolve the Conflict. Execute upon the identified steps to resolve your conflict as efficiently and amicably as possible.
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