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8 Ways to Solve Prospects' Problems Through Your Marketing
Updated: August 26, 2017
Published: May 14, 2012
You're in business because you provide solutions. You've got answers. You're the (wo)man with the plan. Let's take a look at some of our customers, for example. AmeriFirst Home Mortgage helps home buyers find the right mortgage for them. In The News helps businesses memorialize their accomplishments with custom lamination and engraving. HubSpot helps marketers get an end-to-end view of their marketing activities to determine which channels provide the most ROI.
Notice how none of those explanations of what each company provides focused on the specific product or service? That's because the product or service isn't what makes a lead want to be your customer -- it's a solution to their problem that people care about. Your business is successful because it provides some solution, but if your campaigns seem to be flailing a bit, it may be because you haven't applied that problem-solving principle to your marketing.
Not yet, anyway. This post will give you plenty of ideas to implement that will make your marketing more solution-oriented. That way, your prospects see you as a helpful problem solver they actually like and trust ... not just a peddler of your product or service!
How to Inject Problem Solving Into Your Marketing
1) Create how-to blog content. As most inbound marketers know, success starts with content; so begin by writing blog posts that solve peoples' problems! If you'll allow me to get meta for a minute, this very blog post about how to be a problem solver is, well, solving a problem. People reading this presumably want to know how to inject more problem solving into their marketing, and this post is providing solutions to that problem. When writing your how-to blog content, focus on providing actionable advice. There's already a ton of content out there that says a lot without really saying anything at all. But you want your content to give you credibility and authority ; you can do that by making sure your reader walks away from the blog post with at least one thing he or she can do to be better.
2) Create lead gen offers that make people's lives easier. Helpful content doesn't end with blog posts, nor does successful marketing. You need to convert that blog traffic into leads, and if you've written some amazing content, your readers will probably want to learn more from you. Create lead gen content that will help your readers be more successful -- at work, at home, whatever it is your customers need. For example, HubSpot has released tons of ebooks that show marketers how to do something, like set up their Facebook page timeline , for instance. Or perhaps you'd like to create some templates for your audience, like we did with our downloadable leads waterfall graph that we encourage all marketers to use . If you're looking for some inspiration, we've written an entire guide to creating lead gen offers quickly .
3) Source problems to feed your content. I'm asking you to create all this content, but where will the topics come from? You should be speaking with the people on the front lines of your business on a daily basis -- employees working in Services, Support, and Sales hear questions from prospects and customers during every conversation. Ask all employees to document these questions and problems and send them your way to feed your solution-oriented content. And if any of them fancy themselves a writer, they can document their answers, too, for a guest spot on your blog! ( Tip: As you write this content, be sure to keep other departments in the know. Sales, Services, and Support should be equipped with an arsenal of content they can send to their prospects and customers that answers their questions. This will not only establish trust and authority between employees and your prospects and customers, but for Sales, it could shorten the buying cycle, too.)
4) Leverage the brainpower of your community. Part of being a helpful, solution-oriented marketer is connecting people with content that solves their problems ... regardless of the source. Look, nobody knows everything. You're surrounded by people that have data, research, insights, and experiences from which your audience would benefit. Tap into that brainpower, and be the one to share it with the rest of your community! We're doing this now, in fact, with our push for our social media community to contribute ideas for our next blog post.
Want your Twitter username FT'd on the greatest list of marketing pet peeves? Respond with what annoys YOU! Follow us to hear the best ones. — HubSpot (@HubSpot) May 14, 2012
Not only is this an excellent way to build strong relationships with others in your industry, but it also shows that you're committed to providing answers for people regardless of the source.
5) Monitor and respond to social media inquiries. Speaking of social media, your active presence on social sites can contribute to your reputation as a thought leader, problem solver, and all around awesome business. This means more than just monitoring your Twitter stream for questions you can answer, though. Think outside of the box a bit! Visit places like LinkedIn Answers , Quora, and industry forums to see what problems people are having. Take a look at how HubSpotter Meghan Keaney Anderson improved both HubSpot's clout, and her own, by answering Scott's question on Quora. Take special note of how she linked back to a blog post HubSpot wrote that answers his question, too!
6) Optimize for long-tail search. Long-tail search is a critical component of any well-rounded SEO and content strategy, and it provides tremendous opportunity for marketers that are looking to be more solution-oriented with their content. That's because many long-tail keywords are centered around interrogative queries, like "what makes a good blog post," or "where should I host my blog," or "how to start a blog." Not only does centering content and SEO around long-tail keywords of this nature give you another avenue to assert yourself as a helpful marketer instead of a pushy salesperson, but it also helps you achieve higher search rankings quicker, and with a more niche market than short-tail and head terms allow. And if the keywords provide solutions to evergreen problems -- in other words, problems that your audience will always face -- your website will also enjoy ongoing organic traffic as a result of your high ranking for these long-tail queries!
7) Nurture leads with emails based on their problems. Now that you have all of this fantastic, solution-oriented content, you should use it to nurture your leads! After all, you can't have a successful lead nurturing program without a full arsenal of content. Consider segmenting your lists and creating lead nurturing tracks that address specific buyer problems. You can identify the problems right in your landing page forms. Take a look at the optional field we at HubSpot include on almost all of our landing pages to allow us to do this type of nurturing.
By asking leads to identify their biggest marketing challenge, we get a better idea of what problems our audience face so we can create content to address it, and simultaneously target prospects in our email sends according to the problems they need an answer to.
8) Create apps and tools that help solve a problem. Tools and apps -- especially free ones -- are mutually beneficial for businesses and their audience. Let's take one of HubSpot's free tools, Marketing Grader , as an example. Marketing Grader helps solve a problem many marketers face ... they don't know how good their marketing is. When you enter your website into the free tool, you get a comprehensive report that tells you not just an arbitrary grade, but also actionable advice on exactly what areas of your marketing need improvement, and how you can do it. It even provides links to content that helps solve your problems. So ask yourself: "Self, is there a tool or mobile app I could develop to help my leads and customers?" If there's a problem people in your industry face, make your business the one that solves it!
How do you inject problem solving into your marketing to gain the trust and loyalty of your prospects?
Image credit: Tomasz Stasiuk
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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?
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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!
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The problem, solution and market
The one and only goal of a startup should be to solve a problem that satisfies a need in the market.
The problem, its solution and the related market should be well defined in the beginning. Product/market fit as a concept seems relatively straightforward – why would anyone ever build something that no one wants? Yet, according to an analysis by CB Insights, the lack of market need is why 42% of startups fail. The same report also lists many of the other reasons why startups fail, which also can be seen (at least partly) as a result of lack of market need – things like lack of cash (29%), too much competition (19%), and pricing issues (18%).
In basic economics, you often hear the terms “value creation” or the “key value proposition”, which articulate why a customer would consider trying and continuing to use your product. To us, this equals a product/market fit. We like to think that the idea for your value proposition is a balance between two parts: the value your product creates for the customer, and the effort required from your customers to start and continue using it.
An age-old saying in the startup world is that your product needs to be ten times better than what’s already out there. When you combine that with the idea of your value proposition, you get the result that the value created needs to outbalance the effort required for use by a multiple of ten.
So, even if a startup has created a solution that solves the customer’s problem, it doesn’t mean the startup has reached product/market fit. It can be called more like problem/solution fit (which means the startup has done something right). But there is still a lot of work to reach product/market fit.
Startups can be easily divided into two groups: those who have product/market fit and those who don’t. If a startup hasn’t reached product/market fit, your only task is to reach it. After reaching product/market fit, the most important task for a startup is to scale.
Entrepreneurs find new solutions to problems (creating innovations) and turn these innovations into businesses. For a startup to move from problem/solution fit to product/market fit, you have to figure out the fundamentals of your business. This includes the following:
1) Who is the customer?
Most early-stage startups fail because they can’t find customers. To achieve product/market fit, a startup has to know who their customers are. The more precisely you can define your customers, the better. It’s also important to define the “entry market” – the customers you can serve best in the beginning to reach product/market fit with them first.
For business-to-business (B2B) startups, you should be able to name every customer in your entry market (that’s how well a startup should know their customers). In a B2B context it’s also vital to know who you are selling to inside an organization. Understanding the different stakeholders in the customer’s organization significantly improves the chances of success. A great tool to describe this is the “ pain chain .”
2) How will you reach your customers?
“We will do some social media, try to get inbound sales with blogs and do some outbound sales” is a bad answer. A startup should have a clear idea of the best and most cost-efficient ways to reach customers. Finding the best channels should also be an iterative process. How to reach customers might differ in different stages of the startup. For example, at first you can “do things that don’t scale” but the best long-term way to reach customers might be different. In the long term, the key question is how to scale your product or service – that is, how can it be made available to a huge customer base once its effectiveness has been proven? Often the hottest startup products have found a super effective way to reach customers.
3) Market and competition
Based on who your customers are, a startup can define what market they are in. It’s essential to define a small entry market at first, but a startup should also understand what is the total addressable market (TAM). The TAM represents the full business potential that is available. The current market size matters, but it is more important to know how the market is developing. Growing markets are always easier to do business in compared to stagnating markets. In stagnating markets there is often fierce competition, while in growing markets there is “room for everybody”.
A startup should understand the competitors in the market and have a plan for how to differentiate from them. And let’s make one thing clear – there is always competition. Competition can be other companies with similar products or some sort of substitute for your product, or the main competitor might be the customer’s option of “not doing anything”.
4) Value proposition
Startups solve problems for their customers. Your solution produces value, and someone pays for it. That means the value proposition should summarize the produced value. In its simplest form, this can be something like “we solve problem X”. However, the situation is often more complicated as the customer is probably already solving that particular problem in some way. In that case, the value proposition has to be more concrete to describe how the startup is solving the problem better than all other options.
A useful concept in this situation is a unique selling proposition (USP). In essence, this means what does your product do so well, uniquely or differently than other products? The USP could be things like better or continuous improvement of quality, the price, a technological advantage, an entirely new type of technology, the design, the brand, the manufacturing methods, development and production schedules, or quality of customer service. The USP is part of the value proposition.
Value proposition or USP?
To summarize, if a startup is solving a problem that nobody has solved before, focusing on the value proposition itself is enough. If you’re in a situation where you’re doing something better than the competition, you focus on communicating the USP.
5) Operations and partners
What needs to be done in order for your startup to produce value for customers? Everything that isn’t required to produce value for your customers should be left out.
When figuring this out, one question that will come up is what should your startup do internally and what should be outsourced? The core value producing parts of a startup should be in-house, but some tasks can be outsourced. Outlining the core operations helps to understand what kind of team you need. A good founding team should have the capabilities to do all the core operations in the beginning.
6) Business model
Put simply, your business model answers the question: how do you make money? In order to achieve product/market fit, your startup should be clear (at least roughly) on how your business model works. Even though your product could be great for customers, if your startup has as an unsuitable business model, it might prevent the customer from buying.
The most traditional business model probably doesn’t need any explanation: a company creates a product and sells it to a customer and that’s it. Today, more and more companies are moving to a subscription-based model where the company gives access to the product and the customer pays e.g. a monthly fee.
Many successful startups in recent decades are two or three-sided platforms. For example, Uber connects drivers and passengers, while Facebook connects advertisers and consumers. In these more complicated business models, the user is not always paying for the product.
Sometimes the business model itself can be the main innovation. Some mass B2C products can focus on acquiring users and think about monetization later (think Whatsapp or certain games), but in most cases a working business model needs to be found in the early days, or at least a solid idea of how it’s going to work.
One of the critical elements to reach product/market fit is to get the pricing right. This can often be tricky. Finding the right price should also be an iterative process. One should try to understand the price of the current solution or the cost that the problem is causing the customer.
Sooner or later, a startup needs to get a grip on the economic side of the equation by answering questions like: how much does it cost to acquire a customer, what is their lifetime value (the total revenue a business can reasonably expect from a single customer account during the lifespan of the customer relationship) and how much does it cost to serve each customer? Startups are often unprofitable in the beginning and when scaling the business, but one should have a clear idea how to eventually become profitable.
There are many different tools to summarize the fundamentals of a startup’s business, like Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas. The important thing to remember is that working on a startup is an iterative process. Founders can’t just create a business plan and think “that’s it, we’re done.'' Achieving product/market fit is about finding a way to make all the business fundamentals work. Of course, the business fundamentals will also be iterated during the journey, but you need to have some validation how they all can work.
Achieving product/market fit
Let’s make one thing clear: growth does not equal product/market fit. Growth is easy to understand — web traffic, pilot projects or subscribers taking advantage of “limited time only” offers. It’s relatively easy to attract interest and gain traction, but that doesn’t tell you if the product will be able to carve out a space for itself in the customers’ minds in the long run. When you see the first signs of growth, it’s easy to start patting yourself on the back and believing that you’ve found your sweet spot, but more often than not the initial growth is just temporary.
Initial traction is addictive, and it’s the number one reason why entrepreneurs get stuck on their original idea and refuse to iterate. Entrepreneurs may feel that “the customer just doesn’t (yet) understand” and continue to feverishly carry out more pilots to find the one customer that “gets it”. Others get discouraged and call it quits. This is often rooted in a misconception of the nature of product/market fit – something that is born in the mind of an isolated genius who understands people better than they do themselves. Yet the reality is much more complex than that and many successful products have needed years of iterative work.
After failed launches and trials, successful entrepreneurs admit that their idea in its current form is broken and that they need to change direction. They seek criticism and learn from it. They’re not afraid of failure, as each rejection gives them valuable information on what the customers are ultimately after and how the product can be altered or enhanced to better fit the market’s needs. Each crack in the product or service identified by a customer is an opportunity to plug the holes and build something stronger and more durable. In the very early stages, a startup needs the market – not the other way around.
Earlier, we defined a startup as “a group of experiments to find a solution to a problem and create a sustainable and scalable business model around it.” This definition is especially true for startups searching for product/market fit. After finding the initial solution that can solve the problem for a group of customers, startups need to learn as fast as possible about how to make all the business fundamentals (discussed above) work.
Using the build-measure-learn cycle
The iterative build-measure-learn cycle also applies when searching for product/market fit. The “build” part can be as simple as coming up with a way to reach customers or some new version of the business model. A startup’s task is to come up with a clear hypothesis for all the business fundamentals, test them as quickly as possible and iterate based on customer feedback. By feedback we mean not only what the customer says directly or answers in a feedback form, but also what a startup can learn from the behaviour of customers. For example, if a startup reaches only 1% of the customers they aimed for, that is a form of customer feedback. Either the value proposition, channel or some other thing is not working. After many iterations if the results just don’t get better one of the fundamental hypotheses is probably wrong and you should rethink the question: “who are my initial customers?”
While iterating to find product/market fit, startups should have a clear focus – after all, the more variables an equation has, the more complex it is to solve. And startups are definitely equations with many variables. That means if your startup is testing tens of hypotheses simultaneously, you can never be sure about the results for one specific variable – it always leaves room for speculation. Instead, the best practice is to focus on validating one or at maximum a few hypotheses at a time.
What counts as “enough” customer feedback?
As discussed earlier, you should probably have a two-digit number of of customers giving feedback. Another good rule of thumb is that you have enough feedback when you start to see a certain pattern of behaviour in your potential customers and aren’t learning anything significant during new customer interactions.
How to measure if a startup has achieved product/market fit
Product/market fit is a quite straightforward concept in theory, but the challenge is how to quantify and measure it in real life. Product/market fit is often described as a feeling that selling your product is much easier than it was before. However, as that’s a rather vague definition, we’ve summarized some metrics below that can make the search for progress more tangible.
In many cases, while searching for product/market fit the number of transactions is so small that using quantitative metrics is hard (or at least the metrics are not statistically significant). However, in some cases a startup already has a large number of customers, making it possible to get useful numbers.
Customer acquisition cost measures how much money a company has to spend to get one paying customer (or with free products, one user). Being able to decrease the customer acquisition cost also indicates an improvement in product/market fit – and is a good sign that your channels, value proposition and pricing are heading in the right direction.
Hit rate describes the percentage of customers the startup acquires from the ones they have had contact with. This is a useful metric for B2B startups who make offers for potential customers. For example, this could be the hit rate of how many customers ask for an offer after a meeting or how many offers convert into customers. Note however that the hit rate (and customer acquisition cost) doesn’t yet describe how well the product performs with customers.
Churn means the percentage of customers that end the customer relationship during a certain time period (often either one month or one year). The metric is applicable for a subscription-type business model and is a key indicator of how well the product is performing.
For many startups searching for product/market fit, it’s not possible to use the metrics described above. In that case, a good metric is to ask your current users the following question:
How would you feel if you couldn’t use product X anymore? A) Not disappointed B) Somewhat disappointed C) Very disappointed
According to Sean Ellis, the above question can be a great indicator of product/market fit. Through multiple case studies, he suggests that when 40% of a startup’s users answer “very disappointed”, the startup has found product/market fit. Using this metric to measure progress can also make the process of reaching product/market fit much more tangible. It can also be a good indicator of which customers you should focus on. The ones who answer “not disappointed” are probably too hard to turn into “very disappointed”, but the startup should listen especially carefully to the feedback of the “somewhat disappointed” group. If you’re interested, here is a case about a startup called Superhuman that used this metric.
In many cases, verbal and written feedback are the only feedback available. Collecting feedback is easy, but asking the right questions and knowing what and whose feedback to listen to is the challenge. As discussed in Chapter 3, asking “do you like the product?” will often lead to the wrong conclusions. That’s why you should ask more concrete questions about how the customers are using the product and what value they get from it.
For B2B startups who do face-to-face sales, a good indicator of product/market fit can be if someone else besides the founders, such as a sales representative, can actually sell the product in a sustainable manner. In the very early days of a startup, the founders should do the sales as they have a lot of hidden knowledge and understand the big picture (or at least they should). When the product is packaged correctly and you are using the best channels to reach customers, it should be pretty straightforward for a hired sales representative to sell your product.
Insights from an entrepreneur – Yousician
Chris Thür is the co-founder and CEO of Yousician, a gamified music education service. Their goal is to make musicality as common as literacy. Today, their service is used by millions of people around the world. Here he discusses how they reached product/market fit.
How did you reach product/market fit?
“Our first product was Wildchords, an iPad app aimed at children. I’m still proud of that product, it was a beautiful product and it works really well. We got featured by Apple, which was a big deal. We got a hundred thousand downloads within a couple of days. Then after the featuring was over we went back to zero – or not zero but very low. Learning an instrument with an app was a new thing so nobody was searching for it. Also, the problem was that the app world was new and parents would not spend money for apps for children. So, monetization was a challenge. We realized that the revenue from Wildchords wouldn’t be enough, but we had some traction so we used the momentum and hype and were able to raise 1.5 million euros from True Ventures.”
How did you develop your next product?
“With the money from True Ventures, we had to ask ourselves do we want to continue with Wildchords or start something new. We recognized that maybe we should not make a children’s app and instead something for adults because they are more likely to spend money. So, we started Guitarbots – a product that works for children and adults as well. Guitarbots was still a game, it has a character and story.
“Then we went through the whole cycle described in The Lean Startup and did a lot of testing and iterating. At some point, we realized that we have half of the story right. We thought that combining music education and games works – and it does work. But to make it look and feel like a game was not a good idea. People are not looking for a game that as a side bonus teaches you how to play guitar, people are looking for ways to learn to play guitar. Now it sounds obvious, but at the time it wasn’t. So, we rebranded everything as Yousician.”
What makes Yousician different from the original concept?
“Yousician is not a game, it’s a music education service. We removed the word game from everywhere and really focused on education. Of course, we kept many of the gamified features like points and scores that help us to keep users motivated. Today, Yousician is a great way to successfully learn to play an instrument. Of course, different people learn differently. Some prefer lessons with a teacher, and others prefer learning by themselves. For the latter group, Yousician is, in my opinion, the best option today. Also, for many, lessons are too expensive. One private lesson in the US costs on average $50, while a full year of Yousician premium costs $120. Ultimately though, if money is not an obstacle, I personally would recommend a combination so you get the best of both worlds. Use Yousician for daily practicing and to keep your motivation up, and supplement your learning process regularly with the help of a teacher or friend that plays the instrument well to give you additional feedback, motivation, and inspiration. We have thousands of teachers using Yousician with their students both during the classes and for them to practice at home, and that combination works extremely well.
“When we launched Yousician in November 2014, the first proud moment came when we managed to get the entire funnel tracked without any hiccups – we made a Yousician ad and showed it on Youtube, someone clicked it, went to yousician.com, signed up for a profile, tried out the product, started the subscription and payment went through when the free trial was over. That is a big deal when you build such a long chain and on the first day everything works. I was very proud of the team. In the first iteration already, as we spent money on ads and compared how many paying customers we got, it was almost on par with Guitarbots – a product that we had been optimizing for a long time. Then we knew that this was a hit.”
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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.
Want More Customers? Solve Their Problems
- Content Marketing
Do me a favor and ponder these numbers for a moment:
- Google is the world’s most popular website, with a whopping 88.07 billion visits just in the period November 2020 – April 2021.
- Internet users make 3.5 billion Google searches every single day.
- The vast majority of the 1,000 most frequently searched prompts on Google are how-to questions.
These stats tell us a couple of things. First, there are now more internet users than ever before. Second, people go online to find solutions to their issues – and if you learn how to solve customer problems within a few clicks of their Google searches, you could see a massive increase in your conversion rates.
And this doesn’t just apply to how-to searches, either. Even if someone is perusing Pinterest for recipes or Facebook for the latest gossip on their new neighbor, they have an itch to scratch. A want that they are looking to satisfy.
In marketing, we call these “pain points.” We also know that if we offer an effective solution to a person’s pain point, they are far more likely to become a paying customer.
- Identifying your customers’ pain points and providing them with targeted solutions is the secret to building a highly successful marketing strategy and boosting your conversion rates.
- Some ways you could provide solutions to your customers include helping them save money, answering their burning questions, and providing them with step-by-step guides on tasks they are looking to do.
- By giving your audience the information they need when they need it, you can transform your brand into an “influencer” or a trustworthy authority figure in your field.
- Once your potential customers start trusting you, getting them to buy your products or services is the next logical – and easy – step.
How to Solve Customer Problems 101: Find and Quench a Craving
To show you how to solve your customers’ problems, let’s consider a practical example:
1. Identify the Pain Point
That nostalgia is Olivia’s pain point. It causes her to get on Google and search for “apple crisp recipes.”
The first thing she sees is a recipe someone posted on Pinterest. She clicks on the link and looks over the ingredients: one of the items on the list is cinnamon.
Olivia rushes to her pantry. No cinnamon! Her craving, however, doesn’t let up.
To solve her problem, she heads out to her usual grocer to get some cinnamon. Despite the high price, she picks up a container. While she’s there, she also buys a couple of other things. End of story.
2. Build a Targeted Marketing Strategy
Now, suppose you’re that grocer’s competition. You may be smaller than the other guy, but you’re way savvier.
You know that in October, a lot of women go to farmers markets on the weekend and buy apples because they’re in season in your area.
You also know that the three indispensable ingredients in almost any apple dessert are cinnamon, sugar, and flour.
So, the first thing you do is put those items on sale.
But that’s not all. You also create two ads, one on Google Ads and the other on Pinterest – because you know that compared to social media, Pinterest can be 2.3 times more cost efficient per conversion and generate twice as high a return on retail ad spend. You do not buy banner ads because you know they have 99 problems and a click ain’t one!
But you do you put another ad on Facebook just in case. After all, people love to spend time on social media on the weekends. Surely, the conversation will turn to Mom’s apple pie at one point. It’s fall, after all.
So, you’ve now bought some Google Search ads, promoted a few Pinterest pins, and run a couple of Facebook ads.
You didn’t just throw them to the wind, though. You used those sites’ powerful analytics programs and optimized your content for SEO to target just the kind of people you knew would be on those sites looking for apple dessert recipes:
- Middle-aged women
- Women whose kids are old enough to be off doing something other than hanging around the house on the weekends
- Women who’ve frequented recipe sites before
- Women who buy at sales
- Women who live five miles or fewer from your grocery store
You even targeted the time: Saturday mornings and afternoons in late September and October. Just when your ideal customers are likely to be getting back from the market.
3. Offer a No-Brainer Solution to Your Customer’s Problem
In this alternate scenario, before Olivia heads out to your competitor’s store, she comes across one of your ads.
She sees your promoted Pinterest pin as she searches for recipes online. But to her, it looks just like any other pin – with a lip-smacking photo of a piece of apple crisp, which links to an apple crisp recipe on your blog. Just what she is looking for!
Once Olivia opens the link and reads the recipe, she sees a call-to-action that said, “Buy all these ingredients at your hometown store.” When she clicks on that button, it leads to an online version of your mailer. Topmost among the weekly specials are – you guessed it – cinnamon, flour, and sugar. Bingo.
Better still, Olivia had not one but two chances to see that particular ad: via your promoted pin as well as another ad that pops up above the regular search results.
A second woman, Charlotte, found your ad while scrolling through her Facebook news feed. She, too, followed the link, as she’d been wondering what to do with that bunch of apples in her kitchen for some time. After reading your apple pie recipe, she got inspired to try it out and eventually ended up at your store.
4. Reap the Benefits
Both Olivia and Charlotte, like most impulse shoppers, bought way more than they needed. Not just your sale items, but also your other stuff.
Keurig coffee pods – because what good is a hot apple crisp or a piece of homemade apple pie without a cup of steaming coffee to go with it? Whipped cream. Ice cream. Half-and-half for the coffee. And so on.
They bought all of that because you scratched their emotional itch. You provided content that solved your customers’ problems – and you reaped the benefits.
Solving Customer Problems Using Online Content: Practical Examples
It’s not just apple pie recipes that solve problems.
Every product or service a business offers for sale can do that.
So does the business owner’s expertise. When you share your insider’s knowledge, customers will see you as an expert in your field. They’ll believe in your products and services because you’re good – maybe even the best – at what you do.
Our hypothetical grocer, obviously, is a connoisseur of good foods. Her innate sense of seasonal produce and the right ingredients to turn that produce into delicious desserts led her to create and publish two fine, highly converting recipes.
Here are some more examples of how business owners can attract more customers simply by publishing free, high-quality content that solves people’s problems .
- Soothing customer worries. Imagine you’re a pediatrician. Why not publish content to help parents of young children know when an illness is serious enough to call a doctor? What about an article about the symptoms of a cold versus those of the flu? By solving some of your patients’ biggest worries, you can expand your patient base.
- Making people’s lives easier. Did you know that fashion stores rake in sales with Instagram photos featuring one of their items paired with shoes and other accessories to accent the garment? By providing complete outfit ideas, they make their customers’ lives easier and solve the perennial problem of “What in the world should I wear with this dress?”
- Helping your audience save money. Smart automobile dealers post articles and videos that help owners take better care of their cars, giving readers free advice that can save them money. You can bet that those dealers will be the first ones their readers will contact.
How to Solve Customer Problems: A Real-Life Case Study
Influencers are not social media personalities. A business can become an influencer, too – or rather an authority in their field that others look up to – as they solve problems for their target customers.
Here’s an example of a music school that did just that:
A Music Success Story
Back in 2009, this Los Angeles guitar academy started posting videos of its director’s guitar renditions of popular classical pieces on its YouTube channel.
Those posts attracted a huge number of fans among guitarists and other music lovers – and have helped guitarists hone their technique simply by observing that of the director. Not only did the school solve the problem guitarists face of finding something to play, but it also showed them how to play it with their demonstration videos.
Thanks to these posts, the school has now expanded its business beyond music lessons to also include selling sheet music for the pieces from the videos – a much more scalable product.
But the benefits don’t end here. When a sheet music purchaser finds that they cannot play the piece with the same finesse as the director, they sign up for lessons at his school. This is how by solving people’s problems, the school also managed to expand its customer base.
If you, too, would like to draw customers to your business by providing solutions to their challenges, find out what keeps them up at night. What are their pain points? Once you know that, you can create and post the kind of content that will scratch their emotional itch.
A Quick Note on Video Marketing
The music school case study is demonstrative of one of the biggest trends in content marketing right now.
Because it’s so effective at increasing brand awareness and new lead acquisition, video is currently the number one media type used in content marketing. Just consider these stats :
- 66% of consumers say they’d rather watch a video than read about a product
- 68% of viewers will watch a business video in its entirety if it’s less than a minute
- YouTube watch time on TV screens only is 250 million hours per day
These numbers mean one thing: in addition to blog posts and online articles – which can be incredibly effective in their own right – you may also want to explore video marketing as a way to advertise your business. Trust me, the results (and your bottom line) will not disappoint you.
Source: Social Media Today
The Power of Content Marketing: The Numbers Speak for Themselves
The results are in, and they are unequivocal: content marketing is one of the most effective strategies to promote your business and boost your conversion rate.
I already touched upon video marketing in the previous section, so let’s take a look at the stats for good old blogging here. We now know that businesses with high-quality blogs report:
- 55% more site visitors
- 67% more leads per month
- 97% more inbound leads
- A staggering 434% more indexed pages
Now, if that didn’t convince you to start a weekly blog subscription service and all a content marketing agency right now, I don’t know what else could!
How to Solve Customer Problems: The Bottom Line
In-depth, high-quality, and targeted content is the single best way to solve customer problems.
And the best part is you don’t have to go it alone. Our Monthly Content Builder Service can do all the heavy lifting for you and help you to:
- Increase organic traffic to your site
- Boost lead quality and conversion rates
- Only use your marketing budget on tactics that work and bring results that compound over time, giving you a higher ROI
Want to find out more about our Content Builder Services and how they can take your business to the next level? Just hit the contact button above. Tell me about your business and I’ll do a free assessment of your content marketing!
About Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.
June 2, 2021
More From Forbes
Is your marketing solving the right problems.
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Lee Roth, North American Director, BeenThereDoneThat
The challenges for marketers today can be overwhelming. Beyond the usual issues of competition, spending and market share, at this time we have to navigate a cultural climate with ever-expanding trapdoors, from Covid-19 to a recession to political division. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Where there is seismic change, there is opportunity, but success lies in starting at the very beginning, which as we all know is a very good place to start.
And the beginning is identifying and defining the right problems to solve.
One of history’s smartest thinkers, Albert Einstein, is often quoted as having said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”
As with most things Einstein said, he made problem solving seem simple, but it’s important to put in place the right problem definition process in order to be good at it.
While selling your product might not be as important as saving the planet (but don’t underestimate the power of business to do so), when we define problems properly, we are reframing them so that we can see the opportunities contained within them that previously might have been hidden.
And as Einstein reveals in his quote, when we define them properly, we get to great solutions that much quicker, which can save us money and energy. This is the essence of what makes a great brief. Defining, identifying and framing problems in the right way enables other people to see the opportunities and get excited about solving them.
The ‘Backsies’ Billionaire: Texan Builds Second Fortune From Wreckage Of Real Estate Empire He’d Sold
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And here’s why I think that we, as marketers, need to foster this art of problem definition. Among the 100 senior marketers polled last year for a report we commissioned, only 18% agreed that their teams are good at writing concise briefs. Poorly written briefs in turn often lead to confusion, misery and the same old solutions that don’t even come close to the problems we really should be solving.
But all is not lost. Here are some ways to ensure that problem definition sits at the heart of your marketing:
Resist the urge to race to solutions.
Identifying and defining problems require discipline and an approach designed to stop you and your team from falling into the trap of coming up with solutions first and retrofitting a problem.
Use a framework for the identification of problems, not the generation of solutions. They are hugely different. Create the space and time to investigate properly; you can’t rush it.
Emphasize the importance of identifying the problem and get the important people in the room. A quick way to do this is to ask yourself who can say no to the solution, and make sure they are there.
Inject objectivity into the process through outside help and diverse thinking.
Shift your investment to understanding the broader context, rather than validating solutions.
Testing has always been a route to making sure that the idea resonates with the consumer. But testing executions is only justifying the solution. More marketers are understanding that they need to tap into a broader understanding of the cultural landscape to identify the right problems to stay relevant in consumers’ lives. As one senior marketer told us in our poll, “We’re making a big effort to spend more time and money on empathy work and really understanding consumer tensions and consumer needs rather than validating things. ... That’s one of the changes that I’m seeing and for me that’s the right approach.”
Another said, “For me it keeps coming back to our ability to know if we are focusing on solving real people’s problems.”
The most essential part of your problem definition process is making sure that what you are trying to solve is an actual consumer problem. Solving consumer problems drives growth; solving internal business problems tends to save money.
Once you’ve identified the problem, open your mind to the solution.
Adopt a growth mindset:
• Don’t allow muscle memory to snap you back into an old solution set.
• Go wide and use a diverse set of minds that are focused less on agenda and more on creativity to bring you a richness of solutions, but stay laser-focused on the problem you are trying to solve.
• Remember that success lies not in the subjective world of “Do I like it?” or “Will the boss like it?” but in the objective world of “Will this solve the problem my consumer has in a way that will drive value for both of us?”
As Einstein said, once you’ve identified the problem, solving it should be simple, really.
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Top 8 Marketing Challenges & Solutions for 2023
There have been quite a few business changes in 2022. With the aftershock of COVID-19, businesses have had to find ways to source resources and conquer the world of eCommerce. To help businesses better prepare for the new year, Pyxl surveyed marketing and business professionals to better understand the state of digital marketing for 2023 and provide valuable insights and predictions for what businesses can expect in the new year.
We discovered that businesses will face many obstacles when it comes to navigating the uncertainty of what 2023 has in store. There are 8 main marketing and industry challenges businesses are currently facing and will continue to face in 2023.
We’ve listed the top 8 marketing and industry challenges, including some solutions and resources to help businesses prepare for 2023.
1. challenge: gaining new customers.
As a result of the pandemic and a competitive business environment that is constantly changing, gaining new customers and increasing sales may be difficult for many businesses.
Offering better content and utilizing paid media will help your business stand out to your audiences and gain an upper hand over your competitors. Understanding your target audience becomes prudent here. In order to gain new customers, it’s important that you first understand their wants and needs and are able to showcase how your business is the right solution for them. There are several tools called Make My Persona from HubSpot that simplify the process of creating buyer personas.
As for creating content that stands out, try creating content your audience actually wants to engage with by utilizing your blog to answer their questions and social media pages for questions and polls that get your audience talking.
2. Challenge: Standing out from competition
The ever-changing business landscape and the emergence of new businesses make it difficult for businesses to stand out from the competition.
“More and more [businesses] are joining the [market].”
With a large number of businesses putting emphasis on digital marketing, consumers are seeing more advertisements than ever before, and the need to stand out and differentiate is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses.
Refresh your brand for 2023. A well-defined brand increases brand recognition and can help score more customers. For many businesses, their brand is no longer represents who they are as a company or is no longer resonating with their target customers, which is why brand awareness has been such a struggle.
Here are a few articles on how to rebrand your business to help increase brand awareness in 2023:
1. Is your brand message getting across?
2. Positioning your brand for the new year
3. Factors to consider when implementing a rebrand
3. Challenge: Keeping up with the changing COVID-19 expectations
For digital marketers (and most businesses), COVID-19 will continue to have an impact.
“The impact of the pandemic has not passed and continues to affect the industry this year.”
Businesses find it difficult to remain flexible and make long-term decisions because of the constant fluctuations caused by the pandemic . Businesses will have to adapt as the business environment continues to shift.
In this era of the virtual world, engaging the online audience requires brands to be transparent and authentic, regardless of whether they’re finding new social media or creating new content to post. Focus on creating quality content that increases brand loyalty and allows content to be repurposed efficiently for the future as well.
Here are a few articles on how to create engaging content in 2023:
- Where to Reach Generation Z with Marketing and Advertising
- 5 Must-Know Tips for Content Marketing and Your Content Management System
- How to Create Compelling & Optimized Content
4. Challenge: Managing various marketing channels to expand brand .
Another marketing challenge that was reported from the survey was the struggle to manage multiple marketing channels for brand expansion. With so many digital strategies to consider it may leave businesses struggling to understand what direction to take with the limited resources available (see Challenge #6 below). Unfortunately, there is no secret formula for determining marketing success. The best way to prioritize and drive focus is to create a business strategy based on the target audience’s needs and business goals, then test and gather data on what actually performs well!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a successful marketing strategy that will help in managing marketing channels more efficiently:
1. Identify the target audience
2. Analyze past marketing metrics
3. Perform a SWOT analysis
4. Define your marketing goals
5. Determine your marketing channels
6. Keep in mind the lifecycle stages and marketing funnel
7. Create a marketing plan
8. Report and measure progress
Here are a few articles on how to prioritize the marketing channels on the basis of ROI:
- Paid Media KPIs to Help Measure Advertising ROI
- Understanding Which Social Platforms Will Drive the Most ROI for Your Business
- Using Marketing Attribution to Measure Marketing ROI
5. Challenge: Budget concerns
Another reason why it’s difficult to determine the most effective marketing methods is that businesses struggle with their marketing budget.
Without a clear marketing budget, it becomes difficult to determine the direction of your marketing strategy and where to allocate limited resources.
Start by having access to reporting and analytics tools that offer easy-to-understand marketing and business reports and metrics. This would help you to analyze what is working for your business and how to allocate your marketing budget accordingly.
1. Google Analytics
2. HubSpot Analytics 3. Marketing Budget Templates
Also, here’s a list of the top marketing metrics to track and why.
6. Challenge: Lack of resources
Businesses are constantly seeking ways to deliver quality products and provide excellent customer service in order to retain existing customers. Businesses are also struggling to keep up and stand out amongst their competitors in the digital world, but are also seeing a decrease in marketing budget due to lack of consumer spending. This means businesses are trying to do more with less.
Hire a digital agency , like Pyxl , to manage some or all of your digital marketing projects.
Here are a few benefits of outsourcing to a digital agency that might help with business’s current lack of resources:
1. Cost savings: T he cost of outsourcing to a digital agency is far less than hiring a full-time employee who has the skill sets required to compete with other businesses. This means businesses can do more with their budget.
2. Save time: Time is a huge factor. Businesses want to do more, but usually realize they just don’t have the resources to do everything well. By outsourcing projects to a digital agency, frees up hours that can be dedicated elsewhere within the business.
3. Team of experts: A digital agency is a team full of experts who specialize in all things digital marketing, so a lack of quality talent is no longer an issue.
7. Challenge: Lack of industry awareness and education
Another industry challenge that was reported was a lack of industry awareness and education. With so many emerging businesses it can be hard for consumers to stay up to date with what new technologies and solutions are available. How can a business market to their target audience if their target audience doesn’t even know their business has a solution?
Understand your audience. The best way to market to a consumer that doesn’t know about your product or service is to provide content that is tailored to your key audience. What are their challenges, motivations, how do they consume information? By understanding and defining your target personas you can start to connect with your audience by answering their questions and communicating your product or service as the solution to their problems. Try communicating through a variety of channels to see where your audience is most engaged: create content that answers their questions, use highly relevant hashtags in social media, and promote your content with paid media to reach a wide audience.
8. Challenge: Struggling to keep up with the changing marketing needs
As the market changes rapidly and new trends emerge, it may become more difficult than ever for businesses to gain new customers and increase sales. Moreover, it seems like new marketing laws and regulations are popping up every day, making it difficult for marketing and business professionals to keep up. And breaching these compliance regulations can result in serious penalties .
To stay up to date with the latest marketing rules and regulations, follow industry newsletters like Pyxl’s to ensure you’re receiving the latest digital industry trends and updates. Or partner with a digital agency to ensure your marketing efforts are always following best practices.
Also, here are a few resources to ensure you’re maintaining compliance right now:
1. How to Create a GDPR Compliance Strategy
2. ADA Website Compliance Regulations: What You Need to Know
3. Steps to Ensure Your Website is ADA Compliant
4. Facebook Privacy Issues: What They Mean for Consumers and Brands
Partner with Pyxl
Is your business facing any of these marketing challenges? Hopefully, we’ve provided enough resources to get you on the right track for 2023. Or if you feel like you need a little more guidance, feel free to contact us ! We’re a 13-year award-winning digital agency that specializes in creative problem solving and delivering full-spectrum digital solutions to help take your business to the next level.
Updated: Mar 02, 2023
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Identify and define the problem. · Come up with possible solutions. · Evaluate the options. · Choose the best solution. · Implement the solution.
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We used to live in a world where “marketing strategies” boiled down to bombarding audiences with messages about how your product was the best. If that seems a
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What is a problem-solving approach? · Changes in customer needs, problems, and preferences · Technological changes that might offer opportunities
1. Identify the Pain Point · 2. Build a Targeted Marketing Strategy · 3. Offer a No-Brainer Solution to Your Customer's Problem · 4. Reap the
While selling your product might not be as important as saving the planet (but don't underestimate the power of business to do so), when we
Solution: · 1. Identify the target audience · 2. Analyze past marketing metrics · 3. Perform a SWOT analysis · 4. Define your marketing goals · 5.