Marketing and the Problem You Solve


The effectiveness of your marketing strategy is determined by the problem you solve – and how well you are at solving it.


Getting the attention of those people who have the problem and showing them how you can solve it best for them comes down to two things: communication and messaging. No matter where they are in their buyer journey, how and when you communicate your message ultimately determines if your ideal audience sees it and responds to it.


Your marketing strategy and how well you communicate the message to your target audience should be based on their pain points or problem you solve. Isn’t that why you started your business? You wanted to solve a problem – it was either a problem you were having (knowing there were others like you out there) and created a solution for it OR you knew of a gap in the market and saw an opportunity to fill that gap. It may have been a problem they didn’t even know they had!

Marketing your solution can be simple. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly – it just has to be smart and effective.

Let's take a step into the time machine and go back to the early stages of your business, hone in on the problem you solve – NOT the product or service you sell – but the problem you solve. What is it? What problem are you solving?


When you are laser focused on the problem, your marketing becomes easier and more effective whether you’re doing it yourself or outsourcing it.


It really is simple! And you don’t need me to create a document for you to download because it really is that simple – it’s just the 5 W's and a H: who, what, when, where, why and how.


Grab a piece of paper and pen – or your phone and an app to take notes. All you need to do is write down these questions and your answers.

What problem are you solving? The problem doesn't need to be something that's broken and needs fixed. It can be solving a problem that creates anxiety, frustration or holds them back from doing something or something faster/more efficient. Think of the problem on an emotional level like these examples:

  • You aren't selling a pen; you're selling a tool that empowers someone to authorize important documents.

  • You aren't selling Scotch tape; you're selling to the pride a mother has when she puts her child's first picture on the refrigerator.

  • You aren't selling a scheduling app; you're selling peace of mind in organizing chaos and never missing an appointment.

  • You aren't selling marketing services; you're selling confidence in brand visibility and time to focus on what's most important.


Why is this a problem? Is it REALLY a problem meaning what pain does this person encounter every time something occurs that creates frustration, angst, sleepless nights, etc.Using an example from above: is the 'pain' real if you don't have a pen to sign your biggest contract deal? Or is the pain real if you don't have time to keep your brand in front of your target audience? Yes and yes.


Who are these people with this problem? If you had/have this problem, define 'you' in a way that if someone in that time capsule reads the description, they will know exactly who you were. If you know someone with this problem - an existing customer or someone on your ideal customer list - that's a great place to start. This is also a good start to creating your persona.


Where are they? In order to get in front of them, you need to know where they spend time. You can either research or ask. If you research, look at your customer data or go online and invest time to find them. It may be as easy as doing a Google search or search on Facebook. But it could be as difficult as a list hidden behind layers of security. Asking is the simpler solution but it’s not always realistic – especially if you’re new or taking a more proactive approach at outbound lead generation efforts. Asking is also more time consuming. Factor what data and resources you have with your time to plan the best way to accomplish this task.


Which problems need to be paired with each solution (if applicable)? If you are selling only one solution, this doesn't apply. If you're like most of us and have various solutions, your solutions may need to be paired to the problem. For example, if I sell pens AND pencils, the pencils don't solve the problem for signing a contract.


How are you going to solve it? And how much are you going to charge to solve it? The 'how' is your strategy, process or plan. Document or reverse engineer how you solve each problem, who's involved, how long it takes, what resources you need, where the solutions happen and when it needs to be completed. When you have this documented, it makes creating your fee easier to determine as you'll have all the costs identified.

Once you have each question answered, you'll have the clarity you need for your marketing strategy.


When you focus on the problem you solve, not the product or service you offer, you will better connect and engage with those individuals who will be your best customers.


You’ll have a better chance at helping them through their journey – from problem to solution - from the time they first see your name to the time they buy from you.


When it comes to your marketing strategy, you are better equipped to create messages that resonate with these individuals as well. And when you resonate with someone, you’re on the right path to being remembered.


When you connect the dots between your solution and their problem – meaning the why they are seeking you in the first place – coupled with a message that has an emotional trigger, you are better equipped to grab their attention and keep it.


What problem do you solve? Let me know in the comments!

Vicki O'Neill is a fractional CMO in Ohio who helps frustrated small business owners grow customers and revenue. She helps connect the dots between target customer pain points and solutions. She founded KenKay Marketing in 2011, started her marketing and sales podcast Connect the Dots in 2018 and launched a 2nd podcast The Power of 3Xin 2019 with her Gen Z daughters. Connect with Vicki on social media wherever you spend time. Join her community and receive valuable marketing tips that you can take immediate action on!

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