This is the first of an eight part series about what causes hesitation in the mind of your customers and what to do about it. And our topic for today is the problem and how we use it to get the attention of our client.
In grade seven I got in trouble with Mrs Lucas.
She was quite a frightening teacher to most of the kids in my class as far as I was concerned. She had a habit of launching into long rants about how we had disappointed her and they could go on for what seemed like half the afternoon.
On one particular day I had just taken responsibility for a projectile that had gone hopelessly astray and landed on her desk. I knew that if I didn’t own up to it the entire class would get in trouble. Even though no one else knew that I was the culprit I didn’t want to cause trouble for everyone else. So when Mrs Lucas asked who did this, holding up an elastic band adorned with staples. I put up my hand.
Here are the three topics we are going to talk about today. First we’ll reveal why you are probably not getting as much attention from your customers as you would currently like to have. Then we’ll talk about how to get attention from your customers using problems. And finally how to elevate the problem in your customer’s minds using isolation.
Did you know that your solution is the problem?
Well it could be true. If all you are talking about is your particular solution in your marketing you are not alone.
Mostly are in love with our solutions. After all, this is your intellectual property, the product or service you have created. It is your livelihood. Why wouldn’t you want to promote it? The problem is no-one cares about your precious product or process. No one cares. Seriously. You could have the most elegant program or well made product but this is not going to get the attention of your customer. Why?
Because your customers are not inside your head. They are in their own heads. It’s pretty obvious don’t you think? Yet we tend to be like the teenage girl who truly believes that everyone in the class is looking at their eye liner. They think that because they spent soooo long preparing their makeup before going to school that this will magically get the attention they think they want to get. A teenager might get home at the end of the day and complain about no-one noticing their makeup or talking to them in class. When we have a business we also struggle to get out of our own heads. We become self centred like a teenager. The makeup is being used to get attention and it doesn’t work. People are not coming up to us and saying “Wow, I love your makeup! You look really nice”.
So instead of spending more time on our makeup we need to focus on something else. Can you guess what it is? Or rather who? That’s right. The customer and not what they look like but something else.
To get the attention of your customer you talk about their problems
But people have all sorts of problems. Where do you start? And this is true. We have numerous issues swirling around in our noggins at any moment in time. And it can change hour by hour and moment to moment can’t it?
Feel like a apple? Sometimes we get organised and prioritise our long term problems ourselves but often we are just dealing with the issues that have become urgent. The problems that are right in front of us in the moment. An envelope with a window on it has arrived and we need to pay a bill. A note will come home from the school and you’ll need to decide whether your son can go on an expensive ski trip for the school camp. The problems that get our attention are often those that show up from the outside. If we are organised we’ll also have your own list. Say if you are starting a business, for example, then your list may include finding a product or service that solves a problem your customers are desperate to solve.
Problems tend to show up when there is a change of some sort. We notice change far more easily than when things are not changing. And once we have noticed the change we’ll do a quick assessment of how much of a threat or problem this represents to us. And if it warrants our concern we’ll decide on some sort of action to take. Like when we are crossing the road. The potential problem is being hit by a car. Quite a big problem. So we focus on looking in both directions and listening for cars and other vehicles in that moment. So how do you go about finding out what the biggest problems of your customers are? We start by isolating one specific problem.
Have you noticed that glob of cream on your cheek?
Let’s say we are having a chat over coffee and are enjoying a croissant with jam and cream. As you enjoy the lovely crisp croissant I notice a glob of food on your cheek. Would you want me to bring this to your attention? Or would you rather I pretend that I don’t see it. If our roles were reversed there would probably be nothing that could distract you from the glob of cream on my cheek. I suspect that most of us would stop the other person in mid-conversation and politely tell them about the cream. What you have just done is draw attention to a problem that was not currently at the top of mind. Out of all the issues they might have had on their mind they are suddenly focused on just one.
The problem that you have isolated for them. And they didn’t even know they had this problem 20 seconds ago. If you had earlier asked them to list their current problems or struggles they might have given you 5 or 10 or 20 potential problems and the glob of cream would not have been on the list! Yet this is now the problem they most want to fix and yes this is a very small, easy to fix problem. The important thing to remember is that you are using one specific problem to get their attention. Not 2, not 20. Just one. What’s the glob of cream on your customer’s face right now?
So find a specific problem your customer has and use this to get their attention
Talking all about your solution without any reference to a specific problem of your customer is like being that teenage girl who spends 1-2 hours doing their makeup to get attention at school. Instead, think about the problems others might be having right now. Talk to them and ask. And rather than overwhelm them with a whole list of problems you point out that glob of cream on your customer’s face. If your solution is the world's best cream glob removal system your customer will give you their undivided attention. The more specific the problem the better. As long as your solution can be linked to solving this problem you are on your way. This can be summarised with a simple 2 step formula for getting attention.
First isolate a specific problem and then elevate it to get attention. Isolate, then elevate.
But how do you know if you have picked the right problem? You don't! Not at first but you won't know until you have tested it. If you get a response to the specific problem you have identified you keep moving forward. If you get no response then you choose a different specific problem to talk about.
When I lifted my hand on that day back in grade seven I was elevating my problem to Mrs Lucas's attention. She glared at me and immediately isolated me from the classroom. At that moment I had her complete attention. I was the problem! She told me she was very disappointed in me and instructed me to sit there at the top of the stairs until lunchtime. I was in tears. I had attracted the wrong type of attention and gotten myself in trouble. But at least I had taken responsibility for it by raising my hand and saved the rest of the class from being kept in during the lunch break for one of her infamous rants.
And getting the right sort of attention from your customers is your responsibility too. Make sure its not the wrong sort of attention you’re getting. You don’t want to be the source of the trouble itself do you? This is not about creating a problem but about isolating a specific problem what already exists. Go and find the glob of cream on their cheek.