Sometimes complex marketing problems have simple solutions…

I was talking to a neighbor today.  He’s in a business where he’s basically a problem solver.

There’s a generic name for people who do what he does.  But it doesn’t really tell you anything — it’s wildly generic.

When there’s a potential client out there who knows exactly what they need, they’ll type that into a search engine, or ask around, and they’ll find him.

Then it’s a matter of him simply saying, “Yes, I am that solution to your problem.”

But he says it’s hard to present himself to potential clients who are not yet at that spot.

They know they have a problem or challenge.  But they don’t know who or what the solution could be.

Enter the humble case study…

He had stories.  Lots of them.

I don’t want to give away too much that’s proprietary to his business, but I’ll try to give you some examples.

He was talking about a company that builds specific machines.  They had a part that was causing a problem.  Some of these parts could be installed and work just fine.  Others would cause issues, and customer complaints.

This company had come up with a process that took some of their best engineers 10 minutes to complete, that could tell if the part would work or not.

But that was slowing their whole operation down.  So my neighbor was brought in and he created an alternative test process that could assess the part’s quality in about 90 seconds, with even better accuracy.

He explained similar problem solving involving a machine’s power usage levels, and how that could be tracked and tied back to the product being made.

And on, and on.

Fixing manufacturing processes.  Identifying ways to track and optimize performance.  And testing specific parts to determine how well they are working.

All these little stories of problem solving, none of which fit under any great umbrella of, “I do this,” that could be explained to strangers to make them have the “ah ha” moment that would lead to client work.

Frankly, as copywriters and marketers, we have it easy.  We help businesses get more leads, customers, sales, and profits.  We may have many mechanisms to pull that off, but that’s essentially what we do.

But this guy was struggling because he didn’t know how to market or sell himself.

And yet, as he told all these stories, I heard case study after case study explaining the types of problems he could solve.

Sometimes, a pile of case studies is your best marketing mix…

I told this guy that he needed to sit down and write out a dozen stories of customers’ problems, and how he helped them solve them.

One or two, and it would be easy to be pigeonholed.  But a dozen and there’s enough variety to show his breadth of capability across industries and applications.

He objected, saying some of the stories had potential potholes, involved sensitive customer information, and so on.  I told him that some customers may be happy to have their stories shared with name attached, but others could be stories of the problem and solution made anonymous enough that it wouldn’t ever be tied back to the client.

Either way, it’s essentially the same formula.

— Customer had X problem.

— Here’s the agitation it was causing in the business.

— Here is why previous attempts to solve had been invalid.

— I provided Y solution.

— Here was the result, and why this was an ideal solution.

It’s essentially my PAISA formula.  Problem—Agitate—Invalidate—Solve—Ask.  But without the Ask on the end, and instead finishing the problem-solution story.

You can and should add an ask at the end, but in this case it would be to schedule a consultation to determine if your problem is something we can solve.

If the case studies are right, the marketing around it is rather simple…

Essentially, you state that you solve problems in X, Y, and Z big categories.  In the above stories, it’s largely around machines, manufacturing, and industrial processes.  Maybe there’s a better description there, but that’s the kind of broad categories you look for.

Then, you lay out the case studies.  Perhaps you sort them into broad groups.  But basically you want a bunch of descriptive titles of the different problems that were solved.

Then, you create an offer.  In most cases like the above, it’s going to be a consultation.  You describe your problem, I’ll tell you if I think I can fix it.  Depending on demand (organic or generated) and positioning, you may or may not make this a paid consultation.  Either way, it should have a very explicit wrapper and scope.  Maybe it’s an hour.  Maybe more.  But it should be a “productized” and limited package of service delivered.

That initial consultation would then turn into a bigger offer for work to be completed.  Basically at this point a laying out of the terms.  “If you want me to solve your problem, here’s what that looks like.”

This is an incredibly low-pressure selling system.  It works in many different industries — especially in service businesses where you’re doing more problem solving.  And the more dynamic your offering, the more important it is to use a system like this that’s heavy on the case studies.

Don’t make things harder than they have to be…

That’s an even bigger takeaway from this.

You don’t necessarily need some huge and sophisticated marketing system.

You also don’t need the perfect way to present your product or service that will make it feel perfect to all the potential prospects.

Sometimes you just need to show your offer in action.

You need to tell your stories.

You need to show how your offer has been the solution for others who’ve had problems before.

And you need to tell enough versions of that story that the message generalizes.

Put a simple wrapper around that — including consultative selling appointments — and you’re off to the races.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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