Problem Solving 101: Turning A Customers Want to A Need
February 17, 2019
So you've probably heard this very common advice: “Research a problem your customers are having, and then create your business around the solution that you create for that problem.”
So let me ask you this then... How do you find the problem that your customers are solving when what you want to offer is more of a commodity (e.g. jewelry, shirts, makeup, etc.)? How do you create the problem that your customer is suffering from and the solution that you offer with your commodity product?
This is a common question we get asked all the time and we serve a lot of handmade businesses. What we have done is shown those handmade businesses how to create a story around their product that creates the want. It creates the solution that you offer by appealing to a customer's values.
Why Do People Buy Ferrari’s?
You might be thinking, what the heck does that mean? So let me give you an example. Let's talk about cars, right? You don’t really NEED a car, but it is nice to have one if you’re trying to go from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. So keeping that in mind, why the hell would some people buy exotic cars like Ferrari's?
Why do people buy these high-end vehicles that cost so much money? They're so flashy and they're really more than most people could ever want because, to be honest, you're not going to drive more than 40mph through the city in most cases. It's going to be the same as the 98 Honda beside you, so why would somebody buy a Ferrari?
Well, exclusivity is a big thing, right? Not everybody can afford a Ferrari, so people who buy them really want to show off their status. They want to show that they've made themselves something. They want to show that they're part of a very exclusive circle.
So the question is this: How do we apply that same thought, that same value system?
How do we apply that to jewelry, soap, stationery, baby clothes or anything else?
A Simple Message Makes Your Dough Rise
Well, let me use the example of donuts to illustrate this because who doesn't love donuts, right? So we've got two different kinds of donuts here. The first donut is high end. It's made with very expensive ingredients, sourced from obscure parts of the world. It's got gold leafing on it. They're very adventurous, very different kinds of donuts. Nothing you would actually find in Dunkin. What kind of a person would want to buy that kind of a donut? Well, it's somebody who has the money to spend on something of that expensive, right? Cause if you have expensive ingredients, you've got to increase your price so that your profit margin makes sense. So somebody who would buy this donut enjoys the finer things in life. They can afford the finer things in life and they're probably adventurous eaters.
So we can make safe assumptions like: they value things like status, like travel, like all of the interesting things they can find in the world. More importantly, what is it that they don’t value? They don’t value commonality- If everyone else can get it they want nothing to do with it. They want special, they want unique, they want the appeal of that very different kind of food.
So now let's look at another type of donut. This kind of donut is made from locally sourced ingredients. It's got all organic or all-natural types of ingredients and it gives 50% of proceeds back to sustainable farms. In this example, you can see how this appeals to a very different value system, a very different kind of customer, somebody who values staying close at home and supporting their local area and only eating healthy organic ingredients. Whether that's for health reasons or for ethical reasons. It's a very different value system and you can see how there may even be overlap.
There is one thing that these two different kinds of doughnuts will do if they want to be a success, both will have to create a story based around their customer’s value system. That story is then going to permeate every aspect of their brand. So when they go to describes a doughnut on their website, in their emails, in their videos, in their content, they're going to circle everything around that value system. The first will talk about the obscure parts of the world where they source these ingredients, why they use the gold leafing. They're going to talk about how much their customers enjoy it and the finer things in life and the kind of customer they have coming in.
Whereas the other shop will have a very homegrown, down to earth feel. It’ll showcase the ingredients that are sourced again from the local area of reclaimed wood. It's not at all going to have the same environment as the first donut and they might even sell out in the farms themselves.
You can see the reach both of these different kinds of brands can have. You can see the potential that both of these brands have just in creating that story around that value system. Now think about where you might see these two different kinds of donuts. You might see them on Facebook ads, you might see them in magazines. Picture what it would look like to actually find an ad for this kind of doughnut and what that would look like.
The kind of words they would use would be different. They wouldn't just say, come on in and grab your donut. Get your cup of coffee and head off to work. Neither of these two really values the same things.
What brand does that sort of message sound like? Dunkin Donuts, right? That's something that we're all very familiar with with the pinks and the Browns and the happy colors, but the exclusive donut, the donut that has the gold leafing on it will have colors like black and white, something bolder and more defining. Its message will say something like “Enjoy the finer things in life, by engulfing your senses with the world's best donut.”
And when you do show up. They’ll serve their donuts at a gala or something like that as part of a very kitschy, fun way of getting into that community. Whereas the other donuts, will show up at community event or they might even show up at protester’s throughout the city They might be very bold in their advertising saying, ”STOP BIG AG, STOP Harming Animals by taking away their land, support the sourcing of organic, handmade, and organic ingredients! We only put the best into your body.”You can see the potential and the very big difference, right?
Now, what’s the problem if these two target markets overlap in their messaging? What's the problem with this homegrown sustainable donut using the high-end exclusive messaging to try to get to that market? Simple, they're going to alienate not just the exclusive group who they're trying to now reach but further alienate their own customers as well. They're trying to reach a group of people that do not have the same values so they don't care.
Understand Your Customers Value System
Instead, they should have focused on answering the concerns and expectations for that particular market. If you’re focusing on that small-town feel, are they going to care that it is locally sourced? Will they care that it’s all organic and that the environment from which they are purchasing from has reclaimed wood and rustic touches? Are the homegrown people going to look at the exclusive donuts and want to go and spend $100 on a donut? Are they going to care that it has gold leaf? Are they going to care that it's from obscure places in the world? Probably not! They are going to have a problem with the fact that you're putting Gold Leaf from who knows where into your body, that you're using hydrogenated oils and whatever else to create this very unique kind of donut. There will be an issue there in the value system.
So what I want you to do is try to understand the problem that you serve, the problem that you solve for your customers as a handmade business, as an eCommerce business in a different way. I want you to think about the value system of your customers. I want you to think about how your brand and your messaging speaks to that value system.
What do your customers value in life?
What do they want?
Are they very concerned about their kids and going to school?
Are you a business that can circle around the mom aspect?
Do they care about only buying from businesses that source in the U S are they going to care that you are an artisan kind of business?
The list can go on and on!
Do they want those things from their stationery? Do they want those things from their jewelry? Do they want certain things in life? Do they fear certain things? Think about all of these things. Think about the psychographics, not just the demographics of what your customer values in life and try to niche to the point where you can get to that group, that circle of people and really hit hard on a certain value system in a certain message.