There are five conversations every business owner needs to have to unlock their growth. We’re going to begin with your clients and the problems you solve for them.
You might have considered many of the points raised in these conversations but never talked them through with someone. Or you might have discussed them in your business but never articulated them and recorded them so that they could be shared and inform organisation wide thinking. These are the conversations that I have with my clients to help them unlock their growth.
Here’s the first crucial conversation that you need to have if you are serious about growing your business.
Conversation one: What problems are you solving?
The best, and most successful, organisations solve problems for their clients. This is at the heart of what they do. They are creating and delivering products or services to help their clients.
Conversation starter: What are the problems you solve for your clients?
Let’s begin by you telling me how your clients describe their problems to you – can you cast your mind back to those first conversations? What words did they use and how did they tell you what the matter was?
What’s interesting is how much they understand their problems. Did they come to you with a description of the symptoms? Or did they already have a good understanding of the root cause of the problem?
Let’s explore a bit more about their problems. What were the symptoms that they typically described? The effects that they were seeing as a result of having a problem. What were the symptoms that finally drove them to decide to seek help? Do you know why they thought you could alleviate these symptoms for them?
For those that understood the root cause of their problems, what was it? Or are there different root causes for different types of client? If so, let’s make a note of that as that will come in handy when we look at your market segments.
Finally, when they came to you for help, was it because they wanted you to relieve the symptoms that they were seeing or because they wanted you to sort out the root problem?
So, let’s recap. Your client typically notices a set of symptoms which alerts them to an underlying problem. Some clients go no deeper than wanting to get the symptoms fixed. However, some of them understand what it is the real problem is and they want you to solve that for them.
Why you need to have this conversation
As a business owner, you need to understand the problems you are solving for your clients. You need to understand how they perceive the problems and what their level of understanding about the problems and the symptoms are.
You can then use this information in a variety of ways:
- To match your marketing messages to the language that your clients use to describe their problems
- To determine which problems you wish to solve for them e.g. which symptoms or underlying causes
- To determine if your marketing needs to have an educative element, i.e. help your clients understand what is happening, so they can make the right choice about how to solve it and understand why choosing you is the right or wrong choice.
By the end of this conversation you should have:
- a thorough understanding of the problems that you are solving for your clients including both root causes and visible symptoms
- articulated these problems into a list
- for each problem articulated the root cause and the symptoms
- clarity around whether you want to solve the root cause or the symptoms.
These can be presented in a table:
|Problem as described by the client||Symptoms as felt by the client||Which of these symptoms do we want to solve?||Root cause||Do we want to solve this root cause?|
|Our internal time records are poor because the team don’t fill them in, which means we aren’t billing correctly||•The team don’t understand how to use the time recording system
•Team don’t log time
•Team moan about the system
•Team need reminders to log their time
|We want to help them understand how to use the system properly.||They never invest in IT training so their staff always have to learn as they go.||Yes|
You are now in a great place to have the next conversations that will unlock your growth because you can now develop the right products for your clients and develop meaningful customer segments, based on the problems you are solving.
Kara Stanford is a Strategic Marketing Consultant who helps ambitious SMEs use marketing to grow their businesses.