There are five conversations every business owner needs to create a systematic, effective approach to marketing. Let’s begin with your clients’ problems that they come to you to solve.

About these conversations:

These are the conversations that I have with my clients to help them move from scatter-gun, ad-hoc, tactical marketing to a systematic, effective approach to marketing which is focused and purposeful and achieves their business goals.

If you’re running a successful business, then you’ll have considered many of the points raised in these conversations. You may have even 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.

The power of these five conversations is that they lead on from each other and, together, they systematically allow you to ensure that you have in place the crucial elements of strategic marketing that will allow you to improve your business and achieve the level of growth you want.

To give you an idea of how important these conversations are, when a client engages me we spend half a day in a workshop working through each of the conversations.

If you don’t have the time or budget for this approach, then these blog posts are ideal to help you start formulating these crucial ideas.

Here’s the first conversation that you need to have if you are serious about your marketing.


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: cartoon man with magnifying glass

  • What were the symptoms that they typically described?
  • What were 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


Next steps

You’re 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. If you feel you want to make these conversations even more effective, then get in touch and let’s discuss how we can do that.

Photo of Kara Stanford of KMS MarketingKara Stanford is a Strategic Marketing Consultant who helps ambitious SMEs use marketing to grow their businesses.

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