problem solving

Ignore Old Problems...Find New Ones

Historically, most markets were constrained by geography and the lack of portability of what was on offer. If you were a blacksmith, you worked for your town and the occasional passer through. And there wasn’t much demand for shipping because it was easier to replicate the work than to move goods. Same goes for the modern lemonade stand. One shop for the visitors to your corner of the neighborhood. Another one for the neighborhood next door.  

It took a while but two things eventually happened. People learned you could charge a premium for higher quality and unique products...which created choices. People like choices. And modern transportation and the internet solved the constrained market problem…these products could now be had anywhere. People like immediacy and convenience. These trends created tension for some and possibility for others. The people stuck on solving old world market problems with old world marketing failed. The others ignored the old problems and started solving new ones.

If the market is constrained by virtue of what is on offer, i.e. a restaurant or a gas station, not only do you need to solve how to earn enough trust to create loyalty from your neighbors. But you also need to solve how to become a destination to attract people from outside the neighborhood. How does the choice become compelling enough for people to consider and then make the journey?

Or if your offer is transportable, an ebook or a widget, how do you gain attention and earn trust in an increasingly crowded and expanding universe? How do you find and connect with the person who seeks precisely what you have made, even if you only need a few?

But what if you could remove all of the constraints, solve the problems of transportability, immediacy and could reach anyone that wanted one? What if you could create a new problem to solve? What if you were Dream Pops?

You can be…you just need to solve new problems differently.

What Does Success Look Like? numbers allowed

Often I get bogged down in the minutia when trying to solve problems. After a while I remember to ask myself this question. And it works every time. It really clears things up. It resets my mind and gets me focused on a clear goal. In terms of marketing and more specifically spreading the word I ask these additional sub-questions...

  • Who (what type of person) am I trying to reach? What inspires them?
  • Why do they want to hear from me?
  • Why would they support me (and my purpose)?
  • How do I earn their trust?
  • How can I connect with them?
This helps me get a real clear picture of who my prospective audience is, where they live, work, play and how they feel. Notice I don't ask how old they are, what zip code they're in, or how much they earn. Take triathlons as an example. If I were developing or promoting a race and limited the characterization of my audience to the old fashioned demographic profile I'd likely miss some prospects. If I focused on older, higher wage earners who lived nearby, I'd miss the younger, newbie crowd who'll take a road trip for just about anything. Albeit a smaller portion of the pie, this unrealized slice of the audience is important…in fact very important…to me and my race. So why leave them out?

Take special note that I didn't define success as a number. Because success isn't a number, it's a relationship. And you don't define or characterize a relationship with numbers…you do it with feelings. Numbers are indeed important. Numbers are required to make something sustainable. But numbers are a yield, based on the success or failure of the relationship. Unfortunately, too often we still confuse the "success" part of the question to mean "how many" big is the audience?…which really means how many can we sell? Because if we don't sell X we can't make money. On the heels of this strategy is the mass market promotion in HOPES of getting a small percentage to buy. Unfortunately, you annoy (and alienate) all of the people who don't want to hear from you and you leave out some of your best prospects...who didn't fit into the misguided demographic profile. This is no way to build trust. And certainly no way to build an audience of loyal raving fans. Now, if this isn't what you're after, go for it. Otherwise, spend more more time defining what success looks like, without numbers.