Category Archives: Unstuck

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Three questions your business must answer.

Three questions your business must answer. written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Straight to the point – here are the three questions:

  1. Do you get me?
  2. Can I trust you?
  3. Did you keep your promise?

Now, of course, the tricky part is that no one actually comes out and asks you these questions, but answering them, in often subtle ways, is the key to any successful relationship – business or personal.

Think of these questions as relationship stages.

Stages of a relationship

Here’s the thing you must accept. The company that can more clearly communicate that they understand what’s going on in the mind and heart of the prospect wins. 

Addressing a prospect’s problem upfront is a little like doing a puzzle, and it involves an evolving journey. Think about the last time you wrestled with a thorny issue. Did you wake one morning from your slumber and exclaim, “I’ve got it, problem solved.” I’m guessing no.

Whether you were aware of it or not, you probably went through a series of stages on your way to the ultimate solution.

By understanding these stages, you can also acknowledge and address them in your marketing messages and business processes. You can begin to understand the job your marketing has to accomplish to guide a prospect to your brand of solution. 

The stages addressed in the questions above align with our desire to attain more of these three little words in our lives – clarity, confidence, and control.

While most marketers jump straight into why it is such a great idea to hire them or buy their product, most prospects, still early on in their journey, may not even know the problem they are trying to solve. They may know the symptoms they are experiencing but have not diagnosed the “real” problem and certainly have not connected solving it with what we sell.

Clarity – Do you get me? 

The first stage is a clear understanding of what the problem is. I mean, even if you never considered this, it probably makes sense. 

You won’t go looking for a solution to a problem you don’t know you have or certainly can’t yet articulate. You certainly won’t be motivated to seek out a sales call, request a proposal, or pay good money for the ability to solve a problem that you can’t describe.

Ah, but once someone sheds light on the real issue, helps you name your challenge, helps you get clear on what something is costing you not to address, helps you know what you don’t know, see what you don’t see – then your world view begins to change. You see things in a light that allows you to take even baby steps towards finding a solution.

Your company may cut trees down but the problem your company solves is that you show up at the appointed time and clean up the job site meticulously. The thought is that pretty much anyone with a chain saw can cut a tree down (this is not true by the way), but no one will promise to show up in that small window of time I have in the morning to let someone into the yard to discuss my trees.

But you get that, so you promise to solve that problem. 

As marketers, our first job is to communicate empathy with the problem, communicate that we know what the problem is and that we understand why it exists. Do this, and you’ll earn the right to explain how to fix it.

 Confidence – Can I trust you?

With your problem defined and blind-spot removed now, you can start to search for a solution, but we don’t yet possess the confidence to know what the right path is. We begin to ask our friends, go online and search in all the usual places, maybe try to find an example of someone who successfully solved a similar issue. 

As a marketer, this is where trust rules.  

Once a prospect discovers that you do indeed get them and you’re the only one talking about the problem that’s been rolling around in their head for months, they’ll start to take a deeper look at two things: who you are and what you offer.

This stage involves deeper dives into your product and service pages and downloading your case studies, but it also includes filling out your forms, visiting your social profiles, maybe even Googling your business name.

Confidence is either won or lost in the details. How fast your site loads, how intuitive your forms are to complete, how well I get a sense of what you stand for when I read more about you.

None of these items alone is a deal-breaker, but collectively they tell a story about what’s important to you, and that’s the mental checklist a prospect is completing at this stage.

Do they believe, confidently enough, that you can live up to the promise of solving their problems in exchange for their hard-earned money?

Control – Did you keep your promise?

The final stage comes into view as a person is fully into solving their problem with you. During this stage, they want a sense of control.  

Now, this doesn’t mean they want to control the process; they simply want to feel as though it is going as expected, that they see results, that communication is flowing in a way that allows them to relax and trust the process.

This stage equates to a great customer experience, a great plan of action, and, ultimately your customer’s ability to understand the value of their investment.

So, did you keep your promise? Did you surprise me? Did you exceed my expectations? All of these help me feel like I’m in control.

And a sense of control is what turns the tap for repeat business, evangelism, and referrals.

The point in understanding these stages is to help you understand that it’s not enough to simply have a great explanation of the problem you solve. Your business must also intentionally address and guide a prospect through each of the three stages. 

Build a journey that addresses these three questions, and you’ll build a lasting relationship with your ideal customers.

What Problem Does Your Business Solve For You?

What Problem Does Your Business Solve For You? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Don’t misunderstand the title of this entry – I’m talking about you, the business owner, the start-up entrepreneur, the employee. What Problem Does Your Business Solve For You?

See, at its heart, every business exists to solve problems.

We may choose to communicate the features and benefits of our business and what it sells, but it’s a fact that buyers don’t care what we sell until they understand how doing business with us can solve their problems.

So what does that have to do with you and your problems?

I would like to propose an idea that’s not talked about enough; until you can fully understand the problems your business solves for you and how your business (your job) serves your, life you may struggle to understand how to best build the lasting customer relationships and internal culture you’ll need to grow a thriving business.

Now I know this seems a bit dramatic but ask yourself this question. What problem were you trying to solve when you started your business?

This is a harder question than it appears and this is not the same question as “what’s your purpose in life?”

Let me illustrate.

At first pass, many people would answer the “problem” question with things like, “it puts a roof over my head,” or “it gives me the freedom to make my own choices,” or even things like “it allows me to use my gifts.”

Nothing wrong with any of those answers, but they feel a little more like features and benefits, but nowhere near the truth.

So here’s where it gets tough.

I’ve come to realize that the problem I was trying to solve when I first started my business was low self-esteem.

I certainly didn’t know this at the time, but in many ways, in hindsight at least, it has and continues to color my decisions and daily actions.

See, I never really did that well in the traditional metric of school. I loved learning, had an insatiable curiosity, but “school” didn’t fit how I learned.

I got through high school but never quite finished college. I attended for four years and turned up about 30 hours short of any kind of degree.

I wanted to keep moving, keep pace with my peers, and at the time I was madly in love with a woman who has now tolerated me in marriage for over three decades.

I just took the next step in life, but lacking a degree I never quite felt worthy of or even capable of chasing the traditional career path. So I hid out for a while until I stumbled on the notion of starting my own business.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I did know I would never have to interview with anyone in order to land the job and that solved a problem for me. Just how long that element lived with me is hard to tell, but I can clearly point the finger at this dynamic in some of the ruts and stalls I’ve experienced in my business over the years.

Now, it’s funny but people often associate starting a business with a large dollop of confidence and self-esteem, but it’s probably one of the greatest misperceptions about entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs often use their business as a mask or a stage for some sort of lack.

That’s not really the point I’m trying to make, but hopefully, it helps illustrate the fact that once I realized that the real problem my business solved initially was to help me deal with my own issues, I could start to see a pattern of decisions that were based in feeding that solution rather than in my own personal or professional growth.

This is the kind of thing that leads us to take a client we know is wrong for us. This is what leads us to lower our prices and undermine our value. This is what keeps us doing what we’ve always done, even if it clearly no longer serves. (And by the way, this applies to any employee out there as surely as it does to a business owner.)

So let me ask you again – Why did you start your business, what problem were you really trying to solve? Does solving that problem feed your growth or keep you in a pattern of something akin to treading water?

Ever feel stuck? Then look for the clues to answer this question.

You cannot reframe the problem your business solves for you until you understand it and define it. Once you gain clarity around this idea you can reimagine your relationship with your business. You can take charge of the problem your business needs to solve for you and you can perhaps finally focus on uncovering and solving the problems that can bring your customers and everyone else who has a relationship with your business the greatest value.

You can do less and be more.

You can develop the confidence to say no, to narrow your focus to only those you are meant to serve, to create far greater impact than you ever imagined.

How to become the only business that matters

How to become the only business that matters written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

So the question this bold and perhaps presumptuous headline likely brings up is . . . to whom.

The only business that matters to whom.

The first answer I suppose most business owners and entrepreneurs might suggest is to their customers.

Yes indeed, this is a fine answer, an important answer, a worthy goal, but it might not be enough.

I believe that our businesses function much like an ecosystem and as such if any element is out of alignment the entire ecosystem suffers. Often this shows up as a general feeling of stuckness, loss of focus, lack of direction, a plateau in sales, or client and staff turnover.

Feeling any of the above these days?

Sometimes it comes about from a singular shocking event (can’t think of any of those right now) and sometimes it creeps in over time due to a general lack of focus on the things that really matter.

The root issue is hard to pin down, but the symptoms abound.

In 1995 Yellowstone National Park was in distress. The rivers and foliage were dying. The park’s ecosystem was terribly out of balance.

That was the year grey wolves were reintroduced to the park. Once prevalent throughout the lower 48 states wolves were all but eradicated by predator control programs so elk and deer unnaturally flourished causing overgrazing and subsequent erosion to river banks.

Now I know a lot of people aren’t fond of wolves, but that’s not the point. The reintroduction of and focus on this significant species actually allowed the foliage, valleys, and stream to flourish, which then also gave new life to many other species. (If you are interested in this story, check out American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee )

In other words, the balance was restored naturally.

Our businesses too have a balance, an ecosystem, made up of many components; customers, partners, suppliers, communities, team members, investors, and owners

It is my contention that businesses get out balance, become stuck, when they fail to address the needs of all of these various stakeholders.

A business can survive and perhaps even thrive with enough happy customers, but eventually, the path of growth will stall if that’s the only focus.

Here’s the question you must pin to the wall in your office – What problem are they trying to solve.

This, of course, is a potent question when it comes to understanding your customers and making a case for why your business is uniquely suited to solve your prospect’s problems.

But, what about everyone else involved in your business? What problem do you solve for your employees, yourself, your suppliers, your partners, and yes, your customers, and perhaps their entire ecosystem? (Ecologists refer to overlapping ecosystems as ecotones.)

Have you ever considered this idea?

I know, at first, it might seem like a bit of an overwhelming notion, but what if you got some clarity around this idea and applied it to your business? What if everyone in your organization started thinking this way, addressing this question?

What would that mean? What would that change? How would you think differently about your objectives? How would you innovate? What would you measure?

See, by simply asking the question, your mind must seek an answer.

What problem do we solve, what problems could we, should we, focus on solving?

What’s the promise of our business to everyone who is a part of it?

This is how you unlock balance. This is how you become the only business that matters . . . to whom? To the entire ecosystem of your business.

This is hard work by the way, but it might just be worth it.