Monday, September 18, 2006

Solutions Need Problems

“Solution” is one of those words totally overused by marketers. It almost goes without saying that if a product or service really is a solution then it must be a benefit to the customer, because it must solve their problem. Eureka a great marketing message!

The problem is that it’s often used in a glib manner and the marketing message barely pays lip service to the actual problem that needs solving. In the traditional marketing way problems are identified through customer research. These problems are categorised or segmented so that good marketable solutions can be communicated. The bigger the “solutions” budget the more depth or breadth to the proposed solutions.

The concern is that this process undoubtedly leaves out some problems or variations in segments where perhaps the ROI doesn’t stack up. With the broadcast nature of traditional communications that means some customers are left seeing solution messages that aren’t answering their problem. Equals dissatisfied customer and bad marketing.

I was considering this subject the other day after visiting the European Solutions Group of a major multinational. The question I had for them was “how do you establish your customers’ problems?” The pitch I was attempting to make was that blogging could provide the means to establish a superior customer proposition through real solutions for real live problems. By taking a 1:1 approach to specific subjects or technologies, identifying problems that fit the standard solution and proposing suitable avenues for those that didn’t. (Admittedly responsiveness would be a big challenge!)

I certainly didn’t hit a home run but I’ll keep running with the idea as I think it could provide a great brand position for an organisation that’s truly customer centric and a market challenger.

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