Why Customer's Really Buy (3 Levels of Problems)

Most businesses I see focus their marketing on how great their solution is. They say things like “Proudly in business since 1974” or “Best burger in town” or “#1 in Florida for plumbing”However, people buy because of their problem…not your solution.My friend Mike said something recently that stuck with me: “Business is just solving a problem for a profit”If you invite me over to your house for dinner and, while I’m there, I notice you do NOT have a leak in your toilet or kitchen sink, it's going to be difficult to sell you my plumbing services. It doesn’t matter how good my solution is - even if I’m the best plumber in the state and have 1,000 raving reviews, you aren’t going to buy from me.Why? You aren’t experiencing a problem.So if you buying isn’t entirely dependent on the quality of my solution, there needs to be a paradigm shift related to how we approach our customers.

3 levels of problems

Let’s look at what story can teach us about understand how our customers experience problems.There are generally 3 levels of problems that every main character will encounter along his or her journey - including Frodo Baggins, Katniss Everdeen, or Luke Skywalker. As we begin to understand these 3 level of problems as they relate to literature or screenwriting, we can apply them to our branding and marketing strategies. These 3 levels of problems are the external problem, internal problem, and philosophical problem.

External Problem

The external problem is the bomb needs to be disarmed in an action movie. There’s a bomb on the bus and our main hero David has to disarm this thing before it blows up. Can he disarm it?But if that is all we know about the David, the audience will lose interest.The purpose of the external problem is to manifest the internal problem.An easy example of an external problem is a home owner’s lawn. He has weeds, brown spots, and nasty ant beds. This is definitely something he needs to take care of. However, it’s usually not enough to make someone pick up the phone and call a lawn care service.Only when an external problem gives way to the internal problem does it start to create a void for our solution.

Internal Problem

The internal problem is exposed when start to get more of the backstory about the protagonist.While yes, the bomb needs to be disarmed, the heart of the story becomes real when we learn that David lost his father who was an expert bomb disarmer. They were on a job together and he cut the red wire instead of the blue wire and dad got blown up. Now Dave is trying to figure out, "Do I still have what it takes to face my demons and get the job done?"You see how the story just came to life?Donal Miller puts it like this: "Most companies try to sell solutions to external problems. But people buy solutions to internal problems."Let’s think about the backstory of the guy with the bad lawn. Every day he drives into his neighborhood and sees all the other houses with neatly landscape shrubbery and turf that looks like a professional football field, and he thinks “Man, my lawn looks terrible compared to theirs. I don’t want to be the house with worst lawn on the block”. Or maybe he has a BBQ coming up and he's going to be embarrassed about how bad his property looks when all his friends come over.Now the problem has created an identity - how he feels about himself because of this problem. They want to end the frustration of the internal problem even more than they want to solve the external problem.Now there exists a void where we can position our marketing to help our customer solve their internal problem.

Check out this video where is show you exactly how to identify your target customer's internal problem and how to position your product or service as the solution to that problem.

Philosophical Problem

This is the epic struggle that is taking place in the story.Not only is David thinking about disarming the bomb and the death of his father, but the people who planted this bomb are terrorists who are trying to take down a city of innocent people.Now the struggle is will good win out against evil?Then comes the most important part of the movie where all those questions are answered, the Climactic scene. With 2 seconds left on the timer, David cuts the wire and the timer stops. At that moment, he’s disarmed the bomb, he’s proven to himself he has what it takes, and good wins out against evil.So how do the philosophical problem and "climactic moment" relate to our branding?The “climactic scene” for your customer’s story as it relates to our product or service is that buying decision. It’s important to help our customer solve all three problems in one shot. We need them to understand that when they press “Buy Now” or “ Schedule an appointment”, they are solving their 3 problems with that one action or purchase.

Free video training: How to Identify your customer's REAL problem and position your Brand as the solution.

In this short training video, I will walk you through 3 easy step to help you identify your target customer's internal, external, and philosophical problem and give you exact examples of marketing copy you can use to position your product or service as the solution to those problems.

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