Many people approach marketing with a focus on goals. Sure, you need goals, but can you truly know your goals without first defining your problems?
Low awareness of your services, high familiarity of your products but low utilization, poor company image and reputation, and high inquiries but poor lead generation are just a few potential problems your business may be facing. Whatever the case may be, these problems create the need for goals, and so the problem ultimately defines the solution.
Figuring out your problem is the easy part. It could come from conducting a customer survey, hiring a research firm for an in-depth analysis, or it could simply be an obvious issue you deal with daily. Once you have identified your problem, write it down. For example…
We have the most prominent location and best prices, but our competition is growing while we’re barely keeping our head above water.
Do you start running more ads? Try radio advertising instead of television? Redesign your website? No. None of the above. You need to first understand the underlying cause of this problem before you consider taking action. Just as a journalist asks the who, what, where, when and why when writing an article, you should do the same for defining you problem. You might be thinking… "Will this require research? Research that takes time and money?" Maybe. Or maybe not — the answers might be right in front of you. Whatever the situation, defining and understanding your business problems helps prepare you to develop more effective marketing solutions. These solutions — these creative solutions — may involve risk and require you to make decisions that often do not meet with immediate, universal acceptance. Most of us tend to develop a routine of working and thinking. You can’t seem to veer from this path because this is where you found success. But, what if you dare to put aside all your experience and expertise? Dare to approach your problems with an open mind? You can then ask the obvious questions. You can even ask the dumb questions. And from this new point of view you will generate fresh ideas and truly creative marketing solutions. The problem defines the solution. So, stop what you’re doing and figure out what your problem is.
Whatever you do, please do not start "thinking outside the box". Your box is not empty. Just take a look inside.