A while back, while reading David Meerman Scott’s blog post about all of the bad PR pitches he receives, one of his points struck me as very important, and one all of us who communicate, or teach others to communicate, need to remember.

I know this appears to be about PR professionals only, but stick with me as it applies to everyone.

David said that if you are going to pitch media on a story, be prepared to answer the question,

“What problems do you solve for your customer?”

That is what David wants to know when considering a pitch, and suggests we all prepare for this question.

I agree with him because if we can’t articulate what we do for our clients, how can we expect our clients, friends and referral sources to understand what problems we are prepared to solve?  How can we give WOM, Word of Mouth, a voice if we don’t define that voice, or if that voice has no words to speak?

I originally wrote about this on my Facebook Page, and asked my friends and visitors what problems they think they solve for their clients.  Thanks to Lindsay Griffiths, Bill Wolfe, Deb Dobson, Greg George, Gary Murphy and Rhoda Israelov for sharing their thoughts and the problems they solve with me.

Feel free to share your answers with us here.  It doesn’t matter if you think of one, two or even ten.  Feel free to share them as it is part of the process of figuring out the best way to present your information.  In fact, you never know when someone else visiting this blog might have the problem you are solving, right?!

Go ahead and post your ideas even if you can’t quite adequately define your solutions.  You will be helping others think through theirs, and perhaps others will even help you narrow down your language to identify your solutions for clients.  If you think you need help, draft something below, then ask others to feel free to help you focus your language.  I have some very smart people who visit on a regular basis who might just be interested in giving you their opinion!  Consider this a non-threatening workshop for you with help from your peers and mentors!

This is an important exercise as you need to use this language, or some form of it, in your client communication, whether written or spoken, and especially when you are thinking about how to design your business to actually be of service to your clients.

So, my friends, what problems do you solve for your clients?

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  • What problems do I solve for my clients? This is a terrific exercise, Nancy. It’s another version of the value proposition. I’ve helped dozens of lawyers clarify their value proposition by asking them to stand in their clients’ shoes…i.e. what is keeping them awake at night and it’s rarely in line with what the lawyer perceives is most important about what they do.

    Here’s mine. Client problem: “Please, help me! I know I should be using the social web to market my practice but how do I cut through the clutter, noise and disruption? What’s in it for me? How do I get up to speed quickly?” I simplify the principles and process making it easier for them to understand and manage their purpose, plan and placement. I give them something they can live with.

    What do you think? Sound right? Suggestions?

  • I hope lawyers can play this game! At my firm, I find cost effective ways for clients to resolve complex regulatory problems whether it’s through flat fees, customizing the scope of work to suit their needs or finding money (through fee recovery statutes or aggregating efforts). At myshingle, I solve problems that solos face in starting a practice by providing credible resources and usable tools that lawyers can implement easily — and I solve the cost problem by making these materials available at no charge to solos

  • What problems do I solve for my clients? Love this question, one of the things is I help my client answer this so that they are focused on the activities that will keep them on track with their business. Too many businesses today see hear and want to be in social media when in fact they have not taken care of some marketing basics first. Asking them better questions so that they operate from a strategic mindset and practices vs the typical “what do we need to do now”. Helping them with giving a online analysis of where their competition is online and what holes they are leaving to give away sales and profit dollars. When we are done they know what they online marketing goals are, who will do what (inside or outsourced) and a system to measure the results.

    Thank Goodness I am big on action and execution since a lot of clients need someone with that passion and focus to help keep them on track.

    Nancy we want to hear your answer, so participate in the comments 😉

  • Hi Carolyn…of course lawyers can play this game! My world revolves around lawyers and marketers, so you are always, always welcome here! Thanks for stopping by! It’s obvious you’ve given this a lot of thought.

  • Nancy,

    Great post. Love the question – been asking it for years. I’d add a distinction that I think Scott was making (and I’d challenge everyone to look at their answer to this question for this distinction).

    Most people focus on their solution, not on the problem they solve. As I’ve written on my blog solutions are worth nothing until there is a problem. When we effectively connect to the problem the buyer is having we are able to stand out and enter the conversation much earlier – giving us a huge advantage. When we’re merely disguising our solution we sound like all of the other peddlers out there.

  • Nancy, I ask myself this question every day. And while the specific answers vary greatly from one client to another, the general answer is that I help my clients build their online professional reputations with their specific goals, budget, and available time resources in mind.

    By the way, your suggestion, “Consider this a non-threatening workshop for you with help from your peers and mentors!”, is both refreshing, as well as, an excellent way to invite engagement on your blog.

    I can’t tell you how many times I get an email from someone that wants to comment on a blog discussion somewhere that doesn’t for fear of getting publicly lambasted for their opinion.

    Blogs like yours that foster participation, discussion, and communication in a constructive way (even if it’s disagreement), are far more valuable than the vast number of “hater-blogs” out there.

  • Thanks for stopping by, and for your very kind comments Gyi! I know what you mean about a fear of being lambasted as I see it all too often. If we can’t discuss and ask for help without that fear, then why are we all here, right? Thanks again!

  • Thanks so much Doug….GREAT point! I encourage all of us to turn our solutions inside out, and try to really define the problems that exist that our solution will be helping to solve. It’s a challenging way to think of what we do, but so helpful. Doug, thanks for being here, and for helping to frame the discussion!

  • Here’s mine:

    I help take away the (problems of) confusion and intimidation that often accompany the topic & tools of Social Media, and how they can and should fit in to Marketing.

    The related solution is that I help clients understand and strategically use Social Media to strengthen their relationships with their clients.

    As I have encouraged you to do with one another, please feel free to provide feedback on the problems I have identified also. Hearing the problems that exist in this area are the only way I will stay in touch with what I can do to help solve them…thanks!

  • Hi Nancy,

    Another great post and I love how you make this a place where we can all come and work together.

    The problems I love to solve also involve your passion for social media. I love to see the look in a lawyer’s face once they “get it” and see the endless possibilities of using SM in their marketing strategy.

    What I’ve learned from working with lawyers is you need to have proof and time saving methods when proposing a social media strategy. It makes me happy once I see a lawyer twittering, blogging or even just updating their Linkedin profile. 🙂

  • Hi Nancy,

    Ran across your post through Twitter and thought it so appropriate. I love all the interaction here on your site! Doug’s comments about solutions aren’t worth anything unless there’s a problem to be solved is also very fitting.

    We’re working on the unemployment problem by providing job search training so people can get back to work faster. These are the same conversations we have with job seekers! No employer will hire if they don’t have a problem. Most candidates have the problem of not knowing how to conduct a search in today’s market.

    Problems – solutions – life! Thanks for creating such a great welcoming space online.

  • Michele, thank for reminding me to post my own…I did! I am so thrilled that all of you have taken your valuable time to visit and share yours as well.

  • Thanks for stopping by Samantha! So…would you say the problem you help solve is a lawyer’s skepticism and disbelief in Social Media?

  • Hi Karen! First, thank you, and others here, for ReTweeting, or RTing, my blog post on Twitter today! I know you know how important sharing is in any kind of marketing! The problem you solve, as you articulate it, sounds like you solve candidates lack of knowledge about how to conduct a job search, correct? Where do you do this kind of work, just in case anyone here might know anyone needing your services?