Why 'no problem' is a bad problem to have

What is your problem?

Last week I failed. I gave a presentation to a group and it was entertaining and thought-provoking. Some may even say it was good. But by my standards, unless the presentation actually changes people’s lives, I consider it a failure. (I got the opportunity to repeat the message in a different presentation to different people and succeeded. We live and learn.) 

The message I attempted to convey is one of the toughest ones to deliver because it is contrary to what people think they believe.

The core insight is this: Removing pain is a greater motivator than receiving a benefit.

This means that when you are attempting to persuade people to buy your product you must make it clear how your product achieves this. We refer to these persuasion techniques as ‘omega strategies’ – as opposed to ‘alpha’ strategies which emphasize value.

Now you can see why this is a difficult concept to get across.

This is a list of product innovations brought to market by Johnson & Johnson. This company has been trading successfully since 1886.

    1887 - Sterile Surgical Dressings and Sutures

    1893 - Baby Powder

    1898 - Dental Floss

    1897 - Sanitary Protection Products

    1954 - Non-Irritating Shampoo

    1879 - Antiseptic Mouthwash

    1891 - First Aid Kits

    1920 - Ready-Made Bandages

    1955 - Pain Relief Without Aspirin (TYLENOL® )

    Disposable Contact Lenses ACUVUE® 

    Minimally Invasive Surgery (MAMMOTOME® )

    1931 - Family Planning (ORTHO-GYNOL®)

    1968 - Saving Babies’ Lives (RhoGAM®)

    Life-Changing Treatment for Schizophrenia HALDOL®

    Hip and Knee Replacements

    Unblocking Arteries without open surgery (stents)

    A Breakthrough in Sun Protection

Read the list carefully and consider this: What do these products have in common?

Every product solves a customer problem. Quite possibly a problem a customer did not know they had. 

The shampoo does not promise shiny hair, it promises ‘no tears.’ 

The toothpaste promises ‘no cavities’. (Check out the top US slogans for toothpaste here.) But there are toothpastes that promise a brighter smile, I hear you say. No there isn’t. What they do is promise you the confidence to smile. 

If you buy a BMW, people won’t laugh at you. People buy fashion not because they want to look good. They think they do. They will say they do. But there is a sub-text which is the real reason. They buy fashion to fit in – because ‘standing out’ runs the risk of looking stupid. But they will say they are buying it to fit in – just like a teenager gets tattoos to express their individuality, and end up with the same look as everyone else.

I am exaggerating, but only a little.

Last week I wrote a post that suggested that customer-centricity might kill your business. I explained why you should not rely on your customer to create new products or offer services. This is because people think they are buying something for one reason, but they are buying it for a completely different reason.

Unless we are solving a customer problem we don’t have a business.

In our case, we could say we help retailers and the retail supply chain not to lose their customers to competitors. What is your problem?

Have fun… 


PS #1: Something for you to like here. (The bribe still stands.)

PS #2: New Winners’ Circle will be published soon. Get yours here.

Ganador are trainers with track record of using smart ideas, structured execution and cutting-edge learning technology to enable people to deliver the ideal customer brand experience.

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