What Problem Do We Solve for Clients?
Kerry V., Australia
Often when doing business training, the first thing we are asked to find out is ‘What is the Problem we are solving for your clients?’
This stumps me every time. Of course I know all the benefits. However, I was wondering if any of you have looked at it from this angle and, if you have, what have been your conclusions to this question?
So far, here’s what I have:
We solve the issue of children struggling to be interested in playing.
We solve the life long dream’s for adults to play piano
We allow students to (in most part) go from piano to another instrument almost seamlessly.
We show people they can play immediately before having to go through mind-numbing exercises.
We allow them to see that music has a breadth of education, not narrowed or singularly focused.
Are these really life changing needs? Are they a MUST for people? Music is powerful, we all know that (and on many levels), but do we ‘save’ people?
Then, the next question in business training is ofter, ‘How Does this Change your Client?’ And this stumps me even more.
I am really looking forward to your responses. Have you done these exercises before? What are your thoughts.
Jonathan N., Hawaii
I think that the value of the program/lessons depend upon the individual client. In terms of problems to solve, the ones that you listed seem like reasonable solutions if that’s what is important to the client. For me, I did not choose to study SM, because I was struggling to be interested in playing – I was already interested, but some might be struggling with that. Other students with prior experience won’t be looking for a solution to “playing immediately before having to go through mind-numbing exercises” because they already can play. Then there are others that might just want to learn to play different styles of music but are not trying to fulfill a “life long dream”. I’m sure that there are students that wouldn’t classify the SM solution as a life changing need, but for some I’m sure that it is life-changing not just for them but their families – just look at the SM Gateway program (effects on the brain, self-expression, communication, acquired skill). The great examples that you mentioned above might be better classified as Pain Points for the client. I looked up Pain Points on Google and it says that “customer pain points are as diverse and varied as the prospective customers themselves.” So, it seems like SM’s goal of having a student acquire and retain music as a lifelong companion as a means of natural self-expression while having a highly positive, self-affirming experience throughout the many peaks, valleys and plateaus of their life’s journey is pure gold. I personally haven’t held a teaching studio of any kind for a prolonged or even short period of time. It seems like one of the many challenges is how different the lesson business must be from a retail product business where you buy out of impulse/need/want and it’s done. You have it in hand and in the fullness of its form. You can use it (or eat it) when you want it. If you run out of it or it breaks, you buy another one or a different brand. But with this, it’s such a long-term commitment to where the value is continually growing and unfolding to where you buy it today, and it becomes something very different 2 weeks from now, 1 month from now 1 year from now, and so on. Sure a client has to keep on buying the lessons, but you have to keep on buying other consumer products too that only solve a temporary problem with a temporary solution until needed again.
Heidi M., Canada
Neil Moore’s awesome MALTR book points out some wonderful benefits…. but this can be talked about over a period of time, not necessarily all at the start.
Terri P., Michigan
Have you noticed how people clung to music as an anchor and comfort during this crisis in their lives? A lot of people don’t realize how important music is, until a crisis.
Kerry V., Australia
Yes exactly. So I’ll see how to market towards their joy rather than what they do not (or may not) realise.
Jan D., Ohio
The word “problem” tends to make some think of an actual problem, but I think of it as a generic term that has a broad meaning in this context. For us, the “problem” can be as simple as our potential clients want to be able to play the piano, they don’t know how to, and they are looking for a teacher. Our solution is that we offer piano lessons. On the other end of the spectrum could be that the problem is that traditional lessons don’t work for a large number of students and they can’t play anything that sounds like much of anything for quite a long time after starting lessons and we are going to solve that problem for them by offering them Simply Music lessons, a playing-based method that has students playing great sounding music from the very first lesson.
These exercises can be valuable for a business person by giving clarity on what “problem” is going to be solved, how the problem will be solved, who the ideal client is (for example, I wouldn’t target 3 and 4 year olds for Simply Music lessons), what our “why” is, etc. When it comes to marketing, you don’t ever have to state the “problem” – you can put a completely positive spin on it but still make a potential client curious about or interested in what you are offering. For example, I know a studio owner who developed a curriculum that uses pop/rock songs that students themselves choose to teach from beginning to advanced levels and his school puts students together in bands. Each student also puts on a home concert as they finish each level. He states in his advertising that students feel like rock stars. He doesn’t say anything about a problem, but that statement can make parents think about what they want for their child and what they are or aren’t experiencing in their current lessons. Some will state the problem and how they are going to solve it in their marketing and others are more subtle in their approach while opening up their potential clients minds to the possibilities.
At the event I was at last week, some of the participants in my break out groups, kept saying I needed more of a “niche” market and that I needed to target a much smaller age range. Nope. That is not going to happen, depending on the student 6 or 7 through any age adult is fine with me. Another told me to think about what had worked with former students – same answer, 6 or 7 through any age adult. Haha! My son is in broadcasting – you should hear some of the commercials he makes for class projects that make fun of typical marketing tactics – and my daughter is a content writer for a marketing firm. We are the world’s biggest cynics when it comes to typical marketing. I have done these exercises several times and there is more than one way to approach them. I for one don’t trust overly dramatic marketing tactics. I like ones that make me think – I don’t jump in on an offer immediately based on emotions and pressure for quick action. There is a piano tuner in my area who advertises as being the best – I immediately just wrote him off because I know who the best ones in town are and strangely he is not one of them. Another one advertises that he is the best because he charges $40 more per tuning and spends twice as long as the ones who are considered the best. I’m sorry, dude, but the ones who really are the best already charge twice as much as the quantity over quality tuners and the best already spend as much time as needed to do whatever they need to do. If you are really the best, you don’t need to tell everyone that you are the best because your work speaks for you. Like I said, I am the world’s biggest cynic when it comes to marketing.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
It’s always felt to me like we have the potential to *prevent* problems rather than solve them. But that’s not very powerful in the marketing arena. The idea with ‘solving a problem’ is that the potential client feels you are speaking directly to them and can ease some type of pain in their lives.
Another idea I hear frequently in marketing circles/programs is to communicate ‘what is the cost of NOT buying your product?’ Common examples are weight loss programs – the cost being higher medical costs, more doctor visits, less time enjoying your grandkids, etc. etc. Making it personal.
Perhaps we can suggest some specific desirable scenarios that would speak to different people. E.g.
“Imagine coming home after a stressful day at work, sitting down at the piano and just calming your mind through beautiful musical expression.”
“What if you could give your loved ones a uniquely intimate gift – a simple song, composed by you, in their honor”
“Imagine in your spare time, sitting down at the piano and effortlessly playing classical, contemporary, and blues music without needing to decipher music notation”
“What if your child spent less time fixating and more time creating ” (pics of a kid staring at a video game or phone vs playing the piano)
These are off the top of my head just to give an idea. I’d massage the wording a bit and provide more info of course.
Heidi M., Canada
I’d like to add – imagine the joy of maintaining enjoying a healthy vibrant and alert memory, with music and with everything in life, which will include higher enjoyment and quality of life even the golden years of life. So many people nowadays are worried about losing their cognitive abilities in old age, so this is a *real* bonus 😀
Jeff O., Massachusetts
We are not problem solvers. And we are not merely promoting “self-expression”, which would include screaming on a street corner. We are addressing the felt needs of people for beauty, competence and connection.
Original discussion started May 5, 2020