Become the Problem

McDonalds has granola, Arby’s has yogurt, and even Jack-in-the-Box has fresh fruit. What the hell is going on here? All this healthy eating is making me sick!

Burger King introduced the “Have it Your Way Healthy Options,” McDonald’s launched their ”Balanced, Active Lifestyles Initiative” and even the Cookie Monster is crumbling to a healthy diet with Sesame Street’s “A Cookie is Sometimes Food.”

Let’s admit it, there’s nothing tastier than fast food! Americans have always loved digging into a bucket of chicken, chomping on a Big Mac or downing a Whopper. Then how did the food pyramid ever find its way into the drive-thru? 

I guess it’s because consumers have demanded a healthier diet from fast food operators, right? Wrong. 

Oh, then it’s because our government is forcing fast food operators to be more responsible for planning healthy menus, right? Wrong again!

Ok, then it must be that serving healthier food is more profitable? Not quite!

No one has imposed any “solution” on these operators. Nor should they in my opinion, this is a FREE enterprise system.

Let me introduce you to Morgan Spurlock, a little man who intimidated a multi-billion dollar industry to change their entire business strategy with his award winning documentary, Super Size Me. I loved the movie, the marketing, and the message and you will too. As one critic said; “It will wipe the smile right off your Happy Meal.”

How did he do it? He used the second Rule of Attraction. He focused on the “problem.” In fact he BECAME the problem. As a result, fast food operators were FORCED to make a change. 

What did he do? He decided to eat ONLY at McDonalds for 30 days to see what would happen to his body. No problem there. Right? Wrong yet again! He almost killed himself. He gained 30 pounds, his blood pressure jumped, his cholesterol went through the roof, lipids and liver enzymes were at all-time danger levels and he developed NASH, (non-alcoholic, steototic hepatitis). Nice job Morgan!

How successful do you think he would have been if he had gone to McDonalds with a solution to the problem? Or lobbied congress or written letters to the FDA? Or created a study of the positive effects of changing their menu to healthy alternatives? Not very! They wouldn’t have given him the time of day. 

The first rule of attraction is to become a bigger fish in a smaller pond. In order to accomplish this we need to understand the problems and challenges of those we are attempting to influence Rule #2: The problem is more important than the solution.

Too often marketers make broad assumptions when communicating their message to clients. This happens in both the selling interaction (face-to-face and on the phone) as well as the marketing interaction (with ads, brochures and web sites.) This is a natural tendency since as marketers we know far more about our products and services than our customers. In many cases we may know what the customer needs more than they do themselves. The danger, however, is that customers don’t care about the benefits and solutions that our companies offer. Let me repeat that: CUSTOMERS DON’T CARE ABOUT OUR BENEFITS AND SOLUTIONS!

I can imagine people everywhere are reading this right now saying that I’m crazy. Traditional sales and marketing methods teach that we should elaborate on our features and benefits, and prospects will see how they can be helped by our solutions, and they will logically decide to buy. This assumption is the root of why most sales and marketing attempts fall on deaf ears. People today make buying decisions more emotionally than ever before. Our prospects and customers care FAR more about their problems than they ever will about our solutions! 

Do you think there would have been ANYTHING Morgan could have shown those fast food industry execs that would have convinced them to change? Not until some pain was inflicted. “There is no change without pain,” I like to say.

This is why it is important that we speak to our prospects and customers in terms of their problems! By doing so, they become uncomfortable with the status-quo and our solutions become much more palatable. This is not so much a logical choice, but rather based on their emotional reaction to the fact that we actually have taken the time to understand their problems. The solutions we offer then become the natural choice to help solve those problems.

All marketers like to believe they have a unique solution. They are confident that they are different from the competition. When you get right down to it, however, most marketing says the exact SAME thing. It talks about what the company, product, or service DOES. At best, it may promise some generic group of benefits in which buyers MAY be interested. Even the best marketing materials (web sites, brochure, flyers, ads, radio or TV spots, promotions, interactive CDs or videos) attempt to communicate to the customer why their product, service or company is better than the competition. Few focus on the problems that the customer is having. This is at the core of the attraction mindset.

Interested in LEARNING how to focus on the problems your customers face? Check out our latest workshop:

Attract More Business One Day Workshops 
By popular demand, we are now offering the Attract More Business one day workshop. This full day workshop incorporates content from our “Attract More Business” learning program and 8 week class. The workshop will be held from 9am to 5pm on June 11, 2005 in Long Beach, CA and August 25, 2005 in Pasadena, CA. Attendees of the workshop are eligible for 2 follow up 30 minute coaching sessions. As a special bonus when you attend the Attract More Business one day workshop, you will receive our audio CD on “Branding in the 21st Century.”Sign-up at: Attract More Business One Day Workshop.

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