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What problem do your clients or customers have?

If they’re like most of us, they have plenty of problems.

You likely solve one specific problem for them, though. What is that problem? The one that nags at them. The one they know they need to solve if they’re going to succeed. The one that practically begs for your expertise.

Listening to business owners who are looking to launch or grow their companies lately, I’ve noticed how many of them struggle with “What problem do your customers have?”

Their responses are surprisingly mushy, hesitant … they seem to be talking around the issue, feeling their way toward an acceptable answer.

No wonder they’re running into roadblocks as they seek funding or other support … or clients. It’s hard to get a handle on what they do … and for whom. Much less on why anyone would want it.

I don’t think they’re alone.

Lacking a crisp description of what our customers or clients need from us might be the main problem most of us have when it comes to promoting our work.

How can people know they need us if they’re not crystal clear on what we do, and for whom, and why it’s important?

And how can they be clear about that if we’re not?

If I’m reading the thought bubble over your head right, you’re thinking, “Yeah, but Catherine, I do a lot of great things for my clients.” Or, “Many different people need my help.” Or, “My skillset is so wide-ranging, I respond specifically to what each customer needs.”

Turns out, it really is challenging to answer that question, “What problem do your clients or customers have?”

I was listening in the other day as some seasoned, savvy, successful business owners offered their advice and expertise to a guy in start-up mode. Much of it revolved around this very issue. As it did the last time I listened to them advising a different guy in start-up mode. And then there was the time before that. And …

You get the idea. There’s a trend here.

The conversation made me consider my own clients. And yours.

I always resist suggestions to “pick a vertical.”

Not that it’s bad advice, mind you. I’ve heard it from enough smart people that I’m sure it’s quite sound. And yet, as long as I’ve coached speakers, I’ve relished working with clients in different industries, and different positions within those industries.

I’m not willing to narrow it down to coaching only financial professionals or IT experts or consultants. I’ve seen clients in all those categories and more dramatically improve their ability to connect with and influence an audience as a result of our work.

So, when the experts advise more focus (and they do) I look for something other than the specific industry or job title. One question to ask ourselves …

What do your customers have in common?

Maybe you’ve zeroed in on specific individuals or companies who need the solution you offer. I’m curious about how you developed that focus.

Or maybe, like me, you look at your client base and see variety. Yes, it’s the spice of life … but how do we offer our work to all those different people in a way that makes them say, “I need that!”?

I zero in on their situation rather than their occupation.

And what is that situation? They’re in line for an opportunity – a new client, a promotion, an elected office, whatever. And they need to communicate their ideas and their value more clearly to stand out and be chosen.

Or, they’ve landed the position or the big account and now they’re scrambling to meet the communication challenges that go with their increased responsibility.

Or, they’ve already missed out on an opportunity, and they’re ready to get serious about speaking with some pizzazz so that doesn’t happen again. Maybe they’ve even gotten feedback about falling short when it comes to professional presence and presentation.

The key is that the people I can best serve need to polish their speaking skills and they know it. I’ve wasted a lot of time offering communication coaching to people who think they’re talking just fine, thank you.

What about you?

  • What problem are your clients facing?
  • Do they know it’s a problem for them?
  • And of course, the question that follows from that is, “Are they willing to invest in your help solving it?”

If you have ready answers to all those questions, congratulations. If not, you might join me in some research.

One of those seasoned, savvy, successful entrepreneurs offered a suggestion. Talk to 100 potential clients and ask them about the problems they face and the solutions they’ve tried.

Sounds like some serious market research, doesn’t it? I’m sure I’ve talked to 100 consultants, coaches, and other professionals over the years, about the speaking they do and how successfully they do it. I’ve never done much with their comments though.

I realize I haven’t been serious enough about understanding who needs me, and why, and what they’re willing to do about it.

I’m about to get serious. If you’re willing to be one of my hundred, shoot me an email and let’s find a time to talk. I’ll help you too, however I can.