When thinking about your services, can you easily answer what problems it solves for your customers? It can be a bit tricky to make that mental switch from prioritizing your company’s ‘answer’ to first thinking about your customers’ problems. It can be even harder to feel comfortable actually writing marketing copy about customer problems.
Many people balk at writing honestly about customer problems for fear of being ‘too negative’. But it’s this hesitancy that’s stopping you from writing truly effective marketing copy—here’s why.
Why You Need to Identify and Name Customer Problems
Customer pains should be your main focus—your anchor as your offerings and branding evolve over time. This is so that you can ensure your offerings (whether it’s career coaching, industrial chemicals, or managed IT services) are solving a problem that actually exists and therefore will be in demand. It doesn’t matter how good you are at, say, repairing paddleboats built with penny farthings, if there is no one who actually has a problem with their penny-farthing paddleboat.
It can be exciting to expand your offerings as your own skills develop and change. But to make them relevant to your business, you must ensure you’re offering a solution for a problem that exists, or at least on the horizon as a problem for a cohort of potential customers.
This centering of customer problems keeps you from the critical mistake of talking about yourself too much. Unless you are a mega brand like Apple or Dior, people aren’t coming to buy anything and everything you offer. To generate leads and business, you must show you understand the pressing issues your potential customers are facing before you position yourself as an answer to their problems.
Is There Such Thing as Being ‘Too’ Negative?
The answer to this will depend on your brand voice as it’s informed by your brand archetype. If you’re using a Rebel persona, you’re more likely to use brash and in-your-face language to name customer problems. But that doesn’t mean that being a ‘Sage or a ‘Lover’ means completely avoiding mention of customer problems. It just means adapting the language communicating these problems to suit your tone.
In general, however, there are usually a few lines that people prefer not to cross with their marketing copy in order to avoid being ‘too negative’.
There’s a reason why advertisers compare their product to ‘the leading brand.’ Besides the legal implications of naming your competitor, it can often leave a bad taste in potential customers’ mouths. If your customer’s current problem is that their needs aren’t being met by competitors, focus first on what that specific ‘need’ is. By pointing out how the solutions offered by others fall short somehow, you can indirectly be dismissive of competitors rather than directly naming and shaming.
Laying Blame at Customers’ Feet
We work with businesses every day to help them clarify their message. This doesn’t just mean cutting away the extra fluff that can get in the way of what you want to say; it also helps create words to describe exact successes customers can expect when working with you…and the potential failures if they don’t. That doesn’t mean catastrophizing customer decisions, but talking about what is at stake. It could be outlining the risk of legal trouble if a business doesn’t have a qualified expert help with technological security measures. Or recognizing that retaining talent can be difficult when organizations can’t find easy-to-use collaborative technology for remote workers. The correct phrasing means you’re agitating the pain rather than laying blame.
These statements can be as useful as ‘success’ outcomes when it comes to writing marketing copy. Specificity stands out to people, whether it’s for your website, a Twitter post, or even slides in a sales deck. In discussing these potential failure outcomes, what you don’t need to do is suggest that it would be the customer’s fault for not choosing the right answer. Instead, frame it as the customer having the potential to take control and make a positive outcome happen.
Ridiculing the Non-Choice
This is related to the above, but really comes down to demonstrating how well you understand your customers. When outlining the ‘potential failures’ if a customer doesn’t solve their problems with your help, tone makes all the difference. If you personally think someone ‘would have to be an idiot not to choose X’ then you need to recognize you are operating at a different level of understanding. Don’t be dismissive—be creative and think harder about the possible barriers potential customers might be facing to solve their problems and focus on helping them answer or overcome those.
Still Feel Squeamish About Using Customer Problems in Your Marketing Copy?
We understand the hesitation—writing tone can be interpreted in unexpected ways, so positivity can feel like the safer bet. Yet naming problems that you can solve with specificity is one of the best ways to show that you truly understand where your customers are coming from, and that you’re in an authoritative position to solve their problems.
Not sure where to start? Reach out to our team to talk about honing your branding voice to ensure you’re speaking to your customers’ problems.