How important is it to find those who really need your services?
It’s the difference between eating well and having to be satisfied with ramen noodles for dinner.
Case in point: Last week, our washing machine stopped working. I needed to wash several loads of dirty laundry. How motivated was I to find someone to repair the machine quickly and inexpensively?
Right. Very motivated.
So when I found a Sear’s repairman who could come out that very day, I was thrilled (even more so when I discovered a 20% discount coupon on their site). I explained what the problem was online, the repairman came with the needed part and within 15 minutes, he was finished.
And the labor cost was $155.
However, if you factor in the time it took to get to our location and the time it took to input all the required information in his tablet/POS gadget, plus his skills and knowledge, I’d say that was a fair deal.
But rather than focus on the fee, I’d like to instead talk about need.
How needful is your solution?
I have seen this happen repeatedly with entrepreneurs. They love something… whether it’s creating jewelry or traveling or cats. They become so focused on developing an idea for their passion that they often overlook the very important step of checking to see if there is a need.
Let me give you an example.
My husband and I are writers. I’m writing more for commercial purposes than him. But he decided to take a travel writing course and I encouraged him.
He finished the course just before we were about to head to Florida for a vacation. I had reserved a room at a lovely bed-and-breakfast and we both discussed how the trip could be an excellent opportunity to write about our travels and then sell the story to either a print or online travel magazine.
I was delighted when I found a print magazine devoted to covering interesting and unique lodging spots throughout the US and Canada. I discovered the name of the editor and decided to call, hoping to speak with her. I got through.
When I told her about the inn we’d be visiting, she told me she knew it well and the owners. Then I said we’d be writing a story about our trip that we hoped could be published. That’s when she shared some very important information.
“To be honest, the travel industry is still in a slump,” she said, almost apologetically. “I have writers who are willing to write an article for free if we subsidize the lodging. At one time, our magazine was bringing in about $500K a year. It’s now been cut to $100K. I hate to say this, but you’ve chosen a bad time to be in the travel writing industry.”
That’s an 80% cut in their business.
So not only did I find out there wasn’t a need for our article, I also discovered their business had nosedived so much that they were converting their print magazine to digital-only.
Do you think we’re focusing on travel writing, now?
This is not to say there is no need for travel writing at all. It just means the industry isn’t as healthy as I once thought it was. There are still a few ways one could make a living with their writing but they’d have to be creative about it.
That’s what I mean by need. Look at the industry you’re trying to serve. Is this a “must have” solution you’re offering or a “nice to have” one?
If you’re serving the B2B world, is your solution helping your buyer:
- Save money?
- Make money?
- Creating happy customers that will produce repeat business?
Those are the urgent needs right now in B2B companies.
If whatever you do can help a B2B company do one of those three things, then your solution is needful.
The broken washing machine
Did I want my washing machine repaired just to have a machine that worked?
Here’s the thing – I don’t like an appliance just because it performs as it should.
I like an appliance because it gets a specific job done.
In this case, I had dirty clothes that needed washing.
The dirty clothes were the reason I called the repairman. Washing machines simplify my life. I don’t have time to scrub all of them by hand and then hang them on a clothes line, although that’s what my grandmothers did to get clothes clean and dry.
You need to find the broken washing machines in your industry. Your buyer essentially has “dirty clothes” that need cleaning but there is something broken in the process of getting the job done.
With deeper thought and some creativity, you’ll be able to frame your solution so your buyer realizes that she really, really needs it.
Believe me, I was happy to pay that $155 in labor costs. Because I really needed to have my washing machine work so I could have clean clothes again.
Once you know your buyer’s true problem and offer a solution that works, you’ll increase sales and get quality clients in the process.