Problem Centered Marketing

The Psychology of Word of Mouth Advertising

Are you wasting precious marketing dollars talking about your benefits, features and solutions?

Are your marketing efforts less effective than they could be?

Your Target Market

Determining your marketing target is the most difficult and most rewarding thing that a business or organization can do. The million-dollar question is, “Who will buy your products and/or services?” Figure that out and your business will soar.

This is particularly difficult for new businesses who don’t have sufficient sales history to examine for answers. But if the truth be told, many businesses and organizations simply do not have sufficient data about their existing customers to make a definitive determination of their markets either.

So, how will you determine who will be interested in your products and/or services?

Answer: Quit trying to push your customers into a sale. Pull them in with a correct diagnosis of their problem. Put your finger on their sore spot. Don’t avoid their problems. Talk about them! Invoke suspense and intrigue. Don’t bore people with your solutions. Bring up their problems and the people with those problems will give you their undivided attention.

Seven Elements

Problem — People spend money to solve problems. People ignore features, benefits and solutions that don’t relate to their problems. Help make this essential connection by carefully and explicitly describing the problem you solve.

Solution — People are not interested in your solutions or the benefits or feature of your products or services. Rather, they simply want to solve their problems.

Target Audience — Take your attention off yourself, your company, your organization, your products and your services. And present your ideal customer’s dilemma.

Questions — People naturally have questions. Don’t think of them as objections. People just want to know about this or that, about how it works, etc. Answer their questions for them. Don’t make them ask.

Case Study — People go where other people have gone before. No one wants to be first. So, present a simply case study of someone who has had a problem like the one you can fix. Show how that person solved the problem with your products and/or services.

Risk Reversal — People want safety. Make doing business with your safe by providing a guarantee of some kind.

Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) — Answer this question: Why should anyone buy from you, rather than from someone else? If you don’t tell them, they won’t know.


AAA Yard Services raised the problem of time in its marketing materials. “Time — limit one. Do you need more time in your week? Want to spend more time with your family and friends?”

The solution suggested having AAA Yard Services take care of the yard all year in order to free up precious time — mowing in the Summer, raking in the Fall, shoveling sidewalks and driveways in the Winter, and fertilizing in the Spring.

Before people could ask how much it costs or how it worked, the company provided details about hourly rates, discounts for yearly contracts, and the specific services provided.

They then presented a case study. “The Smiths across the road have an extended family, but Mr. Smith spends his weekends mowing the lawn. He’d rather spend time with his family, but he can’t. He called AAA Yard Services and now he has time to spend with his family. He even visited his aging mother in Texas three times last Summer.”

Risk Reversal & USP

“If you don’t like our work, you pay us nothing. Your satisfaction is our guarantee. AAA has better rates, yearly discounts, professional gardeners, and guaranteed satisfaction. With AAA you have more time for your satisfaction & guaranteed!”

The response rate to this direct mail ad campaign rose a whopping 43%!

“The most overlooked psychological trigger of all is the concept of identifying and magnifying the PROBLEM…

Newspapers know it, magazines exploit it and the evening news literally has a party with it. Have you noticed all they focus on is problems? Don’t you just die of curiosity to find out which rock star has split up with his wife or partner?

Doesn’t a forest fire catch your attention more than just sweeping montages of the trees? Look at the news headlines today and you will be irresistibly drawn towards the problems. — Sean D’Souza

People naturally talk about their problems and the solutions they find. That’s word of mouth advertising. So, help them!

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