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  • Aaron Beashel

Why a problem statement is a must In your marketing proposal

Have you ever found yourself writing up a proposal and all of a sudden become confused by what is it you are exactly trying to solve? 

If yes, you are not the only one.

Many agencies fall under the trap of jumping the gun to show their client their creative solutions. In the midst of it all, they neglect their client’s problem and  fail to understand what it is that they are actually trying to solve. They become confused and ultimately, there is a misalignment between their solutions and their client’s problem. As a result, clients become skeptical and begin questioning whether or not you are the right fit for them. 

Whilst this sounds like a fundamental step in all briefing processes, this mistake has cost many agencies through lost business. 

What’s even more surprising is that it can be prevented by one simple method:

A problem statement. 

What is a problem statement?

A problem statement aims to state out the challenges faced by your client. They may include bottlenecks and difficulties such as understanding their customers and should not include any goals or objectives that they wish to achieve. 

Taking this macro approach to the problem illustrates a big picture of what exactly that your client is struggling with.

Strengthening The Client Relationship 

Writing a problem statement allows you to break down the problem with a holistic summary. Before summarising your client’s problems, you must truly understand the problem first. 

This involves an open dialogue about particular bottlenecks and challenges faced by your client. 

Upon summarising the problem, there are two positive outcomes. 

You either reaffirm that you understand the problem, which is great because now you can now appropriately formulate your solutions. Demonstrating an initiative to take further research into the specifics of their business will go a long way in forming trust between you and your potential client. 

Alternatively, as you’re writing the statement and realise that you that you don’t know it thoroughly, you may be prompted to highlight to your potential client that you don’t really have a handle on it, and therefore prompt a discussion about it that gets everyone aligned. Your willingness to work together to dig deeper into the root cause of this issue helps build transparency which is key to any long term client relationship. 

Both outcomes are great in becoming profoundly committed to the problem which will only consolidate the relationship with your potential client.   

Staying at the Front End  

Your client claims they want to grow their revenue and net promoter score. As an agency, you get excited because you know exactly what you’re going to do. You know for sure that you have proven marketing strategies in your arsenal that will exceed your client’s expectations. 

However, take a step back. Ask yourself an honest question. Do you know what problem you are solving for your client? 

We forget to analyse the problem and skip straight to implementing a solution as quick as possible. But it’s okay. Our minds have been hardwired to think fast, and more of us have now become aware of concerns about efficiency and solving problems with agility. 

According to Corey Phelps, coauthor of Cracked it! How to solve big problems and sell solutions; jumping to a solution can become a potential stumbling block. When rushing to a solution, you narrow your lens. You become fixated on this one solution, believing that it will achieve the results for your client. However, the solution might not even be the most appropriate measure for the problem and you end up not even achieving the results as promised. 

When solving complex problems, businesses must stay within the problem space first, sometimes known as the “front end,” in order to get a deeper understanding of the problem.

Standing Out in the Pack 

Whether it be countless emails or LinkedIn messages, there’s no denying that the space is crowded by people and agencies showcasing what they have to offer. 

But how many of these messages have actually taken the effort to acknowledge your problem? 

Sure they may solve the brief, but a business problem is deeper than this. Unless you are offering something amazing, it’s hard to stand out in this crowded space.  

That all changes with a problem statement. 

Too often, clients may be fascinated by what your agency has to offer but will still question whether it is something they need. When defining the problem, you are helping your client realise what’s exactly going wrong with their business and why. Doing so will assist your client in understanding the relevance of your solution and help your solution stand out from the rest, especially when clients are tight on time or are approached by multiple other agencies. 


Ready to get a head start in 2020?

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