What are your Common Complaints?

photo by ClintJCL via Flickr

photo by ClintJCL via Flickr

Did you know that one of the best ways to communicate your value is based on your common complaints?

Well actually not YOUR common complaints, but the common complaints of your best / most likely customers.  One of the key tenets of great marketing is that you are always answering your prospective customer’s question of What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM)  And the best way to get their attention is to speak their language – in other words, start with their biggest problems, their common complaints.  Until  you can clearly get their attention with their own problems, you’re going to have a hard time getting them to listen to  you at all.

However, when you use their own common complaints, you’ve got a great trigger for all sorts of conversations – starting with networking and marketing and all the way into the sales process.  If you’ve found the right problems, your best prospective customers will say something like “Wow – I’ve got that exact issue…tell me more about how you help with that!”.

What are my customer’s Common Complaints?

Unfortunately your customer’s top complaints aren’t always obvious – there’s generally not a published list and they’re not very likely to just tell you, so you’re going to need to do some homework and figure it out for yourself.  The good news is there are several places to start your research:

Your Existing Customers – the best place to start is to think about your existing customers.  Imagine your best customer…before they met you…hanging out at a bar or coffee shop after a long day talking to one of their peers.  Imagine them sharing their biggest frustrations – “I wish I could find a way to ______” or “I am really frustrated by ______ – how do you handle that?“.   The stuff in the blanks are your common complaints.

What problems have you solved for your best customers?  Why did they go with you rather than a competitor? Is your relationship strong enough to sit down and ask them?

Industry Changes – Another possible source for common complaints are changes happening in your industry.  Take healthcare benefits as an example right now – you would be hard pressed to find a business owner who’s not concerned about the rising cost of healthcare and confused about where the industry is going.  Do you have something along those lines in your industry?  Do you solve problems that fall into those industry changing discussions?

Do you have major competitors in your industry who have rolled out some new ideas?  What are they addressing?  Is it the kind of thing your best customer prospects might be worried about?

Your Existing Marketing – Finally, look at your own marketing materials.  At some point in time, you pulled together a brochure or had the marketing guy write up your website and filled it full with all of the great features and benefits that you provide.  To find the problems, imagine pulling those features and benefits away from your clients – what would they complain about?  What problems do your features and benefits solve?

However you do it, finding your customer’s common complaints likely won’t take to long – the hardest part is to put yourself into their shoes and to simplify things down to how they see the world.

Some quick examples of common complaints:

A CPA’s Clients – We are paying too much in taxes and not keeping enough of our money in the business.

An Online Marketing Company’s Clients – We have to be able to generate more leads from our website, but I don’t even know where to start.

A Business Coach’s Clients – As the business owner, I’m working really long hours and I never seem to get ahead…and I can’t find good help!

A Personal Trainer’s Clients – I know I’m supposed to exercise and eat right, but I don’t actually know what that means or how to get started.

Finding the most effective complaint for a situation is usually a matter of trial and error – and often depends on the setting and who, exactly, you’re talking to.  However you don’t have to have the BEST issue, you just need one that is generally going to apply to who ever you’re talking to.

Your NEW complaint based 30 second commercial

Now that you’ve done the hard work and developed 2 or 3 really compelling issues that your best customers are struggling with, you need to start using those to engage your prospects.  One way to do this is to use them in your introductory pitch – you know…how you answer the question “So what do you do?”.  Here’s a quick suggested format you can use:

I work with ________(person in the company – CEO, CFO, etc.) in the ________ industry who are frustrated by the fact that (Common Complaint #1) and (Common Complaint #2).  You’ve probably already figured out the solutions to those problems a long time ago, haven’t you?

It can take some practice to sound natural, but If you’ve found the right issues, there’s a great chance that the person you’re talking to will respond with something like “Actually we struggle with that.”  Leaving  you with the opportunity to ask your new prospective client to tell you more…and jumping right into a sales discussion.

Do you know your best ‘common complaints’?  Do you use them when you introduce yourself at networking events or to potential customers?  We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach