My problem is that I need a problem.
That’s what the marketing experts tell me. I need a problem that other people can identify with, a problem that they decide they have and that they want to solve.
Once I have that problem, defined by me, I can then be the only one with a good solution, which I can then sell to them
It’s like Listerine creating the problem of halitosis, which they then proceeded to solve.
To me, this is the classic Chinese Warlord approach. If you create the chaos, only you can cut through it. Over the years, I have been chosen to challenge many of these chaos makers, frustrating and infuriating them as I unravelled their power.
People care about problems. Well, that’s not exactly true. People care about solutions, especially when those solutions are quick, easy and apparently effective. Solve my problem? Why, yes, I’ll take a dozen!
Nobody buys a drill because they want a drill. They buy a drill because they need to make a hole. Now, they may have a different approach to the problem — I want easy, I want status, I want pink — but they all have the problem of needing to make holes.
The huckster in a medicine show knew this. Make the list of problems long enough and eventually you can get everyone for a customer, especially if the bottle gives you a nice warm, relaxed buzz after drinking it. Smooooth.
When people meet me, on the blog or in person, understanding what problem I am working to solve is a quick and neat way of deciding how much attention and effort I am worth. They have little interest in rambling, don’t really care about my narrative, aren’t just cruising for surprise bit of enlightenment that might turn up.
No, people want a bit of a solution that might help, ease or even just entertain them. Identify a problem that they understand and you can catch them for a moment.
To pick out a problem, though, means that you have to carve out some deliminators, create some bounds. For someone who believes that the way you do anything is he way you do everything, believes that if you are not working to integrate your life then you are working to disintegrate it, cutting out just one problem with an easy, step-by-step solution seems to be counter-everything.
Without a clear problem, though, people have no handle on why they should be interested in anything I have to say. What benefit can they possibly get from pushing through all the preachy text I end up generating? Doesn’t it just add complications and challenge to their lives rather than simplifying and making their life easier?
In the marketing view, problems, you see, are just springboards for solutions, the same way that questions are just props that allow you to offer answers. It’s the resolution that counts, not the inquiry, the climax, not the foreplay. Stimulation without a finish is just a tease, a pointless and frustrating exercise. Answer the question, solve the problem, blow the wad, get ‘er done!
People don’t search the internet to find more complexity. They want explanations, conclusions. They need satisfaction, and quickly, so that is all they seek. Not my problem? No answer? Move on!
One of the easiest problems to solve is for people who just need affirmation that the answers they already hold are correct. Most people are always looking for new ways to bolster their own deeply held beliefs, new language and anecdotes to express what they know to be true in the face of challenge. Tell them what they want to hear in an entertaining way and you satisfy them quickly and completely, keeping them coming back for more.
To build an audience, quickly give people the problem that you can solve for them, the problem that you share, the problem that you transcended. That’s the hook that they have been trained to look for, the code they use to see if your work is worth their precious and very limited attention.
For me, having a problem is a problem. I don’t solve problems, I work the process. That may have limits, but as a femme, It’s what I do.
And that, it seems, is a problem.