We all get tired of pouring our hearts and soul into website content, presentations, or sales pitches, only to hear crickets in response. We know it feels discouraging, but the truth is people only pay attention to your business when they have a problem to solve. That's where storytelling comes in.
In this episode, Simon Harvey and Daniel Kleber, explore the power of storytelling in sales and marketing. If you want to grab and hold your audience's attention, you must continuously address their problem. By clearly defining the issue and offering a solution, you create a connection that keeps them engaged. But beware - the moment you stop, you lose them.
Today, we're thrilled to have Alexandra Muz Huber, one of our esteemed consultants, join us to reveal the three key components of defining a problem that resonates with your audience. With her expert guidance, you'll learn how to create content that your audience can't resist. So join us as we unlock the secrets of storytelling in marketing and take your business to new heights.
To help you improve your marketing strategy, download the free brand script worksheet, which includes sections for each part of the storytelling framework we discuss in our episodes, here (or copy and paste the link below):
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You know how disheartening it feels when you spend hours writing your website content, a presentation or a sales pitch and no one takes any notice. The trouble is that people only show interest In this series, we're looking at storytelling and how to use it to create clarity within your sales and marketing. To get your visitors attention, and keep it, you need to be constantly talking about their problem. When you clearly define that problem and offer them a solution to it, they become interested. As soon as you stop, they're interested. You've lost them. In today's episode, we're going to look at how to define your problem. I'll be joined by one of our consultants, Alexandra, and we hear how she defines the three parts of the problem that will make your audience want to keep listening. Hi there and welcome to the authentic marketing podcast in association with Demodia. I'm your host, Simon Harvey, and with me today is my co host, Daniel Kleber. Hi, Daniel. How are you doing today?Daniel:
Hi, Simon. I'm great, thanks. It's greatSimon:
to be here again. Good to have you back again as well. So on today's episode, we're going to be talking about problems, Daniel. So problems are one of the most important parts of the storytelling template. So without a problem, we've ultimately got nothing to offer a solution to. So why would anyone need our services if they don't care? Daniel, I want to ask you this as a quick starter today. You know, as you know, I like to go out jogging every now and again. So it's been pretty cold around here, we even got some snow recently. I was out just at the weekend actually and I kept having a problem with my nose running all the time. So, you know, back to you, what do you suggest I do to fix that problem?Daniel:
Oh yes, the runny nose problem. I'm very familiar with that. Um, I'd probably tell you that you should be carrying around a pack ofSimon:
Kleenex with you. Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. Kleenex is probably a really good solution to that. How about if I asked you this, um, if I asked you a question and you don't know the answer to that question, where are you going to go to find it?Daniel:
Since I'm not... too good at guessing, I would Google it.Simon:
Yeah, of course you would. So what I wanted to illustrate here is this, you know, I gave you two problems and you immediately came back to me with two different brands. There's definitely a big misconception out there that people remember brands and store them in their mind randomly. But you know, actually, we don't store the brand in our mind. What we do is we store the problems and we link those problems to the brands and store those. Here's another one for you. What does Hoover do? Oh, maybe I should ask you this one instead. If you're not UK based, um, what would I be asking you to do? If I asked you to Photoshop a picture for me or another one, you know, can you FedEx me that, you know, all these have become verbs in our language, you know, they're directly associated as solutions to problems. We oftenDaniel:
have customers who have great solutions still in their communication. They just talk about their product services and features and don't really position their brand as a solution to customers problems. That's a crucial mistake.Simon:
Yeah, you're absolutely right. You know, they need to be talking about the problem and go over it again and again throughout their marketing communications. Eventually their brand becomes seen as the solution to that problem. Customers automatically know that. Your company provides the solution to that if they've got that specific problem. So, think about it for a minute, when was the last time you visited a website when you weren't trying to resolve a problem or something likeDaniel:
that? Um, maybe social media, but other than that I usually just visit websites to solve problems or because I need something. I so often come across websites or marketing material that gives a whole list of products and features, but unless I already know that product, it just doesn't capture my interest. If you just see features and you're first visiting a site, you really have no idea what the problem is that it solves. When they start talking about the problem, you suddenly start thinking to yourself, Yes, this is a service I might be interested in. I do have that challenge.Simon:
Yeah, and that's exactly what we spoke about in our previous episode and why clear messaging is so important. When it comes to telling your story, you need to engage your customers and make them feel part of it. Companies need to get away from thinking about the features and start to understand the bigger picture of the problem and how they can help customers to solve it. Then people feel like they're part of the story. They picture themselves in the situation and start to get more enthusiastic. Make no mistake. You're right.Daniel:
By creating a clear story, it's much easier to engage with your customers. And the key point in the story, after identifying who the hero is, is to identify a problem you can solve for them. We learned that the story really begins when a hero encounters a problem.Simon:
Yeah, that's very true. If there's no problem, the story is boring and bland. You know, imagine a movie without a problem. Um, you'd think, why am I watching this? There's no point, there's no take home. And that's even more true when it comes to marketing. If you're not talking about a problem your customers are experiencing, then they won't relate to you and they won't engage with you. That is why youDaniel:
need to talk about the problem and keep repeating it over and over. This is where we come to the three different types of problems that people have. First is the external problem. This is the main challenge that the hero needs to overcome. Second comes the internal problem. These are the personal challenges and feelings that the hero has relating to the external problem. And finally comes the philosophical problem, where we look at the big picture and say, Is thisSimon:
fair? Yeah, this is really important in storytelling. People buy things to solve an external problem, but they make buying decisions based on internal problems. If I have too many weeds in my driveway, for example, that's an external problem. But, you know, most of the time I don't care. The time that this becomes a more interesting problem and it's something to solve is when my girlfriend's coming around for dinner or my neighbours are complaining. You know, then I start to see things a little bit differently. I might be embarrassed or overwhelmed by the thought of having to clear up the mess. Now that I've got an internal problem, that's the time that I'm going to start to act.Daniel:
Talking about the last part, the philosophical problem. Customers asking how we, as a company, will help them overcome this huge main problem so they can enjoy their lives. Why is it wrong that they have to struggle with this problem? The philosophical problem usually begins with it's wrong to, or You shouldn't have to. In your example, it would be something like this. You shouldn't have to spend your free time clearing weeds from your driveway.Simon:
Yeah, I think it's crucial. It's crucial to identify that problem and talk about it. So many companies don't do that. The whole story is about your customer, not you. Um, and about the problems that they've got. Absolutely.Daniel:
If you do that, you already stand out from the crowd. So many businesses just aren't aware of this and put themselves first.Simon:
Thank you, Daniel. So, earlier in the week, I got a chance to talk with Alexandra, one of our consultants. She's been working with Story for many years now and shares her thoughts on how the problem works within a story and gives us a few tips as to how to find our problem. So, here's my interview with Alexandra. Hi, Alexandra. Great to have you here. Thanks for joining us today. So maybe you can start by giving our listeners a brief introduction to yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do.Alexandra:
My name is Alexandra, I'm from Germany so please have mercy with my accent. I do storytelling since a very long time. As a teenager I already wanted to become a writer but I also wanted to pay my bills so I went to journalism school and that was like the first time. where I learned storytelling, but, um, I came over the story brand of Donald Miller, which is a framework to using the story structure for marketing. And he had seen something which I haven't seen, that the customer needs to be the hero of the story, and not the product or the salesperson. Uh, so that was a really eye opener, how... Well, story can work for brands when you do that little twist. Now I work for different brands and also personal brands, and it is really developing their story, how to market their story and how to. generate sales with storytelling. Great.Simon:
Thank you very much. So we've been talking a lot about just problems within stories. So from your experience, tell us a little bit about how problems fit into stories and why should people care about them in the first place?Alexandra:
When you don't have a problem, you don't have a story. I mean, imagine you just tell me you went this morning to the bakery and you bought some buns. Um, this is not a story because there's no tension. There's no problem. There's nothing my brain wants to know more about. But if you say, on the way to the bakery this morning a person got shot, then of course there's a story because there's tension, there's a problem. I mean, uh, why did this person got shot on the way to the bakery? Who was that person? And then your brain triggers all that kind of questions. And then you have a story. But without tension, and the problem is always a kind of tension, there's no story. But howSimon:
about this? We've come across many companies that have got a great list of features in their products and they want to talk about features. They just want to talk about features in there. Can they not use that in that sense?Alexandra:
Yeah, but it's Like when you talk about facts, and, and our brain is not wired to remember facts. And a feature at the end of the day is a fact. What our brain really is programmed to react on is storytelling. So, for example, humor is, is a great example. Humor always works in, in storytelling. Because when we laugh, our brain produces endorphins. And, and that's what makes us... Engage in a story, and we don't engage in facts, we engage in information that creates emotion, and that's what stories do.Simon:
Speaking of emotion, when you see people that are trying to sell stuff and customers potentially just aren't engaging with them, is there anything that you would tell them or recommend that they do on that side?Alexandra:
Yeah, I mean, talking about the problem for a lot of sales person means really getting out of. of their comfort zone, because sales is all about numbers and figures, so they're really trained from day one to, to look at the figures and the advantages of a product and features and all of that. And suddenly you come in and tell them, uh, oh no, you need to talk about the problem. And that's really stepping out of their comfort zone because talking about the problem of the customer, there you need compassion and empathy. And these emotions, going back to what happens in our brain when we do storytelling, uh, compassion and, uh, empathy releases the hormone oxytocin. And, and that's what makes the customer engage into our story, and, and at the end produces conversion. But for salesperson that have a totally different training, this is really a big step to go, a big way to go.Simon:
So how would you define some example problems maybe that people could suggest on their website or use in some of their sales materials anyway? What would some examples of problems potentially be?Alexandra:
So I have worked with a fascinating lady. She's from Morocco, and her mission in life is really bringing these beautiful, handcrafted tableware from Morocco to the, to the European market. And the problem was that people really liked the stuff because it was Beautiful. But they didn't know how to use it. And when we changed the whole communication about, okay, how to use this tableware, you know, how to set a table, how to decorate your food when, when, when guests are coming. And then sales skyrocketed, because we had identified what was the problem the customers had with the product.Simon:
So the problem in their case was that they just didn't know when they could use this sort of fancy tableware. Is that right? OrAlexandra:
Yes, where, when and how.Simon:
Okay. Yeah. I mean, you mentioned earlier the sort of external, internal and philosophical problems, which is something we talked about earlier on in this episode as well. How would you help your clients to actually differentiate between what is an external problem and what is an internal problem inAlexandra:
there? so what is the first thing that comes in mind? So the most obvious thing. usually is the external problem. SoSimon:
the biggest problem that they've got, basically. Yeah,Alexandra:
it seems the biggest problem, but it doesn't need to be the biggest problem. I mean, for example, if you have, um, you want to create an email funnel and you don't know how to start. So then you would probably do nothing because you don't know how to start. So the problem is you need somebody to guide you, to tell you, okay, uh, this is how you can start. This is how you can set up your email funnel. This is how you can automate things. And the internal problem could be this blockage that you don't feel capable of. Setting up your emailSimon:
funnel. Would you say the, the internal problem is more about the, the trigger then, or the thing that's pushing you towards getting the solution to the external problem, or?Alexandra:
It's, it's about the, the feeling, the emotion that you have. I can really recommend Damasio's book. The, the German title is I Feel and Therefore I Am. And, uh, he's a neuroscientist and he proved that we act on emotion, and we rationalize those emotion. So we would probably say, Oh, I don't have time to set up an email funnel. But the reality is, it's not the time that's lacking, it's really the confidence to know how to do it. And therefore, I think it's really important to look at the internal problem, because emotions... guide us much more than we, we want to admit. The philosophical problem, that's another level that we know from all big stories. Um, I mean, it's Romeo and Juliet, where the big moral is hatred, or it's James Bond, it's, it's good against evil, or it's Rocky, it's the underdog against the champion. And, and that's why having the problem in, in three categories, the external, the internal, and the philosophical, makes a lot of sense when we want humans to make a decision at the end.Simon:
You've talked about the philosophical side of things in there, and you talked a bit about emotion and getting people on board generally with the concept. So how would you recommend people that are listening to this to go forward where they've got other people in their organization that maybe don't get the concept of story or who want to keep talking about features and functions and doing things the way that they've done it? Have you come across those sort of things and got any recommendations as to how to actually go Bring other people on board and help them to understand the concept.Alexandra:
I usually don't argue a lot. I just ask them to observe themselves for the next couple of weeks and really be honest to themselves why they do a decision, a purchase decision. The next time, for example, they buy a product of Apple, they will notice that they don't look at the numbers and at the features. They want the Apple product because it's cool, the design is really unique and, and they want to think different at the end. I mean, I myself, I would kind of ask about, yeah, but what are the features? But, I mean, I went to the store and I wanted this laptop. And then I, I, I, I asked for the features just, you know, to kind of, yeah, justify why I would spend more on an Apple. But I, I wanted everything that comes.Simon:
Well, thank you very much for your time, Alexandra, today. It's been great to get some of your insights and thoughts on the problem generally and how that can be, uh, used as part of the storytelling process. Thank you very much for your time. ThankAlexandra:
It was great. I'm always learning new things when I talk with Alexandra. Alexandra, thank you so much for coming on today and explaining to us how you talk about problems in a way that will have our prospects yearning to hear more. So if you're stuck and don't seem to be able to get your prospects to engage with your message, or if you aren't really sure what the problem is that you're trying to solve or how to define it, then you can always hire an authentic engagement coach. Just go to demodia. com to hire a coach that will show you how to increase the effectiveness of your marketing and find an easier way to grow your business. So, listeners, at the end of each episode, I'd like to give you a set of concrete actions. These are practical steps from today's episode that you can take to immediately improve the effectiveness of your sales and marketing. In our conversation today, we talked about identifying the problem you solve, and I was really inspired by Alexandra's suggestion that we all take ourselves out of our comfort zone and try something new. Yes, it's scary. No, it might not work exactly as you'd expect the first time. But I know you're inspired to think differently and review the way you talk about your products and services. And so was I, about the problem that you solve. And I want you to use those messages when you're next talking with a prospect, creating a presentation or trying to get yourself that next elusive pay rise. So I want you to start by answering these three simple questions. Firstly, what problem is it my customer is experiencing that my product or service can solve? You know, this is going to be your external problem that we discussed. Don't forget, we don't want 10 different problems here, it needs to be simple and it needs to be something that's important to your prospect. Secondly, how does this problem make them feel? Are they concerned about losing their job? Are they overloaded and don't have time? Is there some new regulation that's keeping them awake at night? So think about the things that are going to make them act in order to solve that initial problem. This is the internal problem we discussed earlier and it's really your chance to play with emotion here. The final question I want you to answer is this. Why is the situation just plain wrong? This is that philosophical problem. To give you a quick pointer, try coming up with phrases that use the words, you deserve, or you ought to something like you deserve a sales message that will convince your customers to buy. To help you out, you can go to demodia. com slash brand script and download the brand script worksheet. So that's demodia. com slash brand script. In there you'll find sections for each part of the storytelling framework that we're using in these podcasts. I want you to fill out the problem section in there with your answers and use them in your conversations. Put them in your emails. Put them front and foremost on your website. Use them in your presentations. Use them everywhere so that prospects know what problems you help to solve. Position yourself as a problem solver and you will win. That's all for today's episode. Thank you so much for listening to the Authentic Marketing Podcast, where we help you create a sales and marketing plan that will get you new customers and grow your business. Follow and rate us wherever you listen to your podcasts and don't forget to join us on LinkedIn. We love to chat and hear what you want to know more about and how we're helping your business succeed. See you next time.