Write about solutions, not problems. People don’t buy problems.

Your readers’ problems are very important, of course. But writing about those at any length isn’t going to endear you to them.
They know they have problems. Yes, part of your remit when you’re writing marketing material is to understand those problems very well. But …
write about solutions not problems on HWTB…then, shut up about them.
People don’t buy problems. They buy solutions. 
How do you resolve that conundrum? Read on.

When you’re writing for marketing, it’s essential to get the problems-solutions balance right.

Recently I’ve been working with a number of different Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across quite a wide variety of industries.

Many of them already understand how important it is to work from the YOU angle … and not talk about “we” and “us” more than is strictly necessary.

But where they get into trouble is in knowing how to write about customer problems that their products and services can solve.

Basically, a bit of text about the problems is enough to demonstrate that you understand where your customers are coming from which, of course, is brilliant.

Too much about the problems, though, and your blog or social media post or whatever begins to look a bit down and negative. Bad news.

An example of how too much writing about problems will drag your text down…

Let’s take this workshop that I do for healthcare professionals – mainly nurses – who often have to write patient information and (in the UK at least) do not receive any training on how to do it, even if they have attained their Masters degree. (Don’t get me started on that one…)

Supposing I started off, understandably perhaps, by underlining the bad stuff…as many innocent SME owners will do by wanting to show how well they understand their customers’ problems,,,

Does the thought of writing good, clear information leaflets and booklets for your patients intimidate you? Would you find it helpful to attend a workshop that addresses these issues?

  1. Do you wish you had received some proper training on how to write patient information that’s right for your own hospital’s particular needs?
  2. Do you wish you had all the skills you need to write well for your patients, and also for text required among your professional colleagues?
  3. Although you know how to talk to patients and colleagues, do you find it hard to put that in writing?
  4. Do you have trouble writing things down in language even a nervous patient can understand?
  5. Do you find it hard to assess existing hospital information, and wish you could adapt, improve and edit it so it meets your own needs?

These are all issues that the nurses who come on my workshops suffer from and would identify with absolutely. But although they may well appreciate the fact that I’ve figured out what really bugs them about writing patient information, by the time we get to question number 5 they’re losing the will to live.

How to turn it all around and write about the solutions (which of course are based on those problems)

OK – now, here’s what I actually wrote in the promotional leaflet. It’s positive, optimistic, and focuses on the good sh*t … while being mindful of the problems that led to its instigation.

Here are the critical tips you need to raise your writing game – and get your message over – in targeted, effective ways. After attending one of these workshops you will have…

  1. Benefited from a flexible, bespoke session designed entirely for your group’s actual, local writing needs
  2. Acquired a toolbox of skills to help you excel at any professional writing project for patients, fellow professionals and more
  3. Learned key tips on how to understand who you’re writing for and how to get them on your side
  4. Discovered the secrets of writing in the style your readers will feel comfortable with and will react to warmly
  5. Found out simple ways to assess existing written material, and learned how to improve, edit, adapt and add to it so it complies with your own needs

And next, the substantiation

Workshops are conducted by Suzan St Maur from HowToWriteBetter.net. Sessions can be condensed into as little as 90 minutes, for up to 20 participants, and include short bursts of “theory” interspersed with hands-on activities in small break-out sub-groups using, where possible, live examples of the group’s current written material. Finally participants share their findings in a brief round-table discussion, followed by an informal Q&A session with Suzan and ending with feedback/assessment.

The above is then followed by a short bio of moi and the Call To Action (CTA). And it works – not only for the healthcare professionals it’s aimed at, but also their bosses who are even more interested in solutions – along with value for money – than the practitioners are.

Writing about solutions first, problems second (or even implied) is NOT rocket science

It’s really just a case of getting the balance right. Here are a few thoughts you might find helpful as reminders…

  • For starters, never flag up a problem without a corresponding solution showing up Big Time very near.
  • Remember that your product or service is only of value to a customer when it solves a problem for them. E.g. … “you don’t sell drills: you sell holes.”
  • Write about solutions first; problems in the background.
  • In today’s marketing climate, do NOT try to sell first. People buy from people/businesses they like and trust, so gain that trust honestly.

How do you feel about writing the right balance between solutions and problems?

Please share your thoughts with us!