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Does your marketing solve your customers’ problems?

I’ve often counseled that you need to solve your customers’ problems to be a successful Internet marketer. For B2B businesses, you might be able to figure out how to do that. If you’re a consultant or a technology maker or a service business, you know why your customers need you and you can design your marketing to explain what problem you solve, as well as why you do it better than others. But some businesses seem to have a much bigger challenge. I mean, what problem can K-mart solve? It would have been easy for them to give up and just push merchandise, but they didn’t. Sometimes you need to put on your thinking cap, but the benefits are enormous if you do.


Check out how K-mart helps you shop for Christmas gifts:
KmartRecipientGifts.png
Think about what this means. You are looking for a gift. You know who you are buying for. TargetGifts.pngBut you have no idea what to buy. This gives you the answer. Christmas gifts are the the problem to solve for the purchaser, and it is a very different problem than buying something to solve your own problem. K-mart understand that by giving you this neat way of choosing the recipient and going from there. It’s a lot easier than trying to think up whether Johnny wants electronics and going to the electronics section and then realizing you don’t have the slightest idea of what a teenage boy wants as you slowly slink to the gift card display.
Target has the same idea, as shown at right, but I don’t think it is executed as elegantly. It repeats the word “gifts for” over and over and doesn’t have any pictures. The words are much harder to read on that red background, also. Give Target credit for the right thinking, but K-mart wins on design.
It’s interesting to see how the ideas differ, also. I like how Kmart has a category for pets. Target doesn’t have that, but give them points for isolating a “couples” category that is a vexing problem for some shoppers. Regardless of the designs, both Kmart and Target are thinking clearly about what problem they can solve for their customers this Christmas.
If you look closer at Kmart’s approach, you see even more solid thinking. They don’t just offer gift ideas based on recipient, but also based on budget (Gifts Under), popularity (Top Gifts), by age or even personality (such as entertainer or trend setter). My favorite is the last minute gift ideas:
KmartLastMinuteGifts.png
It’s a thing of beauty. Who among us hasn’t had to quickly get something for the office party or a grab bag? Or need one more stocking stuffer to fill it up?
Do you work this hard for your customers? Figure out what their real problems are and solve them—they will repay you with their cash.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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