Provide solutions, sell products

Customers don’t necessarily want to buy products or services from you. They want an answer to a question, a solution to a problem, or they want to satisfy a need. It may therefore be more rewarding to give answers and solutions, and to tell how your products and services can help.

Think in solutions, not in products

Customers are looking for solutions, not for products. Why then are we still talking about products instead of solutions?
Companies are often still thinking in terms of their own products and services. This translates into websites that look like standard brochures describing the technical specifications of products and services. Customers, however, are usually not interested in the technical specifications of products and services; they are looking for an answer to their question, a solution to their problem or they want to satisfy a need. As a business you should adapt your communication, marketing and product to the customer’s needs. Companies that are doing this will be sought out by their customers whenever they need them. Apple and IKEA provide some good examples.

Apple: practical solutions, brilliant marketing

The first iPod was a solution, not a product per se. At the turn of the century Apple found itself in a bad situation. The company responded with a solution to a problem many consumers were struggling with: convert music to MP3, organize it and put it on a portable device. Apple developed a solution consisting of software (iTunes) and a new portable music player (the iPod). The iPod was a worldwide success and started a new chapter in Apple’s life.

IKEA: brilliantly simple

The Bekväm stool of IKEA was placed in the market as a solution to a problem. In the beginning of 2011 IKEA created an add that sparkled with simplicity. The advertisement showed a stool with the words: “From now on, no cupboard will be too high.” This is the perfect illustration of a company thinking in solutions, not products. Nobody is looking for a stool, but everybody wants to be able to get something from a cupboard. The stool from IKEA is still a great success.

Help your customers, sell your products

The moral of the story? Help your customers, sell your products. Provide answers and solutions, and tell how your products and services can help. In this way, your products, services and marketing will meet the needs of your customers, which will make selling a logical and simple step. In my next article I will discuss the role and opportunities of social media and internet marketing in this ‘new’ way of thinking, and how you, as an entrepreneur, can take advantage of this. Questions, comments or suggestions? I look forward to reading your ideas through the comment form below.

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