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The Customer Problem Statement

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

Whether you are launching a new product or service or considering repositioning your brand, the world of business is by nature, noisy. You may consider your product to be new, or your service unique, but even if you are the only business competing in your market, the channels that you use are busy and require the user (your target audience) to wade through an immense amount of marketing messages on a daily basis; you are constantly competing for your audience’s attention on every channel that you have a presence on.

Now, you may think that for your brand to break through all the noise and for you to stand out from the crowd, you need to have a catchy and unique marketing message that can rival even the best of what the big companies have to offer. In reality, it’s much easier than that - you just need to say the right thing to the right audience; and herein lies the key to positioning your brand in a noisy market!


How do I say the right thing to the right audience?

To achieve this, you need to understand two things:

1. who your target market is

2. what do they want from you

This is where your customer problem statement comes in. To craft a message that will help you say the right thing to the right audience, you need to speak to your target market’s wants and needs. And how do we do this? We start by writing a customer problem statement for each market segment.

Definition: Market Segment

A portion of consumers grouped together based on one or more similar characteristics. For the purposes of writing a customer problem statement, your market segment should be defined in terms of the problem that you solve. You will generally find that, when grouped according to needs and problems, your market segment will also have other similar characteristics such as age, lifestyle, likes, dislikes, etc.

You can read more on market segmentation HERE.

Knowing your target market does not, however, only come from market segmentation and determining customer needs, you need to also understand the relationship that the customer has with your brand.

It’s easy, when compiling your marketing message, to fall into the trap of constantly explaining to customers why your brand is amazing. As important as it is to celebrate your company achievements and to make your accolades known, being too focused on what makes YOU great doesn’t help you break through the marketing noise. There is a time and a place for this kind of messaging in your marketing, but this is usually only applicable to messaging aimed at the part of your target market that already have a relationship with your brand. This is why it is so incredibly important to understand your customer and the different stages of the customer lifecycle (i.e the different types of relationships that a customer can have with your brand).

The Customer Lifecycle

The different stages in the customer lifecycle fall beyond the scope of this post.

If you want to find out more about the different stages of the lifecycle, have a look at THIS post. In this series, we will only be focusing on crafting a marketing message for the part of your audience who have not been introduced to your brand yet (i.e. the part of your audience who are in the Reach stage of the customer lifecycle).

When the customer is at the Reach stage of the customer life cycle, they don’t care about your brand, all they want to know is how can you solve their problem and how can you make their lives easier. When you have your customer problem statement written, when you understand what the problem is that you solve, then can you write the necessary marketing messaging that tells the customer what they want to know. It is this kind of messaging that breaks through the noise saying the right thing to the right audience.

What is a Customer Problem Statement?

When writing your customer problem statement, you are essentially writing down what their pain points are. Effectively, what is the problem that you (as a business and as a brand) are trying to solve by offering your service and selling your product? Furthermore, your customer problem statement should address the way that your customer is feeling and what makes them feel that way.

It’s important to understand that, not once throughout the entire process of writing a customer problem statement, should you speak about your brand or your product. The focus needs to remain on explaining what problem the customer experiences, why the problem is present, and how that problem makes them feel.

How to Write a Customer Problem Statement

Now that we know what a customer problem statement is and why it’s so important, let’s look at how we go about actually writing one. Before you start, there are three important things that you need to remember:

  1. Do not mention your brand, service, or product. Your customer problem statement should focus on the problem, not the solution.

  2. Think about how the problem makes your customer feel at that moment. This approach lays the foundation for marketing messaging that builds empathy and trust.

  3. It’s okay to have more than one customer problem statement. This is specifically applicable to businesses that offer more than one service or product. You should ideally have at least one customer problem statement per problem that your business solves.

The Formula

Let’s look at the easy formula or format that you can use to write your customer problem statement:

When you have a look at these five elements, you can see that, when writing a customer problem statement, you are writing it as though you are the customer. This is why knowing your target audience is so important.

Let me explain this better with an actual practical example.

Let’s pretend that we are the owner of a nail salon that offers nanny services while you have your nails done. This allows parents to spoil themselves with a treatment while their kids are entertained, looked after, and safe. When we look at our unique selling point (or our USP), it’s clear to see that our main target market is parents with young children. So, let’s create our customer problem statement with this information.

I AM a parent I AM TRYING to have my nails done BUT I can’t find the time BECAUSE I have no one to look after the kids WHICH MAKES ME FEEL frustrated.

Do you see how we are not talking about the brand, the business, or what makes us special? We are placing the customer at the centre because the customer in the Reach stage of the customer life cycle does not care about what makes us special, they care about how we are going to solve their problem.

The customer problem statement also emphasises what problem your marketing message should speak to to get their customer’s attention. Our salon does not only cater to parents, yes the nanny services might be what sets us apart, but we are still going to welcome customers who do not have children to our salon. That is why it’s okay to have more than one customer problem statement because you have more than one type of customer and more than one kind of problem that you solve.

In Summary

  • A customer problem statement is essential to crafting a marketing message that helps you stand out from the crowd.

  • Writing a customer problem statement starts by knowing who your customer is and what they want from you.

  • Your customer problem statement is all about the problem that you (as a business and as a brand) are trying to solve by offering your service and selling your product.

  • Not once throughout the entire process of writing a customer problem statement, should you speak about your brand or your product.

  • Use the formula I AM - I AM TRYING - BUT - BECAUSE - WHICH MAKES ME FEEL to write your customer problem statement.

In the next post, we’ll talk more about how to use your customer problem statement to write a marketing message for your product or service.


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