Taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves to you is a proven path to success. But if you really want to succeed – and shut the door in the face of your competition – then solve a problem before they do.
And here’s what got me thinking about this…
A couple of weekends ago, I needed to spread a little grass seed at home, so we picked up a 50 lb. bag at the store. One of the problems with over-seeding is that, because of the color of the grass seed, it’s difficult to see where you’ve spread the seed as you’re walking back-n-forth across your yard.
The solution? Bright blue grass seed. No kidding. When I opened that bag to fill the spreader, I was blown away. What a seemingly simple solution to a real problem for home owners. Brilliant! Next time I need grass seed – I know exactly what brand I’ll be buying.
This led me to thinking about other problem-solving initiatives I’ve been a part of over the years. Here are three of them to, hopefully, inspire you to fix a problem in your business:
Years ago, I worked for a large, regional blueprinting company in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. We operated several blueprinting shops to serve the needs of the Architectural / Engineering / Construction industry in the area. The key to happy clients in that industry is fast turnaround… pick up the original documents, make the blueprints and get everything back to the client as fast a humanly possible. And while we operated a large fleet of vehicles for that purpose, it wasn’t always enough.
Our solution? We bought a messenger company. Successful in its own right, the drivers in the messenger fleet became our back-up pick-up & delivery team, filling in when we got really busy. The result? Our clients loved the ‘enhanced transportation services’ which allowed us to dominate the market.
Back when I was working for a technology provider in the Market Research industry, one of our platforms just wasn’t as successful as we thought it should (or could) be. And an increased marketing & sales effort was not the solution. Our potential clients just didn’t seem to “get” the technology… they didn’t understand how it worked, weren’t sure which types of projects were best suited for the technology and didn’t understand how this new technology compared to traditional methodologies. The problem was a lack of knowledge.
Our solution? To educate the marketplace by starting a series of webinars that addressed the knowledge gaps. We started with one webinar per month… when I left the company several years later, we were delivering 10 different topics every month! The result? Thousands of new sales leads (the webinar registrants), skyrocketing sales and a worldwide leadership position.
Changing the product
Part of the mission of this firm is to educate the markets we serve… to do what we can to make everyone a little smarter when it comes to marketing and sales. It’s why we make so many resources available on our website… blog posts, tip sheets, eBooks and webinars.
Unfortunately, a challenge all business professionals face these days is one of time… there’s just not enough of it. This problem flies squarely in the face of one of these resources… webinars.
Traditionally, webinars are scheduled for an hour. But who has the time to sit in front of a computer and give their undivided attention to the presenter for that long? The answer… no one! One of the things that makes most webinars so long is all of the extraneous content… the speaker backgrounds, the company ‘about us’ slides, etc. The typical webinar ends up being a long sales pitch wrapped around a few nuggets of content… if you can hang around long enough to get to them.
Our solution? Fast webinars! To replace the hour-long webinar concept, we developed our Cup of Coffee Webinars™… helpful, useful content delivered in 15-20 minutes (“in the time it takes you to enjoy a cup of coffee”). No fluff, no selling, no unnecessary details… just good, proven tip & tricks that can be put to use right away.
The result? Higher registration numbers, higher engagement levels (staying online for the entire session) and higher repeat attendees (coming back to attend other topics).
What can you do?
I guarantee you come across all kinds of problems every day. Problems, that if you can solve them, will give your firm a competitive advantage and really shut the door on your competitors. So, think about where you might find these problems:
- Inside your own company (and companies like yours – your competitors)
- In the industry you work in
- In the industry/markets you serve
Can you identify a problem that you are in a position to solve? A problem that can have a significant impact, help you to stand out from the crowd and one that you can accomplish before your competitors take a crack at?
Find that problem… solve it… and you’ll be on your way to a higher level of success!