My post yesterday riffed on one by Daniel Levis about how to probe deep and find product benefits connected to your customer's identity.

Today, Terry Dean posted an article about selling solutions to desperate problems:

The mistake my clients made was in never interviewing and asking questions of the buyer to find out what their desperate problem was.

If they didn't FEEL the pain of the problem, there was no reason to make a decision today.

Terry goes on to list a few examples of desperate problems.

Or they can't get their tomatoes to grow. Or their dog is peeing on the carpet. Or their wife just told them they were leaving and is on their way out the door.

It struck me that these are perfect examples of problems where a benefit that touches the customer's identity would be a powerful seller.

Instead of "grow monster tomatoes", "grow tomatoes so big, your neighbors will come over just to admire them". (If I weren't thinking identity, I'd probably say "to gawk at them". "Gawk" paints a more dramatic picture, but it misses the emotional connection that "admire" captures).

Instead of "stop your dog from peeing on the carpet", "no longer will you be the guy who's guests gag at the stench of dog pee every time you open the door".

Instead of "convince your wife to stay", "become your wife's knight in shining armor again".

Find a desperate problem, and talk about how your product solves it in a way that touches your customer's identity.

Shifting gears a little, Terry reminded me of something else I'd been thinking about yesterday:

When it really comes down to it, this is one of the main problems social networks go after...boredom. Take a look at just how many games are popping up all over Facebook.

Yesterday, I heard that Facebook had been valued at $50 billion. It reminded me of something I said last September:

The point is, if you can turn interacting with your business into a game or competition, you have a chance to grab your share of the well over 70 million man hours a week that are spent goofing off online. (70 million is for Farmville alone!)

How much is that time worth each year? 70 million man hours a week, times 52 weeks, times, let's say $7 an hour equals a low-ball estimate of over $25 billion a year wasted cultivating electrons. Harness two years of Farmville, and you could buy Facebook.

Imagine how rich you could be and how you could help the world if you invented a game where what the players did actually produced value -- produced a product you could turn around and sell!

Imagine the boost that would give the economy! Talk about a desperate problem!

I've drifted way off the topic of this post, so let me go half way back by saying that I'll be releasing the interview I did last month with Terry Dean sometime in the next few days. The transcript is over 8 pages long, and it's packed with great advice on market selection, conversion, coaching and more. Keep your eyes open for that -- you won't want to miss it.

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