My Marketing Thing

Make your message clear with a knob

A client recently wanted my opinion on some text for a new workshop she was developing. I began reading and, within the first two paragraphs detected a problem. It’s a problem I see on a regular basis.

A small aside: Get the text right for one thing, like a workshop, and it could also be turned into a webinar, a book, podcast, whittled down to a giveaway e-book, etc. Might feel a bit like cheating, but different people soak up info in different ways…so what the hey.

Okay, back to the story….

There was no doubt that my client has a magic writing style, relaxed and friendly – you can hear her talking to you through her words. Wonderful. But, as mentioned…

…there was a problem.

After two paragraphs I wasn’t clear on what the course was really about. And, by now, I should know the purpose, the nugget of the thing. Apparently, the workshop will help me feel better about my work, my relationships and, by golly, my whole life.

I’d worked out that the course was something to do with things running smoother – and enjoying having things running smoother.


The ol’ ‘problem – solution’

Marketing people tend to bang on about ‘problem – solution’. That is:

  • Problem: What’s the problem the potential customer has? (or think they have)
  • Solution: How are you solving that problem?

They bang on about it because ‘nailing’ this message works (boom boom). But wait, there’s more…

It’s important to start from the potential customer’s perspective. Even if you don’t agree with their perception of the problem. Get in their shoes, look through their eyes and start talking from their perspective.

Back to my story…

It turns out that my client’s workshop is about time management.

  • The problem could be: I’m not getting everything done! Wah!
  • The solution could be: Focusing on what’s important.


Problem #2

We’ve heard this all before, haven’t we? Time management is all about identifying priorities and focusing on them. Yadda yadda yadda.

We need to drill down further. So my client gave me more information about the course. She’s got a special approach to how you prioritise and focus, one I’d never heard before. It involves automated reminders using sounds and visuals on both computers and smart phones – reminders created to suit your personality and situation.


Rule # 2: Your solution to the problem has to sound original, believable and manageable.

Your solution to the problem can be unveiled in steps. But you do need to give the reader some ‘meat’ upfront. And it has to be specific.

So my client’s solution could be something like:

Your work deadlines ARE doable.

Easy reminders – with a powerful difference.

‘But what I offer is so much more!

My client felt that the reminder system could be used for so much more than just meeting work deadlines. It could be used for anything in life. But the trick is getting the reader through the first small, tangible stage in order to unveil the bigger picture.


The Door Knob Theory

  • You promote the door knob so they open up the door
    (i.e. “You’re solving my problem – great, sign me up”)
  • Then you promote the entry area (e.g. other work situations)
  • Then the first room (e.g. more personal situations, like health goals)
  • Then you can sell the whole house (e.g. your whole life)

But start with the door knob. If you sell the whole house at the beginning, the potential customer can be overwhelmed by your message. Solving a specific problem helps them get a ‘handle’ (boom boom) on what you do.

Which feeds into your marketing. If you start with a work problem then you can market to business networks. If you start with a health problem, then you can market to health networks. Get the picture?

Speaking of pictures…


A note on using stories and images

The visual scenario of The Door Knob Theory helps to clarify how ‘niche communication’ works. The problem is, the term ‘niche communication’ sounds a little boring. You can imagine a door and a knob and then the entry area, the next room, then the whole house. Metaphors can be a great way to convey an abstract idea powerfully. So are stories, like the one I just told you about my client and her time management workshop.


This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer, cartoonist and marketing consultant who would like to clarify that a ‘nob’ is a member of the upper classes. Find out more about Megan.

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