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Why Cannabis Companies Must Refocus Their Message on Problems Not Solutions

I thought I’d put out an article on this as I see it quite a bit of these shenanigans in the cannabis industry.

Step one – Refocus your message

Matching your message to your ideal client is pretty much everything when it comes to cannabis marketing these days. Think about it – you’ve got about five seconds to get and keep someone’s attention and you can’t waste that precious time with a message that doesn’t connect.

A message that connects is one that clearly talks about what your ideal customer wants more than anything else in the world – and what is that?

They want to solve their problems. This doesn’t change for the cannabis industry.

In many ways, they will never care about your awesome plan to do XY and Z if you don’t first and foremost let them know that you understand what they really, really want.

Hint: Nobody really, really wants what you sell – they want their problems solved – period.

So, for today, here’s your assignment.

Make a list of the problems you solve for the customers you help the most.

If you’re having trouble thinking about your customer’s problems, think a bit about the things they tell you. (Some might call it the things they whine about – I would never, but some might).

For example, a lot of my prospective clients might say things like – I just want the phone to ring more.

So, I don’t sell marketing services or SEO or even consulting – all you need to know about what I do is that I make the phone ring – end of story.

Another example, a vaporizer: They might have the best equipment and most highly skilled engineers but all their customers seem to care about is that they provide the clean inhalation experience they say they will and do it efficiently, to be lung friendly.

So that’s the promise they need to promote. The rest is an expectation – I mean doesn’t everyone in the vaporizer business have highly skilled engineers?

That’s it – that’s how you refocus your message so it’s no longer about you and your amazing products and services and it’s all about your amazing customers and the problems they want to be solved.

Creating trigger phrases

In the past, I’ve referred to these kinds of statements as trigger phrases. Your customers don’t know how to solve their problems, but they usually know what their problems are. If you can get good at demonstrating that what you sell is the answer to their problem they really won’t care what you call it, they’ll just buy it to makes the pain go away.

Take some time and break down every solution you sell, every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”

These phrases can be questions or statements or even anecdotes, but they must come from the point of view of the customer.

What headline will grab their attention?

Start writing headlines for your website. What I mean by this is write a big, bold statement that might be the first thing anyone who visits your website will see.

Now ask yourself – would this statement get your ideal client’s attention more than something like “welcome to our website”?

I’ll outline a few of the common problem phrases we hear.

Local presence problems (examples of a prospect’s needs expressed as a problem)

  • I feel like I’m getting left behind in the ever-changing online world
  • My website just isn’t performing as I had hoped?
  • Every one of my competitors shows up for local searches and my business does not?
  • I’m getting constant pitches from SEO companies?
  • I find the need to produce content and participate in every social network exhausting?

So, a few of my best headline ideas might come from some combination of these frustrations.

Want some help creating your new message? Pick out a handful of your ideal customers and go ask them – what problem did we solve for you? Test your headlines with them. Ask them to describe what you do better than anyone else.

Pro tip: If your business receives online reviews study them carefully. While it’s awesome to get 5-star reviews pay close attention to the words and common phrases your happiest customers are using – they will write your promise for you in some cases.

Here’s a real-life example: Greenhouse Contractor

Review 1: They meet their commitments. They show up when they say they are going to and do very high-quality work.

Review 2: They are easy to work with and always have the best interest of the customer at hand.

Review 3: The attention to detail; the communication with the team members; the follow up on any issue… it’s all been great!

Review 4: All projects were completed on time or before scheduled end date.

See any themes in these review snippets? Often when we receive praise by the person giving the praise because we’ve done something they hadn’t experienced previously.

Who is your ideal client? (Who are you solving this problem for)?

This means many things – who can you deliver the greatest value to, who do you enjoy working with, who needs what you do most. Write a detailed description of your ideal customer and include as much about them as possible including the problems they are trying to solve. Give some thought to how you might reach them and appeal to them. Use your best customers today to help you think about what makes them ideal for you. (Hint: they are profitable and perhaps they refer others to you right now.)

How to narrowly define your ideal customer

Step 1: What are the must haves to be a customer – this is stuff that naturally narrows your list – must be 18 years or older, must be a cannabis consumer – that kind of thing.

Step 2: What are the generally looked for attributes – not required, but preferred – perhaps it’s an age range, geographic location, or special interest.

Step 3: What makes them ideal – what are the attributes that make them your best prospects – perhaps they have a certain business model, unique problem, at a certain point in life or business.

Step 4: What behavior do they exhibit that allows you to identify them. Do they belong to industry associations, tend to sponsor charitable events, read certain publications?

To sum up today’s assignment you have two tasks:

  1. Narrowly define and document the answer to this question: How would I spot your ideal customer?
  2. Create one strong promise statement that addresses a common problem your ideal customer faces. Answer this question: What problem do you solve for your ideal customers?



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