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Whose Problem Are You Solving?

by Doug Davidoff | Feb 20, 2007 11:49:40 AM

I'm in the midst of reading an excellent book, Made to Stick. The authors, Chip & Dan Heath, make a point that I try to make with my clients. They do it so well, I thought it important to share.

One of their points in making ideas stick, is that they need to be concrete. As people gain expertise they become increasingly abstract in their communication. Without meaning to, a message becomes meaningless. The Heaths point out that one way to avoid becoming abstract is to be very clear about who you are trying to communicate with. They share the example of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and the author of such books as The Purpose Driven Life. They site Warren's, and Saddleback Church's description of their target 'customer' (they call him 'Saddleback Sam'):

Saddleback Sam is the typical unchurched man who lives in our area. His age is late thirties or early forties. He has a college degree and may have an advanced degree...He is married to Saddleback Samantha, and they have two kids, Steve and Sally.

Surveys show that Sam likes his job, he likes where he lives, and he thinks he's enjoying life more now than he was five years ago. He's self-satisfied, even smug, about his station in life. He's either a professional, a manager, or a successful entrepreneur.

...Another important characteristic of Sam is that he's skeptical of what he calls "organized" religion. He's likely to say, "I believe in Jesus. I just don't like organized religion."

Saddleback Church has more than 50,000 members and Rick Warren has several best selling books. They got there, in no small part, because of their focus on clearly and concretely communicating with people, instead of demographics. Now look at your target client description. How does it compare? If your description of your target clients does not go into such depth, it is impossible to clearly, quickly and distinctly set yourself apart from all the others seeking your clients' attention.