A lot of copywriters talk about “burning house problems”.
The gist of it is that you want to be targeting people who have a problem that is as serious as a burning house, something they absolutely have to act on right now or they're going to be in a world of pain.
The reality is that this is just over-hyped, and if you take it too literally then you're going to get overwhelmed.
You're going to find it super-difficult to find a market which genuinely has that degree of urgency about it.
You know, it's going to stop you from progressing with projects that have got customers that have a genuine, serious, pressing need for your product but aren't at that level of the “burning house” urgency.
Think about it.
If your house burns down, what do you do? You call 911, 999, whatever the number is in your country, and the fire brigade comes, right?
You know about that number because they've done the work on the entire population of the country to make sure that you know where they are before the problem crops up, so when it happens you pretty much instinctively call on that one number.
That is almost impossible to achieve.
I can't even remember the directory inquiries number for my phone provider and they're one of the biggest mobile providers in the UK.
So to look at actually achieving that level of awareness before anybody that needs it, it's just daft.
So all you can do is to try and look at the people who have tiers of pain, which are realistic for you to get in front of and solve their problem.
What prompted this was a discussion with a guy who was building marketing funnels for some medical practitioners. People like dentists, chiropractors, so on and so forth.
He was using the typical free lead magnet approach, and couldn't work out why it wouldn't work in one particular sector of the market at all.
It's because that market IS close to that burning house problem, right? They're people who are in pain right then and there, and need treatment.
If that's the case, you're not interested in educating yourself on free tips to improve your posture at your desk, or whatever else it might be.
You know, you want to find somebody who's got some availability at their practice and get it solved right now.
So there's the burning house thing, which you have to deal with right there and then. I think that there's very few of those.
Just below that are some really serious problems, which people need dealt with on that day. So the moment that your partner tells you that they want a divorce, the moment that you're told that they're making redundancies at your business and everyone has to go to an interview process to reapply for their jobs.
That's just a couple of them.
The day the doctor slaps that x-ray up on the wall and does that sharp intake of breath, and you know there's something urgent coming.
These are the kind of things where you probably can't get through that day at work without dealing with them.
That's a reasonable standard. How long can you endure this pain before it becomes a real problem and before it distracts you from your work, your physical or mental health?
Then there's a much bigger tier.
Like I said, for those people, you just want to be there and available.
You've got to be able to be found, so typically these are the kind of things that work well with search marketing.
People don't have the time to go looking for recommendations amongst their friends, or maybe they don't want to, particularly in the case of things like relationship counselling, or if it's a particularly embarrassing disease, something like that.
But then we go into tiers beyond that, which is where most of the market sits.
So things that people can tolerate for a week or a month before it gets serious, this is where minor health issues might come in, relationship problems. These are the areas where somebody has the time to do a little bit of research and education, because it's natural that people want to feel educated when they start picking somebody to provide a solution.
So these are the things where having some profile, somebody check you out, you're found on social media, you've got a consistent message. It's where having, I don't know, a book out there might be helpful.
It's certainly where having some easy to consume video content is useful. It's where things like testimonials and case studies are absolutely imperative.
These are the situations where you can come up with good lead magnet type offers, which will help somebody to at least understand the first step of what you're going to need to take them through, possibly take a couple of steps, feel a bit more comfortable when they come and deal with you, and also set yourself apart from the competition.
So lead magnets like, you know, five tough questions to ask your chiropractor, or five tough questions to ask your divorce lawyer before you sign the up.
Those kind of things.
Then at the bottom of the market are things where people could maybe last a year or so before the problem starts causing them physical or mental anguish, and where your job in that market is to kind of keep prodding. It's the kind of problem which rears its head every once in a while, if you're a bit overweight, you know, you might catch yourself in a mirror each morning, feel a bit crap about it, but by the time you've actually got dressed, had your breakfast and are anywhere near a computer to start looking around for solutions, it could be out of your head.
That situation could carry on for quite a while.
So in those scenarios, that's when it's your job to get in front of people when they're not necessarily thinking about it, to rub salt on the wound a little bit, to remind them what it feels like on those occasions when they are feeling bad about their problem, when they are worrying about it, and get them to actually do something about it.
So these are the kind of markets where you need longer nurture type sequences.
You need to keep your positioning there, you keep reminding them of the problem, reminding them how they are falling behind in their goals, how they're not making the changes that they've maybe committed themselves to. It's the kind of thing where you can call them out at the end of January for having failed on their New Year's resolutions already.
So when you're looking at your market and you're looking at how to approach them, think about that concept of that hierarchy of pain and how long is it that somebody can go without doing anything before it causes them further turmoil, expense, physical or mental pain, loss of status.
All the things that humans hold dear.
Adapt your marketing to the urgency of the problem in front of them.
If it's a very urgent problem you're solving, don't try and solve it with non-urgent marketing.
To find out more about how to pick the right kind of marketing for the right kind of problem, my new ClientStream program will be kicking off at the end of this month.
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