Market by issue, not by product or software

It’s so tempting in your marketing to focus on what you want to sell.

You think about the software, the product, the service.  How can we tell the world that this is so amazing? That it will change their life or business and they should find out more now?

But that’s not where you begin.


The most important step you can take is backwards: back to the person themselves, and the problem they have.

You want to walk a mile in their shoes.

(For some people, you want to do that because then you’re a mile away, and you have their shoes. But I digress.)

What you want your future clients to say

The one thing you want your future clients to say when they land on your website (or ebook page, or webinar registration page, or video, or blog post) is,

“Yes – that’s exactly how I feel!”

Other acceptable alternates are:

  • “Really? I’m not the only one who deals with that?”
  • “I have been wondering that for a long time.”
  • “I never thought of it that way!”
  • “What a relief!”
  • “At last – someone I don’t have to explain [term they use all the time] to”
  • “Interesting! I’m intrigued.”

So how do you end up with marketing that causes this kind of reaction?  You address the issue. The problem. The monster under the bed. The elephant in the room.  The one thing (or multiple things) that they are dealing with.

The old “features and benefits” thing, eh?

Everyone seems to be familiar with the old ‘features and benefits’ discussion.

The whole argument of “features and benefits” may have been sold to you a long time ago, but many of you aren’t using it the way it’s intended to be.

Features and benefits essentially means, “What does the person get? How is it amazing?”

Unfortunately, so many businesses have turned this into the dullest thing imaginable: two columns, headed ‘Features’ and ‘Benefits’, with a bullet point list under each.

Who talks like that?

Not your clients, that’s for certain. 

They don’t sit around at the kitchen table with a list in front of them headed “Accountants to choose” with one column labelled ‘features’ and one labelled ‘benefits’.

That’s because they don’t have the time. They’re trying to buy new business premises, or hire employees, or export to another country, or find out why they’re so cash short.

So if you want to share the true features and benefits, ditch the accountant-speak and the professional-speak and the corporate-speak, and tell them what is really bothering them.  Show them that you get it.  You feel it.

So instead of listing bullet points about how your credit control process provides procedures and support to ensure payment on a regular blah, blah, blah (I couldn’t even finish typing it, I was so bored), you instead tell them that your debt recovery process, on average, helps your client get cash into their bank account 23 days faster.

And that’s what goes on your website page.

It means that if you work with veterinarians, you don’t put together a bland paragraph that says, “At XYZ Accountants, we help [type of business] to grow and succeed. We have a vast experience working with [type of business] and we are familiar with [type of business] issues and problems.”

What the future client reads is: blah, blah, blah.

It’s generic and bland, and they know it.

What’s more, and what’s worse, you know it – but you’re not quite sure how to fix it.

What’s worst of all is that this could result in their no longer being your future client…but someone else’s.

Marketing by issue: Call it like it is

The beauty of digital marketing is that your future clients want to hear you give it to them straight.  Talk like a human being.  Treat them like one. Use terminology and words that you would use if they met you in person.  Think about how this issue impacted you, personally, and use that to help frame your marketing.

So many accountants that I work with have really amazing services to offer. Not just ‘accounts’ or ‘tax’ or ‘cash flow forecasts’, but really clever or well-put together services that make sense and are easy to connect with. Things like:

  • Awesome 8 – Eight areas that every business owner needs to review (including a handy-dandy online scorecard)
  • Debt Retrievers – to sort out credit control issues and get cash into the business

The reason that your future clients are connecting with this type of marketing is because it is an instant connect.

You’ve spoken to the issue – whether it is cash, or debt, or growing by acquisition, or their industry, or the fact that they need a mortgage but are finding it difficult because they’re self-employed.

The more specific, the better.

Start with the issues and make the rest of your marketing easier

This helps any and all of your other marketing, as well.

Want to do adwords or pay-per-click? Suddenly the perfectly-worded ad you need for Google Adwords can simply be a phrase from your brilliant new landing page.  Need content to share via social media?  Use those brilliant blog posts you’re publishing.

And when your future client, who happens to be a wedding photographer, is flicking through Twitter and sees a post about the problems wedding photographers have with managing cash flow, because their clients pay an initial deposit and then the rest on the wedding day – well, it’s an easy click (and a profitable one).

That’s all because, since you knew that wedding photographers are your market, you stopped to think. You stood in their shoes.  (Incidentally, having been a wedding photographer myself, I can tell you right now that’s a long stand. 7am to midnight. They might appreciate you taking a turn in the shoes.)

Solve a problem your future clients didn’t realise they had

Best of all, when you market by issue, you often reach those who have a problem – but they don’t even know it.

What about all those clients who are spending hours and hours entering receipts painstakingly into Excel spreadsheets? You could save them three weeks per year with ReceiptBank.  But what if they don’t know it exists? Should you send out an email and say “Try ReceiptBank now?”  Sure, you could do it – but even better is to identify their time management problems. The fact that they can’t seem to get a chance to go on holiday.  The incredibly poor receipt management system they have (i.e., their trouser pockets).

The same applies to marketing Xero accounting software. Or Liveplan. Or the One Page Business Plan.  Or countless other solutions that solve a deeper problem.

Your future clients may not have a clue about what kind of software they could be using. But they know without a doubt what their problems and issues are – and they can’t wait to find someone who will help them solve those.

And that’s what you do best.