New business calls don’t generally start with “everything is great, everyone loves our creative work and business is growing like crazy … we need your help”. Generally the call happens because there’s some sort of a pain or change is at hand. Customer relations. A new launch. Sales are flat. Whatever the situation, don’t start with tactics or clever ideas. Figure out what the “why” is first. And that means digging for a little more clarity than just wanting to increase sales or working harder or selling it cheaper. It’s understanding the truth of the situation. Products and services that solve real problems in our lives are the ones that succeed. Whether they are new or a re-launch, they create opportunity by solving real problems in a user’s lives. So understand the problem or the “why” that needs solved. That may sound simple, but finding out why something is important is harder than you might think.

We have our own process for projects, but within that process we have a few starting points that can help generate the strategy to answer the business challenge and the platform for the marketing solution. Here are just a few things to get you on track when identifying and solving a problem or “why’ this new thing is needed.

1. What are the annoyances or problems that people have or complain about. Don’t be to proud or dismiss them.

2. Is there an inefficiency. Look at things like being faster, easier or less expensive to create a marketplace for your product? Without sacrificing integrity or quality. If this fits, think of ways you can demonstrate a possible solution to the problem.

3. Few things stay the same. Which means they are always changing. There are always new products that are smarter, faster, taste better, healthier, easier … and these efficiencies will outweigh usage. Even for the most popular brands. Timing is everything. Pick your spots for timely product re-positioning or changes.

4. Borrow from other industries. All industries don’t dance at the same pace or timing. What’s normal in one may be trendy in another. Watch other industries and borrow what has worked and then adapt to fit your strategies to create a unique and fresh approach for your customer.

5. Don’t solve other’s problems. Own your situation and identify your own problems and don’t do things just because a competitor is doing it. Clarify your own situation and act accordingly on it.

Big ideas are only going to be “Big” if they put their users’ needs first. Not by artificially creating a great idea just to be different. So take the extra time to clarify the problem, and the creative and marketing efforts will improve by answering back to solving the real problem.