Jordan Ogren

May 20, 2021

Are you solving the right problem?

"You must solve a problem for your customer!"

On the surface, this truth is simple.

To grow a business, you must solve a problem for your customer. You know that.

But the specificity of that problem isn't discussed enough.

When you get more specific with the problem, you feel like you're going backward instead of forward. 

Here's how I could define the problem Solcat, my company, solves:

"We help improve bad marketing."

But I doubt this gets much enthusiasm from people as it's generic.

What if I changed it to: 

"We help B2B marketing teams improve their content effectiveness through better strategy, design, and copy."

Now I'm getting somewhere.

Why is it challenging for us to pick a specific problem for a particular audience?

Digging deeper to name a specific problem eliminates our options, and we love options.

We also feel less certain when we question if our problem is the right problem. Yet, in doing so, we get closer to reality.

Reality > certainty.

Instead, we prefer to tackle the presupposed problem, preserving our certainty while never questioning if we're solving the "right" problem.

Shane Parrish of Farnam Street puts it perfectly:

"The first person to state the problem rarely has the best insight into the problem. Once a problem is thrown out on the table, however, our type-A problem-solving nature kicks in and forgets to first ask if we're solving the right problem."

The problem you think you're solving may not be the actual problem.

Instead of running to certainty, question your problem and become a devil's advocate.

Seek out contrarian views from people who may help shine a light on a more specific problem or different problem.

Once you think you've found the problem, keep digging.

You can always get more specific.

🧠 // JO