Digital Sales & Marketing
Digital Sales & Marketing
Close

Free digital sales and marketing courses

Immediately start seeing better digital sales and marketing results with dozens (and counting) of free online courses inside IMPACT+.

View all free coursesView all free courses

Digital Sales & Marketing World 2021

The premier, hybrid event for growth-focused business leaders, digital marketers, and sales pros. Virtual passes are free for IMPACT+ Pro members. In-person passes on sale soon.

Learn moreLearn more Watch past events on demandWatch past events on demand

Digital sales and marketing services

Discover the full array of IMPACT services, including inbound marketing training, web design, paid media management, and more.

Learn moreLearn more
They Ask, You Answer
They Ask, You Answer
Close

Free They Ask, You Answer course

Learn the principles of the They Ask, You Answer by taking our most popular course, taught by Marcus Sheridan himself.

Take the course nowTake the course now

Hire a coach

Turn your company into a high-performing digital organization with our flagship coaching program, Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery.

Learn moreLearn more

Case studies

See dozens of examples of companies succeeding with Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery and They Ask, You Answer.

View case studiesView case studies

They Ask, You Answer, the book

“One of the 11 Marketing Books every CMO should read.” — Forbes

Learn moreLearn more Buy the bookBuy the book
Virtual Selling
Virtual Selling
Close

Virtual Selling Mastery

Equip your sales team with proven methods to connect with today’s buyer, shorten the sales cycle, and close more deals, faster.

Learn moreLearn more

Virtual Selling Summit 2021

Your one-day virtual selling crash course! Today, sales reps are struggling to sell remotely. Learn how to close more deals in a virtual world.

Register NowRegister Now
Video
Video
Close

Free video sales and marketing strategy course

Zach Basner teaches you the fundamentals of making video for sales and marketing work inside your organization.

Take the course nowTake the course now

Video Sales and Marketing World 2021

Video Sales & Marketing World 2021 is in the works. In the meantime, enjoy the 2020 event on-demand - free for IMPACT+ Pro Members.

Watch past events on demandWatch past events on demand

The Visual Sale, the book

Learn how to use video to ignite sales, accelerate marketing, and grow your business in a virtual world in this book from Marcus Sheridan and Vidyard’s Tyler Lessard.

Learn moreLearn more Buy the bookBuy the book

Master video inside your organization

Video is a critical component of any high-performing digital sales and marketing program, and is a key part of Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery.

Learn moreLearn more
HubSpot
HubSpot
Close

Free HubSpot sales and marketing courses

Taught by Carina Duffy, IMPACT’s lead HubSpot trainer.

Marketing automation mastery (with HubSpot workflows)Marketing automation mastery (with HubSpot workflows) Inbound lead generation and conversion optimizationInbound lead generation and conversion optimization Getting started with sales technologyGetting started with sales technology

HubSpot Training Day

Following INBOUND 2020, IMPACT and HubSpot co-hosted a full-day of deep dive sessions to help HubSpot users get the most out of the new features fast! On-demand access is free for IMPACT+ Pro Members.

Watch on-demandWatch on-demand

HubSpot training and implementation

Maximize your investment in HubSpot's marketing, sales, or service platforms with guided training and implementation services.

Learn moreLearn more
Web Design
Web Design
Close

Website Optimization Summit

Learn how you may be unwittingly undermining the money-making potential of your website and how to fix it! Watch the opening keynote for free on-demand inside IMPACT+.

Watch on-demandWatch on-demand

Website design and strategy services

Get a beautiful, user-friendly HubSpot or Wordpress website that is easy to update, consistently generates leads and revenue, and grows with you.

Learn moreLearn more

The Big 5: How to Write Great “Problems” Content

The Big 5: How to Write Great “Problems” Content Blog Feature

Jen Barrell

Content Trainer, 10+ Years of Content & Digital Marketing Strategy

February 19th, 2019 min read

We all have a problem...some of us even have a few of them.

The main problem we have is that we’re not talking about our issues. If we did, we’d gain more trust, collect more leads, and earn more clients.

Here at IMPACT, we spend a lot of time talking about the “Big 5” -- the five topics that drive the most traffic, leads, and sales for successful inbound companies. Talking about our problems, specifically talking about the shortfalls in our product or service, is definitely on that list.

That’s right, putting it all out there -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- is a fantastic way to build the bottom line.

Why Problem Content Is a Great Solution

It’s natural that we want to protect ourselves from danger. Why risk saying something negative when we can focus on all the good we do? Here’s the problem with that: if you don’t address it, someone else will.

Your buyers are out there looking for information that can help them reach a conclusion. And we know they’re not only looking for positive reviews. They want the dirt, the difficulties, and the cons so that they won’t be surprised after the sale is made. Wouldn’t you rather they hear this from you than from somewhere else?

More importantly, wouldn’t you rather they get accurate facts (from you) than consume information that misses the mark, or worse, that’s purposefully misleading?

Being candid about your problems allows you to position yourself as the trustworthy authority in your space. This allows you to open up about possible pitfalls and then explore solutions. It eliminates the fear and resistance for your buyers by letting them know in advance what they might experience.

Some buyers will see these cons, balance them against the pros, and be ok with the decision to move forward. Some will choose to shop elsewhere -- and that’s ok. You’ve armed those prospects with the power to opt out so that no one’s time gets wasted. By showing “the ugly,” you qualify the people who see the value in the risk and allow the wrong-fit customers to disqualify themselves.

While you won’t close a deal with these wrong-fit customers, your honest assessment of what works and who it works for will continue to build trust. And the information you’ve provided will help them make the right decision for them.

How do you write great “problems” content? Here are some tips along with some of our favorite examples:

1. Dive into Their Problems

You can ease into your problems content by focusing on the problem your buyer is trying to solve. Put yourself in their position and make a list of the issues they have that would drive them to look to you for a solution.

In many cases, they might not even know they have a problem you can solve. It’s up to you to recognize their symptoms, identify the problem, and outline the options that are available to them.

Yale Appliance + Lighting does this well in their company blog. Their article “How to Maintain Your Refrigerator’s Ice Maker” quickly targets the various symptoms one might encounter with a troubled ice maker in its first sentence: “Small ice cubes? Soft ice cubes? Cloudy ice cubes? Chances are your ice maker just needs a little preventative maintenance.”

What makes this even stronger is the honestly Yale shows a few paragraphs later:

These built-in ice makers are the number one serviced component of any appliance. That does not mean they are flawed or poor quality; the ice maker just requires some regular maintenance to ensure the longevity of optimal function.

As an appliance store, Yale clearly sells refrigerators with ice makers. But instead of hiding the potential issues a buyer will find, Yale profiles it directly and honestly.

The article goes on to describe what would cause an ice maker to break down, how to clean it, and how to keep it in working order. This gives buyers the opportunity to decide if the reward outweighs the risk and, if so, how to make the most out of their purchase.

West Roofing Systems also addresses their problems content head-on in the ebook My Commercial Roof Is Leaking. Their landing page copy and video both describe the tactic they’re taking -- helping the prospect detect the problem (a leaky commercial roof), find the causes to the problem, and then create an action plan to solve it.

In both cases, the prospect most likely came to the web and searched for their symptom (soft ice cubes or a leaky roof, for example), found the content, and left the site knowing what problem they have and the best way to solve for it. Whether or not Yale and West Roofing make the sale directly, they’ve informed their buyers of their options and have built a basis of trust.

2. Tackle Your Own Problems

The truth is, no single solution is the right fit for everyone. You’ll find much more success when you admit this to your potential buyers and show that, yes, there are some problems with the solution you offer.

After all, your elementary school teacher was right, honesty really is the best policy.

In his book They Ask, You Answer, Marcus Sheridan talks about what happened when he confronted potential problems with the product he was offering at his company, River Pools and Spas. The post, “Top Fiberglass Pool Problems and Solutions,” resulted in more than $500,000 in revenue:

Now, you might think it would be insane for us to write an article with that title and, believe me, so did many people in our industry. But look at it this way: How many of our competitors were addressing that question on their websites? Of course, the answer is none.

Yet, how many consumers were wanting to know the answer to said question?

Pretty much all of them.

The title may be daring, but the content is even more brazen, detailing specific issues with fiberglass pools that may turn people off.

Again, that’s ok. Showing how your product may not be the best fit will save both your and your prospect valuable time.

We did this at IMPACT, as well, with the article “The Problems with Working with a HubSpot Partner Agency.” As such an agency, this might seem counterintuitive. Maybe, but it gives the reader a truthful look at what they can expect and how to mitigate problems that arise.

Keep in mind, whether you sell a product or a service, you have problems you can share. IMPACT’s article shows how the service sector can easily jump into the problems content area. We’re all in the business of trust, regardless of what we’re selling.

3. Show a Solution

Sometimes profiling a problem will turn a buyer off. Other times, if you can show a solution to your problem, you bring yourself one step closer to a new customer.

You want to stay humble enough to put yourself out there, but you also want to show that you have the authority and the knowledge to solve for any shortcomings.

In their article “The 10 Most Common Mistakes You See in a T-shirt Quilt,” Too Cool T-shirt Quilts faces the problems with their industry directly. Their descriptions of the problems and explanation of why the problems exist puts them in a place of authority. Even better, they provide examples of solutions to these 10 common mistakes.

A prospect can easily see that Too Cool knows what they’re talking about and has quality control in place to prevent these mistakes. By educating their followers, Too Cool is not only making their prospects more savvy shoppers, but they are giving shoppers the confidence they need to move forward with a purchase.

4. Find the Right Angle

Problems content can take many forms, and the great news for content creators is the range of angles available to write about. In her Blogging Tips Guide, Liz Murphy offers up a wide scope of topics that problems content writers can turn to:

  • The most common (and unexpected) problems someone inexperienced or a "rookie" may experience and how to avoid them.

  • "The top X problems with Y."

  • "The X problems with Y you're likely to miss."

  • "Why is X not working and what can I do about it?"

  • If you provide a lot of different products, provide honest assessments around the problems with each product type.

  • If you provide more B2b or consulting services, where there is onboarding, write about the most common issues or problems a new client might experience in onboarding with a firm like yours. For example, "X Common Marketing Agency Onboarding Challenges & How to Avoid Them."

  • "The X Reasons Why Y Fails." Works for both products and service-based relationships.

  • "X Reasons Why Y Isn't the Right Choice for You." Don't be afraid to write this from the perspective of yourself and who isn't right for you or your services. This kind of honesty will only help you weed out bad-fit prospects without wasting man hours on your sales team.

  • Why you don't do something a specific way for your clients that's common. For example, certain challenges with WordPress have led us to prefer building websites for businesses on HubSpot's Website Builder.

  • Why you don't like something -- seriously, rant about it. Jessie-Lee did a great job with her rant about WIX, and it's an article that's been a traffic driver for years.

  • The top problems with the "best advice" everyone is always preaching in your industry about solving a specific issue.

4. Be Fearless

Your problems content isn’t the place to pull punches or withhold information.

As the authority in your industry -- and as an honest, authentic voice -- it’s up to you to help people make smart, confident buying decisions.

Rely on what you’ve learned from speaking with and selling to your customers. What are the common objections they raise? Those are problems you should happily address.

Inbound marketing is about being unapologetically helpful. Go put yourself out there and start talking candidly about all your problems.

Want to learn more about digital sales and marketing?

Master digital sales and marketing when you join IMPACT+ for FREE. Gain instant access to exclusive courses and keynotes taught by Marcus Sheridan, Brian Halligan, Liz Moorehead, Ann Handley, David Cancel, Carina Duffy, Zach Basner, and more.

Sign up for free
Take a peek

Access hundreds of FREE courses and keynotes

Free Course
Digital Sales & Marketing Framework for Today’s Buyers
By: Marcus Sheridan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
A New Way to Compete & Win
By: Brian Halligan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
How To Genuinely Feel Confident, Be Likable, And Build Trust On Camera
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Future of Marketing is Conversational​
By: David Cancel
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
HubSpot On a Budget: Getting Started with HubSpot Starter Hubs
By: Courtney Caldwell
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Assignment Selling: Content is Your Greatest Sales Tool
By: Marcus Sheridan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Big, Bold, Brave New World of Marketing​
By: Ann Handley
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Investing in Incredible Digital Sales and Marketing Results
By: Chris Duprey
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
How To Show Your Content Makes Money With HubSpot Marketing and Sales Hubs
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
The Visual Sale
By: Marcus Sheridan & Tyler Lessard
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
Marketing Tech: What’s Now, What’s Near and What’s Not Anytime Soon?​
By: Dharmesh Shah
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Inbound Lead Generation & Conversion Optimization
By: Carina Duffy
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
Fundamentals of Videography: You Can Be a Great Videographer Too
By: Zach Basner
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
The Ultimate Customer Service Toolkit for Any Budget
By: Andriti Gulati
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
6 Topics Subject Matter Experts Need to Address
By: Kevin Phillips
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
Fanocracy: The Power of Making Business Personal​
By: David Meerman Scott
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Power of Pillar Content
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
SEO for the Future
By: Franco Valentino
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing
By: Stephanie Baiocchi
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
A Practical Guide To Video Graphics
By: Colton Trcic
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Session
How To Get Your Community To Know, Like, And Trust You With Video
By: Marki Lemons Rhyal
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Video Sales and Marketing Strategy
By: Zach Basner
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Here Are Some Related Articles You May Find Interesting

Want to Contribute Content to impactplus.com? Click Here.

IMPACT+ Sign Up
A FREE online learning community with on-demand courses, hundreds of expert-led sessions, thousands of your peers ready to support you, and much more.
Check it out
Hundreds courses and recorded keynotes, completely FREE
Check it out
Access hundreds of digital sales and marketing courses and recorded keynotes, completely FREE