Your message to your ideal client is close to everything when it comes to marketing these days. Think about you – you’ve got about five seconds to get and keep someone’s attention and you can’t waste that precious time with a message that doesn’t connect.

A message that connects is one that clearly talks about what your ideal client wants more than anything else in the world – and what is that?

They want to solve their problems.

In many ways, they will never care about your awesome plan to do XY and Z if you don’t first and foremost let them know that you understand what they really, really want.

Hint: Nobody really, really wants what you sell – they want their problems solved – period.

So, for today, here’s your assignment.

Make a list of the problems you solve for the clients you help the most.

If you’re having trouble thinking about your client’s problems, think a bit about the things they tell you.

For example, a lot my prospective clients might say things like – I just want the phone to ring more.

So I don’t sell marketing services or SEO or even consulting – all you need to know about what I do is that I make the phone ring – end of story.

Another example, a buyers agent: They might have the best ‘off-market’ properties and the most highly skilled team, but all their clients seem to care about is that the process of buying a property is as painless as possible and that they secure their perfect home or investment property at a fair price.

So that’s the promise they need to promote. The rest is an expectation – I mean aren’t all buyers agents highly skilled at the home buying process.

That’s it – that’s how you refocus your message so it’s no longer about you and your amazing services and it’s all about your amazing clients and the problems they want to be solved.

Creating trigger phrases

In the past, I’ve referred to these kinds of statements as trigger phrases.

Your clients don’t know how to solve their problems, but they usually know what their problems are. If you can get really good at demonstrating that what you sell is the answer to their problem they really won’t care what you call it, they’ll just buy it to make the pain go away.

Take some time and break down every solution you sell, every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”

These phrases can be questions or statements or even anecdotes, but they must come from the point of view of the client.

What headline will grab their attention?

Start writing headlines for your website. What I mean by this is write a big, bold statement that might be the first thing anyone who visits your website will see.

Now ask yourself – would this statement get your ideal client’s attention more than something like “we’re the best at XYZ, hire us because we’re so good.”

For illustration purposes, I’ll outline a few of the common problems phrases we hear (examples of a prospect’s needs expressed as a problem):

  • I feel like we’re not keeping up in this ever-changing online world?
  • We’ve tried other solutions, but the lead quality was poor and the process was taking up too much of my time?
  • My website just isn’t performing as I had hoped?
  • All of our competitors seem to be doing things on social media but we’re not?
  • For some reason, the referrals are not coming in like they’ve always done in the past?
  • I find the need to participate in every local social networking event exhausting?

So, a few of my best headline ideas might come from some combination of these frustrations.

Want some help creating your new message? Pick out a handful of your ideal clients and go ask them – what problem did we solve for you? Test your headlines with them. Ask them to describe what you do better than anyone else.

Pro tip: If your business receives online reviews study them carefully. While it’s awesome to get 5-star reviews pay close attention to the words and common phrases your happiest clients are using – they will write your promise for you in some cases.

Who is your ideal client? (Who are you solving this problem for?)

This means many things – who can you deliver the greatest value to, who do you enjoy working with, who needs what you do most. Write a detailed description of your ideal client and include as much about them as possible including the problems they are trying to solve. Give some thought to how you might reach them and appeal to them. Use your best clients today to help you think about what makes them ideal for you. (Hint: they are profitable and perhaps they refer other to you right now.)

How to narrowly define your ideal client

Step 1: What are the must haves to be a client – this is stuff that naturally narrows your list – must be 18 years or older, must own a home, must have a turnover of $X – that kind of thing.

Step 2: What are the generally looked for attributes – no required, but preferred – perhaps it’s an age range, geographic location, or special interest.

Step 3: What makes them ideal – what are the attributes that make them your best prospects – perhaps they have a certain business model, unique problem, at a certain point in life or stage of business.

Step 4: What behavior do they exhibit that allows you to identify them. Do they belong to industry associations, tend to sponsor charitable events, read certain publications?

To sum up today’s assignment you have two tasks

  1. Narrowly define and document the answer to this question: How would I spot your ideal client?
  2. Create one strong promise statement that addresses a common problem your ideal clients face. Answer this question: What problem do you solve for your ideal clients?

This post originally appeared on the Duct Tape Marketing Blog.