Business schools and books will all talk about the need for your business to have a competitive advantage-- something to give your enterprise an edge in the marketplace.

However, their examples are usually based things that are easily counted such as price, speed or quality. There are advantages that go far beyond the "norms" of the "competitive advantage."

What about taking something that is perceived as a disadvantage and turning it around into a competitive advantage?

What about Autism as a competitive advantage, for example?

Check out this video of a Dad with an Autistic son who created a business model that doesn't just allow for, but brings out the strengths of people on the Autistic scale.


People on the Autistic scale have remarkable strengths, but they are different strengths than the majority of the population and usually different strengths than the owners of businesses.

This means that business owners who want to have a competitive advantage that involves their team often need to rethink their business model. Most business owners by default look for employees who are like them. This is a fatal flaw because if they are truly like you, then they will steal your business and become your competition.

What you are looking for is people who aren't like you. People who will bring their own unique sets of skills and strengths. The problem is that your business isn't ready for anyone that isn't like you. If you could clone yourself, then everything would be fine... right?

 In reality, that would bring its own set of problems.

The problem is that your business isn't setup to handle the right employees, There are people out there who could be awesome doing what you need done, but you're still looking for a clone of you.

Step back and take another look at your business. What do you really need? If you say some variation of  "I'm looking for hard workers who are committed to their job, don't have a lot of drama, and have the skill set of  ......", then you are going to be fighting all other job opportunities available due to the commonality of that answer. You can fight to attract this limited pool of people wooing them with higher salaries, but they are so employable that anyone else who can offer more receives them. You then end up complaining that you just "can't find any good people."

What if you looked outside of that box? What if you designed your business in ways that you can not only accommodate, but thrive with people who don't fit that narrow box of perceived "perfect employee" material?

That could be as the father above did in designing the business so that people on that autism spectrum can thrive. Or how about the group of mothers with kids in school? They are a unique group with their own specific strengths and weaknesses.

They have a different set of priorities where their work comes second to their kids.

They often have a great skill set that may be academically out-of-date but is enhanced by raising children. They have great attitudes because nothing you can throw at them is as difficult as keeping up with everything they encounter on a daily basis. They need a uniquely flexible environment that allows them to drop work and be with their kids who can't go to school that day because of a fever.

I have a client who built her business around not their client's needs, but around the needs of her employees; 90% of whom were mothers of young children who wanted to work while raising her family. The workday began at 9:00 and ended at 3:00. Many did not work 5 days a week, but instead worked a self-selected number of days per week. She had a long list of these women, and when one had kids with a fever she had a list from which to call to get another one in their place for the day.

The systems were such that each day had its own projects and they didn't carry overnight. She designed the business around the needs of her employees and her employees repaid her by doing an amazing job of taking care of the clients.

What about college kids with their own set of strengths and weaknesses? Can you provide an environment where their uniqueness could be brought out, allowing them to shine?

What about recent parolees from prison? Kind of scary at first thought, but could be amazing.
meme I play at church
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week, you have probably at least heard something about Pokémon Go. It was released on both the Apple and Google Play stores last Thursday, and it quickly became one of the top downloaded apps on both platforms. The app has become a viral sensation among teens and young adults, already overtaking Twitter in number of daily users. Of course, all the 90s kids are geeking out over this app, but, surprisingly, this app has actually attracted an even broader audience than the original games ever did. However, you don’t have to rely on the amount of downloads this app has to judge its popularity; just head downtown on any given evening and you are sure to see twice as many people as normal hanging out down there, phones in hand. You might even overhear some talk about the different Pokémon that they’ve been catching lately!

I know, you might be groaning at yet another app that has got young people’s faces buried in their phones. But, this app is actually different! It is one of the first games that is actually forcing people to get out and about. There are a lot of features in the game that require the player to actually go outside and walk around! It is also bringing people together as people are walking around, gathering in ad hock groups and just stopping each other to start up conversations about Pokémon. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself! Take a walk downtown and start asking random strangers to explain the game and help you get started and you will be sure to meet some great new people.

I think that, with the increase in people walking around in fresh air and interacting with other members of their communities, there is a big possibility that this game could have positive effects on mental health issues likes depression. I am also intrigued to see how this app might even begin to bring people and communities back together again. Serious gamers are stereotyped to stay holed up in their homes, by themselves, playing games in front of a screen for hours at a time, but this app is forcing them to get up and start walking!

before and after pokemon go

In case you haven’t already checked the game out for yourself, the Pokémon Go app turns the real world into a massive Pokémon hunting ground using your phone’s camera and GPS. Players use little red and white balls, which are called Pokéballs, in order to catch the Pokémon and build their collection. This app also transforms local landmarks, businesses and, here’s where it gets interesting, churches into Pokémon Gyms and PokéStops. Pokémon Gyms are places where higher level players can train their Pokémon and battle against other players and teams, while PokéStops are places where players of all levels can stock up on Pokéballs and other necessary game items. This might explain why you might have noticed more people hanging out around your church building recently, all with their phones in hand.

While this phenomenon is cool and all, what does it mean for churches? Simply put, it means that many churches will see an influx of people visiting and hanging around their church buildings on every day of the week. Theses churches can either act like the stereotypical grouchy old man yelling “Hey you rotten kids! Get off My lawn!”, or they can embrace the fact that this app is literally bringing young people to the church’s doorstep, and use it to their benefit. In fact, I have read a number of interesting articles about how businesses who happen to be PokéStops or Gyms, or are located to fairly close to one, are utilizing this craze to gain more business. Now, not every store is going to be a PokéStop or Gym, but what I have found interesting is that almost every church building is one or the other! So, while many church leaders are wringing their hands in worry about the millennial generation leaving church, they should be thinking about ways that they can use this app!

Here are some ways that churches can utilize this opportunity:
  • Download the app and take some time to check it out, so that you know what it is all about. If you are unsure about some of the games features, or how to play, you can always ask some of the young people hanging out at your church to help you out. It is a great way to start a conversation, and maybe even a friendship. Downloading the app yourself will also allow you to check out any Pokémon that are lurking around your building.
  • Check out what PokéStops or Pokémon gyms are located at your church building. If your building happens to be a gym, that is doubly awesome!
  • Be there! An empty building isn’t going to do anything for them, or you. If you can’t commit to being there yourself, ask some people in your congregation to be willing to hang out there at different times. Lawn chairs and lemonade optional.
  • Use lure modules! If your church is a PokéStop, you can buy a “Lure Module” that will attract a bunch of wild Pokémon to your church for 30 minutes. All players nearby will be alerted and will most likely start to gather to your church to catch the Pokémon.
  • Find out who in your congregation is playing the game and get a group together to walk around the neighborhoods surrounding your church building. If you don’t want to play yourself, you can always designate yourself as the person who makes sure the players don’t run into anything while playing!
  • Start a weekly or monthly activity where members of your congregation go to popular Pokémon Go locations to catch Pokémon and meet other young people. While there, you can hand out flyers about upcoming church events. This would also be a great opportunity to just get out there and meet some more people.
  • If your church is Pokémon Gym, people will probably spend more time there having battles, so what about allowing them to come inside? Set out refreshments and turn the air conditioning up and let them come play in a cool place. You could also allow players to connect their phone screens to the TV during battles, so that everyone can gather around and watch. The app tends to drain phone batteries and use up data pretty quickly, so you could even allow people to come in and charge their phones or use your Wi-Fi.
  • If your Church isn’t a Pokémon Gym or a PokéStop, you can still use this app to your benefit! Get out to your downtown landmarks and parks and strike up some conversations. Instead of poking fun at the craze, why not see it as a gift and use it to start conversations and get to know people?
If you are still reading, I have to acknowledge that these ideas might be a little crazy, and that they are just that: ideas. They have not been tested and tried, nor can I point to any examples of churches successfully using Pokémon Go. However, it has only been a week, and anything is worth a try! Historically, churches are not early adopters , they aren’t usually the first ones to jump on a new craze, well, except for that group of 12 men who decided to follow a carpenter… But Is it worth it to try and use this app to bring people to Christ? Will others laugh and poke fun at you for trying to use this as a way to reach out? Well, yes. They might laugh at you, but it is definitely worth a shot. God has a history of using strange means and working in mysterious ways.

If you have seen a business or a church using this movement in interesting ways please share in the comments.
Depression is a dark and frustrating place to be in no matter what you do for a living. Entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges when depressed. That's because for many entrepreneurs, their personal mental outlook directly affects their business outlook.
When you're depressed, you're not productive. When you're not productive, your business suffers. When your business suffers, your depression deepens. And the cycle continues and can become more insidious with every iteration.

Entrepreneurs know that their business successes are personal successes -- and their business challenges are personal challenges. The phrase “it’s not personal; it’s business” doesn’t apply to them. And so a personal struggle like depression leads to business challenges

Depression in the life of a business owner is so often hidden away and internalized-- after all, you're never allowed to show that you are struggling.

I was at a conference recently where a successful entrepreneur was being interviewed about his success and struggles. I've heard these type of interviews so many times that they have become repetitive and boring but the reason this one stood out was his vulnerability and transparency about the struggles he had in the past and still has today but he often pointed out that even while he and the business were struggling they had to put on a good face to the community, clients, vendors and especially the investors and the bank. he used the phrase that running a successful company depended on using a smoke and mirrors approach that hides any weakness. You can't run a business without putting a good face on things, and as some people put it, "fake it till you make it". This makes us hide any struggles that we have. Part of what gives depression its power is the shame -- and the need to conceal those feelings to give off the aura that everything is awesome, business is great and I'm doing fantastic. We desperately need openness and transparency but the balance between transparency and the need for "smoke and mirrors" is a hard balance to find when running a business.

Yet how can we deal with this problem if we can't acknowledge that it exists? Brad Feld, a early leader in the tech startup world, admits his own struggles with depression and tells us that depression is very common in the startup realm. Though often internalized and hidden away, despite the way we increasingly admit and even celebrate failure in the startup community, we still don't like to acknowledge depression as a struggle “For some reason we’ve embraced failure as an entrepreneurial trait that is okay,” he wrote, “but we still struggle with acknowledging and talking about depression.”

As a business coach I have dealt with so many business owners who deal with depression, most would never admit it or call it that or even realize it. But as their business coach, I am the one person who they can be transparent with and openly admit that their business/life sucks. They tell me about the nights lying awake staring up at the ceiling, indigestion boiling up their esophagus worrying about their business, their family, their employees families, their own life. They tell me how bad the collitus is getting, how they are desperately looking for a way out that they aren't sure exists.

And as business owners you can't get around the tie between personal and business, your business struggles will cause you to struggle personally and your personal issues show up in the business.

So how do you deal with it when it's so intertwined? Where do you start? Does fixing the business fix the personal issues, or does changing the business owner's mental state change the trajectory of the business?

There is no "one way." You can tackle this from either end, improve their business-- then it's easier for them to deal with their personal health issues, help them see the truth instead of the lies that they are believing and their business likely will start improving.

But this type of situation really speaks to the need for a coach, someone that they can be transparent with. Someone who can look at their situation without emotion and fear, who can see reality and communicate that reality back to them, someone who can spot the obvious to anyone else hole in the boat that is sinking their business.

Better than trying to tough it out and endanger the life of the business on which many lives are depending, including your own. Better than internalizing the struggle and making your life suck and possibly shorter. Find a business coach who has been down that road before with all it's craziness and try opening up and have them lead you on a healthy path out of depression for both you and your business.
Consider this problem for a moment: 

Simplicity, Leonardo da Vinci

This is fun to do, but it really illustrates a good point about how we tend to over-complicate things. When you figure out the pattern in this picture, it is a "palm slap to the forehead" moment where you realize the utter simplicity of the pattern. A friend from down under calls these moments BFO’s (Blinding Flash of the Obvious).

I have seen so many business models; in particular, those put together by people with advanced degrees where I walk away thinking, “He is obviously really smart, I just can’t seem to grasp the business." With some very rare exceptions, the overly complex plans never do work out (unless it is in a movie where the more complex the plan is the better plan... think of any of the Ocean’s 11 plots).

But in business, simpler is almost always better. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." In business, you don’t get extra points for the difficulty of the plan, you don’t get points for style, you don’t get points for sophistication. You get points for doing the simple things well.
 
Are you giving your clients too many options?

Are you trying to cover too broad of a market?

A very successful investor one time said that unless you can illustrate what a company does using a crayon and sheet of paper, don’t ever invest in that company.

Try explaining your business on one sheet with a large marker… can’t do it? Then try again until you have simplified it.

Years ago, my dad taught me something important. He showed me how to take a 20 minute nap by lying on the floor and putting your feet up on a chair. This position helps out in a number of different ways.

This position is surprisingly comfortable when you first lay down but becomes uncomfortable over time. It will wake you up within 30 minutes of when you first fall asleep.

This helps out when you are alone and don’t want to set an alarm.
It helps to get the blood flow out of your feet and back to your head.It's amazing how much better your feet feel after this type of nap! I have used this technique to take power naps for years.

Sometimes, however, we want to take longer than 20 minutes. Here's a useful infographic to determine how long to nap if 30 minutes isn't enough:


I have previously written about my own struggles with depression and the particular struggles that entrepreneurs have with depression based on my experience of coaching many of them. but once you realize that you might actually struggle with depression yourself then what next?

So how do you actually go about dealing with it? Let me try to give you some practical ideas, but first a few caveats:

I am far from an expert in the area of depression, I have read a total of one book on the subject and while enlightening, it was short on how to deal with it.

Second, and I am really struggling with how to explain this without coming across as arrogant or elitist but these ideas aren't meant to be a solution for everyone-- this isn't a "one size fits all" approach in dealing with depression. I am writing this to entrepreneurs, people who don't just passively take what life gives them but actively goes out and creates what life didn't hand them, People who not only can see something that doesn't exist, but can then mold the world around them to match that idea. people who don't whine and complain but make things happen, people who have a history of self-motivation, of moving men and mountains. I don't say all that just to flatter you, but to acknowledge that you look at life differently than most, you're one of the crazy ones, the dreamers that Apple talks about in its commercial, the ones who think different. this is written for you.

Admit to yourself and others that you are depressed.
There have been times in my life where this one thing has turned the corner on different times of struggling with depressed thinking. I will tell you that mine hasn't been a continual struggle with depression, but more dealing with periods-- be they weeks or months or years-- when I spiraled downward in my thinking and decisions and had to acknowledge the fact that I was actually struggling with depressed thinking and needed to turn my thinking around. Admittedly, I wasn't so far down the path that I could just stop myself in my tracks and realize I was on the wrong path mentally and find the right path again. so really for anyone seriously struggling, this is only a first step but for me sometimes this one step has change the trajectory of my thinking and was the key for moving past my feelings of depression.

Realize you are believing some lies and keep track of the lies that you believe.
This may sound strange when I say "lies that you believe" because it doesn't make sense that if you know something is a lie that you would continue believing it, right? Well, maybe I am the weird one here, because if you asked me I could at any time give you a list of some of the lies that I currently believe. Because "believe" is more than just a mental thing, it's an emotional thing that moves us, motivates us, determines how we act and react in this crazy illogical thing we call life. I believe things about the way others think about me that there is no way I can know whether they are true or not and when I think about I am pretty sure they are false but that doesn't stop me from responding to them based on the lies that I keep telling myself.

No one else could tell you what those lies are in your life, but I can guarantee you that you have them and that you respond to the world around you based on your belief in those lies, some of them you may not yet realize are lies but I am pretty sure that if you think about it, you will be able to point out assumptions that you are basing your life on that you can't definitely tell are true no matter how strongly you feel them and in some cases if you are honest with yourself you can tell that they are most likely false. yet you still believe them and your self-talk is constantly reinforcing this lie causing you to live them out.

What are these lies in your life? List and track them as they enter into your mental conversation. If you are anything like me, you won't be able to immediately change the way you respond to the world based on this, but over time keeping track of the lies we tell ourselves can go a long way toward changing our thinking and through changing our thinking, changing the way we respond to the world.

Change what's going into your head:
Old Programmers maxim, if the output is different than what you expect, check your inputs.
If you don't like the what's coming out of your head and your life, then check on what's going into it.

What's going into your head?
What are you reading?
What are you listening to?
What are you watching?

What's going into your body?
What are you eating?
What are you drinking?
What kind of sleep are you getting?


You can't change all these things at once, I doubt you have the consciousness, willpower and stamina to change all these things at once but if I know you at all I know you have the ability to chose one or two of these inputs and live consciously enough to deliberately change them for the better. Take a look at the inputs in your life and decide which of them need to change.


Radically change things, change your perspective, change your environment.
In the movie Dead Poet's Society, Robin Williams' character got his students to do the strange thing of standing on their desks in order to just gain a new perspective of the role that they were in.
Move your office - either temporarily or permanently - go work at a coffee shop
Clean your office - I call this clearing the decks for action, remove every scrap of paper, knickknack or not absolutely essential item off of any surface in your office or work area. even if it just gets piled into a drawer
Mess with your routine - take a vacation, take a trip, go to work early, leave work early, go for a walk, go for a swim, allow yourself to take a nap, I don't know what but change something, your currently in a mental rut so change your routine

Will changing your environment change your thinking? Not necessarily. But sometimes it is just what is needed in order for you to start to see things differently

Bring someone else into the picture:
AA knows that in order to make significant change you need to involve someone else in your life as someone to be transparent with, to help when your struggling and to hold you accountable. Find someone with an outside perspective, someone who is willing to tell you the truth and who you can be truthful and transparent with.

Look I know you can beat this, you know you can beat this but that doesn't mean you don't need any help whether that be being honest with yourself, self awareness of your thinking, changing the inputs in your life or just plain changing things or involving other people,  This may not be all that you need but it's my attempt to give you a starting point to deal with it.
What happens when your business depends on you being a motivated driving force, but you don't feel that motivation?
When the fact that you are your own boss and have to kick yourself in the butt isn't working because you just plain don't feel like it?
When your long-term success depends on you focusing on a long term project that is hard but you are having a hard time seeing that far down the road?
When you need to be focusing on the hard projects that don't have a short-term positive impact but you would rather tackle the quick-fix items on your list that have negligible long-term value but give you that short-term feeling of accomplishment?
Or even just drop the task list and play a video game with its constant feeling of accomplishing something but really accomplishing nothing?
What do you do when no one is going to tell you to get out of bed in the morning and get to work and you just don't feel like it?
When you used to thrive on 6 hours of sleep a night and woke up brimming with potential ideas and thrilled with a new day but now you seem to need at least 8 hours and wake up frustrated with all the undone stuff you put off yesterday and still need to do today.
You've stopped yearning to fill your mind with good information from books and lectures and instead want to occupy your mind with trivialities and movies.

At some point, you realize you just might be struggling with depression.

Depression... I can't be struggling with depression. I'm the eternal optimist, I'm the self-motivated one, I'm the one who not only keeps myself motivated but motivates those around me, I'm the one everyone looks too to make sure everything is okay, I'm the leader, the driver, the one others look to for direction and inspiration.

I can't possibly be depressed... can I?

Isn't depression is something experienced by those sad souls who have no ambition in life and just go to work and come home and sit on the couch in front of the TV and live for the weekend or those who don't even have a job or direction in life? That's not me... how can I be depressed?

No one would ever look at me and say, "there goes someone who is depressed", they point to me as a motivated high-achiever. I remember a story where someone working with a successful litigator came to the realization that this lawyer was drunk a large portion of the time and when he questioned him about it, the lawyer called himself a high-functioning drunk. I think I am a high-functioning depressed business owner.

I know that Depression is something that a large portion of the population struggle with, some have struggle with it for periods lasting months or years and others struggle with it at some level their entire life. But that can't be me, right? Depression is for other people and if I am to be brutally honest in the back of my very judgmental mind, depression is an excuse used by those weak people unable to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. How could I be struggling with depression?

Yet the more I want to deny it, the more it looks and acts like depression, then maybe it really is depression.

So where do I go from here... I mean, this is kind of embarrassing, this isn't me, I'm not supposed to be this person. Yet I can see myself making bad decisions, not big ones or even noticeable ones, yet, but bad decisions all the same and I'm starting to see one bad decision leading to another and another in a cascading effect that may not be apparent on the surface just yet but if left unchecked will lead to larger, more impactful decisions. Yet the strange phenomena of the personal embarrassment and guilt feelings of watching myself make bad choices causes me to feel even worse, cycling me further down the path.

Never having struggled with alcoholism myself, I have still learned so much by talking to those people who are in AA alcoholics anonymous. the principles behind that organization are so sound and so in tune with our fallen nature as people, our need of God and our potential as image bearers and children of God. the First step is admitting that you are an alcoholic made famous by the statement "Hi, I'm _______ and I am an alcoholic"

Part of what gives depression its power is the shame -- and the need to conceal those feelings to give off the aura that everything is awesome, business is great and I'm doing fantastic.

Well, here goes: "Hi, I'm Seth, and I'm depressed."

It's a usual writing pattern to start out with a question and then take the reader down the path of looking at the different sides of the issue before the author finally gives the reader the answer. Lets change that up a little bit.

If by "teaching," you mean the traditional idea that education is the process of taking young skulls full of mush and cramming them full of facts, figures, principles and processes that they can later regurgitate on a nicely gradable form of test, then no, I don't think that it's possible to teach entrepreneurialism.

But let's move past that limited thinking and look at whether we can effectively teach a generation to venture out into this area of entrepreneurship. 



I believe that most people naturally have a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, and many of them have great ideas, but what they don’t have are:



1. A practice environment, a place where they have the opportunity to voice their ideas without fear of someone who has never tried to make something themselves squashing their idea out of a warped sense of justifying their own metiority. but have the idea criticized and honed by others who because they are creating themselves aren't threatened by the success of others. An environment where they are allowed to fail without judgement 

2. Someone who teaches them the practical technical skills needed in order to take this idea and actually make it into reality. The basic skills needed to run startup a venture, the skills needed to run a business. This isn't teaching them entrepreneurship, but it is teaching them the skills needed to make sure that their innate entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t get wasted

3. Show them how to look at the world. Sure, you can teach them the skills needed to run a business, but can you teach someone to recognize ‘entrepreneurial opportunity’ - the step before entrepreneurial action?

Simply get students thinking in an entrepreneurial way — get them looking for problems and searching for ways to solve them.



Having that mindset will help them regardless of whether they start their own company, become an employee of an existing company, or even in solving, say, social problems in their communities, No matter what career they choose, it’s important for young people to look at the world through the lens of an entrepreneur.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice. 
The old ways of teaching entrepreneurship with war stories of successful entrepreneurs and a mindset and theories taught in a straight line from the practice of large, existing organizations is dying

I don't think we can teach entrepreneurialism through the traditional model of education, but I do believe that we can facilitate this learning through experiential pedagogy by allowing them to take action and try things out.  teach entrepreneurship with a focus on bringing action and ‘doing’ into the classroom.

We can give them an environment to allow it and the skills to make the most of it but we also have to have a way for those seeds to be planted such that the teaching someone to be ‘entrepreneurial’ becomes about them teaching and learning on their own through ‘doing.’ 

Ever tried teaching how to ride a bicycle in a classroom? It really doesn't matter how much or how well you can teach the theory of why and how a bicycle stays upright, far better to get them outside on a bicycle, trying it, falling down, wobbling and then finally succeeding, then bring them into the classroom and explain to them the physics principles involved in riding a bike. 

Through traditional education you can give them some of the tools needed to succeed, but you also have to get them to see the world differently. It’s both about teaching individuals to build ventures but also teaching them to think and act in an entrepreneurial way. Thinking entrepreneurially is something that everyone can do, but most don't. We need to get people to engage their creative spirit and and then build something that doesn't currently exist except in their imagination. 

This believe and dream for helping people unlock the potential of their creative and entrepreneurial capabilities is why I love working with programs like the Entrepreneurial Program at Hope College This program is the vision of Steve Vanderveen who has been creating a environment of allowing students to learn and grow not through sitting through lectures but by taking their ideas out into the real world and testing them out, to get them to not just engage the idea but to engage the community, to work with mentors and coaches who have experience who will guide them on their way. Steve's Program has launched numerous successful ventures started by students while still in college.

Entrepreneurship education must move beyond the classroom. 

It needs to be brought into the world where business happens. In an academic setting, students will learn, sure, but I don’t know how much they’re going to be inspired or how much they’ll retain.

drill and drill bit with phrase no one buys a solution for a problem they don't have

Millions of drills are sold each year, and yet, I have never met someone who wanted a drill.

What they wanted was a hole.
No one buys a solution for a problem they don't have.
And yet, most marketers jump right into features and benefits, without taking the time to understand if the person on the other end of the conversation/call/letter believes they even have a problem. This seems particularly prevalent in business to business marketing where we just assume that the prospect feels the pain that we are there to fix.
The challenge is this: If you don't think you have a problem, you won't be looking for a solution. You won't wake up in the morning dreaming about how to solve it, or go to bed wondering how much it's costing you to ignore it.
And so the challenge is to find the problem.
Interesting paradox: a lot of people aren't willing to embrace that they have a problem unless they also believe that there's a solution (I don't mind walking places, but if I knew I could somehow fly like superman then being limited to walking would really irk me). Part of selling a problem is hinting that there's a potential solution out there that others are using, or is right around the corner.)
When a prospect comes to the table and says, "we have a problem," then you're both on the same side of the table when it comes time to solve it, "selling" becomes a team sport where the prospect and you are on the same team and the enemy is the problem. 
How do you apply this?
In face to face selling:
If the words coming out of your mouth would naturally have a period at the end of them, then you're doing something wrong. In the early going, what comes out of your mouth should end in question marks followed by long stretches of silence where you listen to their answer which should be more then Yes/No. Open-ended questions and active listening. Ask questions about them, about their business, about their family, about their goals, anything to help you help them to find the pain point that come from the problem. Don't ever start talking about the solution until you have found their pain point. even if that means leaving the meeting without ever telling them about what you do and how wonderful you are.
Putting together marketing pieces that sell:
This is where we so often just want to scream and shout all the features and benefits of of our totally awesome product or solution but that just turns people off, it screams pushy sales guy in a bad suit with a too-short red tie that has been taught the sales system of "always be closing." He just wants to extract all the money he can out of your pocket before he beats a hasty retreat and moves on to terrorizing someone else. You can do better then that. 
You don't have the luxury of asking the questions to find the pain point in those situations so you have to depend on your targeting of who is going to actually read what you are putting together. But how should you best organize monologue to make it actually end up being a dialogue in the mind of the reader and still lead them through the process of finding their pain point and show them the solution. 
I have found this template to be the most simple and effective way of writing copy that actually sells.
1) State the Problem
2) Agitate the problem
3) Provide the solution
Simple sounding, but often hard to produce because every fiber of your being will want to shortchange the first two points and quickly get back to that comfort zone of vomiting up your awesomeness. You need to get into that dialogue going on in the mind of your reader so that when you talk about the problem they will be right there with you and when you agitate the problem they will start to sweat and have their stomach start to tie up in knots and when you finally, finally get to the solution, it brings relief.
How about Marketing online?
Many of the same things stated above will apply to this as well but you should add more of the inbound marketing perspective to it. Before you actually try to sell to them or even agitate the problem you need to attract to you people who self-identify as having a problem or having an interest in a solution. Because your not sending something to them, you are trying to get them to find you. You will need to find the way to get them to come along side of you and admit that they have a problem.
Really, "selling" done properly is coming alongside someone else and helping them to find a solution to their problem. 
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What solution are you seeking? Visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at sethgetz@gmail.com to find out more information.





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There is a need in people to actually give value and often the expectations of others will only get in the way of them giving value.

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How will you engage your employees? Visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at sethgetz@gmail.com for more information.