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  • Writer's pictureJillian Felty

What Jan’s Problems Have to Do With Your Brand

Part 3 of the StoryBrand Framework

Problems – we’ve all got them, we all face them, and we all want them solved. As consumers, when we go on the hunt to purchase a product or find a service, oftentimes we’re searching the internet because we have a problem that needs solving.

A broken AC in the middle of summer. Skincare issues we’ve been battling for years. Clothing for our brand new, fancy job. Marketing services to help our small business, etc.

You name it, someone out there solves it.

But as businesses and brands, we tend to fall into the bad habit of talking about what we do rather than the problem we help solve. We talk about our amazing customer service, how our skincare line is nontoxic, or how our marketing services produce amazing results for our clients.

Here’s the honest truth – your customer doesn’t care about what you do. They care about solving their problems.

If you have a product or service-based business, reframing your marketing materials (website, emails, and socials) to address how you help your audience solve their problems is game-changing. How do you do it? By using the third part of the StoryBrand Framework – the Problem.


Wait a sec. 😅 What’s the StoryBrand Framework?

The StoryBrand Framework is a proven marketing framework built around the 7 elements of story - Identity Transformation, Hero, Problem, Guide, Plan, Success, or Failure. Essentially, it takes your brand’s message and frames it in a story-like format, so that your customers connect deeper with your brand, right from the start (kind of like getting hooked to a show, like The Office).

(P.S. Want to work directly with our StoryBrand Certified Guide on your brand’s story? Schedule a call here.✨)

The Problem Fuels the Purchase.

When it comes to your marketing, leading with the problem helps break down barriers. It not only demonstrates that you actually understand the problem people are facing, but it also helps fuel their buying decisions.

The problem they're facing is a pain point for them that they need solved – it’s the very REASON why people are searching for you, so you should be talking about it all over the place.

Plus, when you talk about their problem, your audience starts to feel understood and cared for, making it easier for them to trust you with their time and money.

Customers LOVE it when their problem is repeated back to them, and in today’s world, that goes a LONG, long way.

The Problem in Action ~ Jan from The Office.

Need an example of the problem? Let’s take a look at Jan from The Office.

Ahhh, Jan. People love Jan. They’re here for her chaotic energy and constant self-sabotaging. Throughout the show, Jan went from being totally sane to spiraling to completely losing it (now that my friends, is some character development lol).

The thing about Jan is she has problems. She’s a classic career woman in an unhealthy work environment. She’s looking for love and picks the wrong person. She’s got crippling self-esteem issues, and as her psychiatrist puts it, has “self-destructive tendencies.”

So what do alllll of these problems have to do with your brand?

They are out in the open because Jan talks about them.

Now, I’m not telling you to air out your dirty laundry. I’m telling you to talk about your client’s problems. Talk about their roadblocks, about what’s stopping them from getting what they want. And then, don’t stop talking about their problems.

Because ultimately, the solution to their problem is what you’re selling. Your product is a solution to a pain point, so act and talk about it like it is.

So, What Does This Mean for YOU?

Just as Jan has 99 problems, so does your customer. But your business really only solves one of those problems. So, it’s important to narrow down what your audience is facing into a singular problem – that way you can tell a clear, cohesive story that really hits home.

The problem is what’s stopping them from solving things on their own. And that one problem has three important parts: external, internal, and philosophical.

  • External: what is physically stopping them from getting to what they want?

  • Internal: how the external problem makes them feel. This is where buying decisions are made. People can have a problem all day long but until they feel something about it, they won’t take action. That’s why speaking to their feelings is incredibly important.

  • Philosophical: why is this problem just wrong? Why should it be easier than what they are feeling? What’s the injustice that shouldn’t be happening?

Breaking down one problem into three different parts helps you “drive straight” with your marketing materials, because like I mentioned earlier, it’s so easy to lose sight of the problem and simply talk about what you do.

Here’s an example of what I mean by breaking down one problem:

Problem: My AC is broken in the middle of summer.

  • External: My AC is broken, and it’s 105° outside. I don’t know how to fix it.

  • Internal: I’m feeling frustrated and heat exhausted. I just want it fixed.

  • Philosophical: I shouldn’t have to suffer in a hot house all day. Thankfully, “AC Fixers” can help me.

3 Questions to Find Your Customer’s Problem.

Now, it’s your turn to discover what problem your customer is facing, how it makes them feel, and why it’s just plain wrong that they have to face it in the first place.

  1. What physical problem do you solve? What pain point are you helping your clients avoid?

  2. What is actually standing in their way? Make it a real, physical thing. TIP: don’t make “lack of knowledge” the problem UNLESS you sell a course that will teach them to gain the knowledge. Tap into the real problem.

  3. Don’t make your competitors their problem. It villanizes them – and makes you look bad.

  4. Speak to their real-life problems!

  1. How does that problem make them feel?

  2. TIP: use actual, real feeling words. Remember: people make buying decisions off of feelings. You can go a long time with a problem, but until it actually impacts the way you feel, you won’t take action. Speak to the feeling they have when they’ve reached the end of their rope with this problem.

  1. What’s the injustice here? Why is it wrong that they feel this way? Why shouldn’t they be experiencing this?

  2. The philosophical problem should move the story forward. It should reassure your audience that you understand the problem and you KNOW a better way because you have one.

  3. TIP: A thought starter for this might be “You shouldn’t have to ___.” Or “We think it’s just plain wrong that ____.” Or “There ought to be _____.”

Once you’ve got your answers, you’re ready to pivot your marketing strategy into a compelling story that hits home to your customers and builds trust for them to buy.

The Most Important Talking Point.

Here’s the truth – if you skip the problem, you miss out on the most important talking point: what your customer is actually feeling and the entire reason they are talking to you in the first place. However, when you address the problem they’re facing, not only do they feel heard and understood, but you also invite them into a story where they are the hero, and you’re the guide that helps them solve the problem.

Need some guidance on how to implement the problem into your marketing strategy? Schedule a call with our StoryBrand Certified Guide and see how you can write a brand message that invites your customers into a compelling story. ✨

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