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Solving a Problem vs. Selling a Product

Give Homebuyers What They Need, and Get What You Need in Return


blisterboxIt was 5:30am Vegas time on Friday, and I was preparing to leave for a 9am flight back to Pittsburgh. I had a lot of great meetings at the International Builders Show, drank many too many cocktails, and acquired a couple of painful, raw blisters along the way.

The plain Band-Aids I’d packed weren’t helping my cause, so I thought I’d see what the folks at the Four Seasons put in my mini bar. I was looking for Neosporin, but waiting for me there was something even better. The words “help. I have a blister” jumped right out at me.

Good marketing certainly doesn’t guarantee a good product, but this looked promising. Rather than simply selling me something – ointment, they were offering me a solution that addressed my problem directly.

$5 from the mini bar is a lot for a few medicated bandages, so I read the back of the package to see if it was worth it.

“Hydrocolloid is usually used in hospitals for serious things like third degree burns and leg ulcers. But you shouldn’t feel guilty about using it on something as small as a blister. There is enough hydrocolloid to go around.”

blister2Both charming and informative. Sold!

So, did it work? Absolutely! Within an hour, the pain was gone. The bandages stayed on my feet all day, and by the following weekend the skin healed completely. Whenever I have a blister or a burn from now on, I know what I’ll be using. They do the job right and are more cost effective overall. Because they focused on me, the customer, I’m also curious about what else Help Remedies has to offer.

There are two morals to this story for homebuilding professionals.

#1 – Look at your product through the eyes of the end customer.

Don’t sell a product, service or feature. Solve a problem. If you demonstrate what something can do for a homebuyer’s health or lifestyle for instance, they can often be persuaded to pay a little extra. The trick is to figure out where they're coming from, and focus on the benefits you can bring to the table that will satisfy their needs.

#2 – The best ideas can be borrowed and made your own.

Now, I’m not suggesting espionage and intrigue between homebuilders and product and material suppliers. But, there’s a lot we can learn from sharing ideas with each other and looking at what other industries are doing.

Over drinks at the IBS Show Village, Ryan Ortman of Woodside Homes said something to this effect. “Other industries are light years ahead of us in using (digital) technology in cool ways. The solutions are there. We just need to get on the ball and apply them to our own industry.” That’s true, and we should. I’d say that we can learn just as much from a marketing, sales and service perspective.

So, where can you share problems and ideas, and get information, tools and resources to address them head on?

Become an Alliance member or sponsor (if you aren’t already), and participate in one or more of our Action GroupsGetting Paid, Codes, Velocity and Engagement. These groups have been created based on feedback from Alliance builders and will be launched in Q1 of 2013.

On a final note, thanks to Help Remedies for the inspiration and for solving my problem. Very cool.


Betsy Scott
Director, Best Practices Research Alliance

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