So, you’ve worked out who your ideal customers are, excellent.  Now what?

Next, you can figure out their problems so that you can understand how to solve those problems.  (Yes, I’m calling them problems. Not issues.  For the same reasons, I’ll never be caught ‘reaching out’ to someone and that I will always write properly grammar-checked WhatsApp messages. Alright, less of the sanctimonious Pollard, just get on with it.)

Sounds easy however what customers say their problems are, is often different from what they actually are.  For if they knew what their problems were, surely they’d address them?!

So with our cunning wizardry, we can work out what their real problems are.

Confused?  Read on.

I’ve got a surprisingly simple tool to work it out so you can get to the root cause to fully understand what lies beneath.  (It’s one I even use on myself when I’m confusing myself.)

Why do you need to know you customers’ problems?

Customer problems are a gift to you.  The best businesses use the feedback their customers give them to create products and services or tweak existing ones.  This means you have a guaranteed market.

You might have the best idea in the world but it won’t sell if it doesn’t address an existing need or desire.

If you’re interested in the theory, there are four basic psychological reasons people buy products or services:

PAIN (or relief from pain)

PROBLEM (solution to a problem)

PLEASURE (delivery of pleasure)


If you can figure what emotion is driving your customers’ purchasing habits, you can develop the right products and services and attract the people who ALREADY want to buy it.   Most products and services fall into the ‘solution to problem’ category.

To work out what the real solution is to the problem, the simple technique is to ask ‘why’ five times.  That’s it.

You start with a surface-level issue that needs solving, and you ask “Why?” five times to pull out the pain points associated with it.

Are we there yet?

You may sound like a persistent, inquisitive child but what this simple trick does is drill down from the surface to the real reason.

Honestly, it works.  I even do it with myself sometimes when I can’t work out why something is bugging me.

Get a handy workbook to help. [convertkit form=5020722]

Let’s take a simple example.

Earlier today, I thought I was being clumsy but my butter-fingers were actually a symptom of an underlying problem.

This is how it went.

I’m cross with myself for being clumsy by dropping and smashing a plate.


Because I’m hungry.


Because it’s nearly 3 pm and I’m only just about to eat my lunch.


Because I’ve been working all afternoon.


Because I went on Facebook at 1 pm which pushed my other high priority work back into the afternoon.


Because I ignored my body’s need to take a break and eat.

So, the apparent problem was me being clumsy. However, I did it because I was hangry (angry with hunger) and the root cause of this was ignoring my body’s signals when it said I needed to take a break and eat at 1 pm.  So, to avoid being clumsy, I don’t need to stop dropping plates, I need to take a break at 1 pm and eat.

So, can you see how asking why repeatedly helps identify the root cause of the problem?

It may not take five ‘whys’, it may take one, it may take ten.  Five is an average.

Over to you

Think of a couple of examples of problems your customers have shared with you.

If you don’t know what this is – ask them.  Or look in relevant Facebook groups or communities, try Quora to see what types of questions your ideal customers ask (BTW, I’m not giving you permission to get lost down the rabbit hole that is the internet here.  Give yourself ten minutes to find one customer problem, then come back.)

Get my handy workbook to help you work out what your customers want (before they do).[convertkit form=5020722]

Repeat this exercise for three clients.

Can you identify any patterns?  What practical problems do they have? What desires do they have?


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