Position Your Offer as a Solution
When you get down to it, everything we do in direct marketing is based on coming up with a solution to a problem. The way we sell our products and services is to identify people’s needs and wants, and then position our offerings as the fulfillment of those desires.
When I think of problem/solution marketing, NetFlix immediately comes to mind. What’s the problem with Netflix? Nothing. As far as I can tell, it’s the perfect Internet-driven direct marketing business. In fact, it’s a solution to a problem.
What problem? It goes back to the birth of the Internet, when everyone who could write code was setting up Web businesses. Most of these Internet companies treated the Web as just another medium and tried to jam an existing business model onto it. Most of these companies went broke, and the few who didn’t saved themselves by cutting costs, scaling back and changing their modus operandi ... just in time.
Netflix did the opposite. It created a business specifically for the Internet. (Think mail-order movie-lending library.) I suspect it’s only about 20 percent of the way to where it’s going. (Think downloading movies directly to your home.)
What Netflix Does Now
The way Netflix works: you go online and open an account by giving Netflix your credit card number. The company charges you $20 a month. You then can browse its library of 15,000 movies and create a queue of those you want to rent. If the movie hasn’t been released, Netflix puts it on another file and moves it to your queue when it’s in-stock. It sends you three DVDs at a time, by mail. They arrive within a day or two, and come in an ingenious envelope that, with a few simple rips and folds, transforms into the return envelope. You pay no postage and handling costs coming or going. And you can keep the movies as long as you want; no late charges. When you send a movie back, the next one on your list is shipped.