The title of this post is actually a quote from one of the instructor chefs at the CIA's cooking school. Author Michael Ruhlman, in "The Making of a Chef" chronicles his time at the legendary cooking school, the oldest and most influentional in America.
The comment came in response to a student's unique suggestion of how to keep hollandaise sauce at just the right temperature to keep it from "breaking". The chef had never thought of his idea, and encouraged him (and the rest of the class) to approach a problem from a unique angle (outside the box" thinking?).
This line of thought falls right into a recent post by Seth Godin entitled "Sell the Problem." He noted that many business to business marketers tend to 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.
The challenge is this: if your organization doesn't think it has 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 marketing challenge is to sell the problem.
I'm passionate about helping churches thrive by turning challenges (problems) into opportunities. It's very personal with me - I want to understand prospective clients so well that I know their situation almost as well as a leader or staff member. In fact, that statement, made a couple of years ago by a pastor, is one of the highlights of my career!
It's my job to understand their problems.
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.
All I have to do now is follow the recipe - a series of problems solved.