Tips & Advice

The 3 Types of Problems Your Business Should Solve

Ryan Feyer

Every business solves a problem. In fact, if you don’t solve a problem or make people’s lives better in some way, you probably shouldn’t be in business.

Did you know there’s actually 3 kinds of problems your business solves? External problems, internal problems, and philosophical problems. Let’s walk through those now.

External problems

External problems are the obvious problems your product or service solves. 

Let’s say you manufacture rakes used for collecting leaves in people’s lawns. The external problem your customer is facing is a cluttered and messy lawn because leaves have fallen off their tree(s). Your product solves that problem by helping them clean up their leaves in a more efficient manner than picking them up one by one with their hands.

Believe it or not, people don’t buy products because they solve external problems. Think of all of those useless gadgets you’ve seen that solve problems you didn’t even know existed. Remember Handerpants?

Examples of brands solving external problems:

Internal problems

Internal problems are the emotional problems your product or service relieves.

People don’t buy rakes just because they can clean up leaves faster than picking them up one-by-one. People buy rakes because they relieve frustration. The frustration of having a messy yard. The frustration of dead grass underneath the leaves in the spring. The frustration that would ensue by trying to pick up those leaves with a shovel or a fork or your bare hands. 

The rake saves us from being the embarrassment of the neighborhood because our yard looks the worst. The rake also gives us a pathway to being proud of our lawn. It gives us pride in being able to clean our lawn quickly and accomplish something of value.

These are the reasons we buy products. We buy things because of how they make us feel and the relief they provide to our emotions.

Examples of brands solving internal problems:

  • McDonalds: I want food fast and cheap
  • Madcap: I want sustainably-sourced, flavor-rich coffee
  • BMW: I want to feel noticeably luxurious

Philosophical problems

Finally, our businesses also solve philosophical problems. Philosophical problems are the problems at-large in the greater worldwide story that our businesses address. A public declaration of our policy and aims.

While this may sound a little too aetherial, it’s actually quite simple. When it comes to the rake: everyone deserves a clean and beautiful home. Philosophical problems address the larger issues of humanity which our products contribute to solving.

Examples of brands solving philosophical problems:

  • McDonalds: People deserve warm food without breaking the bank
  • Madcap: Growers and consumers deserve an equitably exceptional experience
  • BMW: Every driving experience should be an ultimate experience

What these problems mean for marketing

Like I mentioned above, people don’t buy products because they solve external problems. They buy products that solve their internal problems. Yes, your website and marketing materials should address the external problems, but the reason someone will buy is because of how you solve their internal problems. 

Lead with the internal problems, follow up with the external problems, and breathe into all of your marketing the essence of the philosophical problems.

Last updated February 23, 2021.