A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Yo mama’s so stupid, she asked for a price check at the 99-cent store” (12/18)
“In a dog-eat-dog market, get yourself a big dog” (12/18)
“When work feels overwhelming, remember that you’re going to die” (12/18)
“A cookie a day keeps the sadness away” (12/18)
“Is anything okay?” (Jewish restaurant joke) (12/17)
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Entry from May 29, 2014
“Sell the problem, not the solution” (advertising adage)

"Sell the problem, not the solution” is a popular advertising adage. A potential customer must first realize that he or she has a problem—and then that potential customer will seek a product or services for a solution. “Many entrepreneurs know little about marketing and sell the problem rather than the solution” was cited in print in 1982. “They ‘sell the problem’ before they try to ‘sell the solution’” was cited in 1988. “Sell the problem, then sell the solution” was cited in print in 1995 and “First you package and sell the problem, then you package and sell the solution to the problem.” was cited in 1999.

American author and public speaker Seth Godin wrote “Sell the Problem” on his Seth’s Blog on August 25, 2010. Godin is often credited—incorrectly—with coining this term.


Google Books
Up Front Financing:
The Entrepreneur’s Guide

By Aaron David Silver
New York, NY; J. Wiley
1982
Pg. 205:
Many entrepreneurs know little about marketing and sell the problem rather than the solution. Entrepreneurs are happy to tell a buyer that he has problems, but the buyer knows how stupid he is for not having found the solutions himself.

Google Books
Surviving Corporate Transition:
Rational management in a world of mergers, layoffs, start-ups, takeovers, divestitures, deregulation, and new technologies

By William Bridges
New York, NY: Doubleday
1988
Pg. 82:
They “sell the problem” before they try to “sell the solution.” In fact, wise managers find that if they put adequate energy into selling the problem, the solution needs relatively little selling.

Rangelands (April 1995)
Pg. 43:
Communication Between Range Managers and Rangers
A Federal Range Manager’s Perspective

Paul J. Butler
Pg. 45:
THE FACTOR OF FAIRNESS: >i>Sell the problem, then sell the solution. Scrapbook

RogerEbert.com
FIGHT CLUB: PUNCHING IN THE DARK
by Jim Emerson
October 25, 1999
(...)
Anyone familiar with the history and methodology of advertising will notice a few salient themes emerging here. Advertising is most often not about selling you a product, it’s about selling you an image of your own identity, and about creating an identification with a product, which leads to the addictive phenomenon known as “brand loyalty.” And some of the most successful early advertising campaigns (in the late 1800s) were for soap products that sold themselves as solutions to an advertiser-defined “problem” (whether it was “germs” or “b.o.” or, later, “ring around the collar"). First you package and sell the problem, then you package and sell the solution to the problem.

Google Books
Good News!: How to Get the Best Possible Media Coverage for Your School
By Gail A. Conners
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
2000
Pg. 6:
Don’t sell the solution, sell the problem. Is it serious? What would happen if you did nothing?

On the Commons
December 5, 2005
Who Decides Who’s Sick?
Is shortness a disease? How about shyness? In search of fatter profits, the drug industry invents new diseases.

by Jonathan Rowe
(...)
Sell the problem, not the solution, the old huckster adage goes; and nowhere is this process more insidious than in regards to drugs.

OCLC WorldCat reocrd
It’s Time to Sell the Problem For more success in closing sales, spend more time exploring client issues during the factfinder
Author: M A Silverman
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Service Corp., c1999-
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Advisor today. 100, no. 12, (2005): 62-62
Database: ArticleFirst

The Christian Science Monitor
Drug ads sell a problem, not a solution
By Jonathan Rowe / August 21, 2006
POINT REYES STATION, CALIF.
It is an old saying in the advertising trade that you sell the problem, not the solution. That helps explain why the media today are awash with images of disease. Erectile dysfunction, depression, stress, attention deficit disorder, on and on – you can’t escape them and the sense of looming peril that they conjure up.

Twitter
Ellen Bristol
‏@EllenBristol
Improve Sales Performance - Sell the Problem, Not the Solution: http://EzineArticles.com/?id=1750467
11:15 AM - 9 Dec 2008

OCLC WorldCat record
Sell the Problem The Prospect Will Beg for a Solution!
Author: Krumroy, Robert E.
Publisher: I-B Pub 2009.
Edition/Format: Book : English

Lundberg Media
July 27, 2010
Four Keys to Successful Change
(...)
Sell the problem, not the solution.
People aren’t in the market for solutions to problems they don’t see or understand, writes William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions. For example, prehistoric humans were probably more inclined to give up their hunter-gatherer ways to grow crops once they really understood that the wooly mammoths were dying out.

Seth’s Blog
Sell the problem
Posted by Seth Godin on August 25, 2010
No business buys a solution for a problem they don’t have.

And yet, most business to business marketers 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.

Twitter
Entrepreneur Week
‏@NYEW
Sell the problem, NOT the solution. There isn’t one person in the world who buys a solution for a problem they don’t perceive having.
2:32 PM - 18 Nov 2013

Twitter
Robert Clay
‏@marketingwizdom
Words of Wizdom: Sell the problem. No business buys a solution for a problem they don’t have—Seth Godin
12:33 PM - 31 Jan 2014

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Thursday, May 29, 2014 • Permalink