Before I started my own business, my mentor taught me one of the most important lessons in business: all businesses exist because of problems. If you aren’t solving problems and you’re in business, you have a big one hanging over your head.

Years ago, I had a client that thought rich parents wanted their kids to look uber cool at fancy restaurants. And so he tried to sell them expensive, stylish bibs – but he struggled to gain traction. It took me some hard-earned experience to learn this, but over time I came to realize that his business had a problem – he created a solution for a problem that didn’t exist. In truth, there wasn’t a strong market for stylish, relatively high-end bibs. Regardless of whether he kicked ass at his SEO or social media, his business was always going to struggle because he failed to identify and solve for a real-life pain point. 

And hey, maybe he wanted his kids to be the star of his business, but at the core of his business, there was a disconnect with his audience. Lucky for him, we solved his problem, or better yet, we found that his business solved no problem (in economic terms, there was no demand that wasn’t being met), and that was the end of it.

Had he not figured that out early, goodbye savings, and hello debt! It’s sad, but this is all too common. You don’t want to be in that position. You want to figure out whether your business is viable right away, so even if you are burning through your savings, or in debt, you know it will pay off in the end. But how can you know for certain the waters are safe before you jump off the cliff? You simply walk to the water and check it out first. Common sense huh? Well in business, you do search, my friend.

What separates search advertising from all other forms of advertising? It’s full people looking for stuff. At the crux of search, we have people looking to solve problems. “Alexa, my toilet is leaking, what do I do?” Call a plumber, am I right?

People use search to satisfy a need or a want. For this reason, search tis a much more powerful tool than simply hunting for customers through other forms of marketing and advertising. You find out whether there really is a problem, how customers are currently solving said problem, and finally use it to improve your solution. So let’s take a deeper dive and figure out how you do that.

To use search to find out if there is really a problem, there are two initial approaches. And they build on one another. The first is doing keyword research. The second is advertising on those keywords and measuring the motivation of search users through click-through rate and conversion rate.


Finding Out If People Are Looking For Your Product or Service (aka. solution)

To find out if people have the problem and are actively looking to solve it, you can start by using the Google Keyword Planner or some other keyword tool.

In some cases, especially if your product is very niche, you might only find keywords that cover the problem in broad strokes.  For example, you may have a great new tool that solves the problem of having to flag down a taxi. You may have just created the first Uber or Lyft.  Because these solutions are so new, there might not be people searching for “ride-sharing app in Los Angeles,” and instead may be searching for “taxi service.” So finding relevant keywords is more important here than finding out if people are searching for your specific solution.

In other cases, you might find keywords that are extremely specific to your product or service. If it’s an untapped market, you might be walking into a goldmine Here’s a simple example, you may start a business that fixes iPhone 5 screens. So you then go and use a keyword tool to find out how many people are searching for this solution and bid on those keywords. You might also be able to find out if people are searching for iPhone 6, 7, and 8 repairs, and expand your service offering. You could even find a prime location to set up shop because you find that people are desperately searching  for “iPhone 6 screen repair in Los Angeles.”


Measuring the Motivation Levels of People with the Problem

Once you’ve found if and how people are searching for your solution and created a product, it’s time to start advertising on those terms. In advertising, you’ll basically be looking for how their motivation works, more specifically you’ll be finding out:


  • What motivates them?
  • How motivated they are?


To understand what motivates your potential consumers, you’ll be using your ads and landing pages, assessing click-through rates and conversion rates.

In your ads, you’ll want to create an A/B test with your strongest value propositions and analyze which one gets a better click-through rate. Using the example above, if you repair iPhone Screens, you could set up a test that uses headlines “same day service” and “free diagnosis.” The ad with the highest click-through rates would strongly indicate what matters most to people. When they click through, you’ll link to specific landing pages.  It’s also recommended to set up a strong A/B test to see what value props and messages resonate best . The winning message will also indicate what motivates your audience.

To find out how motivated they are – you could analyze your calls to see what feedback you get, look at the time to conversion, paths to conversion, and potentially other site metrics.

To paint an easy example, think of a lightbulb. Someone with a broken light bulb   in the only light fixture in the house will be extremely motivated to solve their problem, whereas someone who has 30 light bulbs on a chandelier might not even notice the light bulb to consider it a problem. Each business is going to be unique because they often solve different problems and each has a unique solution.


Final Thoughts

Essentially, you can use search to figure out if your business is just an echo chamber, or if it’s a viable business. It’s a form of early product validation. The biggest fear that I think a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses have is — will my product or service work? And if so, how will it work? Starting with search could help you mitigate that fear and potentially help you improve your product, service, and messaging.

But to be honest, not everyone has the guts to face their business challenges head on to figure out if their business actually works or not. And sadly these people are really just afraid of admitting defeat. But it is not about defeat. The true entrepreneur embraces truth above ego, because the true entrepreneur is sincerely after success and understands it as a process rather than merely its never-ending shadow as a goal. If you are ready to put your business to the test and hone in on what really makes your business shine, try search, but try it with us. We don’t just run search campaigns and manage accounts, we are expert business developers, strategists that deliver business insights. Insights that businesses pay big bucks for because these are the kind of insights that turn businesses around. So don’t hesitate. Take the next step.