The 3-P Formula You Must Know for Business and Blog Success

One simple 3-part formula can help ensure success for your blog. The reason this formula works is because it allows you to get inside the minds of your audience. And if you can’t do that, no one will even know your blog exists because they’ll never find it and no one else will ever send them links to it. The reason I call it the 3-P formula is not because it’s 3 parts, but because each part begins with the letter P.

This formula is based on how people get to what they consider valuable content on the web. This only happens one of two ways:

  • They find it in a search – In order to be found in search, the words of your content has to match up with words people type into that search box on Google. And it has to do it better than everyone else who is trying to attract the same people you are.
  • They click on a link sent to them by someone else – Some kind of referring agent (their browser’s home page or friends in social media or by email are several examples) sends a link to a member of your audience. It doesn’t matter whether the link was created automatically or manually.

That’s it.

There is no other way for anyone to reach your blog.

In all the blather out there on the web about “how to get more traffic,” you will find that most folks focus on tactics and tools: use this software, this service. Post at certain times of day or during the week. Measure certain things.

All of which fails to address something deeper: the strategy that leads you to use certain tools and tactics.

The 3-P Formula: People, Problem, Product

I’ve been using this formula successfully with my own blog consulting clients for years, now. Often it’s the one thing that really gets everything to “click” inside the client’s mind and brings them the understanding they never had before. Let’s go over each part of the formula so you too can use it.

The First P: People

The first P in the formula is people. What kind of people are we talking about here? The people you’re trying to reach with your content:

  • Who are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • How educated are they?
  • How old are they?
  • What is their relationship status?
  • Where/how do they work?
  • How do they learn?
  • How much do they earn?
  • How do they think?
  • What social media networks do they use?
  • How technologically savvy are they?
  • What devices and technologies do they use?

Some of this what you might call good ol’ demographics. Some of it is what you would call “technographics.” Knowing this stuff matter. For example, if your ideal customer is older and using a desktop he chose with the help of his son and he is married and approaching retirement, you’ll design your site a certain way in Headway and create content in a specific way that’s best for him.

But if your ideal customer is a middle-aged stay-at/work from home mother  with an iPad, iPhone and laptop, then you’d do things differently.

You can’t talk meaningfully to anyone unless you know exactly who you’re talking to. You can’t talk to everyone: your message will not get even get through. What can you say to everyone that would matter to them? What are the things which everyone searches for on Google or shares with friends?

Damn little, that’s what.

One example of seeing this put to good use is Robb Sutton. His site states it is for entrepreneurs and fathers. This automatically excludes a great many people: women and men who have no children and of course people who do not identify themselves as entrepreneurs. Is this bad? Not a chance: Robb has dramatically increased his chances of reaching the people he wishes to serve. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a great thing.

So the first P is People, and now you know why.

Notice how this has absolutely nothing to do at all with you? Nothing to do with who you are, what you’re selling or what skills you have. People don’t care about you. They care about what they want. They care about what you can do for them, but even that won’t happen until they know you really understand them. And understanding begins with knowing who they are as people.

Let’s move on to the second P.

The Second P: Problem

Problem is the problem a person has which causes them to either deliberately search for something or be interested in something when it’s sent their way by a well-meaning friend. This problem could be something acute, such as a funny bump he just found on his skin, or it could be diffuse, such as being pushed around by a bank’s bureaucratic labyrinth time and time again.

People and problem are so interconnected it’s hard to separate them. Indeed, “problem” here is really the second part of the sentence “People who have X problem.”

This is where the topic of your blog really connects with folks… or doesn’t. If you’re blogging about tax help, for example, the location of your customer matters a great deal, as taxes are different all over the world. You’ll write or create content differently for older or younger people. Different things will appeal to high-net-worth clients as compared to middle class recently unemployed people.

In fact, let’s take the same problem and look at it as faced by two different people: recovering from and managing unemployment. Sure, there are some tips and services that would be important to anyone who suddenly finds himself unemployed.

But you’d do things differently if you were targeting the well-to-do who suddenly find themselves ejected from senior management positions as compared to recent college grads who can’t even get employment in the first place and has tens of thousands of student loan debt hanging over their heads.

So… what—specifically—is/are the problem(s) that you help your specific people with?

Again, this is not about what you do. Nobody cares if you’re an accountant. Can you help a middle-aged “empty nester” woman from the United States figure out her self-employed taxes? She’s worried she’s screwing it all up and missing out on deductions or will trigger an audit. That’s what someone—a very specific someone—would care about.

Now that we see what the Problem component is and how it’s tied in with the People component, let’s move on to the third part of the 3-P Formula.

The Third P: Product

So, now you know who you’re talking to and you know what problems you solve for them.

How are you going to solve them? What will they buy from you to solve their problem?

This is of course is strongly related to people and problem: different people use different kinds of tools to learn and execute tasks in life. Some prefer to watch video or read text. Some want to see examples while others learn by doing. Some have a Kindle while others wait for the DVDs or printed books to arrive in the mail. Some want a mentor while others want a servant.

What will you create to sell or give to the people you serve to help with their problem?

That is your product.

The Big Mistake People Make

The big mistake people make in all this is that they start with a product first and then try to figure out how to get as many people as possible to buy it. They don’t take into account that nobody wants it or that it doesn’t appeal to anyone. Notice how Product comes last in the formula. That’s because without People and Problem, you really have no product.

Putting it all Together in Headway

Ah, you knew there had to be a connection to Headway in there somewhere, didn’t you? Of course! Here are some blog and content tips you can use to implement the 3-P formula in your blog:

  • Address the 3 P’s right on your home page. In fact, hit them right between the eyes with it. Create a separate home page and use Content blocks and Media blocks to really let the right people know they’ve found their new best friend online. Use custom code blocks create contact forms, sign-up forms, or place buy button code.
  • Organize your blog categories around the way your people think of the Problem(s). Instead of using normal category archive pages, create separate pages in WordPress and then use Content blocks to filter by category. See how WorkLife Nation (a consulting client of mine) does this to create much nicer-looking high-SEO-value pages.
  • Go beyond the norm and incorporate highly-relevant links into your navigation bar. Use WordPress’s menu system (Headway 2.x link, Headway 3 link) along with Headway’s Navigation blocks to create amazing high-value links in your main navigation your ideal customer will want to click on.

Over to You

Any ways you can think of to make the 3 P’s happen on your site? Share them in the comments! Have any questions? Ask away in the comments!

Spread the word!

6 Responses

  1. Hi Michael

    “The big mistake people make in all this is that they start with a product first and then try to figure out how to get as many people as possible to buy it.”

    Guilty as charged.

    Love the simplicity of the message.

  2. Wow, that is a very good study of the success formula, it used to be 4 P’s and is still 4 P’s for the offline marketing i.e, product, price, promotion and place.
    But, I have learnt a new success formula today from you for getting successful online. I have noted it down very well with me.

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