An extraordinarily helpful marketing metaphor has now expired. For years marketers have asked themselves whether their product is a ‘vitamin’ or an ‘aspirin’. That is, does my product resolve an immediate, painful problem? Or does it increase performance but in a way that may be difficult to quickly see?

Asking this question is helpful to understand how much urgency your prospect will place on solving the problem you fix. While it’s important to know, today’s market begs marketers to ask a different question. But before we get there, let’s look at a reality of marketing your product today.

Harried, Over-Worked Buyers Can’t Choke Down More Medicine

When your marketing outreaches or sales calls get to your target buyer, what’s going on in her day? Is she passively waiting for your value to come across her desk so she can start to purchase?

Of course not. She’s faced with dozens of competing priorities. Actions that have been agreed to by her and her team, projects that she wants to start — pains she already is driving to solve. This idea of the over-worked buyer is captured perfectly by Jill Konrath in her must-read Snap Selling book (a must for marketers, not just sales people).

Now your message comes across your buyer’s desk. For her to decide to add your offer to her workload, she has to do more than realize that the pain you solve is important enough to warrant buying your aspirin. After all, she’s already bought different kinds of medicine to calm different kinds of pains.

For her to buy your aspirin the pain doesn’t simply need to be so great that she wants to solve it. It has to be so great that it should be prioritized ahead of the other pains she’s already trying to fix.

She is unlikely to take on yet another project while other critical projects are underway. In fact, I would apply the “10x” rule here. That is, is the pain you solve 10x greater than the other pains she’s currently addressing? While marketers are justifiably proud of their products, that hurdle is a very high one to overcome to get repeatable sales.

Ask Yourself, Are You a “Pill” or a “Powder”?

Rather than trying to convince your buyer that you are 10x more important than the projects she’s working through or queued up, you should take a different tack. Think about the nature of her project queue. She likely has a number of medium or long-term projects that won’t show results for an extended period. There may be lengthy implementations, long training curves, and extensive evaluations. That leaves your buyer trying to demonstrate the value of the aspirins she’s already bought.

If you have product / market fit buyers will see the value that you provide. Bludgeoning them with repeated reference to the value won’t advance your case once they already grasp it. They are thinking of the five projects that are behind schedule that they need to work on when they get off the phone.

But what if you can show your buyer that you can address a pain quickly? A fast-acting solution could relieve pain with light training, minimal implementation, little process change, etc. Now you’re not a pill that is swallowed, digested, and slow to act. Instead, you’re a powder that she can quaff quickly and move on to the next pain.

By emphasizing the simplicity of consuming your solution you can be more readily prioritized as a new project. The barrier of being 10x more effective disappears. Instead, your buyer can get a quick result to demonstrate value to her stakeholders so she can get space to complete the longer term projects she’s already committed to. Emphasize this “powder” message in your marketing content and your sales enablement materials to make it reach prospects throughout your funnel.

So the next time you ask your colleagues whether your offer is a pill or a powder, think about how you’d be consumed by your buyer. And don’t be a pill.