Solving a Better Problem

The three-step process for identifying the right problem to solve

At the core of our responsibilities as Account Planners is to help solve problems. While there is plenty of advice available on how to go about finding, framing and presenting solutions, there's relatively little on actually how to identify the right problem to solve in the first place. This tutorial will provide tools and tips for interrogating a brand's current situation in order to uncover the root problems that need to be solved.


At the start of a project, the client gives you the problem they need solved. However, what they are giving you is their problem. And the client's problem and the customer's problem are usually two different things. As an Account Planner, if you aren't ultimately focused on solving the customer's problem, you're rarely going to be successful in solving the client's problem.


This email-based tutorial includes three key lessons on how to better diagnose and address the most pressing problems.

I. DEFINE THE PROBLEM: The five areas to investigate to understand the client’s problem / The importance of translating a client problem into a consumer problem / 149 questions to ask before you begin / Proven tool for helping you separate the symptom from the disease

II. REFRAME THE OPPORTUNITIES: Why boring questions lead to boring solutions / Turning problem statements into opportunity statements / Using a brainwriting approach to generate hypothetical paths forward / Downloadable framework for generating new and more interesting problems to solve

III. SELECT WHAT TO SOLVE FOR: The search for a “well-rounded” problem / Identifying which problem to solve first / Scoring system for measuring the quality of each problem

Format: Email tutorial

Structure: Three lessons with accompanying worksheets delivered via email over the course of three days

Time Commitment: 10 minutes per day


Anyone – a current student or a prospective one – is invited to set up a 15-minute phone call if there is a question about course material; an inquiry for custom, on-site training for your company; or a desire to discuss and work through a project you're currently working on. So let's talk! Click here to find and book a time.

Your Instructor

Dan Carlton
Dan Carlton

Dan Carlton is the founder of The PARAGRAPH Project. Founded in 2005 to provide marketers an alternative to market research and brand strategy that is either uninspired or over-intellectualized, PARAGRAPH has become recognized as a leader in infusing research with creativity and developing fresh marketing approaches for clients mired in fiercely competitive industries. Over the years, PARAGRAPH has partnered with companies such as Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, Dropbox, Fruit of the Loom, Habitat for Humanity, Land O'Lakes, Google, and Coca-Cola, among others. You can follow him on LinkedIn.

Course Curriculum

  2. Reframe the Opportunities
Available in days
days after you enroll
  3. Select What to Solve For
Available in days
days after you enroll

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start.
How does course material get released?
To aid in comprehension and retention, each course and tutorial is broken up into a handful of sessions with one session being released each day over the course of 3-5 days.
How will I know when I can access my course materials?
Students will receive an email each day a new session within their course is made available.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

Get started now!