Hitting ‘Em Where It Hurts: The Power Of Pain Point Marketing

By November 6, 2013June 29th, 2015Marketing Insights & Strategy
Hitting 'Em Where It Hurts: The Power Of Pain Point Marketing

Pain sucks. Yes, pain can make us stronger, it’s a necessary part of life, yada yada yada. But let’s be honest. Nobody likes pain, whether it’s emotional, physical or mental.

It’s in our nature as human beings to avoid pain and seek pleasure whenever possible.

Not every instance of pain revolves around a life and death situation. One person who’s headed for a messy divorce could be stressed about finding an attorney. Another person could just be annoyed about not being able to find good sushi.

Regardless of where our pain of the moment falls on the seriousness scale, we want it to go away. And we’ll be grateful to whoever makes it go away.

Marketing To Pain Points

That’s why marketing to customer pain points is such an effective strategy. Alleviate that pain and we become more than the seller of a product.

We become the solver of a problem. A friend that helps someone out of a jam. A helper. The go-to guy. And if that customer or one of their friends or family members ever experiences a similar pain, guess who they’ll contact?

People make purchases based on emotion, using logic or fact to justify these emotional decisions, and just about every kind of pain has an emotional component to it. The first step to marketing to customer pain points, like any approach to marketing, is understanding your target audience.

Go beyond basic demographics and dig deeper to uncover the cause of their pain.

What makes them frustrated? What makes them feel stressed? What makes them worry?

What makes them mad? What makes them sad?

What makes them afraid? What makes them cringe? What makes them squirm?

What makes them struggle? What makes them feel insecure? What makes them lose sleep?

Every business owner should be able to answer at least a handful of these questions, identify pain points that their product can relieve, and develop a marketing message that connects with one of those painful emotions.

Is Pain Point Marketing Deceptive Or Manipulative?

I’ve had clients who avoided this strategy like the plague for two reasons.

First, they feel like they’re taking advantage of someone’s desperation. There can be a fine line to walk, but what you’re really doing is showing how you can make the pain go away. You’re only exploiting the situation if you have an inferior product that doesn’t deliver on your brand promise.

Second, they feel marketing to pain points conveys negativity. The flaw in that logic is that your solution becomes less relevant and less valuable if you dance around the problem or pretend it doesn’t exist.

Marketing to customer pain points isn’t a matter of exploiting a difficult situation or being positive or negative. It’s a matter of being honest about the reality of a situation, and explaining how you can create a better reality because you understand your customers’ problems.

When you sugarcoat a pain point, or even soften the language used to drive that pain point home, you give your message less impact.

Tap Into Emotions Honestly

I recommend going in the opposite direction.

Agitate your audience a bit. Push their buttons. Make them realize that they’re missing out by not using your product. Just don’t be callous or disrespectful.

If you help people plan for retirement, show the consequences of not planning properly.

If you design responsive or mobile websites, convey the frustration someone endures when trying to navigate a desktop site on a mobile device.

If you sell breakfast sandwiches, remind people about how much it sucks to skip breakfast or eat Pop Tarts from the candy machine every day.

Address pain points directly in the headlines of your blog posts and the subject lines of your emails. Show images and videos that make them feel the pain. Create a FAQ page that deals with each pain point.

Tap into their emotions. Be clear and candid. When appropriate, be blunt.

This helps to create a stark contrast between the pain someone feels now and the pleasure they’ll feel after using your product.

When you’ve conveyed how you’ll make someone’s life better by relieving the pain, they won’t just want your product. They’ll need your product. Depending on the level of pain, they may just feel like they can’t live without your product.

People deal with pain on some level every day. Find out what pain your audience experiences, and make sure they know your product is the pain reliever.

Do you know what your customers’ pain points are? Share some common ones in the comments.