Understanding the Pain

In previous posts we’ve addressed some basic key marketing principles, so now I feel comfortable delving into some of the unfortunately less familiar concepts. Today we go back and unpack the first point of a good marketing proposition: the point of pain.

Every customer buys for one of two reasons: to feel good or to solve a problem. (Jefferey J. Fox expounds on this in his book, “How to Become a Rainmaker“. If you don’t already own it, then buy it.) The point is that in order to market your product, you must answer the question, “Why would someone buy it?” Will it make them feel better? Will it solve a problem?

You must begin your marketing strategy by asking this foundational question. If your business is well-established and already has a large customer base, then you can find the answer easily by looking at how your current customers use the product. How do they incorporate it into their life or business process? What you find will clearly reveal their pain,and it will show you how they expect your product to help.

For example, if you’re the marketing director for a company that sells waterproof matches, your customers might be buying your product for camping trips to the Swiss Alps or for backpacking expeditions through the Smoky Mountains. Whatever their use for your product, the key is to understand what problem your current customers are solving with your product, and capitalize on that information.

Once you’ve established that your primary customers are Swiss Alps hikers who will freeze without the ability to light a fire in the snow, then you have identified their point of pain: cold, hypothermia, and even the threat of death. Of course it’s not always that extreme, and the process can be much more complicated. But the principle is the same on any level.

I take for granted the fact that you have an existing customer base. If you’re a start-up looking to market your new gadget or web app then you probably already have an intimate knowledge (and dare I say, personal experience) of your customers’ pain.

Knowing whether people will buy your product to solve a problem or to feel better is only half the battle. You need to dig until you understand exactly what the problem is, or why they don’t already “feel better”.