Why Marketers Should Smile at Pain
Ahryn Scott

Ahryn Scott

You know what you SHOULD be doing.

Better diet, better exercise, more discipline, better organization, take on more responsibility, contribute more to charity, etc.

There are even things not at the forefront of your mind that well meaning friends, family and acquaintances remind you of… Are you drinking too much coffee… diet soda… alcohol?… Are you contributing the maximum to your IRA or 401k?…

There is an endless list of positive things you should be doing.

If you’re lucky you’ve changed some of your behaviors and adopted good, new habits.

But how many good habits lay unused in your big brain?

It’s normal. Everybody has some limit on their capacity to change behavior. The best of us, do our best.

Now, think about how fast you’ve changed when there were bad things heading right for you… or when you had already been hit by them.

I bet you hustled!

You made things happen. You have moved mountains to solve those painful problems. In fact, I bet you were willing to pay cash money to help alleviate some of those problems.

This is why marketers should “Sell Painkillers not Vitamins!”

This saying is very popular in sales and marketing circles, and for good reason.

It’s a fundamental principle of marketing and one of my favorites.

It has nothing to do with pills or products and everything to do with positioning or framing our messages.

It’s far easier to motivate someone to take an action to alleviate their present pain than to prevent a future one.

You have to position your offer as the cure to the prospect’s current pain. The bigger the pain the better.

It doesn’t matter the source of the pain. Physical, psychological and emotional pain are all equally valid.

Even complete luxuries can be positioned as painkillers. They alleviate real psychological pains. It’s the pain in not keeping up with one’s peers or losing social status.

A series of experiments conducted by Eisenberger and Lieberman at UCLA resulted in Social Pain Overlap Theory (or SPOT.)

They showed that losing social connections activates the same parts of the brain as actual physical pain. Hence most folks will do almost anything to prevent it.

Another example of psychological pain is found in people who are collectors. Some people feel discomfort when they have an incomplete collection. They need to complete the collection to alleviate their discomfort… to scratch that itch.

Once you’ve identified the pain your offer cures, you agitate the problem. Maybe they are only mildly aware of their problem.As marketers we’re going describe the problem and it’s consequences with such vivid detail they can’t ignore it.

This video does a great job of describing the pain:

Next you’ll educate the prospect on how they came to have this pain… you’ll describe the mechanism that caused their pain.

Then in the terms of this new mechanism, show them how your offer disrupts or short circuits the mechanism, thereby alleviating the pain.

This video does a great job of describing the mechanism of addiction:


Imagine if you are marketing a recovery center with these types of solutions.

Now describe the promised land… This is what life will be like after the pain has ended. The description of this state should be equally vivid as the description of the pain.

This is a powerful tool that can be used for good or evil, so don’t let me catch any of you twisting your mustache (proverbial or otherwise) at the possibilities.

Did you like this? Did you learn something? If so, please show some love by sharing it on your favorite social media channel… Look down there! There are those conveniently places buttons again. 🙂

Ahryn Scott is the visionary founder and esteemed owner of Web Video Ad Space, a premier full-service digital marketing agency nestled in the vibrant landscapes of Southern California. A maestro of digital marketing, Ahryn harbors an unwavering passion for catapulting small businesses into realms of unprecedented success through innovative digital marketing and advertising strategies.