Why Touching Your Customer’s Pain Is A Terrible Idea (And Where to Connect with them Instead)

Most experts will tell you to ‘touch the pain’ of your core customer in your marketing. But my take is that pain is a terrible place to connect with clients. Instead, I teach my students to look for the challenge, desire, or ripeness in their customers’ lives.

If you are a parenting coach who speaks to parents’ pain, you might write something like this:

Are you struggling to get your teen to listen to you?

The trouble here is that many experts tell you just to use an ‘emotional trigger word’ – like struggle – to signal to your reader that something is wrong.

But just because someone is struggling doesn’t mean they actually want to do anything about it.

In fact, I’d say that most of the population is more attached to their problems then they are to actually doing anything to change them.

Put another way: just because someone is struggling doesn’t mean they will make a great client for you.

Instead, what I suggest is getting curious about what makes a client ripe to work with you.

In the case of the parenting coach, maybe you’ve noticed that your most proactive clients all come to you with a deep knowing that they can do better. I think of this as their ‘inner voice’ whispering to them. (And you can actually put that inner voice into your marketing, to make it louder. This works really well!)

Sometimes, it’s an external event that makes someone ripe to change. Maybe the parent got a call from the principal. Maybe she sees her teen making bad decisions, and it’s too much to bear. Maybe she just yelled at her kid, and she finally feels so awful about it, it’s steeled her resolve to find another way.

The point is, it’s your job as a coach, healer, or consultant to be able to articulate what that challenge, desire, or ripeness looks like for your core customer.

And, I’d add – to do it in very specific way so that he or she can ‘see’ herself in how you describe the problem.

I’ve recently worked with two parenting coaches – Lisa Smith over at The Peaceful Parent and Randi Rubenstein

Although they are both in the same line of work, each woman’s unique method and body of work leads to different points of connection.

Lisa connects with parents of kids who have strong-willed kiddos – and who find themselves getting really angry at them.

Randi connected with what she calls the ‘closet yellers’ – the moms and parents who notice a gap between what they want to do as a parent, and what they actually do when they’re triggered in a high stress situation.

Can you see how specific this is?

Can you feel how different this is than speaking to a generic sense of struggle in parenting?

So – the next time you are looking to connect with your core customer (which, if you’re in business, is pretty much every day!), try avoiding generic words like ‘struggle’ or broad descriptions of pain.

Instead, see if you can get curious about what makes your core customer ripe to do the work you’ll invite them to do.

Stella Orange teaches her clients how to effectively market their business by telling a better story in their marketing— the story of the hero answering the call to more. A professional copywriter whose writing has generated millions of dollars in sales, Stella knows that the story we tell in our marketing matters a whole lot, because on a fundamental level, it shapes how people think about themselves and what’s even possible for them. Three times a month, Stella hosts a 90-minute Shut Up And Write session via videoconference for members of her Write Club community. She is based in Buffalo, New York, where she lives with her husband, the Philosopher, and their dog, Chachi. Get a copy of Stella’s position paper The New Marketing: How to Create Clients Without Feeling Gross, Icky or Manipulative at www.stellaorange.com/newmarketing.

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