I went to a networking lunch last week in downtown Denver, the mood was friendly and understandably a little down. As expected, conversations centered on things like spouses losing jobs, managers losing staff, and the unemployed losing their minds! Interestingly, there was also a new openness to changing how we do things, an air of, “let’s get back to basics.”
For those of us in marketing, now is a clear opportunity to “get back to basics” by realigning our marketing messages to better attack our audience’s real pain. It’s time to reexamine our target audiences’ pain to make sure we are truly TUNED IN to what is happening right now. Don’t assume your market research from one year ago still holds water. And if you don’t have market research from a year ago, don’t wait any longer.
It does not matter if you’re marketing for a private sector company, a nonprofit, a trade association, professional society or even the government, your message had better be crystallized around your audience’s primary pain, otherwise it won’t register as a priority during this down economy. People are looking for solutions from people (or brands) they know, like, trust AND who appear to “get it”.
How do we really understand our audience’s pain?
We only have to ask, with a detached heart, what their greatest challenges are and they will likely filibuster on it. Why? Because chances are they are probably spending a lot more time isolated and are happy to unburden themselves by talking about it.
My sales coach, Debbie Scott of Achievement Dynamics/Sandler Training (I call her the Queen of Pain, that’s a compliment) would call this discovery process: taking someone through the “pain funnel”. The pain funnel is part of a sales process developed by David Sandler. It’s about asking your audience a series of questions to allow them to discover the breadth and depth of their pain.
The pain funnel starts out with intellectual questions posed as if you were a nurturing doctor, like: tell me what’s happening, how long have you been experiencing X problem and what have you done to try to fix it? That’s the “warm up” before moving into more emotion provoking questions that uncover the financial and emotional impact of their problem (this is where the real pain comes out!).
From a market research perspective, I find the pain funnel a fascinating technique because it breaks down those intellectual walls and gets our audiences spilling their guts about all the things that are REALLY bothering them. This catharsis can provide invaluable insight to marketers as it brings us closer to messaging strategies that will really connect our audiences to our brands (as solutions!). Just like the best friend who listens intently to an anxious friend or the doctor with the good bedside manner.
Once you’ve got a handle on today’s pain (or the “pain inventory”), look at your overall brand promise and your promotional messages and see if there is opportunity to refine either of these to be more pain/solution oriented. People are hungry for answers to their pain right now, use this as your hook to get their attention. Your customer retention and new customer acquisition could be dependent on making this critical shift, and it may be now or never!
P.S. If you want to learn more about the “pain funnel” or high performance selling, Debbie Scott would be happy to invite you to a complimentary Executive Briefing (valued at $150), just send her an email at email@example.com.