When we’re developing marketing plans with our clients we spend time identifying their key target markets and then work with them to define the needs of those customers or prospects.

Another way to look at why the members of a key target market choose to buy a product or service is to look for “pain points” – urgent problems that need solving.

Then, ensure that your business is perfectly positioned to relieve the pain the customers feel. If you can deliver a better solution that your competitors you’re be on the right track to finding, converting and retaining more paying customers.

To find pain points, question effectively and listen up

The key to finding pain points is listening to your customers! When a business engages its current customers in a meaningful dialogue all sorts of interesting things come out. You can listen to your customers (and your competitors’) by monitoring social media and online forums. You might also conduct market research programmes. Feedback forms and online surveys can also be useful.

But the best way is to talk to customers is face-to-face, or on the phone if that’s more practical.

When you are talking to customers, rather than asking “What do you need?”, it might be better to ask “What’s the problem you need to solve?”. This could lead to an answer that has far more value.

If a bank asked a customer “What do you need from us?” the customer might say something like “better customer service” or “lower interest rates”. These answers are fine but don’t really give the questioner an idea of WHY these are important needs.

But if the the bank was to ask “What annoys you most about dealing with our bank?” the answer is more likely to reveal a pain point.

“It really annoys me when I come to the branch and have to wait in line” or “I hate the way you don’t pass on interest rate cuts and that how I find out about it through the media” are far more revealing answers.

Chances are, if you’ve been in business for a while, you already have a decent idea of the sorts of problems your customers struggle with, and you can frame these into questions that seek to identify the core pain point. Some examples:

  • What’s your biggest challenge related to being a parent?
  • If you could change one thing about dining out, what would it be?
  • What is the biggest expense for your business you need to minimise?

If you’re in a one-on-one interview situation one useful technique is to start by illustrating a pain point you have observed. Something like: “We’ve noticed that some customers have trouble with X, and others see Y as a major issue”.

This sort of statement can get people talking about pain points and before long they may have told you something new. If you can get to the bottom of their problems, to the pain points that they themselves may not have been aware of, you’ll really be onto something. Sometimes to get below the surface you just need to ask the right questions.

Just like pain in the human body, this sort of pain shows the person experiencing it, and the person observing it, that something is in need of urgent attention.

Whether a pain point is related to time pressures, social factors, financial hardship or the rigours of everyday work or family life, finding it can help you with crafting better marketing communications and deliver better online content that demonstrates your solutions.

Identify the one crucial pain point that your business can solve better than any competitor can. If the customer sees your solution as exceptionally effective and it’s priced appropriately they’re more likely to spend money with you.

Meeting needs is fine, but it’s not as impressive as addressing a pain point with a superior solution. If you can turn something that’s a source of pain into a source of pleasure, and keep doing that, your customers just might love you for it.





  1. Marketing Insights - July 2015 - Baker Marketing - […] Identifying pain points and delivering solutions […]

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