Most models of effective advertising list getting attention as the first step.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that your communications will become powerful when your prospect recognizes that you’re talking to her?

That’s the purpose of the Marketing P.A.I.N. Concept – to identify the discomfort your prospective customer is already feeling; to address that pain, and in so doing put forth an advertising message that she will recognize as relevant to her.

Targeting the early stages of pain will help prospects know of you weeks, months, or even years before they recognize a need for what you sell. The largest number of people will be exposed to your message. This is the concept behind Top-Of-Mind-Awareness and building your “brand.”

But advertising your goods or services for so long before they’re needed, ratchets up the expenses. You’ll have to continue advertising for a long period of time to make Pain Stage 1, or even Pain Stage 2 payoff.

Targeting later stages pays off much more quickly.

The triggers to purchase occur more frequently. That’s the good news. The bad news is the pool of available prospects is much smaller. Effective marketing at Stages 3 or 4, must be much more specific.

At Stage 3, shoppers are sorting options.

They’re dealing with the reality of constant discomfort, and considering the perceived value of options to make the pain stop hurting. What’s most likely to catch and hold their attention? The story of someone who had their exact problem, and eliminated it.

At Stage 3, an appeal like this one from Nutrasystem becomes highly relevant. And a celebrity admitting she also shares our prospect’s pain helps to elevate the awareness level.

The other thing common to Stage 3 ads is the comparison between solutions. You may remember cleaning products that get out the stain, better tasting coffee, or the gasoline additive that adds six mpg to your car’s mileage. Or, this example from Apple Computing.

Mac: Hello, I’m a Mac.
Vista: Mac has issued a salutation. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow. And I’m a PC.
Vista: You’re returning Mac’s salutation. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow.
Mac: What gives?
Vista: Mac is asking a question. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow. He’s part of Vista, my new operating system. PCs have a lot of security problems, so he asks me to authorize pretty much evertything I do.
Vista: You’re pointing out Vista’s flaws. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow. I could turn him off, but then he wouldn’t give me any warnings at all. That would defeat the purpose.
Vista: You are coming to a sad realization. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow.

Not all comparisons are obvious. This one from the Ladders sneaks up on you.

If you think about it, this is the trouble with most job search sites. When you let everyone play, nobody wins. Join the Ladders. The premium job site for only one hundred K plus jobs, and one hundred K plus people.

When you’re targeting a prospect at Stage 3, help her to see you as the solution by directly identifying her issues. Help her see herself doing business with you. Help her remember who you are and how to get in touch with you.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Questions about focusing on the issues your customers care about may be directed to Or call Chuck at 304-208-7654.

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Marketing P.A.I.N. Series

Part 1, Relationships
Part 2, What Do People Want?
Part 3, Advertising the First Stage of Pain
Part 4, When People Realize They’re Hurting
Part 5, Testimonials and Comparisons
Part 6, Make It Stop!
Part 7, Tie It All Together

Part 8, Message Frequency, Media Choices, and Tracking