Marketing P.A.I.N. – Part 6, Make It Stop!

The first company seems to think their name is the most important information the customer needs. The second focuses on the customer's emergent need.

Suppose you go to bed Tuesday evening at the usual time, following your usual routine.

Wednesday morning you sit up in bed, swing your feet over the side, and are startled as you put your feet into a cold, wet puddle of standing water.

You discover that somehow, someone left the cold water trickling into the bathroom sink. It appears to have a clogged drain.

You’re feeling the pain.

Wow. In just moments you’ve just moved directly from Pain Stage 1 (no pain, no need for services) to Pain Stage 4 (make it stop hurting, NOW!).

Screaming “I’ll get the mop. You grab the Yellow Pages,” you address the immediate standing water problem as your husband/wife/roommate opens the book to “plumbers” and sees this ad:

Scanning to the adjacent page, this ad leaps into consciousness:

Is there a difference between T.R. Johnson & Son’s ad, and that of Phillip S. Johnson Plumbing Co.?

Pretty obvious, isn’t it?

The first company seems to think their name is the most important information the customer needs. The second focuses on the customer’s emergent need.

They may not be fighting an emergency, but by the time they’ve consulted the Yellow Pages, people are ready to buy. They’re fed up with suffering. They’ve concluded that they suffer from not owning what you sell.

If these people have been influenced by your earlier advertising, they may look you up by name. If not, they’ll search through the listings for someone who can solve their problem, and solve it now.

You won’t impress anyone as a problem solver if the headline of your ad is the name of your business, and that’s followed by a listing of brand names and services you offer.

Stage 4 Messaging

According to the folks at the solar marketing agency, a lot of advertising consists of the very common “We’re wonderful. We’re the best” kind of chest thumping one would expect from car dealers or personal injury attorneys. Among those businesses which sell services, “We’ve been in business for 70 years,” is an all too typical statement.

But, if it was your sink is running over, would you care how long anyone’s been in business?

A much more salient message to a prospective customer at Pain Stage 4, is “Stop hurting, now.”

Stage 4 pain isn’t limited to emergencies. What if your sink isn’t running over, but its not draining properly either?

You still need a plumber. What’s the headline you’ll look for?

Your pain is likely to be . . .

. . . that you’ll need to take time off work.

More specifically, it’s trying to schedule your day when you don’t know exactly when the plumber will show up.

That pain, time deprivation, is addressed by this * plumber:

Compare TV Plumbing’s ad with that of T.R. Johnson & Son.

Which one would you call, if you needed to take time off work in order to make that call?

Pain Stage 4 occurs every time someone needs a solution NOW!

Stage 4 ads aren’t limited to Yellow Pages ads. There can be times in which a Stage 4 message works well to build your brand awareness in a Stage 1 medium. (Let’s be honest, sometimes the urgency isn’t caused by the specific problem, but rather by the customer’s circumstances).

Woman: Didja fix it, yet? Didja fix it, yet? Didja fix it, yet?

Man: I’m workin’ on it, alright? Give me a break.

‘Nouncer: All Pro Plumbing. For all the times you can’t fix it.

Woman: Didja fix it, yet?

‘Nouncer: We can. Call All Pro, today.

Woman: Didja fix it, yet?

Man: Yeah, I fixed it.

Plumber: Problem solved.

Of course, there are Stage 4 pains which don’t involve plumbing issues.

Urges as simple as “I’m hungry” are much more effective when you promise immediate relief, as in this classic Domino’s ad:

Announcer: When Domino’s Pizza delivers, quality comes first. We custom bake each pizza with carefully selected, skillfully prepared ingredients. Taste the quality.

Singers: Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s Pizza delivers.

Announcer: Call now and we’ll deliver a hot delicious custom made pizza to you in less than 30 minutes. One call does it all.

Recognizing the degree of pain is the first half of the Marketing P.A.I.N. strategy. Although it has taken us six installments to describe that pain, we’ll address the other half of the formula in the next post.

Get ready to apply Marketing P.A.I.N. to your advertising messages and watch your ROI explode.

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


* TV Plumber was created by Adam Strange, and featured in Ringing Up Profits in the Yellow Pages by Dick Larkin.
You’ll find the T.R. Johnson & Son and Phillip S. Johnson Plumbing Co. ads in the current Verizon Yellow Pages directory for Huntington, WV.