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Empathize with Customers, Solve Pain Points

1507 words·8 mins
business marketing
Table of Contents

In today’s fast-paced and crowded marketplace, standing out and capturing the attention of our audiences could be tough. Customers now have endless options to choose from, in the palm of their hands.

Businesses must break into the message clutter to be that ‘choice over the other.’ Positioning helps simplify the message to make it consistent with what our consumers know and experience. And to achieve effective positioning, we must identify and address customer pain points.

We can observe the concept of pain points in various industries, from the fall of Blockbuster to the rise of Blueland. Understanding how pain points can be applied to your business and marketing efforts is crucial to getting closer to your customers and winning their hearts.

What are pain points?>

What are pain points? #

Pain points are the specific problems or challenges customers face and seek solutions for. A pain point is the when and the why, the reason why customers choose you.

The choice of words “pain point” is intentional because something has to be severe enough to be ‘painful’ (or impactful) to the consumer for them to act and find solutions.

When somebody asks you what your business solves, you solve that pain point. So make sure you’re on the same page with your customers on what the pain point is. Don’t be like Blockbuster.

Why are pain points important?>

Why are pain points important? #

To explore the importance of identifying and addressing customer pain points for business success, let’s look at the case of Blockbuster vs Netflix. It is the easiest-to-spot example to understand the concept. It’s full of twists and turns that highlight the importance of adapting to changing consumer needs and preferences.

Blockbuster was the dominant player. It had its time, that brick-and-mortar store in every town and city where you can rent movies and games. Netflix, on the other hand, was founded as a DVD-by-mail rental service. It needed the internet to run. And when the dot-com bubble burst, Netflix suffered and even offered to sell the company to Blockbuster, who thought it was ridiculous.

So what changed? Netflix added a streaming service in 2005, allowing customers to instantly watch selections of movies and TV shows using the internet since. Meanwhile, Blockbuster failed to adapt its positioning to reflect the changing needs of its customers. It filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Did Netflix kill Blockbuster? Not really. Not directly.

The internet changed consumer behaviors forever (and continues to do so) which rendered its business model obsolete.

There was a time (pre-internet) when we love watching movies we missed from the theaters without breaking the bank. Blockbuster solves that. Now with the internet in our homes, we think Blockbuster making us go to a shop to browse and rent a DVD is very inconvenient.

There was a new pain point, and Blockbuster was too late to solve that.

Understanding Consumer Behavior and Pain Points>

Understanding Consumer Behavior and Pain Points #

People spend money on two things: to fight pain and to pursue pleasure.

At most, consumers’ perceptions of pursuing pleasure are merely just mending pain. Their pleasure is still determined by pain points (at most). Therefore, identifying customers’ pain points is the first step to developing a pain-solving business that makes their problems go away.

In the case of Blockbuster, the customer pain points were convenience and ease of access.

Identifying and Addressing Customer Pain Points>

Identifying and Addressing Customer Pain Points #

Identifying customer needs and pain points means understanding their problems and frustrations and what would like to see improved or changed. This may involve market research and analyzing customer feedback.

If you are starting and want to be scrappy, you can research pain points on a budget by asking ChatGPT (a pretty powerful tool) and looking at what your competitors are doing to get started. You can also look at the customer reviews on the products or services your competitor has to get ideas. Then…

To validate our researched pain points and identify the right customers, answer four questions:

  1. What is the true source of pain?
  2. Who sees the most value in having that pain removed?
  3. Who will ultimately pay for a solution?
  4. Is there a substantive market that will benefit from the solution?

You may have to tweak your service design or product development process to truly address the pain you like to mend. You may also be needed to add new features. By doing so, you can create a unique selling proposition (USP) that will set you apart from your competitors and resonate with your audience.

Using Pain Points for Effective Positioning>

Using Pain Points for Effective Positioning #

Blueland is a company that identified, understood and built on an overlooked pain point. It could change how we approach our cleaning products in the future. Today’s cleaning products are too heavy, take up space, and generate single-use plastic waste.

With these in mind, let’s answer the four questions:

  1. What is the true source of pain?
    The amount of plastic waste traditional and bulky cleaning products generate.
  2. Who sees the most value in having this pain removed?
    Environmentally conscious customers who are aware of the negative impact our plastic waste has on the environment.
  3. Who will ultimately pay for a solution?
    Environmentally aware customers with a strong sense of responsibility who are willing to spend extra on sustainable and eco-friendly products that align with their values.
  4. Is there a substantive market that will benefit from the solution?
    Yes. As more of us are now becoming aware of the environment more than ever, we are also (globally) seeking sustainable and eco-friendly solutions and alternatives.

(Note: These are only observations from the content about them on social media)

The company, founded by Sarah Paiji Yoo, addressed these pain points with a line of cleaning products that use refillable containers and dissolvable tablets. You fill the container with water, put the tablet in, let it dissolve like a bath bomb, and then start cleaning.

It’s not only marketing to the environmentally conscious, it also makes sense for the business logistically. They are cutting out 90% on shipping alone because their products are smaller and weigh way less.

Blueland's line of products. Ranging from bathroom cleaners to a hand soap Blueland's line of products. Ranging from bathroom cleaners to handsoaps.

Their brand and marketing efforts focused on the idea of “cleaning without plastic,” promoting a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to the products we are used to. It designed its brand’s look as minimalist, rendering them timeless. The look is especially consistent with its refillable containers that are meant to be used for a long time.

What if there is no pain point?>

What if there is no pain point? #

Is it possible to not have a pain point? Could be!

There are products or services designed purely for pleasure and enjoyment that don’t solve a specific problem or pain point. Marketing focuses on benefits, pleasure, and/or experience.

Sometimes, companies know their customer’s pain points but don’t necessarily focus their positioning on those pain points. Especially if the pain point is the desire for exclusivity, status, and prestige. So luxury brands often emphasize craftsmanship and heritage while creating a sense of desire by being only available to a select few.

They don’t advertise on TV but the stars on TV have them. They don’t welcome everyone to their shops, and may even refuse a sale to some customers. There are products and services we can only get our hands on through an invite, even if we can afford them tenfold. These are some of their successful marketing strategies addressing the underlying desires and motivations of their target audience.

Some pain points are not obvious, and some pain points should not be obviously addressed.

Ready to address pain points?>

Ready to address pain points? #

Addressing pain points can make customers’ lives easier with the solutions you provide.

In addressing pain points, you should remember three things:

  1. Pain points are ever-changing.
    What may be significant in the past may not be significant today. Always gather feedback and always research. Blockbuster failed to address this.
  2. Pain points may vary between customer segments and timing.
    What one customer may consider a pain may not be relevant to the other. At the beginning of the pandemic when everything was put to a halt, Blueland’s ad focused heavily on saving customers’ money long term and less on sustainability. It didn’t exactly drift from its mission, it just addressed the general audience the general concern at hand, at that time.
  3. Pain points require a customer-centric approach.
    What you think you want for your product or service may not be what the customers want. Prioritize customer needs and desires by listening to them. Gather customer feedback. It worked for Riot Games that they can sell to loyal customers anything.

Make pain points the central motivator to why we do what we do as businesses and nonprofits. It will clear up blurs in the business approach. Make pain points influence your brand and marketing campaigns. It will be your greatest differentiator against your competition.