Your small business is tanking. You are not exactly sure why – your competitors are selling similar products and they seem to be doing well. You check you ads and lading pages for spelling mistakes and find none. You make sure you are targeting the correct keywords and geographic areas and those look good as well. Is it the features you offer? The benefits you describe? Do your potential customers hate your website name?  The amount of time the potential customers who clicked on the ad spend on the site is low, and the conversion rate (how often a visitor performs an action you would like them to) is even lower. Potential customers are uninterested. This is your online advertising and you are missing a vital piece of knowledge about buyer psychology.

Your Potential Customers Are Not Motivated

April-Ludgate The problem is not that your product or service stinks, it is that your potential customers are like April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation – completely unmotivated. These potential customers are unmotivated to solve their problem and get rid of their pain point. A pain point is any perceived pain associated with not having your product or service. Your potential customers may like or even care about your product or service, but there is nothing that makes them want to take action at this moment. Sure you could solve your potential customers problem, but really the pain that they have at that moment isn’t that bad. The amount of pain they have from their problem is similar to having a small squeak in their car. The squeak can be annoying, but they don’t take the car to the mechanic because the pain they suffer from the squeak is something that they can live with. Eventually they would like to get the squeak fixed, but for now they are unmotivated.

You Are Presenting The Product Or Service As A Solution To A Chronic Pain Instead Of An Acute Pain

If potential customers are unmotivated about your product or service than you are probably presenting your product or service as a solution to a chronic pain rather than an acute pain. There are really two ways to look at customer pain points when you are marketing to your potential customer. You can discuss your potential customers pain as an acute pain or  as a chronic pain. An acute pain is something that your customer wants to get rid of right now because in their mind it is almost unbearable. For example, if they just ran a marathon an acute pain could be thirst. They want water now and would do almost anything to get that glass of water. You know a pain is acute if your customer is extremely motivated and they will do almost anything to get that product or service to alleviate the acute pain. A chronic pain is a pain that is not urgent, though your customer would like to alleviate it. An example would be an old chair in their house. The customer may feel the pain of wanting to get a new chair because they dislike how their old one looks, but they are not all that motivated to get one. The pain of having an old chair is something that they can live with, and they have gotten so used to living with this pain it that it doesn’t make them take action. The main symptom of a chronic pain is a lack of urgency.

Turn the Chronic Pain Into An Acute Pain

Pain To motivate your user, change their chronic pain into an acute pain. By transforming the pain from chronic to acute you increase their sense of urgency, and willingness to complete the conversion that you setup. Once the pain becomes acute it becomes easier (and in some cases possible for the first time) for you to test, iterate and grow your small business.

How To Turn A Chronic Pain Into An Acute Pain

1. Understand Your Customer

The first step in any marketing process is to really understand your customer. Get in their heads.  I have found that often what you think your customers pain might be, is not what they identify as their pain. For a simple example, when a person wants an ice cream there could be a variety of pain points. Pain points can include:

  • They are too hot
  • They are on a date and pain and need an activity
  • They are bored and need something to do
  • They had a long day want ice cream to alleviate that pain
  • They are rewarding themselves for a job well done

You need to find what your actual customers chronic pain point is before you can turn it into an acute pain. There are a couple of ways to do this: A. Talk to Your Customers In The Real World This is the solution that I recommend the most. If you have access to customers, for example if you have a retail location as well as an online store, talk to your customers and see what types of pain your product or service solves. Face to face interaction is where you get the best feedback. B. Talk To Users Online If you choose to find out the pain points online, you use surveys and emails to find out what your customers actual pain points are. A good way to get them respond to the surveys and emails is to offer your customers some incentive for completing them. These incentives can come in the form of a discount, an entry into a raffle, or even a free service from you. C. Look At The Testimonials On Other Sites This is kind of a weasel move, but it works really well. If you don’t have access to customers, look at other sites and see the feedback that they receive from customers. For example if you look at a competitors site and many of the testimonials are about the speed of service – you could safely assume that slow service is a chronic pain point for the customer.

2. Create Two Scenarios Where The Chronic Pain Is Now Acute [But Be Ethical]

This takes a little bit of creativity, and I think the best way is to show an example. In the example of the squeak in the car, which had previously been chronic you need to create two scenarios where the chronic pain is now an acute pain. You may research and find that in fact those squeaks could be breaks that are no longer working correctly and the driver is in immediate danger. If this is the case, this is an acute pain. Your customers will not want to be in the car when the breaks go out. Create an ad and a landing page that discuss this scenario. This is a little bit of fear marketing which typically I try to avoid, but if the acute pain is a fact you may actually be saving a life as well as making money. The other option is to create an offer than makes the pain acute. You may offer in your ad a discount that expires within 72 hours (similar to Groupon) and the acute pain is now that they will miss out on the deal.

3. A/B Test the Scenarios

Now that you have two different scenarios where the chronic pain is now acute, create an adGroup to split test the scenarios. Make one ad and landing page with one acute pain and the other ad and landing page that discusses the other acute pain. Run these two acute pain scenarios vs. each other until you know at a 95% confidence interval what produces a better result.

4. Repeat Until You Are Successful

Testing is a continual process. Continue testing different acute pains until you find the acute pain that resonates the most with your customers and causes them to become motivated to act. What acute messages have you found that work with your customers? [hs_action id=”253″] Adam Lundquist (@adamlundquist) is the Paid Search Director at Majux Marketing a Philadelphia SEO agency. He was Santa Barbara’s #1 Morning Show Host, an Army soldier, and recently a Harvard graduate. Adam cuts through the marketing noise to create digital marketing campaigns with clear business oriented goals and objectives. He has been featured in The Harvard Gazette, Mtv, Vh1, Sports Illustrated, and Moz.   Photo Credits: Wrestling: Vishal Somaiya (originally posted to Flickr as Starship pain…) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons