Poking the Bruise: Knowing Your Audience’s Pain Points

As a coach or a speaker or an author, you usually want to make your audience feel great. You want to empower them, motivate them, and get them to make big action to make big change in the world.

And that’s great. We need big change, and you’ll be the mastermind behind that change.

But before you can make your audience feel great… really, before they’ll even listen to you, you gotta make them hurt. Here’s why:

They won’t change until they hurt.
They won’t even move until they hurt.

Now, I’m not propositioning that you actively cause them pain (put down the boxing gloves). That part comes later. What I’m

talking about is finding their pain points – their bruises – and poking them, just a little.

We all have bruises – big, ugly, black and blue things bigger than softballs; smaller, less noticeable bruises; and even tiny bruises that are positioned just right so you feel them every time you sit. Or move. Or exist.

While the physical bruises are easy to find and deal with, the psychological pain is what you need to find. And poke. This article on the Kissmetrics blog lists the need to avoid pain and seek pleasure as the root of all human behavior. And it’s right – at our core, we are primal beings who want to avoid pain, both physical and psychological.

In fact, avoiding this psychological pain is so innate that Neuroscience Marketing referred to it as coming from the “reptilian brain” of a customer – the part of the brain that makes the majority of the decisions, and makes these decisions based almost solely on avoiding pain.

Just as we all experience physical bruising, we all find ourselves in different levels of pain, caused by the world outside us, throughout the day.

Our pain can be minor, an inconvenience really. Our favorite coffee shop opens just late enough that we can’t grab coffee in the mornings and still make it to work on time. Our kids leave their wet, dirty clothes on the bathroom floor day after day. It would be really great if the neighbor Tim could wait just a couple more hours to mow his lawn on Saturday mornings.

Our bruises can be much bigger, though, and much more painful. We snooze the alarm clock every morning, not because we’re tired, but because we are exhausted from spending our days working a job we hate that doesn’t bring meaning to our lives. We battle with accepting our children’s life choices. Our careers just won’t take off – and now we’re questioning if these are even our paths.

When the pain is immediate, when we’re looking it in the face, it hurts. But over time, we all come to accept our pain as a part of life. We forget that it pains us, that there could be better, and we move along. Until something – or someone – comes along and gives that bruise a little poke.

The thing is, poking your audience’s bruises isn’t mean. It isn’t causing them harm or suffering. It’s just reminding them that it’s there. Making them feel it again, because maybe they put that hurt out of their immediate consciousness, but it’s still there, festering, and it won’t get better until we find healing for it – a solution that takes away the pain.

Appealing to a customer’s psychological pain is a marketing tool used in many industries… because it works.

The best part about reminding our audiences that they’re hurting is we get to give them a solution, too. We get to help them come out of that hurt with our products and services that not only add value to their lives, but also take away pain.

Alleviating the pain that our customers are feeling is one of the primary reasons most of us are in business. We just have to remember that when we’re talking to prospective customers.

I know that this probably sounds like a decent, though general theory, so I’ll show you how to actually use this concept in your business.

In my copywriting business, I often work with coaches who have amazing insight that helps their clients to heal, grow, and connect for success, happiness, and wellness.

We could choose to focus on these goals when writing for the coach’s website, email campaigns, newsletters, and blogs. But most of their potential clients can’t see those positive results for themselves. These clients are hurting, whether from a damaging relationship or an unhealthy lifestyle, and that hurt is what they can see. So that’s what we address.

Look at this example:

“Troubled, tired, and ready to give up…?”

THAT’S pain. That’s helping the client to feel their bruise.

The messages that we send to potential clients online talk about these bruises and the pain that the bruises cause. We highlight the truth about where the clients are currently before we ever tell them that we can help. We have to do this – poke the bruise – so that potential clients know that we understand them and their situation.

We understand their pain so well that we can touch on it exactly.

And touching on that pain highlights it. Makes it more painful.

But in the pain there is transformation, because once these potential clients truly feel their pain, they are prompted to find some way to ease it. And there the coaches are, professionals who clearly understand the pain and have the answers.

We see an example of this in action in Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, as referenced in this blog article by The Marketing Agents. The study conducted clearly showed a 150% improvement in the client’s willingness to act when marketers used “loss language” – touching on a pain point – than when marketers used positive language focused on helping the client.

We could focus on the answers. But that’s not helping clients to see how painful their bruises are, and how much damage is caused by their continuance.

It’s only once your customers really feel their bruises that they have enough of a drive to make the pain end.

Sometimes, though, our clients and customers don’t even have pain. Life is going well; business is fine. When this is the case, we have to show our clients their pain. (No, we still don’t need boxing gloves.)

We can show these clients their pain by highlighting how much better things could be, with our solutions.

“Yes, business pays the bills now, but what if it picked up enough that you could go on three vacations a year without worrying about the cost?”

“Sure, you feel okay now, but how much better will you feel with the energy levels of your two year old?”

In these ways, we don’t necessarily cause our clients pain, but rather, we introduce them to a new, better way of living, and immediately show them how we are the ones to get them there.

In other words: If you don’t see a demand for your service, create it.

In the end, you’ll make them feel amazing, because you offer each of your customers a valuable product or service that transforms lives. But in order to get a potential audience to see that, sometimes you gotta poke the bruise a little. And that’s okay.