Worried about using pain as a motivator?

5 replies
Some people get pretty squeamish about using the PAS formula (Problem, Agitate, Solution) in their copy.

They'll say things like:

"Shouldn't we focus on the positive? Won't we turn off people by going negative? Won't that associate us with the pain?"

These are valid questions. Here's what I have to say about it:

Most buyer motivation I've seen involves a problem, or the lack of something. If people are already happy and content with every aspect of their life they aren't motivated to buy.

If you don't address the lack, the frustration, the PROBLEM that they are facing, how are they possibly going to see your product/service as the solution?

An example:

One of my favorite headlines was only two words:

Got Corns?

In just two words, they called out the target audience and connected with them at the point of the problem. Efficient and elegant.

I doubt I can improve on that, but let's try. Suppose the headline focused on the positive instead.

I'd imagine the headline as something like, "Our foot cream will make your life better!"

There's no real point of connection. The struggling, corn-inflicted target audience isn't sure if it's for them or not. And other people without corns might wind up wasting their time reading it. We've given up on the targeting, and probably won't make the sale.

To sum up:

People won't see your product/service as a solution unless you address their problem. And many times it takes more than just addressing the problem; it can also take vivid descriptions.
#copywriting advice #motivator #pain #problem #solution #worried
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  • Originally Posted by Richard Phillip View Post

    People won't see your product/service as a solution unless you address their problem. And many times it takes more than just addressing the problem; it can also take vivid descriptions.

    Nuthin' beats the squeal of an amygdala trapped like a testicle in a vice.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    This is one place where being a good writer will help you - or having the ability to hire a good writer.

    The 'pain point' topic is well known in IM....because it works...WHEN DONE RIGHT.

    How many hundreds of sales pages start with 'if you want to ....blah blah blah....you have come to the right place'. I cannot believe how many 'marketers' use text like that on their sites....probably the same number who say 'my site isn't working'.

    You need to 'use' the pain point in a sympathetic/empathetic way - without pandering, posturing, or condescending. Sounds logical but not always easy to do.

    You want to offer your product/service as a CHOICE your 'educated' visitor will make...not try to force a choice on the visitor. Again, sounds easy but not really. If you overplay the 'pain' you risk creating a negative response which it not what you want.

    'got corns' and 'got junk' are great ad titles.

    'got fat' probably won't work
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  • Profile picture of the author GoSoloStartups
    Copywriting and sales borrow from the same playbook. Often I see sales people and copywriters mention a problem someone might be experiencing and stop there, rather than drill down to the pain. Yes, it feels uncomfortable. Yes, it feels obvious.

    But it is something that's important if you want the prospect or the reader to desire what you sell. Imagine a doctor offering medication to solve a mild issue that seems to go away the same day. Are you likely to purchase and take medicine for something that's unlikely to be an issue in a few minutes? Or are you more likely to take medication for chronic and ongoing pain?

    Sometimes we need to highlight the obvious because without these moments of discomfort, prospects are unlikely to focus on the problem long enough to seek a solution. After all, if they already feel comfortable with the status quo, why would they?
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  • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
    Richard,

    I find the "some people" approach to be spurious; not a valid argument in the Copywriting section. WHO gets squeamish about using PAS?

    NO ONE. Some, and THEY'LL say, don't ask valid questions, only a given client would ask that, and then it becomes how you present "PAIN" to them.

    You wrote:
    People won't see your product/service as a solution unless you address their problem. And many times it takes more than just addressing the problem; it can also take vivid descriptions.

    Addressing the problem, is all about the HOW, how you step on their corns verbally and make them cringe with pain. I'm not trying to argue here, but the way you set this up doesn't resonate with the copywriters working and earning their livelihood from their words.

    Even then, there are ways and words to agitate the subconscious, more covertly than outright stomping on their corns, and having corns may be painful, but they are also preventing or allowing other "problems" to appear.

    So, just addressing the pain issue, in spite of what a given client might be squeamish about can be done in a wide variety of ways other than overt agitation.

    GordonJ



    Originally Posted by Richard Phillip View Post

    Some people get pretty squeamish about using the PAS formula (Problem, Agitate, Solution) in their copy.

    They'll say things like:

    "Shouldn't we focus on the positive? Won't we turn off people by going negative? Won't that associate us with the pain?"

    These are valid questions. Here's what I have to say about it:

    Most buyer motivation I've seen involves a problem, or the lack of something. If people are already happy and content with every aspect of their life they aren't motivated to buy.

    If you don't address the lack, the frustration, the PROBLEM that they are facing, how are they possibly going to see your product/service as the solution?

    An example:

    One of my favorite headlines was only two words:

    Got Corns?

    In just two words, they called out the target audience and connected with them at the point of the problem. Efficient and elegant.

    I doubt I can improve on that, but let's try. Suppose the headline focused on the positive instead.

    I'd imagine the headline as something like, "Our foot cream will make your life better!"

    There's no real point of connection. The struggling, corn-inflicted target audience isn't sure if it's for them or not. And other people without corns might wind up wasting their time reading it. We've given up on the targeting, and probably won't make the sale.

    To sum up:

    People won't see your product/service as a solution unless you address their problem. And many times it takes more than just addressing the problem; it can also take vivid descriptions.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    The problem with the PAS formula is most people get the "agitate" part wrong...

    The reader already knows they have a problem, and they know the pain it causes. Your job is to let them know you know what they're going through.

    Too many copywriters think they are supposed to dig and twist and make the reader squirm...not the way it works. The reader wants to know that you know what they're feeling.

    If I'm talking about bone cancer...and I talk about how the cancer eats holes in your bones...and then your bones start growing a fungus like texture in the holes...

    see how that description was uncomfortable? But, if you suffer from bone cancer you know that I know what you're faced with.

    Then when I tell you there's a new drug that was developed in Norway to stop the cancer from eating holes in your bones, you believe me more because I know the symptoms you have...

    not because I reminded you of your pain (which is an idiotic thought), but that I feel your pain and know what you're experiencing.

    Like a lot of things in copywriting, how you set your mind up to write to someone is how your mind will work when it writes.

    Now, about headlines...

    "Got Corns" is good. But, too many copywriters think one headline and one sales letter is all that's needed.

    Not true in this day and age...

    if I'm writing a blog post, I'll do things a little differently.

    If I'm doing a Facebook ad I'll tweak some things.

    If I'm putting a thing on a website, I should do it differently.

    What I'm saying is if a copywriter says he'll write you a sales letter and that's all he does...you're missing out on a lot of advertising potential. You need to find a copywriter that can write for all your advertising outlets.

    You should have several different headlines and body copy depending on where you're using the piece. This all matters and has a huge effect on your success.

    As far as the "problem" part, if you're selling something and it doesn't solve a problem...you've got a problem.

    Not all problems are the same. Someone with corns on their feet are not facing the same problem as someone that has a hard time peeling potatoes...

    so, your headline should understand that and take into account the emotional aspect of the problem.

    Also, on another note, a lot of copywriters fail to inform when they write. Did you know corns could be an early sign of diabetes? It could be an early sign of liver failure? ...

    so anyways I'm just rambling on.

    Interesting post. Thanks for bringing the subject up.
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