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Executive Perspective: Are You Marketing Pain Killers or Vitamins?

I recently read a blog post by David Cummings, co-founder of Pardot, that discussed the concept of selling painkillers versus vitamins. The idea behind the article was that a focus on pain points will do you more good than selling “vitamins,” which are thought of as a luxury. This got my attention because as marketers, we are often focused on making things look, feel, and sound better (i.e vitamin-oriented marketing), whereas in reality, people are looking for “painkillers” (i.e. how can you solve my problem?).

Of course, there are people and companies that may want vitamins and desire to be more cutting-edge — and have the budget to do so — but most of us are still trying to work within companies that have to clearly justify the need for another product or solution.

However, I do believe there is a place for both, depending on your audience and product. Let’s look a few examples of calls to action that focus on addressing specific pain points:

  1. “Watch a Demo” vs. “Get tips to help you solve problem X”
  2. “Get the White Paper” vs. “Download 5 Ways to Do Y”
  3. “Read a Case Study” vs. “Hear How Company Z Rocks Their Support”

In example one, a person in the later stages of the buying cycle might click on the “watch a demo” CTA, but a person who is just getting started with the research process might just be looking for some tips. It’s not only what you’re marketing, but who you’re marketing to. The right combination might be tough to create, but it’s worth trying.

Let’s look at example two. When was the last time you made a decision solely based on reading a white paper? White papers may be some of the most thorough documentation on the web, but they don’t sound like the most exciting thing ever. Someone who is trying to do “Y” is probably looking for help that is less taxing on his or her time (i.e “5 Ways to Do Y”). And of course, CTAs with numbers in them are much more likely to increase your conversion rates than a generic “download a white paper” CTA. Try it!

In example three, people are less likely to care about a single case study on your product than a case study of a company in a similar industry solving a similar problem. Personalizing your CTAs to your target audience’s needs and pain points can only improve your conversions.

The bottom line? Take the time to work on pain killers by really honing in on what your audience needs and what offers will resonate with them. After all, they could save lives!

personalization with automation