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New Economy: Pain and Pleasure in Marketing the Eyes Wide Open Way

[Note from Ali: this is a guest post from new economy icon, Tara Gentile.  With this post, I am inviting Tara into a continuing dialogue I look forward to you all participating in — here in the comments — that will open all of our eyes to the shifts we can make now in how we show up to lead the way into the new economy.]

In today’s post, Tara is awakening us about a key perspective we need to understand about how we use pain and pleasure in marketing.  

If you’ve been conditioned deeply in the old economy ways, as I have, you’ve been taught to focus on your prospects’ pain when writing copy and doing presentations.  And if you are more sensitive than I was, you couldn’t do it because it was simply too painful to you to inject more pain into the world.  So you just stopped marketing.  And now you are the best kept secret out there.

Tara’s article explains that understanding and speaking to your prospects’ pain is important — and if you do it the way I have learned to over the past couple of years and Tara understands naturally, marketing to your prospects’ pain doesn’t leave the world worse off (more on that in another post)– but, what can be even better is learning to speak to your prospects’ pleasure.  Read on and I’ll add a bit more commentary about how exactly to do that at the end.  See ya there.


Article by Tara Gentile: The Use of Pleasure and Pain in Marketing.

“Pain points” are a key way we get people to pay attention to us as marketers. But when was the last time you spent time or energy developing “pleasure points?”

Pain points serve a purpose. They allow us as product designers to focus on needs and opportunities. They allow us as marketers to grab a prospect’s attention. They allow us as leaders & visionaries to show we can empathize with our prospect’s current situation.

Pain points have often been used to manipulate or shame, but they don’t have to be. And your marketing, sales, and product development will suffer if you don’t spend time identifying and communicating that you understand your customers’ pain points.

Pleasure points, on the other hand, are an underutilized reversal of the this old standby. Sure, you see plenty of “Make More Money,” “10lbs Thinner,” and “More Inner Peace Now” sprinkled around. But is this really painting the picture of pleasure that your prospects are looking for?

Pleasure points are a key way to get attention from your Most Valued Customers, especially in the You Economy, especially in a “saturated” market. And we’re all in the You Economy and most of us are in saturated markets. So how do you pin down your customers’ most important pleasure points?

Often, I ask my clients, “What does that look like?” or “What does that mean for your customer?”


Pleasure points are all about painting the full picture of success. Click to tweet!

When you’re 10lbs thinner, you might get to shop at a trendier store for clothes that are a different size. When you’ve got more inner peace, it might look like a cleaner house or a less frazzled schedule.

But it’s also about searching for the deeper meaning of success. When you’re 10lbs thinner, you might be more inclined to rekindle the fire in your romance or go looking for romance in the first place. It might mean that you spend less time at the doctor’s and more time in the great outdoors.

Just as Danielle LaPorte talks about using core desires as metrics of success, we can use pleasure points to name those desires, paint a vivid picture of them, and dive further into what those desires mean for our prospects so that we can help them create the “success” they’re after through using our product or service.

The key here is specificity. You’re not aiming to paint a Rothko. You want to aim for something more like photorealism. You must get clear on your customers’ core desires, the unique circumstances those lead to, and what deeper meaning those circumstances hold for your customer.

About Tara

taraTara Gentile is a business strategist, the creator of the Customer Perspective Process, and the ambassador of the You Economy. She works with entrepreneurs to create truly social business models and marketing strategies that generate more profit while meaningfully impacting customers & communities. Her work has been featured on Forbes, US News & World Report, and in the NY Times bestselling book, The $100 Startup.

[Note from Ali: Tara has opened your eyes to see that speaking to your market (marketing) can actually be pleasurable for them and for you and, in fact, must be if you want to experience the most pleasure yourself in your business as we step into a new economy together. Not only that, but I see it as one of the most valuable gifts of the new economy — we get to better the world through our marketing, instead of leaving it worse off as so much marketing does.

One way to leverage pleasure in your marketing is to give the people in your community permission to experience  full pleasure. It’s the secret to using marketing and business for good.   It’s something I’ll be paying a lot more attention to going forward myself.

So, let’s hear it.  

Post your examples of pleasurable marketing so we can all see how it’s done.  And I’d love to hear how  you allow the way you speak to your market (do your marketing) to bring more pleasure into the world (instead of injecting more pain?)]