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No pain, so sale.

Someone has undoubtedly told you, "No pain, no gain."

It's frequently used when you want to perform something challenging and put up with some form of effort to get the desired result.

The same may be said of direct response advertising. To be effective, your ad must:

- Diagnose the prospect's pain

- Help them feel it

- Demonstrate how you can take it away

- Remind them that if they don't act, their pain will continue

But where most ads go wrong is they jump straight to the solution. Right from the start, they get into their product or service benefits when they haven't even set the context – the pain or problem.

No prospect goes hunting for possible solutions in ads. What they are acutely aware of, though, is their own issues. Therefore, they're far more likely to recognise their own pain and more open to learning how to solve it.

In other words: No pain, no sale.

So, what must you do to make this formula work for you?

Step 1: Overcome your aversion to using pain

When it comes to their prospects' pain, many marketers grow nervous. Thinking it's somehow unfair or immoral. But why? If you know your prospect will continue living in 'relative' discomfort because your product or service isn't in it – wouldn't you want to consider it at least?

Step 2: Your prospects are already overwhelmed with offers

The folks you're trying to persuade to act and buy have limited time and money. They need help to figure out which ads and offers are relevant to them. If you're too polite, your ad will end up as wallpaper. However, show them the precise pain they are experiencing or have experienced. Nothing is more compelling.

Step 3: Your painful homework

The measure of effort, like any other, is the measure of the result. It takes planning to use pain effectively in sales. To understand your prospect's pain, you must first determine how much discomfort they are experiencing. The greater the annoyance – and your awareness of it – the more immediate their response should be.

So, you need to know:

  • How long they've been in pain

  • How much does it cost them?

  • What occurs to them as a result of it

  • What they can't do as a result of it

  • How do they feel as a result of having it?

  • What will happen to them if they continue to have it?

This level of digging allows you to see the problem from your prospect's point of view. Making your advertising more empathic and enabling you to see the world as they do.

Step 4: Discover the pain relief benefits

In sales, you're frequently selling a solution to a problem, and a lot of marketing sounds like this:

You (the prospect) do not have [insert feature] without my [product or service].

"So what?" The reader will ask. Where is the motivation, the pain?

Let's say, for example, you were selling a chocolate bar. Which of the sentences below are more compelling?

  • Without my chocolate bar, you don't have a sweet treat.

  • Without my chocolate bar, you don't have a sweet treat to give you a boost during your shift at work.

See the difference? You can't expect the prospect to work the potential benefit your chocolate bar gives for themselves. You, the marketer, need to provide the context by showing them when and where your chocolate bar improves their lives, solves their problem, and reduces their pain.

The prospect's pain is: My energy levels regularly drop towards the conclusion of my shift at work. Because I'm either exhausted or bored. So a sweet treat will make me feel better, improve my mood, and ease my pain.

Step 5: Going for the jugular

The final step is continually reminding your prospect that their pain can be eased if they take action.

There are two formulas to remember:

1. You are in pain + you do nothing about it = you are in pain again and again.

2. You are in pain + you do something about your suffering = pain relief and a better life for you.

The first formula illustrates the problem of inaction. The second provides a course of action that solves the pain. Both are needed to trigger a direct response.

But it all starts with pain.

Please keep in mind that the pain does not have to be physical. It might be either mental or metaphorical. The point is the same: prospects will not figure out what problem you fix if there is no pain in your sales argument.

Neither is being nice or avoiding the pain. People don't have the time or mental capacity to connect the dots. Your ad should do this for them in the simplest, most compelling way possible.

Why not ask about our Painful Homework playbook and stop skirting around pain? For only £35, you get access to all the questions and pointers you need to reveal the pain your potential customers are in. Simply email

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