5 Secrets to Discovering Customer Pain Points

Many businesses create a product by discovering a need or a hole in the market and filling it with a product. That works wonderfully for inventing a new product or service, or improving upon existing items. However, when marketing to customers, take that need one step further and identify their pain. Pain points are frustrations, inconveniences, and annoyances that customers face and want to solve. Picking out pain points doesn’t just involve finding what a customer needs, but discovering why she needs it, and how she feels about that need.

Why Pain Points?

When you’re used to working in a B2B setting, you need to readjust your thinking when it comes to marketing B2C. Business people are used to evaluating how a new product or service will enhance some aspect of their business. “Pain” is not usually involved. But when you switch to consumers, they don’t often think about the cost-benefit analysis of a new product or service. Even the people who do research are often responding to some kind of inconvenience or difficulty (pain) that happens in life.

You’ve created these personas for your target audience, and now you need their pain points. A pain point is the difference between someone thinking, “wow, that’s a cute product,” and “oh my word, I need that RIGHT NOW to solve this problem I’m having.” An easy example is the idea of sex appeal. Marketing takes aim at people who feel frumpy or undesirable, and shows them new ways to be sexy with products or services. But sex appeal is an easy mark, and you’re looking for subtlety specific to your target audiences.

Ask the Right Questions

Pain points solve problems, but these problems may not be the ones you’re focusing on in your marketing. When you created your product, you were figuring out a way to do something better than the competition. Your frying pans are a new kind of environmentally safe non-stick that doesn’t use Teflon. While you’d think that solution would appeal to all kinds of green customers, the reality is a bit different.

A pain point is almost always centered around emotions. So, when you’re asking questions related to your marketing strategy, dig into the emotions your customers, and your customer personas, experience. For the “green” customer, as an example, you may isolate the people who are passionate about reducing waste and toxic chemicals in our daily lives.

Identify Emotional Responses

Image via Flickr by Hjorthefoto

For some products, like stoves, the pain points will be obvious and easy to identify. Other products, even simple ones like hair dye, can be far more aspirational. A lot of pain points are intangible: someone feels like they aren’t living up to their potential, someone feels like they blend into the crowd, someone is painfully bored with their appearance or life in general. Someone is fed up with the same old thing day in and day out. That’s not the easiest pain point to identify, and it’s even harder to address.

You have to take these overarching emotional responses and channel them into pain points you can use in your marketing. People don’t look to products to fix their entire lives, but to fix some small part of it. So, your hair dye could fix the boredom pain point, as an easy example, or the pain point revolving around blending into the crowd.

Read Reviews

Reviews are a fabulous way to discover customer pain points you might not have thought of. These reviews don’t have to be of your product, either. Reading reviews of similar products or services will help you figure out where those businesses are letting customers down. Not every review will contain something useful that can be turned into a pain point, so you’ll have to sift through them and make a list of possibilities as you read. But discovering someone writing in frustration, “I wish I could find a similar product that does XYZ and not ABC!” will lead you to a possible new pain point you can leverage in your marketing.

Offer Surveys

Many customers will ignore surveys because of the sheer amount of offers, coupons, and newsletters they get in their emails. But you should find ways to offer surveys to the customers who genuinely want to tell you what they think. After all, directly asking a customer how they feel and what they want will give you significant insight into customer pain points.

Surveys loop back in with asking the right questions. A busy single dad has lots of reasons for wanting a dinner that’s easy to cook: he can spend more time with the kids, he has less to do after a long day at work, he isn’t comfortable in the kitchen, he’s worried about the nutrition his family is getting, he’s sick of spending money on takeout, etc. Find out which of these is the most significant pain point by asking those single dads, and not by guessing.

Talk to Your Customer Service and Sales People

Customer service representatives and sales people hear customer issues all the time. They’re great resources for your business. Have meetings with them centered around customer pain points. Sales people will already know which parts of your product customers are having trouble with, why people are buying them, and which sales pitches have the best success. Customer service representatives field calls, emails, and tweets from unhappy customers and confused customers constantly. They also have good insights on what the customer was hoping the product would do for them, and further, how it might be failing.

When marketing, sales, and customer service come together, all benefit. Customer service and sales will understand the marketing that’s leading customers to the product, and marketing will understand more about the customer group and what those people want.

Pain points help you reach the customers who will benefit most from your product. Finding them can be difficult, depending on what you’re offering, but you should do your research and not just assume you know what your target audience wants. Solving a pain point is a great way to ensure a satisfied, repeat customer.

About the author

Alexandra Shostak

Alexandra Shostak is a writer with a background in English who loves to focus on business, travel, and home improvement.