The Greek philosopher Epicurus identified that pleasure and pain were two of the greatest masters of the human condition and cause many of our actions…and ultimate reactions. English philosopher Jeremy Bentham came up with this idea:
“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think….”
Then, to top that, Sigmund Freud concluded:
“Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead.”
Now, you may be wondering why the hell I opened an advertising article with quotes from famous philosophers and psychiatrists.
The answer is simple: these men defined the reasons behind every action human beings take including whether or not to purchase your product.
If everything people do is either to increase pleasure or reduce pain, then your marketing campaigns have to focus on ways your company can help them achieve one of these two goals.
Basically, you can’t focus on product, you need to focus on ways that your product will bring them pleasure or reduce their pain. Before deep-diving into this concept further, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the two marketing types:
Product Focused and Customer Focused Marketing
Product Focused Marketing
A product focused advertising campaign focuses purely on the product’s abilities, not how they will integrate themselves into your customer’s life. An example of this occurs when a highly technical object (think Intel’s computer chip) is marketed simply by listing features of the device without telling the user how it will affect their lives.
Another example of this occurs when sales papers show a picture of an item and its reduced price without providing a description of the product; sure, there is reduced pain by paying less than full price for an item, but this is a relatively small pain because most the buyer doesn’t know what they are actually getting.
The problem with product-focused marketing
The problem with product focused marketing is that it doesn’t focus on the way your customer will feel using your service and since everything you do is based upon the feeling of pleasure or pain, this isn’t going to work.
Sure, a customer can see one of your ads and imagine how it will make their lives better, but they will need to come to this conclusion on their own which can be dangerous if they decide that your solution won’t add anything to their lives.
This has probably happened to you; you see a commercial for something and say, “well that’s stupid” just by looking at it because you might not fully understand how integrating it into your life could help you.
Customer Focused Marketing
Customer focused marketing essentially tells the customer how a product or service will integrate into their life and make it easier (or more enjoyable), or painless. This type of marketing often focuses on your customer’s problems before showing off how beneficial what you do can be.
A great example of this is infomercials or other TV advertisements that begin by showing a frustrated person struggling to perform an annoying household task (this is usually shot in black and white in order to increase the feeling of “pain).
After viewing this annoyance, the commercial switches to a full color shot with a smiling person easily operating whatever device is being sold. This is a brazen attempt to show how the product will take away the pain of doing a household chore. And it works otherwise infomercials would not be populating late night TV.
The Hybrid Model
The Hybrid Model is the third type of marketing I need to mention, although it is unlikely you will ever have to use it. This model focuses on your previous products before jumping into your new product and providing a description of how it will improve your customer’s lives.
One of the best (and only) examples of this occurred when Apple introduced the iPhone (and later the iPad). During its release, Apple founder Steve Jobs mentions how the first Mac, released in 1984, changed the face of computers and how the first iPod changed the music industry. He briefly touches on how these products changed the lives of customers, but only briefly-he allows the customer to imagine how these devices helped them.
Then, he unveils the iPhone and switches to a customer focused marketing solution by discussing how the phone can improve productivity and lives essentially adding pleasure to their daily life.
In turn, this created the “Apple Cult” which was successful in making Apple users feel as if they belonged to a private club. This is a great way to advertise; however most businesses will never use it unless they are unveiling something as Earth shattering as an iPhone or iPod.
Why Customer Focused Marketing Works and Why it is The Only Marketing a Contractor Should do
Customer focused marketing works because it directly appeals to your customer’s most basic needs. It doesn’t just list product features it’s a narrative. It explains to the customer why they need your product how it will bring them pleasure or reduce their pain which is all that matters to your customer, even if they don’t know it. This enables you to show your product or service off as a solution to your customer’s two basic needs, pleasure or pain reduction.
In the end, if you can stick to keeping one of those two approaches to marketing in mind with each campaign you develop, you have a much better chance of having a home run on your hands.