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4 Tips for Coming to Better Understand Your Audience’s Pain Points


“Pain points” is a common phrase in the business world, used to describe the specific customer problems that only you can solve. But actually understanding your audience’s pain points so your products and services can fulfill their needs can be a challenge for even the most experienced entrepreneur.

Still, this is essential for your company’s success. The better you understand customer pain points, the more effective your marketing and communications will be. You will be able to grow your business like never before.

1. Be mindful of the type of problem you’re trying to solve.

First things first: You need to be aware of the various pain points your customers could be facing. 

For example, there’s the challenge of cost. Pricing is often what keeps customers from trying out a new product or service, even if it’s something they really want.

Other common pain points include concerns over convenience and productivity (an especially common issue with service providers), as well as challenges with their shopping experience in general.

Many audiences experience a mix of these and other pain points. Never become so focused on one potential problem that you overlook other issues that your customers might be facing. Be mindful of multiple potential challenges so you can build better solutions.

2. Ask better questions.

If you really want to learn, you need to ask questions.

This point became especially clear to me during a recent conversation with Alexy Goldstein, founder and CEO of New U Life. Goldstein has developed a wide variety of homeopathic and nutritional products over his decades-long career. 

Some of his earliest products were developed for bodybuilders. Goldstein explained that his best learning came from speaking with his target audience and asking them what was missing from the nutritional products they were using at the time. The insights that came directly from his target group allowed him to develop products with a specific focus on what they felt was missing.

The best questions can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. They’re open-ended, giving your audience the opportunity to share their unique experiences and feelings. Quality questions will provide quality answers you can truly learn from.

3. Look at what causes you to lose leads.

For most companies, only a small percentage of leads will actually turn into paying customers. For example, a study from Marketing Sherpa found that even high-conversion industries like financial services and media still convert only about 10 percent of website leads into sales.

If you have a more involved sales process, your leads will typically have multiple interactions with your sales staff before making a final decision whether or not to buy from you. Use leads who don’t convert to your advantage by making each “lost” sale a learning opportunity.

Simply have your sales reps ask non-converting leads why they decided not to buy. Over time, a picture should emerge about pain points that are occurring in your sales process. Uncovering your brand’s weaknesses will help you eliminate issues that are keeping you from adequately addressing customer needs so you can close more sales.

Remember, you’re not always the smartest person in the room. Sometimes, your sales staff will already have ideas for what would have helped a prospect convert.

4. Don’t forget about your competitors.

Looking at your biggest competitors is often a great way to clue you in as to what pain points your industry as a whole is overlooking. While it is certainly helpful to evaluate what your competition is doing well, you should pay extra attention to the complaints and negative reviews your competitors receive.

Whether customers are having issues with pricing or customer service, these represent real pain points you can use to differentiate your company and win their loyalty.

Evaluating industry leaders can also help you identify pain points that you’ve missed in your own marketing messages. Their features and FAQ pages — as well as their ads — will likely discuss many of the audience pain points that should be featured in your own messaging.

By using these tips to hone in on your customers’ pain points, you will have a true understanding of their wants and needs. This in turn will allow you to adapt your services and messaging as needed to better address the issues that matter most to them. When this happens, you’re on your way to gaining loyal customers for life.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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