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What are the four types of pain in marketing?


Traditional marketing, like traditional sales, often makes use of features and benefits. While there's a time and place during the marketing and sales process to let prospects know about what your product or service does, it's not something you should lead with.

Instead, we recommend using the four different types of pain. People usually move away from pain or toward pleasure. In sales, you'll actually use questioning methods to uncover this information for your prospects on an individual basis, but it works a bit differently in marketing.

First, we define "pain" as an emotional, compelling reason to do business together. That doesn't always mean literal pain. In fact, as we go through the four different types, you'll see that one is the polar opposite of literal pain.


Your product or service may solve an immediate pain. For example, if you sell payroll software and services, a headline on your website or brochure that appeals to a pain could be:

  • Fed up with the time it takes to run your payroll?
  • Worried about the risk to your company if you do payroll wrong?


Perhaps what you sell actually provides pleasure rather than solving pain. Places like coffee shops and restaurants are frequently selling and marketing pleasure. They can use headlines like:

  • Fire up your appetite with these dinner specials.
  • Relax and enjoy at our cozy cafe.


You may take care of pain or pleasure immediately. That's one reason people still shop in physical stores instead of buying everything online. It's immediate! That's why one of the most common phrases searched for online is "near me." A local bookstore can use headlines like:

  • Find a new favorite author today!
  • Join us for an author signing!


The insurance industry is the perfect example of solving future pain. An insurance agency could use a headline like the following:

  • Concerned you don't have the right coverage for your business?
  • Are you worried about what your loved ones will do after you die?

You then end up with four different types of what we call "pain":

  1. Present pain
  2. Future pain
  3. Present pleasure
  4. Future pleasure

It's likely what you sell falls into more than one of these categories. In general, it's easier to market and sell to the present than the future, and it's easier to sell products and services that solve pain than those that provide pleasure.

So, if you can find a present pain that you solve, try focusing on that in your marketing.

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About the AuthorsĀ 

Mike Crandall

Mike Crandall, Sandler of Oklahoma

Mike Crandall is a Speaker, Consultant, Coach and Trainer focused on Sales, Management, and Leadership Development. He's also the owner of Sandler Oklahoma, a world leader in innovative sales, management, and leadership training. They offer consulting, coaching, and training for individuals and organizations serious about professional development and growth. Mike is the author of "Motivational Management The Sandler Way" and has written a sales column for several years.

Tim Priebe

Tim Priebe, T&S Online Marketing

Tim Priebe is a public speaker, author, columnist, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don't have the expertise or time required to incest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan. Tim's company helps with websites, social media, blogging, email newsletters, Google rankings, and online video. Time is the author of several online marketing books, including "102 Tweets," "Blog a Week," and "Online Marketing Mindshift."