To compel someone to buy something from you or get on board with a cause you are supporting, you are convincing them to change in some way. Sometimes this is a very small change. If we think about our self-warming coffee mug, they may only be changing the mug someone uses for their coffee, and that’s a very small part of their daily routine. However, change is hard for humans, so even small changes can be met with a lot of resistance.
That’s where the pain points come in. 💥
What does it mean to agitate a pain point?
The section after the hero is often dedicated to pain points. One of the crucial jobs your website performs is agitating the pain points of your visitors. When we talked about ideal customers, we mentioned thinking about the situation that led them to you in the first place. This often maps directly to your pain points.
To agitate a pain point is to make that pain point more obvious or to make the person visiting your website more aware of how their problem interferes with their life.
A pain point metaphor 😖
To make an analogy, let’s pretend that you have a friend who has a splinter in their big toe, but they don’t want to pull the splinter out. “It’s fine; it doesn’t even bother me that much,” they say. You know that it’s not a good idea for them to leave it in, but all the positive reasoning about how it’s good to remove splinters isn’t getting through to them. So you decide to try a different angle: instead of trying to convince them that not having a splinter is awesome, you try to show them that having a splinter is terrible.
You convince them to go on a walk with you, and it’s not long before they start favoring the foot with the splinter. It’s not surprising when, at the end of your walk, they limp home and decide they do want to remove that splinter after all. 😏
Agitating a pain point is just making someone more aware of the problem they are having and the way it is causing them discomfort or pain.
How to effectively agitate pain points
While it’s important to make your website visitors aware of the pain points that will lead them to engage with you, you don’t want to be too heavy-handed with it. You also don’t want to exaggerate beyond what could possibly be true. Something that can help counter both of those tendencies is to focus on empathy.
What is empathy?
When it comes to writing copy for your website, empathy is the ability to understand how your website visitors are feeling or what they are experiencing. If you’ve done the work to build good ideal customer profiles, you will already be well on your way to understanding your visitors and empathizing with them.
It’s also often the case that, if you look back to why the business or organization was started, you’ll see the same pain points as the customers/clients face. People often develop a product, service, or organization in order to solve a problem when they can’t find a satisfactory solution.
A business that sells a product ☕️
Let’s be honest: no one’s life is going to be ruined over a room-temperature cup of coffee, so it would be dishonest to try to agitate a potential customer’s pain point as if it were a life-and-death situation. But, it’s likely that the creator of this product came up with the idea in the first place in response to a pain point of their own.
Maybe the owner of this business just got sick of being pulled away to other tasks by work, their kids, phone calls, etc. and said to themself, “I wish my coffee would just stay warm all the time.” This path is a great one to follow for effective pain point agitation. 🎯 They could just think about their feelings when they came up with the idea and put those on the website.
Are you sick of getting pulled away from your cup of coffee and finding it cold when you finally have time to drink it?
Do you ever wonder if your kids/boss/partner/phone/etc. conspire to interrupt you just as you’re about to enjoy your morning coffee?
These questions show that the person writing them understands what is motivating their potential customer/client. It makes it obvious that this person has been there too.
A business that sells a service 🏄
Similar to our coffee cup, not learning to surf isn’t likely to ruin someone’s life. However, it can cause enough emotional impact to ruin their enjoyment of their life. If someone really wants to learn a new skill and they’re struggling with it, that can cause frustration, something they may spend a lot of time ruminating on.
Feeling tired of wiping out, over and over?
Up until now, we’ve used questions to agitate pain points, but that isn’t the only way. You can also make statements that offer the same space for agreement.
You thought surfing would be fun, but so far it’s just been frustrating.
An organization that doesn’t sell anything 😸
What about instances where you aren’t selling something? For organizations that support causes or aim to educate about things like disabilities, diseases, social struggles, etc., there are absolutely times when the pain point won’t need any agitating. 😞
If it feels forced or even a little misanthropic to agitate a pain point, you. may want to hold off on agitating the pain point and just focus on telling the story of why you’re involved in this cause in the first place. But there may be a benefit to agitating the pain point in instances where people may feel reluctant to buy in to the ideas you’re presenting.
In our example of pet cat welfare, people may feel resistant because they are pretty sure they’re doing things correctly for their cat and the idea that they might not be is uncomfortable. Or they might associate this organization with extreme viewpoints that they don’t buy into. In those cases, it might help to just tickle that pain point a bit. 🤭
Have you ever wondered if your cat is truly happy?
What would your cat have to say to you if they could communicate with words?
Your cat called, and they have a few things they’d like to discuss with you…
These questions serve to introduce a little uncertainty in an area where someone may not otherwise feel uncertain. This technique could also be used in examples of products or services if there is a little resistance on the part of potential customers/clients.