In marketing we often treat customers as imaginary buyer personas who supply a business’s profits, but it’s important to remember that customers are real human beings with emotions and thoughts that can be influenced in any direction by marketing to pleasure and pain. Being human means we have psychological instincts that cause us to take certain actions. When we are happy, we smile; when we are sad, we cry. These instincts also apply to purchasing goods and services. Studies show that people are more likely to buy something based on their emotions rather than information alone. That’s why marketing to pleasure and pain points proves so effective.

We often purchase goods and services for a primary reason: to gain pleasure and avoid pain. Sigmund Freud’s theory, “The Pleasure Principle” suggests that everything we do is with the goal of enhancing pleasure and avoiding pain. For example, we buy clothes to keep us warm and make us look attractive; we buy medicine to avoid discomfort or pain. Sometimes we do sacrifice pain in order to gain pleasure later on, such as when training for a marathon. A marathon athlete will spend hours putting their bodies under immense stress in order to gain the pleasure of competing in the marathon and a strong physique later on.

By marketing to pain and pleasure we can trigger these instincts, persuading people to interact with brands and buy products.

Marketing To Pleasure

Ask yourself, “How can my product or service cause someone to feel pleasure?” Marketing to inflict feelings of pleasure means to cause your audience to feel senses like joy, laughter, fun and comfort. This creates a sense of desire; people want to experience the emotions you’re provoking, so they’re urged to buy your product or service. The followingmarketing to pleasure  Nutella commercial excels at using happy emotions to get you to buy their product:

  • The Nutella commercial starts out with a bright and uplifting song in the background. There is a woman smiling as she grabs a jar of Nutella. She puts it on some toast and hands the toast to her kids, who are also smiling and laughing together. Then the jar is passed to a new person who is putting Nutella on his waffles. The jar is passed around the whole community, making them all happy. The commercial instills a sense of togetherness and joy in addition to showing consumers delicious ways to use the product, which can also instigate feelings of hunger. Wanting to continue those feelings, you’re urged to buy Nutella. This commercial is highly effective due to its depiction of relatable people, scenarios and cheerful background music. The target audience is almost anyone who likes chocolate, creamy spreads.
    See the full mouth-watering commercial here: to pleasure can also include sex appeal, trust, rationality and belonging. Marketing  to instill these emotions is what will make people engage with your product or service.

Marketing To Pain

In marketing to pain, you’re not inflicting actual pain on someone; rather, you’re inflicting the fear of discomfort. Here are some examples of appealing to pain:marketing to pain

  • A Honda commercial depicted friends and family members talking about how much they love a man. Then they show the man crossing the street with a car quickly coming towards him. Just before the car crashes into the man, the car is stopped by Honda’s automatic break sensors and he is saved. The commercial then shows the relief his friends and family feel, knowing he is ok. The commercial is marketing how Honda’s cars are the safest option. The car maker is appealing to consumers’ emotions of fear and loss by showing the man almost dying in a car accident, but then demonstrating that Honda has the best features to keep everyone safe. The commercial shows how Honda cars can help consumers avoid pain. The target audience for this commercial is adults who have had a loved one get hurt in a car accident, parents who fear their children will get hurt, and anyone who fears car accidents.
    See the Honda commercial here:

Fear is not always the fear of pain. There’s a marketing theory, the fear of missing out, that is highly effective as well. This is simply demonstrating to consumers that if they don’t act quickly, they may miss out on getting something valuable. Provoking a sense of urgency can do this. Guilt is also used often to persuade people to take action.

Identifying Your Target Audience

For marketing to pleasure and pain to prove effective, you need to know and understand your consumer; it’s one of the most vital points in marketing.

So, how do you identify your target audience?

Here are three key things you can do to identify your audience:

Collect demographic data and build buyer personas – Separating your audience into demographic groups can help you narrow down your target audience. You can collect demographictarget audience data through social media analytics, surveys and doing some research into what’s trending in your industry. From here, you can create buyer personas which, according to Hootsuite are “a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. This is not a real customer, but a fictional person who embodies the characteristics of your best potential customers.” Here’s an example of a buyer persona for a sewing machine company:

  • Stitching Stacy is a 60-year-old woman who loves to sew. She has a bachelor’s degree and volunteers at a local library. She lives in a middle-class neighborhood where most of the population are families or elderly couples. She’s been sewing for many years and wants a high-quality machine that will perform the advanced functions she’s looking for. She’s willing to pay top-dollar for this product.

The buyer persona is given a relatable name and elaborates on different data such as age, gender, education, income level and residence. Then it dives into details about the persona’s wants and how likely they are to buy the product. Once these factors are identified, you can start to look at how large a population there is that represents the persona, as well as where and how to market to them.

  • Analyze your current customers – Your current customer base is golden information to help find your target audience. Analyze your best customers; what characteristics do they have in common? Then take a look at your worst customers and identify what kind of group they represent. You can then decide whether you need to focus on marketing to them or not. Also, look specifically for recuring customers; you’ll want to focus on marketing to them. They will be the most loyal, so developing a trusting relationship with them is valuable to success.
  • Research your competitors – Do some research into competing brands; check out who’s buying their products and how they’re being marketed. Most likely you’re going to share similar target audiences. Then, try to find what your competitors are lacking; if you can pinpoint a niche that other brands don’t have, that can be your selling point.

Marketing Power Words

marketing words

Using the “right” language in marketing is emphasized again and again. This is because the words you choose will affect your customer base differently. You want to choose words that will resonate with your audience and urge them to interact with your brand. These words are known as power words. Which power words you use for a marketing campaign will differ for each one, but by doing some research, you can compile a database of power words that often prove effective. Do some A/B testing to see which power words work best in your marketing. Here are some common power words to try out for marketing to pleasure and pain:




Positive Emotion Power Words

  1. Amazing – Adjectives that describe the level of greatness your product has appeals to people.
  2. Easy – Nobody wants a complicated product; telling people how simple it is to use makes it appealing.
  3. Inspiring – Tells your audience your product will evoke new insight.
  4. Epic – Makes people feel the sense of adventure.
  5. Confidential – A reassuring word that the customer is protected.
  6. Imagine – A command that gets people thinking and more engaged.
  7. Incredible – States the magnitude of greatness.
  8. Powerful – States the strength of your brand.
  9. You – Speaks to the customer on a personal level and avoids arbitrary speech.

Negative Emotion Power Words

  1. Beware – Urges a sense of caution.
  2. Caution – Something to fear.
  3. Risky – Implies there could be danger involved.
  4. Avoid – Tells people to steer clear of something.
  5. Costly – Tells people something is too expensive.
  6. Heartbreaking – Implies something is devastating.
  7. Hoax – Tells people something is a lie.
  8. Untested – Says that something is not trustworthy.
  9. Scary – Makes people think about a fearful feeling.

Power Words That Show Value

  1. Value – People want products of value, stating that something has value reminds people of that desire.
  2. Free – Everyone loves something for nothing!
  3. Proven – Assures people your brand is trustworthy.
  4. Double – Says you’re getting more than you pay more.
  5. Essential – Implies a certain need.
  6. Unbelievable – Tells the greatness of your brand.
  7. Best-selling – Implies the product is the best out of all the others.
  8. Improved – Implies something has gained value.
  9. New – People prefer new goods to used.
  10. Advanced – Means your brand is better than what’s currently available.
  11. Lifetime – Talks about the longevity of something.
  12. Expert – Meaning well informed and high-quality.
  13. High-quality – Tells people the product is worth buying.
  14. Percent signs (%) – Discounts are very provocative to getting people to purchase a product.
  15. Dollar signs ($) – When people know how much something costs or how much the discount is, they can better asses the price value.
  16. Guaranteed – Makes people feel reassured they are getting what you state they are.

Assuring Power Words

  1. Secure – Meaning something is safe.
  2. Privacy – Tells people their personal information is protected.
  3. Authentic – Tells people something is real as opposed to fake.
  4. Backed/Tested/Verified/Certified – Implies there is evidence to prove value.
  5. Moneyback – If the customer doesn’t like the product, their purchase can be returned.
  6. Endorsed – Means someone has tested the product and can truthfully say it works.

Urgency Power Words

  1. Act now – Pushes your audience to take action quickly or they may miss out.
  2. Only – There is a limited number.
  3. Limited – Means something will run out.
  4. Temporary – Means something won’t last for long.
  5. Now – Talks about acting in present time, not later in the future.
  6. Exclusive – Something that is special and holds high value.
  7. Rare – Something that is limited.
  8. Hurry – Act quickly.

Using the “Pleasure Principle” of pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain, is one of the most effective ways to market a product or service, and combining the principle with impacting power words is a strategy that can be highly beneficial to your marketing campaign. Remember  to always be truthful with your words. Don’t tell your audience your

product has been tested or proven unless it really has been; deceitful marketing will only lead people to stray from your brand.

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