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 by your content marketing strategy. 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 can be 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 motivated by the desire to enhance pleasure and avoid pain. For example, we buy clothes to keep us warm and improve our confidence; we buy medicine to avoid discomfort or health complications. Sometimes we endure pain to gain pleasure in the future, such as when athletes train for a marathon. A marathon athlete will spend hours putting their bodies under immense stress to achieve the satisfaction of competing in the marathon and having a stronger physique.

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

Capitalizing On Pleasure In Your Content Marketing Strategy


Incorporating pleasure into your content marketing strategy can create positive associations with your brand.

Ask yourself, “How can my product or service cause someone to feel pleasure?” Marketing to insight pleasure means causing your audience to experience feelings of joy, fun and comfort. This creates a sense of desire; people want to experience the emotions you’re evoking, so they’re urged to buy your product or service. The following 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. Four hands meet in the center and raise up together. The camera shows shots of a nuclear family smiling and making pancakes together. With smiles on their faces, each of the family members join in the pancake making event. Over the top of the commercial, a feminine voice says, “Some recipes taste better when they’re prepared together.” The voice goes on to explain that love, happiness, a pinch of fun, and “a delicious touch” are all it takes to make something the whole family will love. After making the pancakes with the same level of exuberance and playfulness, the family spreads a generous smear of Nutella, and the commercial’s logo appears on the screen: “It’s good to be together.” This 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. At the height of those positive emotions, the commercial capitalizes on your feelings by urging customers to buy some Nutella for their home. This commercial is highly effective due to its depiction of relatable people, scenarios and cheerful background music.
    See the full mouth-watering commercial here:

Appealing to pleasure in your content marketing strategy can also include sex appeal, trust, rationality and belonging. Marketing to instill these emotions will make people engage with your product or service.

Using Pain In Your Content Marketing Strategy

In marketing to pain, you’re not inflicting actual pain on someone; rather, you’re inflicting the fear of discomfort. Here is an example of appealing to pain:

  • In a Honda commercial from a few years ago, a group of friends and family members were talking about how much they loved a man. Then they showed the man crossing the street with a car quickly coming towards him. Just before the car crashed into him, the car came to a complete stop thanks to Honda’s automatic break sensors, and he was saved. The commercial then showed the relief his friends and family felt, knowing he was ok. The message this commercial is communicating is that Honda’s cars are the safest option. The car maker is appealing to consumers’ fears 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 of missing out, or FOMO, is one of the most common techniques employed in content marketing.

Fear is not always the fear of pain. The fear of missing out, or FOMO, 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. Content marketing strategies that incorporate this fear include limited time deals, artificially small stocks and advertising that depicts groups enjoying the benefits of the product. Doing influencer marketing is a great way to increase FOMO in your audience members.

If your products or services do not lend themselves to fear, other negative emotions your marketing strategy can capitalize include sadness, anger and guilt. Many advertisements directed toward people assigned female at birth also use shame as a motivator. However, many marketers, ourselves included, have done a lot of work to push back against shame as a motivator in advertising.

Identifying Your Target Audience


Identifying your target audience is a crucial part of developing a content marketing strategy.

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:

  1. Collect demographic data and build buyer personas.

Separating your audience into demographic groups can help you narrow your target audience. You can collect demographic 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.

  1. Analyze your current customers.

Your current customer base offers golden information to help find your target audience. Analyze your best customers. What characteristics do they have in common? Then take look at your least active 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. Regardless of how you approach the other two categories, you will want to focus some of your content marketing strategy on them. They will be the most loyal, so developing a trusting relationship with them is critical for success.

  1. 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 have not capitalized on, that can be your selling point.

Marketing Power Words


Power words, when used correctly, can be an effective way to ignite passion in your audience and give them a call to action they won’t be able to ignore.

Using the “right” language in your content marketing strategy is crucial. 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, but by doing some research, you can compile a database of power words that tend to bring you results. 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 how great your product is will create excitement in your audience members.
  2. Easy – Nobody wants a complicated product. Remember that difficulty is a form of pain that people are likely to avoid if the potential benefits are unclear. Telling people how simple your product or service is makes it more appealing.
  3. Inspiring – This word indicates to your audience that your product will evoke new insights.
  4. Epic – Create a sense of adventure with your product. Remember, good storytelling is good marketing.
  5. Confidential – Help your customer feel protected.
  6. Imagine – This word is a command that gets people thinking and more engaged.
  7. Powerful – This word states the strength of your brand and by extension the fortitude of anyone associated with your brand.
  8. You – Addressing your customer personally creates a connection between them and your business.

Negative Emotion Power Words

  1. Beware – Warning your audience members about something will make them listen more carefully to your advice or suggestions.
  2. Risky – Similarly, marking something as risky makes most people want to steer clear of whatever you’re describing, allowing you to point them in the right direction.
  3. Avoid – As with other fear-generating words, integrating this power word into your copy works best when it is paired with a call to action that leads them to what they should choose instead.
  4. Costly – When used to describe your competitors, this can transition nicely into FOMO. If one of your customers pay for a costly version of your product, they’re “missing out” on an even better deal with your business.
  5. Heartbreaking – If something is labeled as devastating, you can bet your audience members will want to do all they can to minimize that pain.
  6. Hoax – Calling out falsehoods has the added benefit of improving your business’s credibility.

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 getting something for nothing!
  3. Proven – This implies that whatever you are claiming has been tested and is trustworthy.
  4. Double – Similar to “free,” this creates a feeling of accomplishment. Buyers feel smarter for having gotten more bang for their buck.
  5. Essential – If something is essential, it implies that whatever product or service you’re providing is needed.
  6. Best-selling – While it is not a negative word, best-selling comes with the subtext that lots of people are buying this product or service. This reinforces that fear of missing out that many businesses capitalize on in their content marketing strategies.
  7. New – When something is new, we assume it is cutting-edge and state-of-the-art. Who wouldn’t want that?
  8. Advanced – Similarly, this power word indicates that what you are selling is better than what your competitors have to offer.
  9. Lifetime – When business’s offer a lifetime warranty or similar offer, they are establishing themselves as reliable.
  10. Percent signs (%) – Discounts are very effective at getting people to purchase a product.
  11. Dollar signs ($) – When people know how much something costs or how much the discount is, they can better assess the price value.
  12. Guaranteed – Similar to lifetime, this power word makes people feel reassured they are getting what you state they are.

Assuring Power Words

  1. Secure – When paired with fear-based advertisements, the word secure can pull your audience members from a scary place into one where they feel protected.
  2. Privacy – This emphasizes a level of autonomy that is very important, especially in Americans 35 years and older.
  3. Authentic – This word does more than point out that your product is trustworthy. It also implies that there are products out there which are fake.
  4. Moneyback – If the customer doesn’t like the product, their purchase can be returned. This assures customers that your business is confident in the quality of their product.
  5. Endorsed – This power word offers an appeal to authority. In other words, someone has tested the product and can truthfully say it works.

Urgency Power Words

  1. Act now – This pushes your audience to take action quickly, or they might miss out.
  2. Only – If there is a limited supply of a product, consumers will feel like they need to purchase your product as soon as possible.
  3. Limited/Rare – Similar to only, if supply is likely to run out soon, people will do everything they can to avoid FOMO.
  4. Exclusive – Not only does this create the same sense of urgency as the above words. It also means that if your customer gets their hands on your product, they will have something unique and important.
  5. Hurry – Command words like this create immediate urgency in your audience members

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 content marketing 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.

Creating A Content Marketing Strategy?

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