Nail in the foot

We all know how important it is to identify your target client's pain point. Talking directly to that pain point will allow their lizard brain's natural filtering mechanism to take note and allow the rationale and emotional brains to engage with your message.

But do you know that there are 2 forms of pain points?

  1. The nail in the foot
  2. The pebble in the shoe

The first is an immediate urgent cry for help and the second is a slight annoyance.

The easiest pain point to market to, is the nail in the foot pain point.

With this the customer is in serious pain, they are hopping around looking desperately for a solution and will reach for whoever comes to mind first. 

Think: Letter from the taxman saying you are going to be audited. Immediate panic, what do we do, we need an accountant, oh wait Bobs an accountant, I'll call him.

And if you are lucky enough to be Bob the sale is yours. By just being in the right place at the right time.

Or your boiler bursts and there is water everywhere. You need help now. You Google plumbers near me and Johnny Stone Ltdis at the top. You may not even look further than that because you want help now. However maybe you have had a bad experience in the past so you check outJohnny's website and look for some customer testimonials. Or look for his trustpilot rating. And if there isn't anything concerning, you call Johnny and get your boiler fixed.

The nail in the foot pain point is real and raw and immediate.

The customer needs the service or product now.

It can also be a pleasure that they need immediately. Like craving a chocolate while out shopping. That's why supermarkets put shelves next to the check out line, filled with sweets and chocolate. So that you don't have to work hard to fulfil your craving, just reach out.

Because if you have to work hard to get it, like going back out of the checkout isle, finding the right main isle and then having to queue again, you may decide you don't need it that much after all. Because inherently we are all lazy creatures. Every invention ever made was to cater to our laziness.


So how do you make sure you are the Bob orJohnny in these scenarios?

  1. Stay top of mind. No one is going to find you if you are the best kept secret. Brand awareness is a long game, because you are waiting for the nail to hit the foot.  But you don't have to have the budget of coca cola to stay top of mind. Depending on your target client, your product or service and your geographic spread, even something as simple as a banner around a kids football field could work. Or an annual calendar door dropped just after Christmas to everyone in the village. It must be appropriate of course. Choosing a school sports field when your target audience is single women in their 30s would not work.


Another long game brand building exercise is networking. Being consistent and deliberate about forming relationships and trust will pay. Some networking gurus say it can take a year to 18 months to start seeing a return. Personally I got a job from a personI knew for 15 years (and they aren't family).

  1. PPC ads for when they search for help. Depending on how much competition there is for your product, this could get expensive but doing proper keyword research     and using longtail keywords could be cost effective. Insurance is a very expensive keyword because it is too vague and too vast. And the competition is immense. And they have bigger budgets than you do. But life insurance advisor near me is much more targeted and cost effective.


SEO or Search engine optimisation can also play a crucial role here. Keep your website ranking by making sure you use the relevant keywords and write blogs and articles with your education content to help clients find you.

LinkedIn and YouTube are also great search engines so keep your profile updated and use video where possible.


And don't forget google my business for local searches.

  1. Using data to make sure you get to the client as the need arises. All the world is data now. If you just think through the behavior of your target client. What data triggers will tell you they have your particular pain? Life insurance is a good one. Partnering with a credit card company means you can see spend patterns. Prenatal classes, shopping at baby stores etc are all signs that a baby is due and a baby is a big reason people get life insurance. Or a wedding. Credit card companies watch the Companies house register and send offers to new company listings. Data is everywhere.


The pebble on the shoe pain point can be a goldmine for some businesses.

In this scenario the client has an irritation, a niggle, a worry at the back of their minds, but it's not enough to make them take action. It's on their to do list with 50 other items and gets pushed back day after day.

Getting a will often falls into this category. It's on your list, you know you have to do it. You may even have spoken to your partner about it and you both agreed it should be done. But something more urgent always crops up.

Getting fit is another pebble. You know you should. But who has time? The gym is so far and it's so much easier to throw together macaroni cheese than thinking about cooking healthy food. Definitely we will do it next year.

Or what about cyber security? Protecting yourself online. Another nice to have? Why would hackers be interested in little old me? I don't have anything valuable.


So how do you get the customer to buy in these scenarios?

  1. One method is education. Keep repeating the perils of NOT acting. Give examples of people who left it too late and regretted it.


This can be seen as fear mongering and some regulated industries like insurance have rules against it.

Fear-based marketing strategies are controversial. Just like most other marketing tactics, they can either work extremely well or blow up in your face. But studies have proven the tactic to be effective time and time again.

What's important is that you think about what you want your clients to think and feel and do when they see your marketing.

You want people to think of your brand as helpful. They should see your company as one that solves problems and addresses pain points.

You don’t want them to perceive you as one that simply points out problems. So make sure you always have a solution to solving the fear. Leave them with hope that it can be fixed and that you are the perfect person to fix it.

  1. Stay top of mind. Similar to the action for nail in the foot pain point, this is a waiting game.


An external force will change the pebble in the shoe into a nail in the foot pain. Like a relative dying, making you aware of how short life is and you should really sort that will out. Or you get a medical diagnosis which kickstarts your fitness journey (and that will).

Or your friend get shacked, and you see how it destroyed their lives.

It may not need to be a dramatic change. That pebble could just keep annoying until it's too much to take. Or it reaches the top of the to do list.

For both these scenarios you want to be the person or brand the client thinks of at that moment. Who do you need to call? Ghostbusters (or insert your name here).

  1. A third way is persuasion.


Not all persuasion involves a sleazy salesman. I have met some amazing salespeople in my life who convinced me I needed to act now. And I didn't regret it.

But persuasion can also be an offer that makes the decision a no-brainer. Why wouldn't you join the gym now if you can get 3 months free? Why wouldn't you sign up to a cybersecurity package when your family gets covered as well?  

Infomercials are amazing at persuasion. How many people have ended up with a wonder bra because it will support you like no other bra can? And they woke up that morning with no idea that bra support was a pain point.

As in all things marketing, there isn't only one right answer. Thinking about the customer is crucial to getting it right.And you could have different customers on different stages and so have to cater for both pain points.

Understanding the type of pain can help ensure that you have the right strategy in place to attract the client of your dreams.