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We’re missing something important if we’re not feeling our customer’s pain like they do…

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”
– Daniel H. Pink

Ask yourself:

  • Put yourself in the situation of having the pain point you’re addressing – if you can.  Write down or record how it feels, what can you do, what can’t you do, what is frustrating about it, how are you reacting.
  • Ask open-ended questions of someone who does have this pain point and put yourself in their shoes.  Listen between the lines. Empathize.  Imagine you facing their challenges or how they’ve adapted to not having a solution.
  • Capture what you discovered – especially any part of it that’s feeling-based.  That will be the foundation for an awesome elevator pitch or marketing message.

Success as a new venture demands that you differentiate, you get visible, and you solve a problem – usually referred to as a pain point.  Let’s leave aside the relevant question about whether you’re better off addressing pain or increasing pleasure or a combination of both.

A founder needs to understand their customer’s pain – maybe even be able to feel it or certainly empathize enough to know the depth and the impact that particular pain point has in a person’s life.

Glossing over that understanding is way too easy to do, as I realized recently.  When our lives aren’t stopped or slowed down significantly by a pain point, it’s hard to get in touch with that situation.

The real problem for a founder, though, is that marketing can’t be nearly as effective if you can’t demonstrate that you truly understand the pain.

I recently re-injured my knee in a way that caused a lot of pain.  My knee is fine now, but pain is one of those experiences that’s only in the present moment.  Once the pain is gone, like mine is now, it’s really hard to remember how significant it was and how it curtailed a lot of activity.  Out of sight, out of mind.  That’s a cool thing about being human, but it really gets in the way of having a compelling message for your prospective customer.

One of the reasons it’s so hard for a founder to have that empathy and experience of the pain point is because your new product or service has solved that problem for you(generally that’s what startup founders do – solve problems they encounter themselves or see in the world).  You’re already beyond the pain point and so it’s not longer got that compelling hold on your life.   So, you need to recreate the situation that enables you to capture everything you’re trying to alleviate as close to first hand as you can – because the whole experience of pain vanishes as soon as it’s over.

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