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Do You Really Know Your Customers? Pain Points 101

pain points

Have you ever thought about what makes companies like Microsoft so successful? How did one business that started in a Seattle garage end up dominating the computing world? 

You’ll hear a lot of people say that they started at the right time or that they hit some kind of imaginary ‘lightning in a bottle’, but that answer is a cop out. You don’t build a 2 trillion dollar company through luck. A lot of businesses started at ‘the right time’ and hit a trend, but now those businesses have gone the way of Blockbuster. 

The reason Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart, Apple, and CVS dominate their markets is because they built their business around answering pain points and listening to the people who use their products. 

Take Microsoft, for example. First, they build computer programs to make it easier for consumers to navigate their desktops. From there, they branched out into security, cloud software, business software, and more. Everything they’ve done has been done to serve the pain points of their identified customer base.

Pain points may seem like a simple concept, but companies spend millions of dollars every year trying to figure out what concerns their clients have. The good news is that there are ways to discover these things without having to waste time and other resources. 

If you want to increase your revenue, you have to identify your client’s needs. Let’s take a look at pain points. What are they? How can you identify them? What can you do to help other businesses adjust to new market pressures? 

Read on to learn the answers to three out of four of these questions!

What Are Pain Points? 

Without getting too existential, everything is a pain point for a business. Anything that creates an issue for a business falls into this category, but your business should focus on the ones that you can solve. 

When solving pain points, you don’t have to provide something new. There are thousands of very successful businesses that have built a better wheel, so to speak. They noticed a gap in the market, filled it, and then grew from there to take over their respective niche.

The issue is finding out what the problems are. The first thing you’ll want to do is break them down into categories. The four most common categories are:

Productivity

These are the customer pain points that cause the client to spend too much time on things. Smaller businesses can have serious issues with these pain points because they often don’t have enough money to hire a dedicated employee or team for each department. 

For example, a small business may only have a few employees, so they’ll have one person in charge of payroll, scheduling, and email marketing. This situation creates some weird job roles where you may have an owner in charge of IT and email marketing. 

The problem is it’s hard to do anything when you’re expected to do everything. When a business has one person in charge of several tasks, that person isn’t able to be effective and stuff starts falling through the cracks. 

It’s like a juggling act. Someone might be able to juggle 7 swords, but if you add the 8th, that person is going to be paying a visit to the emergency room. The same principle applies to a business (albeit with less intense stakes). If employees can’t focus on tasks that bring in new customers, the company will lose money long term. 

For the general public, this means that they’re stretched for time and want something that makes their life easier. They’re looking for products that save them time or make their day-to-day life easier. 

Financial

In business, almost everything comes back to money. Financial issues are an obvious pain point, particularly for small to medium-sized ones. The most obvious challenge that faces small businesses is when forces outside of their control put a strain on their finances. 

Whether it’s an economic downturn or a pandemic, many smaller companies don’t have the funds to ride out these types of events, even with government support. They need partners that can help them stretch their budgets. 

Some businesses sign up for services from a company that promises them the moon but under-delivers. These businesses may not have the resources to find another provider. Others may have signed up for a service that increased in price so that it’s not a workable option anymore, while some may have realized later that they aren’t getting the best price possible. 

For the general public, this pain point has become more prevalent over the past year. The pandemic and subsequent economic issues placed a greater emphasis on getting the best value.

You can gain a lot of customers by solving this pain point. Think of Amazon and Walmart. They dominate the market because they provide their consumers with value and convenience. 

Likewise, services that can help businesses improve their cash flow, or reduce costs and inefficiencies, are very appealing to businesses.

Support

Companies don’t exist in a bubble. They rely on other businesses to offer them support services, whether it’s helping to build a website or managing the distribution of their product. There isn’t a business in the country that doesn’t need the support and services of another business. 

You may not even realize the amount of support your business receives. If you’re in the transportation industry, you may hire your own drivers, recruit and retain clients, and handle IT and logistics in house, but what about the parts that go into your trucks? What about your email and internet providers? Without those companies, you wouldn’t make it very far. 

Regular consumers view this pain point differently. To them, support means that they can find what they want and get it easily. 

These types of services are invaluable to a business. If a potential customer doesn’t receive the support they need, you can step in to fill that gap for them. Whether it’s giving them a better price, more consistent deliveries, or reliable service, you can make their life easier.

Internal Processes 

These are the parts of a business that happen in-house and that are considered ‘time killers’. Things like assigning new leads to sales reps, training, and getting new leads into the sales funnel all fall under this category. 

These are often the hardest pain points to recognize from outside of a business. Luckily, there are some things you can do to get more information on internal pain points. 

Specific Pain Points Almost All Businesses Face 

From these four pain points, you can branch out into specific problems that most companies face. Every business is different, but the things that keep business owners awake at night are pretty much the same. 

Growth Pains and Stagnation

One of the worst answers you can give when someone suggests a change is “that’s the way it’s always been”. This type of thinking shuts down innovation and makes it impossible for a business to grow. 

The problem is that as a business grows, it has to change its internal operations. Processes that work when you have a 10 person crew won’t work when you have 100 people. The larger you get, the more changes you’ll need. 

Unfortunately, as a business grows, they tend to become weary of change. As a startup, business leaders love and preach innovation, but when revenues grow, the fear of loss creeps in. If sales are growing, you must be doing everything right, so why pivot to something new and risk losing what you’ve gained so far? 

This fear also causes the leadership team to feel like they have to maintain the same level of control they held when the company was young. As the company grows, so does their workload, making it impossible for them to keep up. 

If you can help solve some of these issues, you’ll be in high demand. There are several different strategies you can take, such as relieving the workload of the management team or consulting leadership on changing certain policies during the growing phase. 

Culture 

As a business grows, they’re going to need to focus on culture. This dictates more than how employees treat customers and each other. It informs every decision that a business makes and helps navigate the company through difficult times. 

A growing company can make many essential employees feel overlooked or left out of the loop, and once engaged people can start to get overly competitive and toxic. New employees may then feel more pressure to prove their worth, turning the workplace into a battle zone. 

One problem that a lot of new businesses have is that they don’t know how to establish a culture. If your business provides HR, consulting, or training services, you can help businesses build a strong culture and alleviate this pain point. 

Funding Growth

As we said before, everything always comes back to money. 

As a business grows, they need more money to hire employees, build marketing campaigns, and fulfill orders. They may need a new office or to increase the salaries and benefits of their essential employees, or they might need to develop new products or services. 

There are a few ways to handle funding issues, but the best way is improving their margins by increasing profits, lowering expenses, or a combination of the two. These pain points are the ones that a large portion of businesses focus on solving. 

Offering combined services for a lower price than what a business would pay for individual products is one way that your company can help solve this issue for businesses. You can also help them in other ways, such as lowering the cost of producing goods, helping a business logistically, or helping them find new customers. 

Marketing Campaigns

One of the best ways to increase sales and improve margins is an effective marketing campaign with a high ROI, but new companies may not have the same resources as their larger competitors. 

There are several digital marketing firms that can help with this by implementing sound SEO and PPC strategies. These campaigns allow businesses to control their costs while also building their brand and attracting new customers. 

You may have noticed that many of these pain points work together. Ultimately, they all revolve the same two things: time and money. You can get a lot of new customers by building your business around meeting these needs. 

How To Identify Customer or Business Pain Points

Every successful business focuses on improving their customer’s experience, whether through lowering the cost of services, improving ROI, or offering a new service that improves their client’s quality of life. 

For your business, that means identifying a need in the market and filling it by alleviating a pain point. There are several ways you can identify these pain points, but we’ll start with the simplest first!

Use Your Mailing List 

Companies will spend millions of dollars trying to identify pain points, but for some reason they never get around to the simplest way of identifying them…asking their customers directly. 

There are a few ways to go about this. First, use your mailing list to get feedback from current customers and potential clients. 

You’ll want to ask your current customers about their experience with your company and their future expectations. Ask them what you are doing well and how you can better meet their needs. What made them decide to do business with you, what advice do they have for you in the future, and are there any new services you could offer that they would have an interest in?

For potential clients, it gets a little trickier because you need to find out what’s stopping them from signing up. 

It’s best to ask them after you get feedback from existing customers, as you can then use the answer to ‘what made you decide to do business with us’ to tailor your message to potential clients. 

Ask them what made them sign up for your mailing list and what you could do to build their confidence in your product or service. Ask them to rate your business based on trustworthiness, ability to solve their problems, pricing, and service. 

Make sure that everyone knows their responses are anonymous. You should also let them know that your only goal is to gather information and not pressure anyone to sign up for a service. Most people will help another business as long as they ask. 

Use Online Forums

The internet is one of the most powerful tools a business has at its disposal. You can see in real time what’s trending among your industry’s thought leaders and react to it.  

Some of the best places to look are Reddit and Quora because there are millions of users online at any moment. These two forums allow people to ask and answer questions and start conversations about almost anything. 

Find out who the influencers in your potential clients industry are and follow them on these forums. See what they’re talking about regularly and what answers they give to questions. This will often lead to figuring out what pain points they feel are important to address, letting you know what services you should focus on. 

You can also use online forums to spy on your competitors by seeing what companies in your niche focus on and how they interact with customers. From there, you can emulate what works and learn from what doesn’t. 

Make sure you look for patterns in what types of questions posters ask. This will help you when developing blog posts for your website, fixing your own marketing pain points. Blogs help drive traffic to your website through SEO and help your business establish expertise in the field. 

By answering these questions proactively, the next time someone searches in Google for that question, they’ll find your website. 

You can also jump on those boards and answer questions yourself, dropping a link to a blog post you’ve written about the issue or a link to your services if you think you can help. You get a backlink and an opportunity to establish your expertise. 

Use Social Media 

Social media works like forums in that you can follow thought leaders to see what they’re talking about. You can also see what they post about and look at the responses to these posts. This gives you more insight into what people think about your industry. 

Some sites like Twitter allow you to follow trends (or hashtags) too. This lets you see what people in your industry look for online. This will also help you find potential customers and see what their complaints and pain points are. 

You can also make posts on social media sites asking your followers what their biggest pain points are. This lets you get valuable information about customer pain points without having to write up entire emails and making phone calls. You could also get the opinion of people outside your industry. Sometimes, the best advice and insight comes from those on the outside.

Sites like LinkedIn allow you to do the same thing, along with posting replies to questions and publishing articles. Since LinkedIn is a network geared towards professionals, you’ll reach more of your target audience. 

Become A Customer Yourself 

If you really want to know what your customers have to deal with and how you can improve your ability to solve their pain points, do some undercover work. You don’t need to go all out Undercover Boss style and wear a terribly fake mustache, but you should act and think like a new customer. 

You can do this yourself or have a friend or family member play the role of customer. Sometimes, having someone else do it for you works better since they don’t have the same bias. 

Start by signing up for your mailing list and see what your customer gets. How long does it take for your company to reach out? What’s the first message you receive and does it seem like something that would attract your ideal client? 

You’ll then want to work your way through the entire process. Send questions in and test the value of the answers you receive. Try signing up for your service and see if it’s easy for clients to find what they’re looking for. 

You can then test the product or service you receive. Is it what your company promises? Does the product or service fill the need that your imaginary customer had? If you bought the same product or service from another company, would you feel like you got what you paid for? 

Remember that when performing this exercise, you aren’t looking to punish anyone for shortcomings. If someone makes a mistake during this, instead of worrying about punishing them, fix the behavior. Your goal is to improve your company, not scare everyone. 

This will not only let you see what your customer experiences, but it will also give you valuable information about your training process. Are your employees getting the information and empowerment they need to give customers the service they deserve? Are there some employees that are doing too much, making some of their job roles suffer? This is a great way to find out.

Analytics Are Your Friend

There’s a reason that data is big business: it helps companies make informed decisions. There are certain tools that can help you track customer behavior and give you insights into the problems that potential clients face. 

For example, Google Analytics is a free tool that will show you what pages someone visits, stays on the longest, and quickly leaves. This does more than affect your SEO rankings. It also lets you know the value of each page on your site so that you can make adjustments to certain parts of your website.

You can glean valuable information from using these tools. Let’s say you have a trial that you offer customers. After the trial, if you notice that those customers visit your pricing page and then opt out, it’s a sign that you may need to lower your prices or that you aren’t explaining the value of your product properly. 

You may also notice that they click on your blog posts from other sources, such as backlinks or through Google, and then quickly leave. This would imply that either the structure of your page throws them off or that they aren’t finding the information they thought they would. 

You can also pull analytical data from emails. By gauging click rates, you can see which call to actions work best and which email titles get your customers to click on them. 

Combining this information will give you a view of the customer’s journey through your sales funnel. You can find out where you’re meeting a potential client’s needs and where you’re falling short, allowing you to make adjustments on the fly. 

You’ll often find small things on your website that need a tweak, which might seem pointless if it’s a one off thing, but a lot of small things can throw customers off. 

Play The Why Game

Have you ever had a child ask you ‘why?’ repeatedly? While it might be an annoyance, there’s actually some value to this exercise. 

When you constantly ask why, you get to the root of most issues quickly. Using the method of asking why, you can get to the root of almost any pain point. 

The idea is simple enough: you start with a basic issue that your customer faces, such as they need more traction in a marketing campaign. From there, you ask ‘why’ until they reach the root of their needs. 

In this case, you would ask why they need more traction. They may answer it’s because they want more leads, to which you would ask why they need those leads. If they need those leads, it might be because they want more money? Why? Because they want to hire more help, until you realize that the biggest pain point is that they have a small staff that’s overstretched and they’re worried that they can’t grow. 

While there are many pain points, they almost always boil down to a few simple root issues. 

1. The company has a small staff and they’re overstretched. 

2. The business knows what they need to do, but they don’t know where to start. For example, everyone knows SEO is important, but how do you build a campaign from the beginning?

3. The company isn’t getting what they need from their current providers. 

4. The business is new and they aren’t sure how to find the support they need. 

Once you understand which of these apply to your customer, you can develop a plan to work towards solving this goal. 

Monitor Your Reviews

Online reviews are a great tool for both consumers and businesses. These review sites allow consumers to either give your business a recommendation or tell other customers that they had a problem. 

Online reviews also allow consumers to research a product or service before buying it. This is more widespread than you may think: 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends and family. For your business, it’s a great way to learn more about how the public sees you. 

Of course, you’re always going to have customers you can’t make happy regardless of what you do. You’re also going to have bad days yourself and fall short of your expectations. Perfection should be the goal, but it can’t be the expectation. 

You aren’t looking for outliers when you check these reviews. You’re checking for trends. 

You’ll want to check both the positive and negative reviews. For the positives, look at what you’re doing well. These are your selling points. Often, you’ll find that customers look for things that you may not think of, like how quickly your business answers the phone and takes care of a customer’s issue. You can use this info to figure out where you’re ahead of your competitors. 

You’ll then want to check out the negative reviews. This is important information too, since customers are telling you where you’re falling short. These are areas for improvement, or things you can focus on. 

Reviews will give you insight into your customer’s pain points. If you recently raised prices and got a slew of critical reviews, then you know that the pain point potential customers have is that they don’t see enough value and are hesitant on spending as much money as you’re charging. 

If you notice customers say that they don’t feel heard by you (customer service complaints), you’ll know that they have support based pain points. Use these reviews and DON’T take them personally, unless you enjoy losing sleep at night. 

Responding to Negative Reviews

You’ll feel tempted to respond to negative reviews, and if you feel like they aren’t fair, you’ll want to defend yourself and your business. When a business owner hears something bad about their business, they tend to take it personally, and why not? They’ve put a lot of sweat equity into making their company successful, and they view a negative review as a dismissal of their hard work. 

While it’s natural to feel this way, it’s not the best course of action. 

You don’t want other people to read reviews and see responses that look unprofessional. Your best bet is to answer with an apology (even if you don’t feel you owe one). Tell them that you’re sorry you didn’t meet their standards and then provide your business phone number and ask them to contact you so you can make the situation right. 

Everyone won’t contact you, but those that do can offer you valuable information. First, reiterate your apology and find out what happened. Get as many details as possible so that you can offer to remedy the situation.

Once you get enough calls from upset customers, you can draw up a plan for improving your business. You can adjust your services to meet the needs of upset clients and answer pain points you didn’t know were issues before. 

You should respond to positive reviews as well by thanking them for their business and kind words. When you do this, you’re answering one of the pain points many of your customers have: support. You’re showing that your business takes your customer’s opinions and thoughts seriously. 

We’re Here To Help You Meet Your Client’s Pain Points

No matter what pain points your business has, BearFox Marketing is here to help. We can help you in a number of different ways. 

Our SEO and digital marketing services will help you find and attract clients to your business and solve your marketing pain points. We’ll also help develop a content strategy that positions your company as an expert in your field and that builds consumer trust. Whether you’re looking to build your brand or move customers through your sales funnel, we can help. 

Through PPC ads, we’ll increase your ROI, making the most of your marketing budget and freeing up your employees to focus on retention and recruitment of customers. 

We’ve designed our digital marketing services to help solve your pain points so that you can solve your client’s problems. 
We’ve helped hundreds of businesses like yours design, execute, and track their marketing strategy. Check out our case studies to see how we’ve helped other businesses and get in touch with us today. You can give us a call at 208-820-1932 or use our contact form and our team will get back to you right away. We can help you grow your business and solve your pain points today!