Biz Tips: The Most Important Thing In Marketing

Biz Tips: The Most Important Thing In Marketing


The Most Important Thing In Marketing

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

What is the most important thing in marketing?

I will give you a hint:

It is a quality.

It is not about having fancy $200 a month funnel software with up-sells, one-time offers, and cross-sells.

It is not about how often you email your list or which software you use or whether you embed images in your emails.

It’s not even that much about the copy you use, although your copy is how you show that quality.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that, without this quality, all your marketing will fall flat on its face.

You will straight up not make any sales.

On the flip side, you can throw almost everything else out of the window if you have this.

Your marketing will make sales, even if you aren’t the most skilled copywriter, don’t send daily emails, or have a simple funnel.

What is that quality?


All Marketing Starts With A Problem

We all know the proverbial story of the crazy uncle who comes up with a new product idea every two weeks.

(This will all come together in a second, I promise.)

“A hair dryer for fish! A fin dryer, so to speak! I can already smell the cash rolling in.”

And you only roll your eyes and think, “No, you can’t. This product is terrible.”

These people do it backwards.

They start with a solution instead of a problem.

But, good marketing doesn’t start with a solution — it starts with a problem.

Think of one of the biggest industries of the past fifty years: the weight loss industry.

How is it still chugging along, with no end in sight?

Because there is a problem, and nobody has come up with a cure-all solution that works for everybody.

People have this huge pain in their life from being overweight, and it causes them all other sorts of problems.

  • Knee pain
  • Digestion issues
  • Trouble finding a partner

To name a few.

And this is true for everything meaningful you ever bought.

  • Ice cream? You were hungry.
  • Video game? You wanted fun and entertainment.
  • New luxury car? Transportation and to impress your friends.

(I’m excluding stuff like “Believe in God Breath Spray” because it’s about as meaningful as the fish fin dryer I made up above. Unless you’re really running low on faith.)

I wasn’t joking about that breath spray. Source

But many marketers don’t take the trouble to

  1. Understand that problem
  2. Show they understand that problem

And that is where a huge divide between the customer and the marketer happens.

This is especially true for step two.

As they saying goes,

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

You can have the most amazing diet program in the world, but until you show the reader you understand his pain, he doesn’t care.

And this is where empathy comes in.

With empathy, your reader will read what you write and think,

“Wow, this person knows exactly what I’m going through.”

And, if you can get your prospect to that point, he will be much more open to buying from you.

If you don’t believe me, how often has this happened to you?

“Hmm, this product doesn’t seem to help me cure my pain… and I don’t get the feeling that this guy really knows what I’m struggling with. Whatever, I’ll buy anyways because it’s cheap.”

Maybe once, and then never again because you got burned.

You are much more likely to buy from someone who knows what you’re going through.

Of course, the sale isn’t guaranteed. There will always be reasons not to buy, even if they think you understand them.

But if you don’t show that you understand their problem, the chances are 0%, so you better get to demonstrating that empathy.

Above, you have seen a simple two-step formula to get started on your empathic journey.

Let’s dive into more detail on this.

How To Understand Your Customer’s Pain

Market research is, without a doubt, the most valuable use of your time when it comes to marketing.

Everything else comes secondary to that. If you have any question whatsoever, the market will answer it for you.

After all, it’s called market-ing for a reason.

And, getting a basic understanding of your market’s pains isn’t all that complicated.

In fact, there’s only three things you need, but it’s a rabbit-hole that never ends.

  1. Pains, problems, fears
  2. The ideal solution and result
  3. Their roadblocks and obstacles

That’s it.

Why these?

Like I said, all marketing starts with a problem.

If the buyer does not have a problem, he has no need for your product.

(Again, excluding joke stuff.)

Let’s take a random example for this article: new moms who want to lose weight.

First of all, they have a huge, burning pain.

They are overweight.

But, they are not just overweight. That problem actually leads to many more problems.

For example (and I’m taking all the following examples from a weight loss forum for mothers), here’s some other problems they have:

  • They don’t fit in their bath tub
  • Men never give them a second look
  • They can only wear sweatpants or they are uncomfortable
  • They tire easily so they can’t play with their kids as much as they want to

As mentioned, this is actual stuff I found in a forum, and this is absolute gold.


Because I’m now taking actual language that they use to describe their problem.

Believe it or not, I have never been an overweight mother.

I would never think about the fact that other men don’t look at me twice, or that I don’t fit in my bath tub.

Also, you don’t just want any ol’ problem.

You want the big ones, the burning pains, the ones that keep them up at night.

After you’ve compiled a list, rank the pains in order of intensity.

(Do this for the ideal solution/result and the roadblocks as well. This will help you when writing every part of your marketing campaign.)

Now, if the prospect has a problem, he wants to get out of it and usually has a vague idea of what the result looks like.

Again, you have to show you understand what the ideal solution looks like to the prospect.

For example, most new mothers don’t want to look shredded like a bodybuilder.

They just want to look good in their bikinis, take pride in their appearance, and to have guys whistle at them when they walk by.

(More actual stuff I found in a forum.)

Lastly, you have to show them that you understand what’s keeping them from achieving their goal.

After all, there is a reason why people still have that pain in their lives and they haven’t achieved their ideal solution yet.

For example, one obstacle is that they can’t talk about it with their friends because they always say, “At least you and your baby are healthy.”

They have tried every diet and exercise program under the sun, only to see zero improvements and yo-yo back to their pre-diet weight.

Or, they aren’t full-time mothers and have to juggle their time with their job — how can they also squeeze in a fitness routine?

(Again, real stuff, folks.)

These are just some examples, but they are crucial.

If you have a product that can help them, you need to tell them how your product will solve or side-step all these issues.

For example, this product is perfect for busy moms because it only takes ten minutes and can even be done after a long working day.


As I mentioned, you don’t want any problems, solutions, and obstacles, you want the big ones.

Okay, now you understand what you need, but where do you get it?

Here’s a short, non-comprehensive list with pros and cons.


Forums are a literal goldmine.

I got everything I mentioned above from a forum, and you can see how valuable this is.

Here’s a few other reasons why this works so well:

  • It’s anonymous, so people are willing to share a lot about them.
  • You don’t have to talk to anybody — you can soak up all the information you need just by checking it out
  • You can often sort by replies and check which threads got the most — these often contain some serious pain or good stories
  • If you’re not obnoxious about it, you can also use it to ask questions
  • Takes no time at all
  • No requirements (maybe an email sign-up)

As a self-proclaimed introvert, this is my favourite way to get some basic research done.

(I wouldn’t even be exaggerating if I said that a good forum can be all you need to get a good understanding of your market.)

To find a good forum, hop on over to Google and search for “keyword + forum.”

But, there is a method that is even better.

Talking To Your Customers/Prospects

This is better than forums because these people have read your material/are subscribers or have even bought from you.

If you talk to enough people, you can really hone in on the ones you tend to attract and super-charge your marketing.

One drawback is that you can’t scale it much (apart from doing surveys — more on that in a minute). If you talk to a customer for 30 minutes, it’s gonna take those 30 minutes.

Of course, you can hire people to do that research for you, but if you’re running a small operation or freelance, why not do it yourself?

Another minus is that you actually need customers or a list, so you may not be able to do it right away.

One amazing thing you can do here is ask people why they did not buy your product.

That way, you can hone in on where your marketing went wrong.

For example, if they tell you, “It sounds just like any other weight loss program out there,” you now know what to do: Tell people what makes it different.

(And if it’s no different than any other thing out there, why are you even selling it?)


You can side-step the time requirement of talking 1-on-1 by using surveys.

But, they have their own downsides:

  • Can’t ask follow-up questions easily
  • You have to be precise in your wording
  • They shouldn’t be too long, otherwise many people will abandon them

I’ve seen surveys that are three questions, which is great if you can swing it.

A simple way to increase the amount of people who take the survey is by offering some sort of bribe.

It doesn’t have to be huge. To stick with the mother example, you could offer them a short report with healthy 5-minute recipes or something along those lines.

Competitors’ Marketing Campaigns

This is a tricky beast.

The great upside to this is that other people have already done all the hard work for you.

You can open up a sales letter and see all the problems, solutions, and roadblocks right there on the page.

The problem with this approach is something called “Marketing Incest.”

Simply put, your marketing won’t have anything new to it.

And, if enough people do it, it all devolves into a mass of “me-too” marketing.

You also can’t always be sure that the marketing actually made any sales.

One way to side-step this is to check affiliate marketplaces like ClickBank.

You can get some basic stats on how well the product is performing, but these are also deceptive.

For example, if most of the sales come from a list of hot buyers, that could make sales even if the sales letter is terrible.

So take this with a grain of salt, but don’t immediately discard it as a bad way of getting some research done.

Amazon Reviews

Another great way to get some market research, similar to forums.

Just go to Amazon and check products in your niche for what people said about them.

Check the two-to-four star reviews because they are the least biased. One-star reviews are mostly “This product sucks, zero good stuff!” and five-star reviews are “This product is awesome, zero flaws!”

This is especially useful because it can show you weaknesses in other products.

For example, one diet book for moms mentioned that many of the recipes needed food that wasn’t available year-round.

So, you already know what to include in your product now: recipes with food you can get all year long.

Isn’t Talking About All That Pain Kinda… Unethical?

For many people, selling still conjures up a feeling of sleaziness.

And, let’s face it: I haven’t exactly made it look any less sleazy by saying you have to talk about the prospect’s problem.

But like all things in selling, this is only unethical if you do it wrong. (I’ll tell you how to do it wrong in a second.)

First, you have to realise that the reader already has that problem, whether you talk about it or not.

You’re not creating an imaginary problem for him he doesn’t have.

And, if you have a product that does help the reader, you’re actually doing him a favour. By making him realise the extent of his problem and showing you understand it, you’re spurring him to action.

Now, he can change his life with the help of your product.

And that already brings me to the first way you can butcher this:

1. Your Product Has To Solve His Problem

It’s insane that we actually have to talk about this in an era of scam artists.

But, if your product doesn’t help the prospect, then yes, what you’re doing is unethical.

Understand though that in this case, no matter what you do in your marketing, you’re behaving in an unethical way.

Of course, it’s fine if your product doesn’t help a rare buyer. No product works for everybody, and in that case, you can just give them a refund.

But if the refund is the rule rather than the exception, you should examine whether your product is any good at all.

Another way you can counter this problem is by making it clear who is not a good buyer.

This doesn’t have to take long, and it isn’t complicated either.

You can add a paragraph like this:

“This product will not work for everybody. In fact, if you think this is just another lose-weight-fast scheme, I have to disappoint you. It does take work and it does take time. If you’re not willing to invest either, then I ask you not to buy.”

This is unpolished, but you get the point. This doesn’t have to be some long drawn-out affair.

2. You Use Fear And Pain To An Extreme

There’s a few markets where this happens (looking at you, survival and prepping).

Personally, I find it distasteful how much of the marketing taps into fear. According to people in that niche, the stock market will collapse tomorrow and we’ll have nuclear war the day after.

What I want to get at is that there is a line between showing empathy and fear-mongering.

Yes, you want to show them that you understand their pain of being an overweight new mom.

No, you don’t want them to think that they’ll be in a wheelchair by tomorrow if they don’t use your product.

How To Demonstrate Empathy

After you’ve done all your research, this step is easy-peasy.

You simply take the exact words the people used and weave them into the writing for your marketing campaign.

So instead of saying something generic like, “Lose 20 pounds and look good again,” you say,

“Are you an overweight new mom? Here’s how to fit in your bathtub and have men look at you twice again- even while working full-time.”

Yes, this specificity will make your list of potential leads smaller, because you’re not targeting as many people.

Why would you do that — reach fewer people instead of more?

Because the people you now reach are going to love you for it.

Remember this saying,

“If you market to everybody, you market to nobody.”

I’d much rather have 1,000 people on my list who are hot and eager about what I offer, than 1,000,000 who don’t care.

Am I Not Just Pretending To Have Empathy If I Cobble Everything Together?

No, and here’s why:

Whenever I don’t know anything about a market, and I read about their problems, I do begin to empathise.

Before, I never gave a second thought to the struggles and problems overweight moms went through.

But, reading about it makes me realise just how difficult many of them have it.

In a way, it’s like when your best friend is going through some tough times, maybe a break-up.

By sitting there, listening to them, and taking care of them, after a while you do feel for them.

So unless you’re a psychopath who doesn’t have any feelings anyways, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Like all things marketing, this only becomes a problem if you abuse it to peddle products that don’t help the target audience.

Yes, if you use this to sell a supplement that claims to help them lose weight without exercise or changing their eating habits, you’re doing it wrong.

But if you’re using this to sell something that works, you’re doing them a disservice by not understanding their problems, and showing that you understand them.

And that’s it for today.

Just promise me you’ll use it in ethical ways, to help your customers, not to fleece them.

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