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Persuasion, Loyalty and Pain (Part 2)

Persuasion, Loyalty and Pain (Part 2)

Pain: Pathway to Loyalty

(In Part 1, I wrote about the relationship between pain and customer loyalty. In this post, I dig a little deeper into how that relationship works. Part 1 is here.)

Your prospects have a million different distractions fighting for their attention. And you need a way to break through that noise, right? You want to rise above the crowd, and make yourself the preferred supplier of whatever it is that you sell, don’t you?

There’s a zillion ways to do that.

You can hire marketing consultants to run your marketing campaigns for you. You can buy advertising and saturate your target market with your offers. You can hire copywriters and graphic artists and SEO experts and bombard digital media to get the word out.

Those ways all cost a lot of money. And I suspect that if you are reading this right now, you don’t have vast sums of money to spend. That’s the bad news. The good news? There is another way – a way that doesn’t take a lot of money. Instead, it leverages the power of your people’s pain.



Now, this next bit is really important for anyone who wants to create fanatically loyal customers. I’m gonna move pretty fast here, so hang on.

Leverage Our Most Fundamental Reality

Traditional advertising appeals to primal urges like sex, belonging and approval. But there is one urge even more primal and more compelling: the urge to escape pain. Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson believes pain is the most fundamental truth of human existence. And the one particular pain common to every human is this: the pain of an incomplete or fractured identity.

An incomplete identity is the result of unanswered questions. But not just any questions. Every human is driven to get answers to the 4 Big Questions:

  1. Where Am I From?
  2. Why I Am I Here?
  3. Where Am I Going?
  4. Who Am I?

Until recently, culture provided ready-made answers for those questions. And that is the normal way to get answers to those questions. But culture has fractured, (you see it everywhere), and individual identities suffer as a result of that fracturing.

That’s why cults are tempting to many people. Cults can attract, engage and keep people for one simple reason: the identity of the cult is more complete than the identity of the individual.

If you want to make a powerful impact with your brand, your brand’s “identity” must be more complete than the self-identity of the people you target.


Effective brands project an identity that is both consonant and complete. That means everything about the brand fits together, and there are no gaps in how the market perceives the brand.

Most brands do not project a consonant identity. Most brands are ineffective. And that’s why so few brands command fanatical loyalty.

If you want to make a powerful impact, then your brand’s “identity” must be more complete than the self-identity of the people you target. And these days, almost everyone suffers from a fractured identity.

Consonance Attracts, Dissonance Repels

When you project a strong, consonant identity into the marketplace, it exerts a gravitational pull on people. It is psychologically irresistible, and it has nothing to do with whatever it is you actually sell. Here’s why:

The opposite of “consonance” is “dissonance”. A strong, consonant brand is an irresistible force to anyone experiencing cognitive dissonance. (Remember, we talked about cognitive dissonance in part 1.)

On the other hand, if the identity you project is weak, incomplete and dissonant, then it will actually repel people. (Maybe that’s why you aren’t getting better results… Just a thought.)

Almost no one is consciously aware of this effect, even though it happens constantly. It is subconscious.

As you might imagine, I am not talking about traditional advertising. I’m talking about making some adjustments in how you communicate with your market.

If you’re desperate for better results, then maybe it’s time you learned something new. Maybe it’s time you tapped into the subconscious drives of your prospects.

And there is no drive more compelling, more urgent or more common than the drive for a consonant self-perception.

Fill the Hole in Their Psyche

Someone who has a psychological addiction experiences gaps or “discontinuities” in their identities. Those gaps cause tremendous pain, often unrecognized pain. Addiction can numb the psychological pain, but does not cure it. This psychological pain is internal dissonance – a form of self-rejection.

So how can that help you create more loyal customers? Let me answer by asking a question: Do you offer anything that helps people?

If your offering helps people in any way, then you have the opportunity to ease their suffering. And if you can do that, you are not merely making a profit. You are actively helping to prevent even greater suffering. Now, your product or service alone won’t do that. But combine it with a consonant image and a coherent identity? Then you become their super-hero.

superheroCults offer people a more complete identity as a “remedy” for their own flawed identity. However, that offer is almost always poisoned with some form of psychological coercion.

You won’t do that. Instead, you’ll merely offer your customers a healthy, coherent and harmonic identity of your own. Combine that with a helpful product or service offering, and you can actually make the world a slightly better place.

This type of subliminal brand-identification activity has its roots in the same psychological phenomena that both triggers and strengthens psychological addiction. Yet when we do it this way – with a coherent brand identity – it is not corrosive to personalities. And it is far better for humanity if you can keep people out of the grip of cults.

Salve the psychological bruises and quiet the internal dissonance for your customers, and they will become fanatically loyal to you. Your place in their psyche will be unassailable because they won’t be conscious of how you’ve helped them. They’ll only know a deep devotion to you and your brand.

The memory of their pain will not linger. They will only be aware of a strong feeling of pleasure towards your brand.  In short, you become their hero. And if you are their hero, then you can be sure they will grant you their loyalty. And that translates into things you can spend: higher profits because your average lifetime customer value goes up, your customer acquisition costs go down and your word-of-mouth marketing increases.

That’s the way to ease a lot of your pain as well.

Your Brand as Pain Relief

Some “experts” say that a brand is a promise. I say phooey.

A brand is an identity.

“Find their pain” is a fairly typical approach to marketing. But when you commit to solving the problem of identity, you are addressing the most fundamental pain your customers feel. Great marketers have always done this intuitively. Remember Apple’s Think Different campaign? Or Nike’s Just Do It campaign. Those were targeted at identity, and that’s why they were so effective.

If the essence of your brand is strong, coherent, and consonant identity, it will inevitably pull people into its gravitational orbit.

On the other hand, if the essence of your brand is fractured, then it holds very little attraction to all but the most broken and desperate people in your market.

When your essence is fractured and incoherent and dissonant, you are nothing but a vendor. That’s the retail version of hell. No one wants to be there.

Next week, I’ll talk about specific steps you can take to give your brand an irresistible identity.

How can you make your personal brand unforgettable?
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