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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Lerner

Are you a "Pain Killer" or a "Vitamin"?

At this "refining our propositions" point in my coaching program, my students ask me 5 times per week if I think that their product is a vitamin (nice-to-have that brings delight) or a pain killer (solves an immediate problem)?

My answer? If you’re asking me this question, you’re thinking about your proposition completely wrong.

You’re trying to think of adjectives to describe your product. But here’s the thing… your website, your ads, your emails… should be talking about your customer.

Riddle me this:

What is your customer struggling with?

What is the progress they are trying to make in their lives?

And what does success look like?

Your site needs to talk about those things because your customers care about... themselves!

Here’s how I walk my clients through the process:

  1. Struggle: Capture that in the first person, with pithy quotes like “I’m not ready for an audit.” or “We’re nowhere near our growth targets” or “This next marketing hire is do-or-die for us.”

  2. Progress: Now use the customers words to describe the desired outcome: “If only I could…” or “I wish their was an easier way to…” (the rest of the sentence… that’s your promise, your proposition).

  3. Action: Finally, with your “call to action” button text, complete the sentence “Now you can…”

Notice what’s missing? The Third Person. “Product A is a revolutionary new X with Y and Z features!” Don’t talk about your product… no vitamins, no painkillers, just customers: "Now you can..."

Huge credit to Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers for pushing my thinking here! She gives an amazing (free!) tech startup copywriting tutorial in this video from the 2017 Business of Software conference. (But watch it on 1.5X speed.)

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So you’ve built a product that nobody's looking for, but everybody needs. Fair enough. Nobody was looking for Slack, Uber, or Canva either.

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