Think about your transaction with Starbucks.
You'd think we go there for a coffee, right?
But a coffee could be considered a vitamin-kind of business
You know how vitamins work, right? You are told to take your vitamins. But you can't always see the results of all of that pill popping. And you can't even tell if it's all nonsense, or if it really works. So vitamins become an interesting, yet seemingly weird exercise.
Now compare that with painkillers
Painkillers aren't a nice-to-have. And when you look around you, you see companies that are vitamin-like. And those that are pain-killers. Starbucks is a decent example. It's not exactly healthy to drink a ton of coffee, and it's expensive.
Two tall lattes a day could push up your calories by about 160,600 calories a year. And it's expensive on the wallet too, heading close to about $3000 a year on coffee alone.
So how does Starbucks make this very expensive vitamin-based exercise into a painkiller?
Painkiller industries are those you can't do without
This means that the more hooks you get into the customer, the more they're likely to want to come back time and time again. And Starbucks, at the very core, provided the greatest hook of all: the place to sit around away from home and from the office.
While cafes like Starbucks are a plenty today, the reason they first took off was the space you couldn't do without. The coffee was better than any other place, or at least different, but it was also the place that provided the painkiller. You were free from the chaos, if only for 15-20 minutes.
While Starbucks was a point of refuge for folks in the West, it's seen as a point of status in the East
In China, coffee is a bit of a non-entity. For thousands of years, the Chinese have stuck to their tea leaves. Over 70% of the hot drink market is still very much centred around tea. But coffee consumption is growing at 25% per year.
The key to that growth is the young and the trendy. The cafes are where the younger folk hang out. There's a pain with not being trendy, and so the younger generation flock to cafes.
So what we notice is that there's a very fine line between vitamins and painkillers
The line lies in the positioning of the product or service. If positioned as a nice-to-have, the product or service may lose traction.
When positioned as a painkiller, the product soon becomes indispensable. The concept of painkiller is tied directly to frequency of consumption. The more you consume, the more you will consume in future.
This means that a coaching service like improving your golf game is a vitamin or a painkiller
And this totally depends on the way you've positioned your service. If it's just about you getting out there and improving how you whack that ball over the green, then it's fun. It will get you back every now and then.
But if positioning is different, the very same service becomes a painkiller. If the service is positioned as “never losing face in front of your buddies”, it's now far more competitive, far more interesting to you as an individual.
And this painkiller issue doesn't prop up when we're trying to sell our own products or services
As business owners we definitely want to improve the sales of our products or services. So we sit down at our desks and come up with some mundane issue like “getting more customers” or “making more profits”.
And yet, this issue is quickly killed by talking to a client. That client yes a real person (called the “target profile” in The Brain Audit) is instrumental in expressing the difference between a vitamin-based product and a painkiller.
So let's take an example
When I first started selling the Article Writing Course as a service, my sales pitch was about “writing quickly” or “writing well”. That's a vitamin. It's a nice to have, but it's hard to convince a person to slog for three months to write quickly,or well for that matter.
Then I spoke to the target profile. And the headline morphed into: How to stop knocking on client's doors, and get them to call you instead. (Learn why articles do a far superior job of attracting the clients you want, and how the right articles make you the expert in your field).
At this point it was no longer a vitamin—it was a painkiller
Most of us detest having to go into yet another meeting to get a client. We hate the marketing, the endless door knocking and it drains us of our energy. Having a client come to us seems like a dream come true.
And to have not just any ol' client but clients that are perfect matches for you, is almost too good to be true. Now the service isn't just skirting the issue of vitamins, it's a must-have. Which is why even though the Article Writing Course is billed as the “Toughest Writing Course in the World”, and is priced well north of $2,500, it sells out in an hour, sometimes less.
The pain is so great, that the client feel compelled to reach out for that painkiller.
But isn't this a bit over-the-top persuasion?
The reality is that we as humans make decisions based on intense need. We don't form habits based on some future scenario.
This is why, for instance, if a comet were hurtling toward the planet in 2200, we'd be doing nothing. But if that comet was headed here in 10 years, we'd be working our tails off trying to find a solution to deflect it back into space.
Starbucks took what was considered to be a vitamin and turned it into a painkiller
By creating a need for the space, they created a habit. A habit that's extremely hard to break, no matter how expensive in terms of calories or dollars. And it's why we go back time and time again.
This insight of positioning your product correctly doesn't come from sitting at your desk writing endless headlines. It comes from meeting the client and conducting the target profile interview.
Every product or service is both a vitamin and a painkiller.
Painkillers work better.
Next up: How do you position your products and services?
Finding your uniqueness is incredibly difficult, yet some companies do it consistently well. How do you learn from their ability to position their products and services? Also, do you really need a uniqueness for every business product and service? Find out more here.
How Do You Quickly Create Your Uniqueness?