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What Is Marketing?

If I asked you “What is marketing?” you might give me a technical definition or you might describe to me what it is.

But I’m pretty sure that what one person tells me is going to be different from what another small business owner tells me because there is a lot of misunderstanding out there about marketing.

When I ask “How do you market?” the definitions and stories get even worse!

I get answers like:

  • You have to have a great call to action
  • Tell them how awesome you are
  • It’s about closing the sale
  • You just have to be determined (others say it differently “You have to be pushy”
  • Keep asking until they run out of excuses

So, what is it?

Well, let’s keep it simple.

Whatever you do to “market” you have to remember that all your effort and activity is about one thing:

How do you get your customer out of pain into pleasure?

When your client looks for a product or service like yours, they only do it for one reason – they are in some type of pain and they want to get rid of it!

  • If you are a lawyer – your client is in pain from suffering some form of injustice or is in the pain of the fear of experiencing injustice.
  • If you are a tax accountant – your client is feeling the pain of paying too much tax.
  • If you are a tailor – your customer is in the pain of not having the right, attractive clothes, or of downright embarrassment.
  • If you are a mechanic – your customer feels the pain of not being able to rely on his car.
  • If you are a cobbler – your customer feels the pain of her favourite shoes falling apart.
  • If you are a doctor – your patient may very well be in physical pain.

Do you get the picture?



All these people feel some pain, discomfort, anxiety, worry, stress, that they want to get rid of. They are reaching out to you because they are seeking a solution to this pain that they feel.

Your marketing is about understanding their pain, offering a real solution to getting rid of their pain, and even better, offering a solution that will give them pleasure.

That is all you have to do!

But most small; business owners don’t understand the pain that their customers feel so they “market” by trying to “attract” their attention for the business. When you are already in pain, you don’t need to be attracted to do business with someone, you want to focus on who gives you a solution to your pain, right? Focus on taking away their pain and where possible, providing pleasure.

You need to understand how bad the pain really is so that when you show up with the solution you are instantly seen as the expert in your field.

  • If you are a lawyer and your client is in pain from the fear of suffering a future injustice, offer a carefully worded agreement that addresses all the ways he could suffer that injustice, and protects against them, and for a fixed fee.
  • If you are a tax accountant meeting a client feeling in pain from paying too much tax, offer a solution to save him some tax quickly, and then show him how you can save more tax for him consistently.
  • If you are a tailor and your customer feels the pain of embarrassingly poor-fitting blouses, offer her a design from current in-trend patterns, and a custom-fitted service.
  • If you are a mechanic with a customer in the pain of not being able to rely on her car, offer an all-points service for one low price, and show her all the things that can be done to make the car 100% reliable.
  • If you are a cobbler and your customer’s favourite shoe is falling apart causing her utter pain of loss, provide a repair and renovate service that can have the shoe look like it was new.
  • If you are a doctor with a patient in physical pain, treat the pain and show them how to manage the pain for the future anytime it occurs.

This is how you do it.

First, get to really understand the pain they feel. Let’s take an example of a small business owner who approached me for help in growing his business and says that they just aren’t selling enough.

The way they describe the problem, it doesn’t sound like they are in pain but if I ask myself why they may have voiced the need to sell more, I’ll get a different answer.

List all the ways this could be causing them pain:

  • There’s not enough cash to pay all the expenses
  • Debt is piling up
  • The cost of interest is growing
  • They don’t have any savings for the future
  • What retirement savings?
  • They are feeling stressed
  • Their family life is suffering
  • They are saying “no” to their kids more often
  • They feel stuck
  • They feel the loss of potential
  • Their dreams are on hold
  • They can’t afford nice things
  • They can’t save for their kids’ education
  • They can’t afford to own their own house
  • They feel ashamed in front of their friends
  • They can’t sleep at nights

So you see, from a simple declaration of “lack” what they are describing is linked to a lot of pain in their life. If you understand all this pain you immediately show compassion and understanding, which buys their attention. You know how they feel, it’s not just about how you can help in marketing and financial solutions, they’ll hear you out.

Then, all you have to do is show them the way out of pain, and how they may even be able to gain pleasure from the solution – that is, your product or service.

Approaching the sale in this way, you don’t have to worry about “calls to action” or being pushy or “keep asking them until they run out of excuses”. If you can take away my pain and give me pleasure, I’m yours!

What’s the best way to do this once you understand the typical pain-points your customers feel?

Make sure you understand the benefits that your product or service provides, not just the features of your product.

A feature is something about how your product is constructed or your service is designed.

A benefit is how that feature can provide pleasure and take away pain.

A benefit is what your customer needs – a feature is why he can justify the need. When I want to stop worrying about the reliability of my car, the benefit of having it serviced by you is that I know exactly what needs to be replaced and when. The fact that you use computers and high-tech tools to analyse the car’s faults is the way I convince myself your promise works. I am attracted to you by my heart, and then I justify the choice with my brain.

You can download a copy of our free “Features and Benefits” worksheet here.

And, if you are really interested in how you can make marketing work for you, at your own pace, you can buy my book called SMART Marketing which is a story about how a pair of small business owners followed focused advice and stepped through their own marketing plan.

You can also get a lot more free tips, tools and downloadable processes to grow your business by going to our website at teikoh.com and registering to get them sent directly to you as published. See you there!




Cover image by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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