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Pain points and dream states in copywriting: what are they and how do they work?

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Agitating pain points - and emphasizing dream states - in your marketing copy increases engagement and conversions. This quick read will tell you everything you need to know - what they are, why they matter, where to find them, and how to use them.


Illustration showing colourful face against a background of clouds, to demonstrate the concept of customer pain points and dream states in copywriting.


What are pain points and dream states in copywriting?


Pain points and dream states in copywriting are two emotional states that your customer experiences. The pain point is the negative - the problem they're experiencing. The dream state is positive - the outcome they hope to achieve.


By painting a vivid picture of both in your marketing copy - and showing how your product can move them from their pain point to their dream state - you'll increase engagement and conversions. Let's explore them both in more detail...


 

What is a pain point in copywriting?


Life is suffering, right? Our everyday lives are riddled with issues that cause us frustration, discomfort, displeasure… even fear.


These are the pain points that marketers and copywriters love to dig into.

  • This bus is so miserable and stinky (Buy a car!)

  • I don’t want to contribute to climate change (OK, buy a bike!)

  • I want to get fit but my shoes aren’t up to snuff (Buy these trainers!)


A pain point in copywriting refers to a specific problem or challenge that your target audience experiences. Specifically, a problem that your product or service can solve.


 

Why use pain points in copywriting?


Pain points are valuable to copywriters and marketers on several levels.


On a practical level, they’re what motivates potential customers to seek out your products. Highlighting them in your marketing materials attracts people who are experiencing those problems and more likely to be interested in what you offer.


On a psychological level, they build trust in your brand by showing customers that you GET them. You understand their problems and you’re going to fix them. People are more likely to buy from a brand that can articulate the problems they’re facing.


By effectively identifying and addressing pain points in your copywriting, you can write more persuasive copy - copywriting that resonates with your target audience and drives them to complete your desired action.


 

What are the benefits of using pain points in your copywriting?


1. Increased trust

Including relevant pain points in your marketing copy shows you really know your customer. This builds trust in your brand as a relevant solution provider.


2. More engagement

People respond favorably when they see their pain points described. They engage with your copy and continue to read, expecting to find a fix to their problems.


3. Higher conversions

Showing how your product or service can solve customer pain points increases the likelihood that people make a purchase - especially if you address their problems better than your competitors.


 

How do you find out what customers’ pain points are?


To address customer pain points, you need to know what they are.


You can uncover customer pain points through copywriting research - specifically voice-of-market and voice-of-customer research. This type of research explores prospects’ and customers’ problems, and how your product can solve them.


To get these insights, you can conduct original research like interviews, focus groups, and surveys. You can also do desk research, looking at existing sources of information, such as reviews on third-party websites.



 

How do you use pain points in copywriting?


Pain points are so fundamental to copywriting that it’s hard to isolate and analyze how they’re used. They span and combine with a range of professional copywriting techniques to create a compelling case for your product. With that disclaimer in place, I’m going to give it a go.


Headlines and subject lines


Copywriters often lead with the customers’ pain point in the headline of their copy or the subject line of their emails. Copywriting is an attention game - grab it and keep it. Using painpoints in headlines immediately grabs the reader’s attention - makes them feel recognised - and encourages them to read on.


You could count this as part of the AIDA framework, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Painpoints can feed into every stage - grabbing attention, piquing interest, stimulating desire, and motivating action.


PAS framework


PAS stands for pain, agitation, and solution. It’s a three-step structure that copywriters use to emphasise how a product solves a problem. You start with the readers’ pain point, agitate it to really stir the emotions, and then present your product as the solution. For example


  • Pain point: Trying to lose weight but nothing works?

  • Agitation: Sick of yo-yo diets and disappointments? Desperate to feel fitter, happier and healthier?

  • Solution: XYZ Personal Training has helped 600 people like you to lose weight…and keep it off.

Emotional appeal


Pain is emotional. We feel it so strongly. Like a hatred of public transport. Or frustration at clothes that don’t fit. And when we feel strong emotions, we can be motivated to buy.


Copywriting is all about tapping into emotions - good and bad - to encourage a specific action. The frustration, the misery, the desire for better… These all make readers more receptive to positive solutions - which means your product.


Benefit-led copy


This is when you lead with benefits not product features. So instead of promoting personal training features (like 3x a week, full gym access), you promote how the reader will feel after losing weight (fitter, happier, and healthier).


Pain points led themselves to this type of writing because the opposite of pain is the dream state (see below) and the dream state is a benefit of your product, not a feature. [Read more about using benefits in your copy with the FAB framework].


Juxtaposition


Pain points work well when you compare them directly with the dream state. You can do this by literally putting them side-by-side - known as juxtapositioning.


This works by showing how your product or service takes someone from their pain point to their dream state. For example: Babies are amazing. But sleepless nights aren’t. Help your baby sleep through with SnoozyBalm.


Calls-to-action


You can include pain points in your calls to action. This reminds people of their problem at the point where they're ready to convert. At this point, they may be feeling resistance to actually committing to a purchase. Including their pain point can push them into action.

Direct comparison


You can also include a direct comparison between pain points and dream states in your copy. Is it on the nose? Yes. Is it effective? Hell yeah.


Check out this example from my home page. In this direct comparison, I show the reader how they’ll feel if they accept the status quo compared to using my services.


Screenshot of pain points in copywriting example, which shows the first character feeling deflated and the second character feeling elated.

Are you sick of feeling deflated? Looking for a professional copywriter to help discover and address YOUR customer pain points? I've written hundreds of pages of copy for ambitious businesses like yours. Email me

 

What is a dream state in copywriting?


The opposite of your customer’s pain point is their dream state. It works hand-in-hand with pain points to create persuasive and compelling copy.


The dream state is the desired outcome of using your product or service. For example, when you’re hungry, your dream state might be a full stomach following a hearty meal.


Much like pain points, you can uncover dream states using market and customer research. People will often express their dream state by saying something like ‘I just wish I could wake up one day and…’ or ‘It would feel amazing if…’


How do you use the dream state in copywriting?


When you’re writing marketing copy, once you’ve articulated and agitated your customer’s pain point, you show how your product can get people to their dream state. As with the pain point, you want to paint a vivid picture that elicits the reader’s emotions.


Seeing their dream state within reach, people will be more open to taking action - which is where your call-to-action comes into play. When people are feeling most excited about achieving their dream state, you include your CTA. This could be making a purchase, signing up to your services, or any other action that gets them closer to their dream state - and you closer to your conversion goal.


 

Photo of copywriter - Libby Marks - leading against a glass wall in a modern office, smiling and wearing a fabulous leopard print dress.

About the author


Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9-to-5 and started Write on Tyne.


Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier.


We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.









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