Is your product a vitamin, painkiller, or cure?

Photo courtesy of Morguefile user DodgertonSkillhause

Photo courtesy of Morguefile user DodgertonSkillhause

I came across an article in Entrepreneur magazine that talked about “Is your product a ‘vitamin’ or ‘painkiller’?” I had never heard that phrase before, but it struck me as a great analogy for small business owners to use as they think of their product/service and what marketing message they should carry.

So, I am taking my blog opportunity to go more in depth, and, hopefully get some AHAs! from readers.

In thinking about your product/service, think in terms of benefits for customers. There are three main categories: vitamin, painkiller, or cure.

What are the attributes of a vitamin?

  • Nice to have, but not need to have
  • Might make you feel better
  • May or may not continue to use
  • Low cost
  • Promise indirect, long-term benefits
  • Address general health or minor problems

What are the attributes of a painkiller?

  • Must have it now
  • Probably relieves pain for a short time
  • Pain might come back
  • Might be expensive
  • Short-term fixes
  • For pressing pain
  • They seldom solve underlying issues

What about a cure?

  • Makes the problem go away entirely

A customer’s willingness to pay depends highly on their need for your product. They are willing to pay more for a cure than a vitamin. But cures are more difficult to create and defend. If you expect to get market traction, your solution should be a painkiller at a minimum.

So, for you painkillers out there, know this about your market when creating your message and about your specific customer when creating your sales pitch:

  1. Do they have the pain?
  2. How big is the pain?
  3. Do they want to ease the pain?
  4. What have they done so far to address the pain?
  5. How much have they spent on pain relief?

For you vitamins out there…your marketing message needs to be more forward looking. Vitamins don’t address an immediate and apparent pain. Vitamin companies need to focus on creating a desire for the vitamin, appealing to emotions.

  1. Can you convince your market their life will be better with a vitamin?
  2. Can you target a need that isn’t being met, even if they don’t know it?
  3. Can you convince them the vitamin is worth paying for regularly?
  4. Can you get enough leads?

For you lucky cures, congrats! But remember, your market can be very niche or very vast. That makes your marketing message critical.

  1. How do you find customers?
  2. Where do you “advertise” your marketing message?
  3. How will your marketing message confirm/validate you have a cure?
  4. Is your message believable?
  5. Can you prove it?

“Cure” markets erode over time. You best be working on your next cure.

All three types have market value and can be successful. Focus on market need and craft a marketing message to meet that need.

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One Response to Is your product a vitamin, painkiller, or cure?

  1. Heather Vaughn (@mewzikgirl) February 20, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Wonderful post, Laura. Reminds me of a blog post I read last year about email marketing (only pain killers or vitamins, though… no cures). The Cures have it the hardest. They not only have to set up their marketing messaging right, but as you pointed out, they have to have a sustainable business model. They either need to get creative with ongoing ways to generate revenue (even after “the cure”), or they need to find new “diseases” to go after. Not easy, but invaluable to their customers and probably never boring. 🙂

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