No pain, no gain

Recently I explained the fascinating way Netflix defines their “markets”.

And it seems the idea of defining a market as a collection of people sharing the same problem resonated with people. This pleases me. I love it when folks jump on board the Conversion Engineering bandwagon!

Anyways, what I noticed is that a few folks wanted to learn more about the concept of “Jobs, Pains & Gains”.

So, today we’re going to do exactly that, for 2 reasons:

  1. You can’t nail a compelling Unique Selling Proposition unless you’ve a clear understanding of your market
  2. To get that clarity, you have to get clear about the Jobs, Pains & Gains they experience.

Today is special, because I’ve included some rare tactical homework if you’re looking to make a difference in your business.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about Jobs in more detail, but this email today will focus on Pains & Gains.

All you need to know about Jobs right now is that they’re the tasks your customer needs to perform.

They’re work your ideal customer needs to get done. The things in their life that need to be changed so they can move away from Pain and towards a Gain.

Now, Pains & Gains are special because they share something in common.

They both deal with the outcomes that are front and centre in your ideal customer’s mind.

Understanding those outcomes is important. More important, though, is being able to separate the outcome from the task at hand.

Remember: No one wants to buy a drill — or drill a hole (two tasks).

They want a hole in the wall (a positive outcome) so they can finally fun a cable and setup that TV (a positive outcome), so they’re not be bored out of their mind for another night (negative outcome).

Pains are the concrete negative outcomes they want to avoid.

Gains are the concrete positive outcomes they want to achieve.

Notice how I’ve included the word concrete in both explanations.

I include it because most entrepreneurs THINK they know the pains and gains their market wants.

Reality: they haven’t gone deep enough.

Example: Let’s take the Job of “earning more money”.

Someone might say the Gain their ideal customer wants for this job is to “get a salary increase”.

And the Pain might be “getting a salary decrease”.

With this example, it’s easy to see how Pains & Gains are the opposite of each other.

And it’s true. No Pain. No Gain.

They have to exist side by side. Someone only wants a Gain because they’ve identified a Pain in their life.

“I might not be able to take that trip home during the holidays to see my family if I don’t earn more money”

But, to shoot some nitrous into your USP, you need to go a level deeper in your understanding.

Here’s how you should actually thinking about Pains & Gains:

  1. Precisely, how much more money do they want so it feels like a Gain? $5k? $10k? $20k?
  2. Precisely, what size of a salary decrease would feel like a pain? $5? $200? $5k?
  3. What are the barriers that prevent them from getting the Job done? How are these realized as Pains?
  4. What are the risks of not getting the job done? Are these considered Pains?

An example for that last questions related to risks would be,

“I might not be able to take that trip home during the holidays to see my family if I don’t earn more money”

By diving just a couple of layers deeper, you’ll find much richer insights into who your ideal customer is. And what they really want.


  1. List out your ideal customer’s top 5 Pains
  2. List out your ideal customer’s top 5 Gains
  3. Rank them in order of importance
  4. Then send them to me if you’d like some feedback.

And as always, if you’d like get more customer clarity into your USP, check out my Microbook below:

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