last Updated 23 August 2022

How to Use Pain and Pleasure to Get More Mortgage Leads and Increase Sales

Have you noticed that when you read an advert, a blog post or other marketing material from someone whose services you might need, the copy will often talk about the service provider, and what they do, rather than focusing on what you might need?

This is the wrong approach.

If you want to immediately capture your reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading (so as they are more likely to turn into a lead), then you need to do things differently. 

How to stand out in a crowded marketplace

One of the best ways to really stand out from your competition is by showing your potential client that you can solve whatever problem it is that led them to see your website or online ad in the first place.

Think about it. If you were a self-employed plumber looking for the best mortgage adviser to help you buy your first home, would you want to read about how the mortgage adviser is an expert in his or her field with many years experience and hundreds of satisfied customers?

Or would you prefer to read something which talks about the problems that self-employed plumbers can encounter when looking for a mortgage and which goes on to show how this mortgage broker can resolve those problems for you?

If you're like most people, you'll find the second option far more appealing.

And there are two main reasons for that:

  1. It makes the copy first and foremost about you, not the mortgage broker
  2. It uses the pain versus pleasure principle to make the copy more engaging and persuasive

And it's this second point which I'm going to explore in this article.

Pain versus pleasure

There are a number of factors that we humans find particularly persuasive, and research shows that gaining pleasure or avoiding pain are among the most powerful.

So by talking about the pain someone wants to avoid (e.g. being turned down for a mortgage) or the pleasure they could achieve (a nice new home for their family), you can make your ad copy of landing page copy more engaging. And if your copy is more engaging then you'll get more clicks on your ads and more enquiry forms being submitted on your landing pages.

The research that psychologists have done into the pain/pleasure principle has shown two other interesting things:

  1. Avoiding pain trumps gaining pleasure. Most of us are more motivated to avoid pain more than we are to pursue pleasure. That's why we might, for example, begrudge spending £10 for a drink in a fancy wine bar and yet think nothing of spending £350 for a dentist to extract a tooth that's causing excruciating toothache.

  2. Timing is important. If it's a choice between gaining pleasure now or avoiding pain now, then we'll choose the avoiding pain option. But if the pleasure is available now and the pain we'll be avoiding is a long way off, then the pursuit of pleasure will win.

    This is why people in their 20s and 30s will often decide to spend money on nice things now, rather than invest in a pension, even though they know that a small pension will cause them problems in their old age. The immediacy of today's pleasure motivates them more than the pain that will come in retirement.

Using pain to sell

You will often see the “pain principle” being used in other people's marketing. Here are some recent examples I've come across on websites and in my Facebook feed.

The first is from Trip, an alternative to alcoholic drinks:

mortgage leads - How to Use Pain and Pleasure to Get More Mortgage Leads and Increase Sales

Notice that they do not lead with the pleasure of drinking Trip. Instead they play on the reader's desire to avoid the pain of tomorrow morning’s hangover. Avoiding pain tomorrow, rather than pleasure now, is the selling point. This ad will resonate well with anyone who's ever woken up on a Saturday morning and thought, “I’m never drinking again”.

The second example is an ad for a hair loss treatment: 

mortgage leads - How to Use Pain and Pleasure to Get More Mortgage Leads and Increase Sales

This ad starts by highlighting the loss of confidence someone might experience as their hairline recedes. It’s not a physical pain, but a mental or psychological one. And these can be just as effective when it comes to motivating us to buy a particular product or service.

This third example comes from a website that's selling lawn mowers:

mortgage leads - How to Use Pain and Pleasure to Get More Mortgage Leads and Increase Sales

Again, they focus on the pain point - losing your Saturday afternoon - rather than the potential pleasure to be gained from having a nicely mown lawn.


Of course, it's important that we talk about more than just the pain points in our ads or landing page copy. Otherwise we're just going to depress people!

And this is why a lot of successful websites, adverts, and sales letters use a well-known copywriting formula called PASO - which stands for: Pain, Agitate, Solution, Opportunity.

PASO is a framework whereby we establish the pain point, agitate it by talking in more detail about the problem our ideal client has, and then we reveal our solution that will help make the problem go away. Finally, we provide the opportunity for the reader to contact us, buy from us, or whatever else it is we want them to do next.

My Facebook feed recently provided this example:

mortgage leads - How to Use Pain and Pleasure to Get More Mortgage Leads and Increase Sales

The Scalable Company leads with the pain point that starting a business is hard. Then they agitate it by reminding us that scaling that business is even harder and that 91% of startups and small businesses fail. Then they tell us they have the solution with their Level 7 Masterclass, and that there is the opportunity for us to sign up to it right away.

How to use pain and PASO to generate mortgage leads

The starting point is of course to identify some genuine pain points that your ideal client has. This is much easier if you have got a clear niche that you target because the broader your audience, the harder it is to find pain points which that whole audience will identify with.

For example, people who are employed are not going to be concerned at the difficulties that self-employed people have getting a mortgage. Those with a great credit history are not going to be persuaded by the fact that you can help those with a poor credit history.

So what we are looking for are issues that are of real concern to your particular target audience, but also issues that can be agitated so that your solution is an even greater opportunity for your client. It might be the rising cost of living.

Do your ideal clients want, for example, the reassurance of being able to budget better with a fixed-rate mortgage at a time when the price of everything is rising (pain point), and when we will have significant energy cost increases again in a few months (agitation)?

So, if you can nail your customer avatar, establish their pain points, and show how you can ease that pain, you have the makings of very persuasive copy for your next PPC ad, landing page, blog post, email, or lead magnet.

You may find that focusing on pain points makes your copy longer, but if it is well written and is using the sort of language that the potential client will use, the length doesn't matter. Your potential client will be interested in what you have to say because it is so relevant to their needs. This means they will want to continue reading and, ultimately, make contact with you for some help.

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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