Anonymity Masks Pain

Seth Godin, a favorite author of mine, in his recent post “Proximity to pain” gives us some real world examples of how companies can charge higher (premium) prices when clients are in crisis (pain), but begins to compare apples with oranges, when he uses Yellow Pages and Google in the same light.

Execution over Pain

Yellow Page advertising and Google are successful because they have a business model that works given the current environment they are in.  They do not charge more, as with Seth Godin’s other examples, when you are in crisis mode and using their services.   Yes, they are positioned well for consumers to use, but no, the can’t capitalize on the great positioning in times of crisis.

Anonymous web sites level the playing field

Search engines or e-Yellow Pages have no way of knowing why you are using them.  And even if they did, can you image the up-roar if they charged 300% for ads that had the words “emergency towing service” in it because they assumed you were in crisis or ‘felt your pain’?

Better Web Examples

I would drop Google and YP and focus on web services that charge a premium for their services because they are associated with someone in crisis and they are respected enough (branded) that someone off the street would not perceive another viable choice given the need for expediency.  If you can create a web property that meets this requirement, you should have no problem charging a premium.  Here are some of my thoughts of companies that might make it to this level:

  • Crisis PR Firm
  • Disaster Recovery Firm
  • Immigration Legal Firm
  • Specialized Health Group (Rare or Time Sensitive practices)
  • Green PR Firm – just wait if the Cap and Trade stuff hits us.

If your web property can position itself close to the pain of your clients, you can charge a premium.  I agree with Seth Godin on that, I just don’t see YP and Google in the same light as an emergency road side towing service.

Good Hunting.

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  1. #1 by smartwomanguides on May 25, 2008 - 1:37 am

    I think you are completely right that there would be quite an uproar if Google charged more for close-to-the-pain businesses ads. The secret, as you suggest, to being successful at crisis service offerings, is becoming branded enough that you are the only viable option.

    Branding is something I am actively working on. I am not sure I do it right, and I am not in a crisis resolving service, but I do find that the more I develop my brand, the more viral traffic I get. Add great SEO to that and I think I can have a winning combination. We’ll see. In the meantime, I will come back to visit here and learn more. 🙂

    Thanks for the insights!

    Together, we are stronger.
    Vicki Flaugher, the original SmartWoman

    Join the conversation at

  2. #2 by Tim Rueb on May 26, 2008 - 12:15 am

    Vicki, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You might also be interested in my post “Solve Problems, Don’t Sell Services.” I wish you the best of luck with your new blog.

  3. #3 by dreambig44 on August 18, 2008 - 11:31 pm

    Hello Tim

    BJ, here aka Dreambig44, well I just finished reading more on your pages then I read in a while. Wow v ery good stuff. Now I have to say that your insight’s into the Pain sales technique is true to form as the business sales model teaches. However, the analogy was giving that in order to charge more one needs to solve a problem. Hence the comparison to the road side assistance. Not to throw a wrench in the works, but, because we are in a “Emergency” situation is it morally and ethically right to prey on that situation? I agree with the other comment in that we need to create a brand and/or a means or system of solving problems that facilitates the need for a value based price. If we give away our value, and charge nothing for the work then we are tithing in energy to the universe in the knowledge that it always comes back. However, we must balance getting paid for our work for less then our worth then are we not devaluing our very essence of the unique energy that we bring to the table. Just a passing thought. Hope it finds you well. Keep up the great work.

  4. #4 by Tim Rueb on August 19, 2008 - 1:05 am

    BJ, thanks for stopping in and commenting. It is appreciated.

    Concerning your questions “because we are in a “Emergency” situation is it morally and ethically right to prey on that situation?” I am not suggesting we prey on anyone, I am suggesting you build a brand that is sought out in a time of crisis, for which there is a premium associated with.

    Some real world examples, why can these two charge different fees and it is not seen as preying on the helpless or unethical:
    – Brain Surgeon – Family Practice Doctor
    – CCU Nurse – Clinical Nurse
    – Emergency Rapid Response Environmental Engineer – Janitor
    – CTO – Third Shift Computer Operator

    My post simply suggests we emulate these occurrence found in the real world when we are designing our web identities as well.

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