Tap Into Pain to Create Fanatically Loyal Customers

Ever seen someone “just lose it” or “snap”? In an instant, they morph from a perfectly happy, reasonable human to a snarly, aggressively angry and defensive beast. (Ever do it yourself?) Kinda the real-life version of The Incredible Hulk.

When you see a person instantly drop all pretense of rationality and become extremely emotional, there’s always an explanation.

As likely as not, they have entered the state of consciousness hypnotists call cognitive dissonance.

When it comes to attracting and keeping customers,  cognitive dissonance can be your greatest ally, or – if you are unaware of it – your greatest enemy.line-dividers-clipart-11

Tap Into Pain to Create Fanatically Loyal Customers

This story is not about psychology; it’s about how to create fanatically loyal customers.

So why do I bring up angry people in hypnotic states?

Because when people are in pain, the person who relieves that pain becomes their hero.

Starting now, actively seek out those people who are experiencing cognitive dissonance. Those people are passionately – and probably unconsciously – seeking a way to ease their psychic pain. If you help them, they will become more than mere customers. They will be devotees. Disciples. Followers. Acolytes.

They will be Fanatics for you and your brand.

They will love you. They will be fantastically loyal to you for a very, very long time.

But you have to tread carefully, because these people are in genuine pain…


So what is “cognitive dissonance”? The phrase is revealing –

Cognitive: of or relating to our awareness.

Dissonance: a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two inharmonious elements. It is the opposite of consonance: a pleasing combination of sounds that go together.

Cognitive Dissonance describes what happens when you suddenly become aware of something that conflicts with your beliefs. Usually, the trigger is a thought that conflicts with your perceived identity.

When it happens, your thoughts and/or emotions crash together in a non-harmonious, non-integrated way. In short, it hurts – and you instinctively recoil from the thought that caused you pain. Typically, you get defensive and perhaps even attack the messenger.

You can’t help it. It is a built-in instinctive reaction, just like what happens when the doctor taps your knee with that little rubber mallet to test your motor reflexes.

Cognitive Dissonance in Action

The following story is true. (These people are friends.) I changed the names to protect the innocent.

Mike is married to Chloe and they have a daughter, Heather. Heather was born with a serious and rare health condition. Mike and Chloe started an organization to research the causes of Heather’s rare condition and find a way to cure it.

Over the last 20 years, the organization grew under Mike’s care. The organization raised lots of money to fund research for a cure. It sponsors events around the world where scientists and sufferers alike can gather and exchange stories. It has pulled together researchers and families in a community of scientists and sufferers. All in all, it is an amazing story of hope and progress.

In addition, Mike has been conducting a series of adulterous affairs for the last 20 years. In fact, for the last 7 years, one of his ongoing affairs has been with a scientist in the organization. He has even used funds from the organization to fly around the world for dalliances with his various girlfriends.

Neither his wife, his daughter, nor the board of his foundation knew about his affairs.line-dividers-clipart-11

Mike perceives himself to be a good man, a good husband and a good father. By any rational measure though, a man who cheats on his wife for years with lots of different women – and who uses gifts made to a charitable organization to fund his dalliances – is not a good man.

Mike’s perception of who he is – his fundamental self-identity – is in conflict with his actions. Until now, he has been able ignore the conflict. In other words, the dissonance between how he perceives himself and how he acts has not been forced into his awareness – his cognizance – until now.

Once he was finally confronted with the conflict between his belief and his actions, he experienced a classic case of cognitive dissonance. He got angry, defensive and blamed Chloe for his affairs. (Oh, and he complained about the pain he was feeling by not being with his long-time girlfriend.)

An utterly irrational response, right? Even Mike would agree. But when your fundamental beliefs about who you are get challenged by some fact, the normal reaction is cognitive dissonance.

There are only two ways for Mike to ease his pain. (1) He can change his actions to match his self-perception or (2) he can change his self-perception to match his actions.

There is no other way out.

Opportunity in the Pain

Every human being seeks an identity that experiences minimal cognitive dissonance. It’s how we’re wired.

Cognitive dissonance is a painful and highly unstable state. Few people tolerate such instability at all; it is very discomfiting.

Some people are able to adjust their self-perception to reduce their experience of cognitive dissonance. They become more self-aware and less delusional about themselves. Their self-identity is just part of who they are. Adjustments to their self-identity don’t threaten their sense of being.

These people are not good candidates for your brand. Fortunately, they are in the minority.

Most people, however, are completely unable to change their self-perception. Their self-identity is the very core of their being. Anything that threatens that identity is perceived as an existential threat and must be attacked without mercy.

These people are perfect candidates for your brand – no matter what you sell. I’ll show you how.line-dividers-clipart-11

Have you ever wondered what makes cults so powerful?

(You may wonder, “when are you going to talk about creating loyal customers?” Hang in there, the answer is coming, but I have to lay the groundwork for you.)

A cult is an organization that has an answer for every question.

For the person suffering from cognitive dissonance, that quality is incredibly attractive. The cult promises an end to their pain. All they have to do is to trade the cult’s identity for their own.

Now that may sound extreme, but for the person who feels the pain of cognitive dissonance, it is an exchange worth making.

There is no drive more compelling, more urgent and more common than the drive for a consonant self-perception.

This exchange of identities takes place when one comes under the thrall of the cult. And this is the source of the power and pull of cults.

Eric Hoffer, in his seminal book The True Believer, explained that the driving force behind every mass movement is a rejection of the self.  We can see this force at work today in various political movements around the globe.

A cult offers a self-identity free from the pain of cognitive dissonance. That’s why people “buy” cults. That’s why people join mass movements.

And that force – that drive to exchange a painful self-identity for the cult’s identity – that same force can be diverted in a much more positive direction: you can make them fanatics for your brand.line-dividers-clipart-11

Your prospects have a million different distractions fighting for their attention. And you need a way to break through the noise, right? You want to rise above the crowd, and make yourself the preferred supplier of whatever it is that you sell, don’t you?

There are many ways to do it. Some cost a lot of money, some don’t.

You can hire marketing consultants to conduct marketing campaigns for you. You can buy advertising and saturate your target market with your offers. You can hire copywriters and graphic artists and SEO experts and bombard digital media to get the word out.

This way costs a lot of money.

I suspect that if you are reading this right now, you don’t have vast sums of money to spend. There’s good news though.

There is another way – a way that doesn’t take a lot of money.

Instead, it leverages the power of pain.


Yep. That’s what I am going to explain now.

The Irresistible Attraction of a More Complete Identity

Traditional advertising appeals to primal urges like sex, belonging and approval. But there is one urge more primal and more compelling that any other – identity.

Cults attract people who experience gaps in their own identity. They are able to attract, engage and retain people because the identity of the cult is stronger than the identity of the person who joins the cult.

This is key.

If you want to make a powerful impact with your brand, your brand’s “identity” must possess a quality of completeness that exceeds that of your target.

If you want fanatically loyal customers, you must present to them an “identity” that is both strong and complete. (I explain exactly how to do that in my Cult Your Brand training course.)

Question: is the identity of your business – your brand – strong and complete? Or is it a mishmash of conflicting messages and dry information.line-dividers-clipart-11

Effective brands project an identity that is consonant. That means everything fits together, and there are no gaps in how you are perceived by your market.

Most brands are ineffective. Most brands do not project a consonant identity. That’s why so few brands command fanatical loyalty.

If you want to make a powerful impact with your brand, your brand’s “identity” must possess a quality of completeness that exceeds that of your target.

When you project a strong, consonant identity into the marketplace, it creates a gravitational tug that pulls on people. It is psychologically irresistible, and it has nothing to do with the perceived value of your offering.

The opposite of “consonance” is “dissonance”. A strong, consonant brand is an irresistible force to anyone experiencing any degree of cognitive dissonance.

On the other hand, if the identity you project is weak, incomplete and dissonant, then it will actually repel your prospects. (Is that’s why you aren’t getting better results?)

This effect is subconscious and subliminal. Almost no one is aware of it even though it happens constantly.line-dividers-clipart-11

As you might imagine, I am not talking about traditional advertising. It has its place.

But if you need better results, then it’s time you tapped into the subconscious drives of your prospects.

And there is no drive more compelling, more urgent or more common than the drive for a consonant self-perception.

Hole in Their Psyche? Fill It!

This type of subliminal brand-identification activity has its roots in the same psychological phenomena that triggers and strengthens psychological addiction.

Someone who has a psychological addiction experiences gaps or discontinuities in their identities. Those gaps cause tremendous pain, and often unrecognized pain.

The psychological pain is numbed – though not cured – by the addiction.

The psychological pain is internal dissonance – a form of self-rejection.

It is a terrible thing to reject yourself. Cults offer a more complete identity as a remedy for that flawed identity.

If you can help ease their suffering, you are not merely making a profit – you are actively helping to prevent even greater suffering.

Do this well – salve their wounds and silence their internal dissonance – and you will have a fanatically loyal customer. In fact, your place in their psyche will be all the more powerful because they will be unaware of what you have actually done for them.

All they will be conscious of is a strong feeling of pleasure towards your brand. They will almost certainly have no memory of the cognitive dissonance they experienced prior to the insertion of your brand into that painful location.

In short, you become their hero. And if you are their hero, then you can be sure they will grant you their loyalty. And that translates into things you can spend: higher profits because your average lifetime customer value goes up, your customer acquisition costs go down and your word-of-mouth marketing increases.

That the way to ease a lot of pain.

Your Brand: Pain Relief

Again, we return to our theme of a complete identity versus an incomplete identity. The pain people experience when their self-identity is threatened is real. Most people experience that pain viscerally. Even the memory of the pain is intensely unpleasant.

Some “experts” say that a brand is a promise. I say phooey.

A brand is an identity.

If the essence of your brand is strong, coherent, and consonant identity, it will inevitably pull people into its gravitational orbit.

On the other hand, if the essence of your brand is fractured, then it holds very little attraction to all but the most broken and desperate people in your market.

When your essence is fractured and incoherent and dissonant, you are nothing but a vendor. This is the retail version of hell, and no one wants to be there.line-dividers-clipart-11

“Finding their pain” is a fairly typical approach to marketing. But when you commit to the problem of identity, you are addressing the most fundamental pain that exists. Great marketers have always done it intuitively. Remember Apple’s Think Different campaign? Or Nike’s Just Do It campaign. Those were targeted at identity, and that’s why they were so effective.

Want to create unbreakable bonds with your customer? Sign up for The Brand Transformation Workshop.