The Power of Second-Order Pain Points: How Creativity in Humor, Art, and Science Works


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 16, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Second-Order Pain Points: How Creativity in Humor, Art, and Science Works

Content marketing is an effective strategy that revolves around addressing pain points and solving problems for users. However, many companies find themselves facing certain challenges when it comes to identifying and targeting these pain points. Traditional pain points, known as first-order pain points, are the immediate and directly related problems that your product can solve. But what about the broader environment in which these pain points exist? This is where second-order pain points come into play.

Second-order pain points are the constellation of related problems that occur around the time a customer purchases a product. By zooming out from the immediate pain points, companies can explore the bigger challenges that their audience is wrestling with. These second-order pain points provide access to a larger audience and a natural progression for companies that feel like they have exhausted their topics to cover.

For example, let's consider a company that specializes in financial software. While their product may solve immediate pain points related to spreadsheet frustrations, there is also a second-order pain point that is comorbid with these frustrations: making a first finance hire. By addressing the challenges and considerations of making a finance hire, this company can tap into a larger audience of growing startups who are in need of financial expertise. This approach not only demonstrates that the company understands their audience's problems but also positions them as a solution to the broader challenges of outgrowing spreadsheets.

In order to uncover these second-order pain points, companies need to engage with their customers and ask the right questions. By understanding the related problems and challenges that occur around the time of purchase, companies can expand their content marketing strategy and provide valuable insights to a wider audience.

In a similar vein, Arthur Koestler's theory of bisociation sheds light on the creative process and how creativity works in humor, art, and science. Koestler describes bisociation as the perceiving of a situation or idea in two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference. It is the bringing together of two separate matrices in the creative act, resulting in a new and unique combination.

This concept of bisociation can be seen in the use of puns, where a single phonetic form is tied together by an acoustic knot, representing two strings of thought with different meanings. Bisociation allows for the independent and autonomous character of the matrices that are brought into contact during the creative act, while associative thought operates within a single pre-existing matrix.

In the realm of creativity, art and humor primarily operate through the transitory juxtaposition of matrices, creating temporary connections that evoke emotions and provoke thought. On the other hand, science aims to achieve the permanent integration of these matrices into a cumulative and hierarchical order, forming the basis of new discoveries and knowledge.

Koestler's theory highlights the importance of both subjective originality and objective novelty in the creative process. While minor bisociative processes occur on all levels and contribute to untutored learning, true objective novelty is achieved when subjective originality operates at the highest level of existing knowledge hierarchies. This restructuring of mental organization brought about by new discoveries can have a revolutionary or destructive impact.

Combining the concepts of second-order pain points and bisociation, we can draw valuable insights for content marketing strategies. By exploring the broader challenges and related problems that surround a product or service, companies can tap into a larger audience and provide meaningful solutions. Similarly, by embracing the creative process and encouraging the juxtaposition of different ideas and perspectives, companies can foster innovation and bring about new and unique combinations.

To make the most of these concepts, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Conduct customer interviews and surveys to understand the second-order pain points that arise around the time of purchase. This will help you uncover new topics and insights to address in your content marketing strategy.
  • 2. Encourage a culture of creativity within your organization. Provide opportunities for employees to explore different perspectives, engage in brainstorming sessions, and embrace the power of bisociation in problem-solving and ideation.
  • 3. Continuously analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. Monitor engagement metrics, feedback from customers, and stay updated on industry trends to ensure that you are addressing both first-order and second-order pain points effectively.

In conclusion, the power of second-order pain points and the theory of bisociation provide valuable insights into content marketing strategies and the creative process. By expanding our focus beyond immediate pain points, we can tap into a larger audience and provide meaningful solutions to their broader challenges. Embracing bisociation allows us to foster innovation, explore new combinations, and bring about objective novelty. By incorporating these concepts into our strategies, we can unlock new opportunities for growth and success.

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