One of the great direct marketing copywriters of all time, Victor O. Schwab (who wrote the famous body-builder Charles Atlas ads and went on to help create the giant Book-of-the-Month Club) penned a list of what he called “pain points,” spelling out the reasons why people buy what they don’t necessarily need but feel they want.

People purchase memberships, products and services because it eases some pain they have about themselves. They want to: save work, money, and time avoid discomfort, risks, worry, embarrassment, and doubts express their personalities satisfy their curiosities appreciate beauty win others’ affections resist domination by others emulate the admirable acquire or collect things generally improve themselves They want to be: good parents creative efficient recognized authorities up-to-date gregarious leaders sociable hospitable proud of their possessions influential over others