Corporate Lingo-Bingo. I know, business jargon seems to produce like rabbits when you're not looking. Next thing you know, you have 550 new words to learn — half of which just regurgitate the same concepts you already knew.

Today's a little different. This concept isn't new, and neither is the analogy. But, it is extremely important, and knowing whether your FinTech business is a vitamin or a painkiller is a fundamental part of your marketing strategy — know it or not.

Let's talk shop.

Understanding Vitamins, Painkillers, and Candy

We've all been on the receiving end of a project pitch — whether it's in a coffee littered boardroom or in a pub with beer breath floating into your face. Sometimes you listen to these pitches, and you think, "that's a really good idea," and other times you're wondering, "that's cool, but what's the point?". Sometimes you're even thinking "that's not really solving a problem, but it might be fun."

Painkillers fall into the "that's a really good idea" category. Vitamins are the "that's cool, but what's the point?". Candy is the "that's not really solving a problem, but it might be fun."

Let me clarify.

Painkillers are FinTech products that address an immediate issue (you know, like a painkiller.) These are the products people need ASAP. These would be things like Brickx or Spaceship. They're immediately impactful, and people need what they have to offer.

Vitamins are FinTech products that you don't need, but they're nice. These are going to be your 350th investment app or another blockchain tech trying to gamify something. They're cool, and they can certainly help. But, you don't need to run out and grab them immediately. They can wait. Let’s call them Personal Financial Management Apps

Yeah. I did. PFM's are shyte

Candy services are FinTech products that are fun, addictive, and have a short shelf life. These are the app games. People want them for a minute, then they're done, and they move onto the next piece of candy. No one should really try and build a Fintech version of candy, but if you have an example, let me know!

Here's the thing. Knowing which product you're selling is critical when it comes to marketing. You need to know how to approach your audience. These terms are fluid, and vitamins can definitely become painkillers, but knowing where you currently stand can help you figure out how to approach your target audience (and even what your target audience actually is.)

Vitamin vs. Painkiller

Alright, let's say you've got your product off-the-ground, and you're ready to start getting in people's faces. You've got a great product, but you think it's a painkiller when it's really a vitamin. People don't immediately need your product, but you're running out there throwing up a ton of content and thinking "why are 1 billion people not immediately using my app?"

Well, they don't really need it. Sure, it may be cool, new, flashy, and have a killer UX, but it doesn't feed an immediate need.

So, when vitamin brands are looking for marketing results, they should be thinking long term. You want to turn that vitamin into a painkiller, but it's going to take a while. See, with vitamins you have to convince people why they need your product. With painkillers, they already know.

Vitamin brands should be playing with growth marketing and aggressive frameworks (think Jobs-to-be-Done and AAARR) and focus on good old product innovation.


Because you're trying to build your product into a painkiller. You want a great product and solid marketing to stuff your funnel and killer sales strategies to optimise your pipeline. But, it's not going to happen in a day.

Fintech growth is especially nuanced when it comes to Vitamin marketing. You probably built your product in a space where there's a ton of competition. So, if your product doesn't spark an immediate need in customers, you'll have to compete with a bazillion other brands in the slow-growth game. To do this, you have to pay attention to your marketing strategy. Sure, you want a slow-burn strategy, but you want one that's a lean, mean, targeted machine.

For example, a painkiller product can develop a persona, draw up a target audience, and start dumping out LinkedIn ads across the platform using targeted interests, etc. People need that product. They're going to buy it. But, a vitamin brand has to get savvy. You need to start playing heavily with firmographics, branding, structuring (again, think Jobs-to-be-Done) and experimental marketing. You can't afford to throw all of your money against the ad platform wall and expect results. They won't come!

Do I Need a Painkiller?

I know what you're thinking. You need a painkiller. Stop right there! You don't need a painkiller; you need to know which marketing strategy fits each product type.

The difference between these three types of products is fluid. Let's take Twitter for example.

Twitter started off as candy. But, over time, it became a vitamin. Today, it's a painkiller. That being said, it's still candy to some users. It really depends on the person.

Here are the three questions you should be asking yourself.

  1. Do people need my product immediately, or do I have to convince them that they need it?
  2. If people need my product, who are those people?
  3. If no one needs my product, how can I get them to?

One of my favourite questions from Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown’s Hacking Growth book is, how disappointed would your customers be if tomorrow they could no longer use your product. Very disappointed= high growth potential and likely a painkiller; Not very= low growth and likely a vitamin.

The answer to these questions is going to help you determine your marketing strategy. Since your marketing campaigns are baked into your product architecture, you really need to know who is purchasing your product and why.

I don't want you to come away from this article thinking "I NEED A PAINKILLER!"

Instead, think: "how can better understand how users perceive, purchase, and consume my product?"

So, when you're making your next marketing campaign, try to separate audiences by how they perceive your product.

Put out ads to people who need your product, people who might want your product, and people who crave your product temporarily. Really, this is a new way of segmenting populations, but it's a hyper-effective one.

Final Thoughts

The last Forbes article I read about painkillers and vitamins suggested pivoting your product to become a painkiller. But, that's not the full story. Painkillers, Vitamins, and Candy can all be wildly successful. Luxury items like IWC Watches and <insert a brand/ I’m a guy… I have no idea> handbag do incredibly well and by their very nature will always be vitamins and candy. You just need to know how to market each one to your customers. They aren't the same product, and they each require massively different marketing objectives and goals (e.g., KPIs, campaigns, ads, content, etc.)

Looking to transform your painkiller, vitamin, or candy into a cash cow without beating your head against a wall? Get in contact.