How meeting your audience at the right place can completely change the game
Gather round party people.
‘Cuz today I’m giving you a massive tool that will help you write better, higher-converting copy.
We’re talking about one of THE most foundational elements of marketing:
The five stages of awareness.
This is a favorite concept of a lot of big-name marketers. (So you may have heard a little something about it already.)
And that’s because it has the power to completely revolutionize your copy.
But despite its potential for great power…
The five stages of awareness is one of the most underused (and underrated) concepts in online marketing.
So if you’ve ever stared at a blank cursor on your screen or frantically searched Google for a writer’s block cure…
Because I’m about to drop a whooole lot of knowledge about the five stages of awareness.
So you can write better copy, know what to say, and become a better marketer.
If you want the short & sweet version of this, just head to my YouTube channel to watch me explain this same topic (and to see my smiling face!)
What Are the Five Stages of Awareness?
So just what the heck is this miracle marketing concept?
Allow me to back it up. Way up.
All the way to the 1960s.
That’s when Eugene Schwartz developed the five stages of awareness that marketers still use today.
If you’ve been following me, you know that I really hate marketing strategies developed by old white men (especially if they developed them when a lot of things widely regarded as horrible were considered normal.)
But this is a rare exception…
Used right, the five stages of awareness can be beneficial for both marketers and their audiences.
Here’s the SparkNotes:
The five stages of awareness is a flowchart that explains the different stages of a buyer journey. It shows you where your audience might be as they move through your marketing funnel stages.
The basic concept is that the person who buys your offer is fundamentally different than the person who is first introduced to your offer.
Think of it like this:
Your readers are on a journey. An epic journey.
And, like any good journey, it requires someone to move through different stages.
For some people, moving through stages is smooth and easy.
For others, the journey from stage to stage is filled with unexpected challenges, hidden obstacles, and booby traps around every corner (shoutout to all my Goonies fans).
But regardless of what someone’s journey looks like, they want to arrive at the same destination:
Finding the solution to their problem.
The most important thing we can do as marketers is to understand where someone is on their journey. So we can speak to them directly where they are.
The Unaware Stage
As a marketer, it’s your job is to provide a solution to your audience’s problem.
But sometimes your audience doesn’t even know they have a problem.
And that’s the very first stage of awareness: unaware.
These people are unaware that a problem exists. (Duh, Brittany.)
I do NOT recommend spending a lot of time, effort, or money marketing to this audience.
If your audience is completely unaware that they have a problem, it’s going to take a lot of work to move them all the way through the funnel.
Think of somebody who is trying to learn the guitar.
Their problem is that they don’t know how to play.
But if they haven’t started learning the guitar, tackling different hand positions, or dealing with the growing pains that come with starting from scratch…
They don’t know what their problem is.
They may be unaware that learning the guitar is something that can’t be solved alone. At this point, they don’t really know what they’re in for.
That’s not where you want to spend your efforts in terms of your messaging.
Your free content is typically going to hit this audience. You can use things like blog posts to drop knowledge and start laying those breadcrumbs to becoming aware of their problem.
But in general, marketing towards these people is more trouble than it’s worth.
The Problem Aware Stage
Have you ever had a problem that you just didn’t know how to fix?
Despite sinking hours and hours trying to come up with the solution, you were still stuck at the starting line.
Yup, we’ve all been there.
And it’s the second stage of awareness: problem aware.
Aka “the frustrating as hell” stage.
Even if somebody knows they are having a challenge, they may not know a better way exists. It’s your job to show them.
Let’s go back to the guitar example.
Someone starts trying to learn how to play…and they realize it’s really hard.
Now they have a problem. But they haven’t sought out solutions yet.
They aren’t aware of the solutions that exist for their problem…
They don’t know there’s a renowned instructor, best-selling book, or 5-star course that can help them overcome their challenges.
They’re just frustrated as hell and ready to smash their guitar into a million pieces.
The Solution Aware Stage
When someone is solution aware, they’re aware of their problem.
Even better, they know there are ways to solve that problem.
They understand that a product, offer, or solution out there will fix their problem…they just don’t know what that is yet.
Someone who is solution aware is actively searching for something to solve their problem. But they’re not quite sure what to trust…or where to start.
Do they download a free app? Enroll in a high-end coaching opportunity? Buy a book on Amazon?
Maybe they’ve taken a few steps to solve their problem, but things didn’t work out. Now they need to find a new solution…a better solution that will deliver on its promise.
Someone who is solution aware probably doesn’t know you yet.
It’s up to you to make them aware of your solution (and to trust that you’re the one they need).
Your free content at the top of the funnel will mostly speak to people who are problem and solution aware.
The Product Aware Stage
Now we’re getting to the meaty part:
The product aware stage.
As a marketer, this is your chance to shine.
The product aware stage is when someone is looking at all of the different solutions and deciding what will take them to their final outcome.
They’re weighing the different products and solutions against each other. And you get to duke it out against those solutions like toddlers in a foam pit…until you’re the last one standing.
If you’re confused about the difference between solution aware and product aware, you’re not alone. Lots of marketers get mixed up between these two stages.
So I’ll break it down:
When we talk about solution awareness, someone is focused on the final outcome they desire. They want to get from point A to point B.
But they don’t know what’s going to happen in that juicy middle part. They don’t know how to get to their destination.
So while they’re all the way bought in on the outcome, they’re not actively weighing and comparing the different solutions that will get them there.
When someone is product aware, they’re shopping around like they just hit Amazon after three glasses of wine.
They’re looking at all the different products and putting them under a microscope to see which one is the best fit.
They may be analyzing your product. But they’re also analyzing other people’s products to determine what will get them the outcome they desire.
The Most Aware Stage
This is it.
The final stage:
This is when someone is at the bottom of your funnel, they’re in that checkout cart, and they’re hovering over that buy button.
They’re aware of the solution, the different products that are available, and your product. They’ve looked at all the details and studied the fine print.
They’ve spent time getting to know you and they believe and trust that you’re the right person to help them.
And that your offer is the right product to get them the solution that they want.
Now it’s time to reel ‘em in.
Because in the most aware stage, they want to try your product. They just haven’t made that decision yet.
Moving Your Audience Through The Stages of Awareness
To move through the stages of awareness, your audience needs to go through a transformation.
That person who is unaware looks wayyy different than that person who is most aware.
And your job is to hold their hand and walk them through each stage of the journey.
So the question is:
How do you make that happen?
It all boils down to your copy.
Your copy can make micro shifts in the reader that moves them through the different stages.
A person may be at one stage when they begin reading your copy and be at an entirely different stage by the end.
And when they read your copy again, they could be moving into the beginning of the next stage.
The problem that many marketers make is that they fail to recognize what stage of the journey their readers are in.
A lot of online entrepreneurs will assume that because someone is reading their copy, they’re already product aware.
So they start naming their product and pulling out all the tricks to sell them that product.
That’s a really fast way to lose trust.
That person may not even be bought in on the solution your product provides (or that they need a solution in the first place).
Instead, you have to enter the conversation they’re having in their head.
Here’s a tip:
Where you put your content can give you a pretty good indication of your audience’s stage of awareness.
Your free content — whether it’s going out on your YouTube channel, podcast, or even your Instagram— is reaching people at the top of the marketing funnel. It’s most likely going to be for people who are problem and solution aware.
Some people may stumble upon your free content that are completely unaware. So it’s important that you don’t forget those people.
But, for the most part, it’s a safe bet that they’re either problem or solution aware.
And once you get further in your marketing funnel stages, they’re becoming more aware of your brand and your offer.
So when they’re in the middle of the funnel, you’re helping them make that belief shift and recognize that your product could be the solution to their problem.
This is when they’ve signed up for a webinar, that challenge, and they’ve taken that next step in their journey with you. At this point, they’re way more solution aware and product aware.
And right before they buy from you, when you’re giving them that final push to purchase your offer, they’re most aware.
This is when your sales page, launch emails, and checkout cart come into play.
Writing for the Stages of Awareness
You know the five stages of awareness.
You know where to write copy and content.
But what the heck do we even say to those people??
It may seem like coming up with the right words is impossible, but it’s not that difficult.
People make decisions emotionally. And we justify those emotional decisions with logic.
In the first half of the stages of awareness, people are going to make more emotional decisions.
So if someone is problem aware, they need to see that you really understand those problems. You need to bring those emotions to the forefront.
They need to know that you understand their problem and all the things that come with it.
Shine a light on their problem so they know that you really get them. You have to gain that trust before introducing the solution to their problem.
Tug at those heartstrings. Dig deep into what their problem looks like and how it impacts their life.
When they are solution aware, it’s all about future pacing.
They know they need a solution to reach an outcome, so paint the picture of what that outcome looks like.
Show them how your solution can get them to that dream state.
We’re not just speaking to the problem. We’re giving them a look into the outcome and what their life could be like.
While early stages of awareness are more emotional, the end stages of awareness are more logic driven.
At the product and most aware stages, people need to see details. They need to differentiate between offers and see how yours is better.
Break down your offer and prove to them that your product is better than the competition.
And when they are most aware…it’s all about data.
When someone is about to click that buy button, they need fact-based proof that they’re making the right decision.
So give them the data that proves your offer works.
Social proof is huge at this stage of the journey. It can be anything from a testimonial to an actual statistic. Anything that counts as data will help them feel confident to take that action step and invest in your solution.
That’s a high-level overview of the five stages of awareness.
As you’re writing, make sure you understand where your reader is.
Remember you’re only speaking to one reader at one stage of awareness.
So write to them! Give them the copy they need to guide them toward the next step of their journey.
If you can do that, you’ll be able to create some really beautiful connections, belief shifts, and conversions.
So go forth, be bold, and apply these lessons to your marketing content.
You’ll build better relationships, connect on a deeper level, and lead people to your buy button.