Securing new business is all about awareness. Through every piece of content, you’re trying to make more people aware of your brand and solution. It’s simple enough, right? Except no two potential customers are the same. Not everyone stumbling onto your site or social channels will even know the problems they’re facing. Let alone how your business could help solve them.
Which is why you have to take a more targeted approach to your content, covering every possible stage of a customer’s journey throughout your marketing efforts. Today, we’re looking at how the five stages of customer awareness will help you do exactly that.
The five stages
Eugene Schwartz introduced the five stages of awareness in Breakthrough Advertising. Your readers’ prior awareness and knowledge of their problem and your solution will impact how your content lands.
Let’s say you hit a reader with a product-led piece of content – before they even acknowledge having a problem that needs solving. Chances are you’re going to get nowhere. They’re going to think it’s irrelevant, pushy, and not worth a second thought.
On the other hand, you could publish an educational article about a specific pain point a target customer might be facing. But your reader already has an in-depth understanding of their problem and what they need from a solution. In this example, you’re not going to be adding anything new and they’ll quickly switch off.
The best marketing strategies will acknowledge these different levels of customer awareness. And they’ll provide tailored content to attract customers at each stage. So what are these five stages?
These are the people blissfully unaware that your software could do it all for them in seconds. As it is, they’re pretty content. Or not frustrated enough to be actively seeking a solution. Which means it’s your job to burst their bubble.
Whether they’re wasting time, are low on leads, or have an inefficient washing machine, your goal is to make them problem-aware. And you do this by producing educational content that shines a light on the specific problems they’re facing. Unleash the power of storytelling to produce articles and social posts that speak to their issues.
Problem-aware readers already know they have something that needs solving. But they might not fully understand the problem yet. Or have any idea about possible solutions. The trick now? Make their problem even worse. Agitate it. Pour some salt in the wound – metaphorically, of course. Show them you get their pain and emphasise how much better their life would be with the right solution. Make it impossible for them to not start hunting for a solution.
It’s still too early to push your company directly. At this stage, you want to create content that dives deeper into your reader’s problem. As well as offering actionable advice on how they can start to overcome it. For example, ‘X tech hacks to reduce your daily admin’. This might take the form of an article or social post, or a more in-depth downloadable resource like a how-to guide or whitepaper. The trick is to add value and earn trust – before introducing your solution at the next stage.
Solution-aware readers have come to terms with their problem, and know solutions like yours exist. They just haven’t met you yet.
This is where your approach will shift, starting to introduce some (subtle) mentions of your company. By this point, your reader will be searching for a solution. They’ll be getting pretty warm – but you’ll still want to avoid any mention of prices or cold-hard sales pitches. You still need to prove you can actually add value.
You want to show readers how your solution works. But the goal is to still lead with their problem and needs first. This might include product-led posts that identify key features and use cases that could help them. Or case studies and success stories that show your solution in action.
At this point, your reader is at a tipping point. They know your solution solves their problem. They just aren’t completely sure it’s the right solution for them. Yet. Now your mission is to prove you’re their best choice. It’s still not time for a full-on sales pitch, though. You want to keep adding tangible value to your reader.
Product comparisons and reviews work well for situating your solution amongst others out there. Product walkthroughs and downloadable resources on how to get started will also be valuable, getting readers more comfortable with your product. Or you might opt for articles that break down specific applications of your solution by industry or pain-point.
This reader knows you’re in a position to make their life easier. They trust you more than any of your competitors. And now it’s time for that final nudge to seal the deal. They already know your brand and product pretty well. They may even have used you before and already be brand loyal. So you don’t need to hit readers at this stage with loads of content. All they’ll need are light reminders to push them into converting.
This could include ads highlighting the key features and benefits of your solution. They might also mention the price and something to create urgency – such as a special offer. Email campaigns and newsletters are especially great at keeping audiences engaged at this stage. You could even reverse-engineer common buyer objections into articles, videos, or resources to improve conversions.
As a general rule of thumb: the less aware a prospect is, the less salesy you need to be. And the more education and warming up a reader will need before taking any action. Which is why you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to your content marketing. These five stages help to further segment your target audiences. They allow you to create more tailored content for different awareness levels and steadily push your readers until they’re ready to convert.
At Coster Content, we’re a content partner committed to helping you achieve your business goals. By getting under the skin of your business, we create a long-term content strategy and produce all the content you need to get where you want to go. To find out more, get in touch with us today.