There’s a lot of content created every day — and most of it gains almost no attention. Austin Mullins, Copyblogger
Ten years ago I had just moved back to my home state. I lived in a larger city in a state to the west for over 13 years but moved home to start over.
It was a tough time. Finding a job seemed impossible. Nevertheless, I landed a job with a car dealership. They would pay me a salary the first month while I got up to speed.
Then I found out that it was all about chasing people who came on the parking lot. I felt like a poor dog who chased cars because he is supposed to. There were no prospects for a new salesperson, so, we chased those who came on the lot.
Who knows if those people wanted to buy or not. It’s an old school care sales technique.
One dealership manager admitted to me that they hire up a bunch of salesmen and waits to who sticks.
Many times, when someone came on the lot they were getting an idea of what is available and taking a look at the prices on the cars.
This doesn’t happen as much anymore. Ever heard of the internet? These days, especially the younger generation, people do their research online. And, why wouldn’t you?
Never once while I worked at the dealership did I hear anything about the Stages of Awareness. The bottom line is that many people who came on the car dealership weren’t ready to buy, even though some were. It is quite disheartening to have about five salesman chase you around the dealership when all you want to do is look.
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Again, have you heard of the internet?
Fast forward to the time I started learning more about copywriting. The term Stages of Awareness came up over and over when listening to experts like Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers.
Turns out this guy named Eugene Schwartz wrote about this back in 1966 in his book “Breakthrough Advertising.” If you want a copy, you can get a used one for only $297 on Amazon. To say that the book is a bit of a copywriting legend is an understatement.
Schwartz breaks it down for us pretty succinctly.
And he did this in 1966.
His Stages of Awareness is accepted as the premier understanding of the customer’s awareness. Nevertheless, over the years, there have been some various different types of iterations.
In this article, we are going to focus on Schwartz’s Stages of Awareness and how we can use it to create content to sell our website care services.
What is with all these terms?
There are a lot of terms that circulated these days to represent the steps a buyer goes through to get to the buying phase.
Some terms you may have heard include the buyer’s journey, marketing funnel, sales funnel, purchase funnel, and I’ve even seen New digital marketing funnel.
Funnel is an oft used word. Often. This post is not the place to discuss what a funnel is, but it seems we use it for many things.
What are these Stages of Awareness you are talking about?
I’m glad you asked this question.
The Stages of Awareness include: Completely unaware; Problem-Aware; Solution-Aware, Product-Aware; and The Most Aware.
Brian Clark breaks it down in detail in this article first published in 2007.
If you are using content from your website, your email, or social media (and more), then knowing these stages are a must.
Let’s dive in
Completely Unaware is what it means. Your prospect, or in this case, your reader, is completely unaware. They don’t know they have a need or a problem yet.
They may have a WordPress website. They are likely searching for things about how to grow their traffic or the best theme to use.
Maybe they are experimenting with landing pages. The kind of content here is very entry level content for those that are completely unaware.
The problem here is, just below the surface is a problem waiting to happen. This iceberg is close to puncturing a hole in their ship.
The iceberg metaphor is what Sonia Simone used in an article at Copyblogger earlier this year. She gives the example of the GDPR,
“For example, if you had a digital business last year, you were probably delightfully unaware of what the initials G-D-P-R stood for … until you realized how close your site might have been to hitting that hidden iceberg.”
What is the iceberg for website users without a site care plan? Security.
What happens if they are hacked? What happens if their site goes down? Do they have a backup ready?
There are other icebergs, but I will leave that for you to determine.
The Problem Aware is where your prospect has run into the iceberg. Their site has crashed, it has been hacked, it is inoperable, it is moving so slow that no one stays, there are so many problems they can have.
If they run a business and not a hobby, this is a huge problem. They are aware of their problem.
Think back to the time when they launched their website. It is like a shiny new car they drove off the lot. What can go wrong?
Well, the dealership may have tried to sell them an extended warranty. Did they buy?
Perhaps this is what happened. They bought a website from a WordPress agency but didn’t buy the warranty. Maybe they thought they could change the oil themselves.
This happens so much that Kyle Van Deusen of The Admin Bar created a document called the Website Owner’s Manual. This is a great example of trying to help your client be aware of their responsibility to the website.
What can you create to help them understand the problem they are experiencing or may experience?
Solution-Aware is the place that the prospect understands that the solution is available or they are searching for that solution.
Here, the prospect needs an answer to their problem. Maybe they know they need a backup plan for their website. Maybe their site has been hacked and they need it cleaned up.
At this point, there might be a crisis and their business is starting to suffer as they try to sort out the mess.
Your prospect begins to start looking for a solution. They are aware that they need a solution. They may even be aware of the solution should be.
A PDF download on how to execute a backup strategy might be a good piece of content. Another option is to write content on how to get the warning label removed from their site in the Google search engine results page (SERP).
The good thing here is that when they download your PDF you can put them on your email list and give them a series of emails nurturing them towards your service.
Well, congratulations, you are on your prospects radar. Now it’s time to get them to the close.
As Benyamin Elias says in this article at Active Campaign,
“At this stage, your prospect knows about your product, but they’re still comparing you against a bunch of other products. Your job now is to show some teeth—why are you the best?”
If you haven’t found the time to clearly lay out the benefits of you and your service, this is the time to do so.
Your company message depends on knowing the benefits of working with you.
Are you reliable? Great. How does that help your client?
Why is that important? Your client can depend on you to keep their website humming along without disruption while they are doing what they do best.
Another thing you can do here is to create some case studies. Don’t just write the same old boring case studies, create a success story.
It might be a tad challenging by yourself so you might want to hire a copywriter or use a service like Case Study Buddy.
There are several benefits of creating a case study as Joel Klettke points out in this article.
The Most Aware
As Elias points out in the article on Active Campaign,
“Most aware prospects already know what you do. They already think that you’re the best answer to their problem. All they need to do is hear your offer.”
There you have it. You have gotten them to the close. Now it’s just time to follow through.
They are likely on your email list at this point.
I remember when I worked at the bookstore, I was the cashier. The company wanted us to upsell. We had Lindt truffles at the register.
Each truffle cost $.40, but they were 3 for $1. Most of the time, all I had to do is point that out. Most of the time, people grabbed two more Lindt truffles. It was an easy upsell.
The customer already had the purchase ready and they were convinced we were the right store to buy their purchase.
The kind of content you want to produce for these prospects are sales emails and sales pages.
The key here is to keep from turning them away.
“Risk reversal, social proof, and crisp, clear calls to action will all help keep the path to purchase straightforward and stress-free.”
These are basic copywriting techniques. Sometimes, all it takes is to send an email to your list asking if they want to purchase your product.
Wrapping it up
Often business blogs major their content on things that map to the top of the funnel, to prospects are Completely Unaware of a problem, a solution, or even a product. This can be a mistake.
Keep your content balanced for the Stages of Awareness as much as possible. Content for the bottom area of the Stages of Awareness is less likely to be a blog post versus a sales page or an email.
Thinking about the Stages of Awareness as you plan your content will help you think about the message you are delivering to prospects.
How do the Stages of Awareness impact your content strategy? Let us know in the comments below.