Using the 5 Stages of Awareness to Boost Sales

Design by Kiltz, Websites, marketing & strategy

In our last tip, we unpacked the 5 different stages that people go through as they move from fully ignorant that they even have a “problem” to becoming your customer. If you haven’t had a chance to read that tip, take a few minutes and read it, because we’ll use that foundation here as we take a look at what type of message each of those stages uses.

So, once you understand the thought process people go through, the next step is to know how to craft your message for each of those stages. When you truly understand what their needs are at that point, and speak to them to address that perspective, your effectiveness will greatly increase. Let’s take a look at each.

Unaware that a problem exists

This is the first stage, and while it may seem insignificant, people don’t know what they don’t know. And, because they don’t know, you can’t “market” to them… they’re simply not in an “I need this” mindset. So, you simply need to get their attention.

How does this happen? First, knowing exactly how people do find you is critical, so you can ensure you’re putting out content in the correct channel. For example, if they find you off of YouTube videos, why are you regularly posting to Facebook?

Second, because “no problem exists”, the key is to enlighten and educate them in an engaging way. Think of the pieces of content, many times sponsored (paid ads) content, that you see in your feeds… for example, talking about the pain that comes from sitting at a desk too long, or a good night’s sleep ruined because of an uncomfortable mattress. IF you have a job that keeps you at a desk for long periods of time, you will become aware of the pain you didn’t realize before. Or, as you have a crummy night’s sleep, you’re going to start wondering if it is your mattress.

When people are unaware of a problem, they may not fully engage with what you’ve shared. But they now have an idea on their radar and the reticular activating system (RAS) in their brain is turned on. (Not sure what RAS is? Here are a couple of good articles (out of a ton) – from Christine Beckwith and Social Media Examiner ).

What type of content will work for the unaware stage?

If you’re sharing on social media, think visual: infographics, videos, an eye-catching image, or a short blurb for content that links to a blog post. Positioned correctly, webinars, podcasts, downloadable guides, free eBooks, and presentations work because people are wanting to be educated and “hear” what you have to say simply because it catches their attention.

The problem is on their radar

The second stage is where they are actively searching for answers. Playing off of the first of our earlier examples… As they have dealt with the growing awareness of pain, they realize that it is slightly less on days they aren’t at work, so it must somehow be related to their desk or chair. You don’t come to their mind as a solution, they just know that they now have to figure out how to be able to do their job and reduce or eliminate their pain.

This is where their research starts. Most likely with Google, or one of the many social media channels. They’re asking questions like: What is causing the problem? (The answer may not be simple) Are other people dealing with this? What are the long-term effects if I don’t do anything? How can I fix the problem?

What type of content will work for the problem stage?

The best thing you can do is have content that answers their questions. They are actively working to find a solution. This is where going the extra mile to help them more fully identify the problem and give answers is gold!

With our example, their pain may be from a couple of sources: a bad chair, wrong desk height/layout, or simply that they sit too much. A video or infographic showing how each of these can cause a problem along with introducing a solution is effective.

They know a solution exists

Marketing at this stage is much easier because the person knows they have a problem and are identifying the solution they need. With our example, the person realizes that their office chair is the culprit and that they need to replace it. The million-dollar question – which office chair is the best for their needs?

Now is the perfect time to bring your product/solution into the picture, and highlight how it has solved other people’s problems. They’re not ready to buy your solution, so keep the “buy now” language off the table. Instead, focus on making sure that they fully understand all the benefits of your solution, and also do everything you can to remove any hesitations that they may have. Remember, they are analyzing all the solutions out there and checking off the criteria they have.

What type of content will work for the solution stage?

Remember the testimonials that people give you? One of the big questions people ask is “how have others solved the problem?”. Sharing your testimonials or building out case studies allows people to see not just your word for a solution, but the success, joy, and happiness that others have had once the problem is solved. These can be shared on social media, and doing it in a visual way (images, infographics or video) will be the most effective. The awesome thing about testimonials is that it’s not just your voice saying “we can fix it”, the voices of your happy customers are joining you.

They know there’s a product to solve their problem

This is the sweet spot, and where most people put their entire marketing focus. Now is the time to fully connect and highlight your product or service as the full answer to their problem. Is it a complete slam dunk? Not quite… They need to clearly know why you’re the best and obvious choice.

I mentioned that most people focus on this stage for their marketing… the playing field will be peppered with messages that say “buy me, I’m best”. But, stick to your game. Think of the foundation you’ve built so far and add the icing to the cake.

You were the one that helped them identify that they have the problem to begin with, you gave them answers and information along the way, and you’ve shown how your product meets all of their criteria and how it has helped others – so you’ve been building trust. Hold back on the “buy now” button, and give them as much of a behind-the-scenes look as possible.

What type of content will work for the product stage?

Show them the details. Is it something that they can demo? Or can you create a video that shows a walk through of how it works? Giving them a how-to guide that gives them all the steps to their solution is perfect because they will realize that they need help for those steps.

They know that they want you to solve their problem

Good work! You’ve guided them along the entire path, and now they simply need a call to action in order to become your customer. Don’t ignore this step. Don’t assume that they will make the step on their own. Invite them to become your customer.

What type of content will work for the most aware stage?

Outside of a direct invite, the little pieces of incentives count. Do you have a new customer discount coupon? Is there a bonus you can offer them? Most likely, this isn’t going to happen on social media, although it could. By now, hopefully, they’ve joined your email list and you can send them something specific.

Putting all the pieces together

This may seem like a lot of work, creating a lot of content, and potentially overwhelming. But, think of the benefit. Instead of fighting for sales, you’re nurturing people to become your fan. As your fan, they understand that you’re not just solving the immediate problem, but that you’re digging deep and answering that inner, core issue. For our desk chair example, that is quality of life. And why is that important? They need to continue working to fulfill their life, family, dreams and goals.

Another benefit of not just having customers but fans is that they will add their voice to yours in helping other people through the journey they’ve just come.

Cheers to a well rounded, complete marketing message that will bring results!


Your Online Partner… for Success 

How’s your marketing message? If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or have questions, book a focused “20” with Christy. You’ll get 20 minutes at no cost to take a focused dive into your question and come up with answers. Also, if you haven’t had a chance, grab a copy of our 5 Stages of Awareness worksheet and identify what it looks like for your market at each stage.