The very best kind of content marketing meets customers at their current level of awareness and guides them to the next stage. In that way, content marketing is a powerful supplement to the lead generation and sales process.
But, before you can get your customer to appreciate your solution, you must first consider whether they are aware that they have a problem in the first place.
In 1966, Gene Schwartz released a landmark book titled Breakthrough Advertising. In it, he outlined a system of categorising prospects into one of five levels of awareness:
The Most Aware
Prospects in the ‘most aware’ category are aware of the problem they face. They are also aware of your specific solution, and they’re convinced that it is the right one for them. Consumers who fall into the ‘most aware’ category are your ideal prospect. They are ready to become paying customers; they just need to know the terms and price.
Prospects in the ‘product aware’ category know the problem they have, and they know the product that you provide, but they haven’t yet decided that your particular product is the right one for them.
Prospects in the ‘solution aware’ category are aware they have a problem and know that a solution exists; they’re just not aware that your particular product provides it.
Prospects in the ‘problem aware’ category understand they have a problem, but they don’t yet realise a solution exists in the market.
Prospects in the ‘completely unaware’ category do not yet understand that they have a problem. They are at once unaware of a problem, of any solutions, and are certainly unaware of your solution’s relevance to them.
Here’s An Example
To put this system into practise and show its relevance to content marketing, let’s say your goal is to sell an Apple Watch to two different customers.
Customer 1 is looking for a smartwatch.
Customer 2 doesn’t know much about technology, but wants to be able to skip songs in their running playlist without having to stop and take out their phone.
In this example, the customers have different levels of awareness about their problem, and potential solutions.
Customer 1 knows what they are looking to buy and is searching for the best product to solve their requirements – they are product aware.
Customer 2 knows they have a problem they’d like to solve, but they aren’t aware of products that could meet the requirements – they are only problem aware.
You can probably already tell that the content needed to address these prospects and move them to the next stage of awareness is going to be different.
Not only that, but the channels you’ll be able to reach these customers on will also differ. For example, a product aware consumer might sign up to your newsletter or visit your product’s page directly. A problem aware customer won’t know to visit your website, but they might be searching online for solutions, entering keywords related to their problem.
Targeting Completely Unaware Customers
In this first article of the series, we will cover those who fall into the ‘completely unaware’ category.
So, how should you target someone who is completely unaware they have a problem, let alone that you have a solution that outperforms the rest?
Brace yourself for the answer: you shouldn’t.
It might sound strange, or even defeatist, to discard prospects who fall into this category, but the truth is that the work involved to target, inform, and persuade consumers who lack any awareness of your product and the problem it solves will significantly outweigh the potential of any return. The cost of undertaking this feat cannot possibly be matched by the benefit; in short, the return on investment simply isn’t there.
Target Consumers with Awareness to Achieve Better Return on Investment
Returning to the smartwatch example, you can imagine the ways in which you might convince a product aware customer that your smartwatch is better than the others, leading them into the ‘most aware’ category. You can even imagine ways in which you could turn a problem-aware customer into a solution-aware one, by targeting them with content that causes them to realise a smartwatch is a great way to manage a running playlist without touching their phone, for example.
It becomes harder and more time-consuming to address a customer who has no sense of their need for a smartwatch, or any awareness of a problem that could be solved by owning one.
The completely unaware customer has no knowledge of who you are; no clue about the problems they have; and no concept of the solutions that might fit them. In summary, this audience is lost on you.
It is a far better strategy to focus on more aware customers, who can be targeted to achieve a higher and more immediate return on investment.
Next Time: Problem-aware Consumers
The second part of this series will describe how you can use content marketing to target problem-aware consumers and turn them into solution-aware ones.
In the meantime, if you need help ensuring your content marketing activity is meeting customers at their current level of awareness, get in touch today.