Five Levels of Customer Awareness and How to Effectively Market to Each Level

by Corey Philip //  March 26, 2022

The five levels of customer awareness were first outlined by Eugene Schwartz in his seminal work “Breakthrough Advertising.” Schwartz effectively outlined a journey that customers take when discovering a brand and product for the first time, highlighting the following stages:

  1. 1
  2. 2
    Problem aware
  3. 3
    Solution aware
  4. 4
    Product aware
  5. 5
    Most aware

For content marketers and businesses alike, appreciating the five levels of customer awareness is crucial, as it enables you to develop the necessary content to encourage an individual to commit to a purchase. In other words, understanding each of the five levels will inform your entire content strategy.

Content Creation for the Five Levels of Customer Awareness

In another excellent book called “Great Leads,” written by Michael Masterson and John Forde, the authors encourage all marketers and content creators to begin strategizing with one simple question: What does my prospect already know?

Following this logic, it becomes apparent why the five levels of customer awareness are so crucial. If you don’t consider the stage at which your prospects are at on their customer journey, you risk creating the wrong type of content. Below, we explore each of the five levels of customer awareness in detail and explain how to effectively market to each level.

1. Unaware

Prospects who are unaware don’t yet realize that they have a problem that you can solve. Potential customers who are unaware are the largest segment of the customer awareness spectrum, and they’re also the most difficult to market to. After all, how do you convince someone they need a solution when they don’t even know they have a problem?

Crucial to marketing to unaware prospects is grabbing their attention. This could be through a carefully placed online ad or a series of eye-catching social media posts. Your job is to show them that they have a problem in an educated and considered way. You might, for instance, highlight issues associated with the blue light from screens.

With this example, your job would be to create content that deals predominantly with the issues stemming from excessive exposure to screens. Short videos that explain the root cause of the issue and its potential effects are easy for unaware prospects to ingest. However, it’s important not to overload your prospects with new information at this stage, as they will likely ignore the issue if it seems too complex.

2. Problem Aware

At this stage, your prospect has come to the conclusion that they do indeed have a problem. But they’re not sure how to go about it, meaning they have lots of questions they’re looking for answers to. You’re now able to dive into the problem in more detail, offering fact-based content that provides prospects with more information about the issue at hand.

Like most people, your prospects will turn to Google or social media to find out more about this new problem of theirs. They might also stumble across forums on Reddit and Quora to see whether other people are also struggling with the same issue.

The best move at this juncture is to answer the questions you know your potential customers are asking. You can perform keyword research and find out what prospects in your niche are typing into Google. You can then create a number of explainer articles that go into the problem in-depth, using facts and verifiable sources wherever possible.

Remember, now isn’t the time to bring in your solution. Rather, your job is to build trust and showcase yourself or your business as a reliable source of information on the problem. Once prospects realize that your information can help them, they will be willing to consider any solutions that you have in mind.

3. Solution Aware

After accepting that they have a problem, your prospect is now encouraged that they can do something about it. Given that they’ve dug a little deeper into the problem and found that other people experience it, they’re motivated to find a solution that works and are willing to consider your brand.

While they might not be ready to splash the cash or sign up for a product just yet, prospects are happy to learn more about the solution that you’re proposing. Therefore, it’s time to bring your solution into their consciousness.

You should be concerned with proving that your solution works. Prospects don’t want to take a chance on something that might work or has significant potential; they want something that can solve their problem here and now.

As such, customer testimonials, published reviews, and brand endorsements should form a significant part of your content creation and marketing at this stage. After all, your prospects are ready to accept help, so you need to prove to them that you can provide them with the solution that they know they need.

4. Product Aware

After diving deeper into the solution to their problem, your prospect is finally aware that there are a number of products or services that can help them - yours included. Here, it’s vital that you differentiate your product from its competition and convince your prospects that your product is the one they need to invest in.

What’s more, you need to make it explicitly clear how their problem is solved with your product. You don’t want to leave anything to chance or ask them to read between the lines. If your blue-light-blocking glasses can prevent eye damage and improve cognitive function while looking at a screen, now is the time to showcase the facts.

One of the most effective types of content at this stage of the journey is product comparisons. You can dive into your different products or services and explain in detail how your product is among the best on the market. Of course, don’t slander your competition here, as that’s never a good thing to do. Rather, focus on why your product is unique and how it will solve the problem.

5. Most Aware

Your prospects are now as good as convinced that your product is the one and you’ve managed to bring them full circle - congratulations! Some clients don’t need any further push at this stage and will sign up for whatever it is that you’re selling. They’re convinced that you’re a trusted retailer, and they know that your product will work for them.

However, others might need that final little push to get them to part with their hard-earned cash. This is where incentives come in handy, as they will offer added value and will be the final piece of the jigsaw. You could offer free delivery, a % discount on their first order, or perhaps even a buy one get one free offer.

You can also supplement such incentives with content that provides a little more information about particular aspects of the product, such as FAQs or select reviews about a certain element of your solution. When your customers have reached the most aware phase of the customer awareness journey, they’re very much yours to lose.

Tips for Customer Retention

Taking a prospect from unaware to most aware is no mean feat and is something to be proud of. At the very least, it shows that you’re doing something right. But after doing all the hard work, it’s vital that you don’t let your standards slip when your customers are most aware. To keep them, the following content will help:

  • How-to and advanced guides that share information about how to use your product
  • Loyalty programs that award your customers for choosing you and returning time and time again
  • Personalized offers that reach out to different customers based upon their buying habits
  • Fresh and exciting products that build upon your core offer
  • Special limited-time discounts that are exclusively for your current clients

Ultimately, you want to do everything you can to keep your clients in the most aware phase. After all, it’s much easier to keep your current clients than consistently work clients through the entire customer awareness journey from scratch.

Final Thoughts

Even if you haven’t thought about it explicitly, most marketing strategies create content that is suited to prospects at different stages of the customer awareness journey. But fully understanding where your customers are and how to market to them will ensure you produce the right content for the right clients. If you invest in assisting prospects through the customer awareness journey, you will almost certainly see your bottom-line increase as a result. Therefore, while time-consuming, creating content for each level of customer awareness is a really important part of promoting your business.

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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