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Is All Awareness the Same?

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Photo Credit: Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Awareness is an important step on the journey to making a purchase. Without it out a prospect will never have the chance to become a customer. 

Through conversations, I’ve found that awareness is usually what businesses are most concerned about. 

However, the trap many fall into with awareness is that it is the most important step. If only they knew about your product surely they would buy it. Right? 

Probably not. Awareness is just one step. It’s arguably not even the most important step to your company (if you can pay your bills with awareness please let me know so I can find out how to do it too).

In the past, I’ve talked about both the Marketing Funnel and the Buyer’s Journey. In both awareness is the first step. 

What is the fascination with awareness over the other steps the customer must take up to the point of purchase? Why is it the big thing that many people are the most concerned about? An even more important question might be, is all awareness the same?

That’s the topic of our conversation today. 

Awareness = Fame

Let’s think of awareness in different terms. Awareness is fame. 

In the old Hollywood system, the studios would sign an actor or actress and every movie he/she made would be for that studio. If you signed with Warner Brothers, you were making films specifically for Warner until your contract ended. If an actor or actress became famous, it raised the chances of getting better roles. The studios were as much in the business of creating stars as they were making movies. If the stars of the movie were famous, the chances that film would be a hit improved. 

The studio system disappeared decades ago and now an actress or actor can sign on to any film regardless of the studio. But, one thing has largely stayed the same. The studios still bank on a known quantity because movie stars sell tickets.

The problem is that having a movie star doesn’t always work. Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty were big stars when Ishtar came out in the early ’80s but it wasn’t enough to stop the movie from being one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history. 

Is All Awareness the Same? 

Back in the 1960s, a gentleman named Eugene Schwartz wrote a book called Breakthrough Advertising. In the book, he examined the concept of customer awareness. Schwartz was a copywriter. In other words (no pun intended), he wrote the copy in the ads. Knowing the level of customer awareness would help him write better ads. He developed the idea that there are five levels of awareness:

  • Most Aware
  • Product Aware
  • Solution Aware
  • Problem Aware
  • Unaware

Let’s start at the top and move our way down. 

The most aware know all about you and your product. Chances are they know as much about the product as you do. They are proactive and search for anything they can find. The most aware want to buy they just need to know what the deal is.

The people in this category are also the most likely to be repeat customers. They love the company and the product.

You probably know somebody who is a diehard fan of a specific auto manufacturer such as Chevrolet. They won’t even consider anything else. When they need a new vehicle they head to the Chevy dealership. 

The next level is the product aware customer. This person knows what you sell but isn’t sure if it’s right for them. They are the ones who are looking at customer reviews before they make a decision. Reassurance is needed so they feel they are making the right choice.

Solution aware people know the result they want but they don’t know your product provides it.

Remember a time you were out with your friends trying to find something to do. Everybody knows they are trying to cure boredom but nobody is quite sure what will do it.

Think of it another way, these people are actively trying to become aware of products that will give them their desired solution.

The problem aware are in a different place than the solution aware. They know there is a problem but aren’t sure if it can be fixed.

Years ago I had a computer that worked in every way except it wouldn’t go on the internet anymore. I knew what the problem was but I wasn’t sure if it could be remedied and I was a little anxious because I didn’t really want to pay a lot of money for a solution.

The unaware present a challenge. They haven’t heard of your company or product and don’t even have a problem. You shouldn’t ignore this group because they do have value but they are going to require a more subtle approach.

Have you ever run into a salesman selling a product you never knew existed from a company that you have never heard of that is a solution for a problem you don’t have? The problem for this salesman is you are unaware.

The unaware need an introduction to you so that when they move into any of the other stages, you can be top of mind for them.

There is a Correlation

Nothing exists in a vacuum. Many times there are connections to other things. While I was walking through the awareness levels you might have thought about the marketing funnel. I have defined the marketing funnel as:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Customer Relationship/Retention
  • Evangelism

The most aware are towards have converted and would buy from you again. They also might be evangelizing on your behalf.

The product aware are sitting in the consideration phase doing research.

The solution aware know the solution they want they just have to find it. They may or may not be aware of you as of yet.

The problem aware and unaware also haven’t entered the funnel yet but the problem aware folks are hoping there is a funnel out there for them (they probably don’t think of it in that way but you get what I mean).

The unaware are indifferent. They don’t know that they need anything so they aren’t looking.

We can also see the awareness levels when looking at the buyer’s journey which is:

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Purchase
  • Advocacy

Like before, the most aware and product aware are easy to find. The most aware are ready to purchase and are advocates. Product aware people are in the research phase.

The solution aware are just starting to go on the buyer’s journey but haven’t quite hit the awareness stage yet.

The problem aware aren’t even sure there is a journey they can take. They are waiting for somebody to come in and help them see the way forward.

The unware have no intention of going on a buyer’s journey. As far as they are concerned, there is nothing they need.

Where are You?

The five steps of awareness, like the marketing funnel and buyer’s journey, are there to help you identify where your customer is at.

The way to approach all five of these people is completely different. Knowing this helps you craft the right message.

For example, Jared is a diehard Chevy fan and he needs a new truck. He isn’t interested in a Ford or a Dodge. Jared wants a Chevy and he already knows all about it. He just wants to know the cost.

When you know that Jared is among the most aware, you don’t have to use much if any resources trying to convince him to buy a Chevy truck.

Contrast this with our product aware person. Steve knows about Chevy trucks but isn’t sure it’s the right truck for him. He wants more information than knowing the cost. He wants information that helps him feel the Chevy truck is the best truck for him.

Final Thoughts

When you accept that all awareness isn’t the same, you will be better at relating to your customers. The content you create and the conversation you have has to match where your customer is at. If it doesn’t, it’s going to be hard to get the sale.

Have questions or comments? Sound off below.

Shane Carpenter
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