One pitch does not fit all!

Some years ago now an Australian Rugby player, he played both Rugby Union and Rugby League for Australia, was reading a medical article in a magazine while flying to Ireland.  He turned to the player next to him and said “I’ve got that.”  The article described a medical condition that he had.

He had it, but he wasn’t aware it was a problem, until he read the article.

How many of your prospective customers are like that; you have the perfect solution for their problem, if only they were aware that they had a problem.

No awareness, no sale.

Awareness drives your promotion

When I first started working with small businesses I learnt that you could divide prospective customers into three groups:

•    Those aware they a had a problem, a need to be met, and they were ready to make a decision about a solution;

•    Those aware they a had a problem, a need to be met, but were not yet ready to make a decision about a solution; and

•    Those not yet aware they had a problem.  They didn’t recognise the clues suggesting they might be leaking profits, for example.

There are not many customers in the first, more in the second, and many more again in the third. 

Why is this important? 

Just think about the message you need to give each of these groups:

  • Ready to buy – you want her to choose you.  Your advertising, promotional message or sales pitch will seek to persuade that prospective customer that your product/service is a better/cheaper/faster/more reliable solution for them.  It must remove any possible objections she might have in her mind about your offering.
  • Not ready to buy – Your promotion has three tasks; to persuade the prospect to bring forward their decision, to keep you in front of mind if they can’t be persuaded to make that decision now, and to have them choose you when they do make it.
  • Not yet aware – your promotion will be educational, like that Rugby player’s magazine article.  They need to understand there is a problem before they can start thinking about how to solve it.

The key point is that, to be effective, three different messages are required.  The right message for one group will bomb for another, and vice versa.  And if your messages are not effective, they are a waste of money.  Ineffective advertising is a profit leak.

Five Levels of Awareness

Recently I came across a concept which takes this idea step further and gives you greater guidance on how you might best “pitch your pitch”.  Funnily enough, the concept goes back a long way, to a legendary copywriter Gene Schwartz.  Schwartz is one of those blokes who are quoted as developing the fundamentals of advertising and promotion.

In his book “Breakthrough Advertising” he developed the concept of “customer awareness”.  I came across it in “Great Leads – The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message” by Michael Masterson & John Forde.

The underlying premise is that, in developing your sales message, which could be an advertisement, a letter, an email, a pitch or presentation, you need to ask what your target market is likely to know about your business, your products, his own problems and other possible solutions available.

You might ask, why does this matter?  It matters because the level of awareness of the prospective customer about these questions completely changes the nature your message and your approach, as I alluded to above.

As “Great Leads” puts it “even when you are selling the same product to everybody, the people you approach will only respond to one kind of pitch, depending on how aware they are of who you are, what you’re selling, and why you are selling it.” 

Schwartz described five levels of awareness running from Most Aware to Unaware.
Next week I’ll look at how to use this to finesse your sales message.

© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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