The Challenge of Customer Awareness

And how to make best use of it

I’m sure you are well aware of the need to approach your target market with a targeted message; the same message will not convert all.  Ineffective sales messages are a waste of money

The key issue in a recent discussion of three different markets for the same product was that, despite the fact the same product on offer, a different message is needed for each market.

These three markets are defined by the prospect’s awareness of a problem/need they may have had, and their readiness to make a decision to buy.

There is another side to the “customer awareness” coin; a concept which takes this idea step further and gives you greater guidance on how you might best “pitch your pitch”.  The underlying premise takes “awareness” to another level. 

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.

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

The concept of “customer awareness was developed by Gene Schwartz in his book “Breakthrough Advertising”.  Schwartz is one of those blokes who are quoted as developing the fundamentals of advertising and promotion.

He described five levels of awareness running from most aware to unaware.

So let’s see if this makes sense in developing a sales message?

1. Most Aware

The customer has probably dealt with you before and is quite comfortable with you and your products.  So he or she really only needs to know the details of your offer.

You have probably heard of the importance of building customer relationships.  Good relationships lead to repeat buying.  These customers become advocates for your business and your products.

Think of the Apple customer base.  They will even queue overnight to be the first to get the new iPhone, iPad or whatever.

Selling to the ‘most aware’ is pretty straight forward.  You don’t have to educate them.  Nor do you have to deal with possible objections, or remove the risks. 

There is a relationship and they trust you.  You just have to let them know you have a new product, or a new offer.

2. Product Aware

Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure that it is the right product for him.

These are the prospects who are not as familiar with your business and its products, but are also aware of the competing products in the marketplace.  They won’t have the same relationship with you and because of that may have doubts and objections. 

So removing objections and perceptions of risk and establishing trust is important.  You have to demonstrate that the features and benefits of your product will solve their problem, and that they can believe your claims.

Your sales message needs to start the process, promising the benefit they are looking for in the headline, and then giving the reason why it will give that benefit to build confidence.

You still have the advantage here of not having to educate the customer about what your business does.

3. Solution Aware

From here on in the Five Stages scale your work becomes harder. 

Your prospect knows the results he wants, but not that your product provides it.  So your sales message is not initially about you; it’s about educating the prospect. 

The prospect is not yet in a position to compare options.  He is only concerned about getting the result he wants.  He knows or guesses that somebody out there can help him, but he doesn’t know who, or where, or perhaps even where to look.

If you are going to make the sale, he will need to be convinced that your product can give him that results.  But before you can do that you need to demonstrate that you are on the same wavelength, that you understand his pain and predicament.

So why bother?   After all, your chances of getting a sale are much higher in the previous two levels of awareness. 

It’s simple; there are more people in these situations.  If you want your business to grow you are also going to have to tap into those prospects in the three unaware categories.

Notice I said “also”!  You need more than one message.  In an earlier blog I wrote that ‘one’ was the most dangerous number in business.  It applies to marketing as well.  If you are using one message only to target all your market, well, you are targeting no-one - ineffective messages.

4. Problem Aware

Your prospect SENSES that he has a problem, but doesn’t know there is a solution.

This is where most of my ‘profit leak’ clients are.  They know things are not right with their business, but they don’t know there is a way to fix it.  They don’t know what to look for, where to look, or even when to look.

You may well be in the same situation.  You have the answer, but your potential customers don’t know they need to be looking for it.

I’ll quote “Great Leads” again; “The key with this customer is to show you ‘feel their pain’.  Not just that you know the frustration, desperation, or even fear and anger it causes.” 

Remember people buy for emotional reason, but justify their decision with logic.  Once you can identify the emotional pain you can make the connection with your headline.

Your sales message says “I know, I understand, I feel it” before giving the benefits (emotion) and features (logic on which they can rationalise the decision).

5. Completely Unaware

This is the hardest, yet the biggest opportunity from Schwartz’s Five Levels of Customer Awareness.  It’s the largest market out there for you. They have no knowledge of anything.

These people don’t know they have a problem that can be solved, let alone that there are products out there, including yours, which could improve their situation. 

Crack this one and you will find completely new markets on which to grow your business. 

But it is also the most difficult.  How do you win the attention of ‘unaware’ customers?   Why should they pay attention, let alone listen to you? 

On the other hand, if you can attract their attention, you may well find that you have moved them past the point initial resistance, and of considering the competition.  You ARE the solution.  You need to make the offer to seal the deal.

So how to make best use of Customer Awareness

Customer awareness is a difficult challenge.  Yet can you see if you can get it right what a tremendous difference you will make to your sales message, whether it be an advertisement, a brochure, web page, sales letter or presentation.

You will be talking to that prospect in a way that will reach them. 

But you need different messages for different prospects if you are to do so.

Most small businesses don’t vary their message – same old, same old message throughout all their promotions.  They think they need to appeal to as many prospects as they can with the one message.  But it doesn’t work that way.

Think of it like this; the more aware your prospects are, the more direct can be your approach.  The more unaware, the more you will have to take an indirect, educative approach.

Is your business travelling as well as it could, and should?

If you would like to discuss how you could differentiate your approach, and make better use of customer awareness, contact me.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.


© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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