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How to Use Customer Awareness Level To Build Your Next Campaign

by | Oct 10, 2012 | Direct Marketing, Lead Generation, Technology Marketing | 1 comment

In last month’s article, we proposed that the most important question to ask yourself when starting a new marketing project is: What does my prospect already know?

We also asserted that a useful way to answer that question – to “measure” what our prospect knows about what we offer – is to use a scale invented by advertising legend Eugene Schwartz – a scale called “Customer Awareness Level.”

And today, as promised, we’re going to talk about how to use Customer Awareness Level to determine:

  • What type of information your prospect needs
  • What type of promotion will work best with your target audience
  • How direct you can be in talking about your product or service
  • What kind of offer will to generate the most leads

But before we do that, I’d like to recap what I said last time about Customer Awareness Level. (If you missed last month’s article, you can read it here.)

A Quick Review

In his book, Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz defined Five Levels of Customer Awareness. They are:

  • Most Aware. Customers and prospects who already know everything they need to know about your solution.
  • Product Aware. Prospects who know about your solution and those of your competitors, but aren’t sure which solution is right for them.
  • Solution Aware. Prospects who know about solutions like yours, but don’t know your specific product or service.
  • Problem Aware. Prospects who know they have a problem and have some idea of what their problem is, but who aren’t aware of any solutions for it.
  • Unaware. Prospects who don’t realize they have a problem to solve.

Prospects at different awareness levels have different needs and desires. In general, the less aware a prospect is:

  • The more education he requires before you can “sell” to him
  • The less open he will be to a sales pitch
  • The more indirect you have to be in talking to him about your offering

As I mentioned last time, you can think of the five Customer Awareness Levels as five discrete levels in a sales funnel, with “Unaware” prospects at the top, and “Most Aware” at the bottom.

We also said that the way to determine the Awareness Level of your prospect is to ask probing questions about your solution, the problem it solves, and your company.

Putting Customer Awareness Level to Work

So, once you’ve determined your prospect’s Awareness Level, how do you use that to plan your next campaign?

To answer that question, I’d like to look at each level individually, starting at the top of the funnel.


Unaware prospects don’t realize they have a problem to solve. They may have some frustration with the way they’re doing something, but they don’t realize a better way exists. They don’t have time to think about it.

Unaware prospects won’t be looking for a solution. They won’t be searching online and finding your website. They won’t be on your opt-in list. Most importantly, they won’t be open to a sales pitch.

The Unaware prospect needs education. But not about your product or service. Not yet. Unaware prospects need to be educated about their problem.

Your promotion for the Unaware prospect needs to generate curiosity, interest and concern regarding the problem. Your approach will be very indirect: problem-oriented, not product-oriented. Your objective: to motivate the prospect to find out more.

You’ll need some space to talk about the problem. Your best bets for reaching Unaware prospects, therefore, are space ads and articles in trade journals, and – if you’ve compiled a list of likely prospects – direct mail.

But you won’t completely explain the problem in these campaigns. Instead, to generate leads, you’ll want to offer these prospects a white paper that discusses their problem. Naturally, this white paper will also recommend a solution (yours), make a case for why it’s best, and tell them what to look for when shopping for a this type of solution. Only at the end of your white paper will you tell the (previously) Unaware prospect where to go to find out more about your specific solution.

In summary, your ad or article will make your Unaware prospect partially Problem Aware and raise his concern, so that he’ll request your white paper. Your white paper will then educate this prospect until he is Solution Aware, and tell him where he can go to become Product Aware.

Problem Aware

Your Problem Aware prospects know they have a problem. And they have a pretty good idea of what that problem is. They may have begun gathering information on possible solutions. So, it’s possible they may find their way to your website.

But the Problem Aware prospect is still not ready to evaluate specific solutions. Your approach will still be fairly indirect. You’re still offering education. But now you can talk more about how your solution addresses the problem, and less about the problem itself.

And you don’t need as much space. Mention of the problem will grab this prospect’s attention and draw him or her into your promotion. All you have to do is promise a solution.

Think small. Use smaller space ads, banner ads and PPC campaigns, along with direct mail, to drive these Problem Aware prospects to a variety of lead-gen offers – case studies, webinars, podcasts, shorter white papers – that discuss how to best address the problem, and the advantages of your solution.

Again, as with the Unaware prospect, your trying to move this prospect to a higher level of awareness, so that you can talk to him more directly about your product.

Solution Aware

Solution Aware prospects understand their problem and most, if not all, of their options for solving it. Now, they want to learn more about specific solutions. They need to understand what differentiates one solution from another.

With this audience, you can be fairly direct in talking about your offering. You can go into detail on features, their specific benefits, and why your product or service is the best.

Most of your website content is directed at the Solution Aware visitor. They’ve been driven there by your lead-gen offers or by an online search for your type of solution. Likewise, much of your trade show traffic is likely to be this kind of prospect. These are the people who are interested in brochures, data sheets, online demos and trial software.

But remember, these prospects still aren’t ready for a sales call. They don’t want one. They’re still gathering information, educating themselves. They need to be nurtured until they’re ready to buy.

So now, you’ll want to add email to the mix. Most of all, you’ll want to get these Solution Aware prospects to sign up for you e-newsletter, so you can keep in regular contact and be top-of-mind when the prospect is ready to buy. You’ll need offers on your website, at your trade show booth and in follow-up to your lead-gen respondents, all aimed at getting them to sign up for your newsletter. These sign-up incentives, as well as the content of your newsletter, will all be aimed at turning the Solution Aware prospect into a Product Aware prospect.

Product Aware

The Product Aware prospect has a good idea of what he needs and is considering specific solutions. He’s the prospect you’re trying to turn into a qualified lead and hand over to the sales team. He may not be ready to buy, but he’s ready for a sales presentation. It’s just a matter of getting him to sit down and talk.

With the Product Aware prospect you can take a direct approach. You’re going to reach out to your these prospects through email and direct mail with upgrade and new product announcements, event invitations and special offers.

You’ll also want to duplicate these announcements and offers in the “latest news” section of your website, and the relevant product pages.

By the way, the same emails, newsletter articles and other collateral and events you’re using to make your prospects Product Aware will keep your product-aware prospects warm until they’re ready to buy. But you never know when that’s going to be. So be sure to end all your product-related articles, collateral and web content with a strong call to action to contact your sales team when they are ready to talk.

Most Aware

Finally, we come to our Most Aware prospects: our customers. Unless we’re selling a big, expensive, low-maintenance, never-needs-upgrading, once-in-a-generation purchase… these are our best prospects. We want to keep them informed, engaged and satisfied, so they’ll buy again and again.

Most Aware prospects know and like our product, so we can be very direct with them. We’re not going to beat around the bush. We’re going to keep in contact with them through announcements of upgrade offers and on-going education webinars – along with all the offers we’re making to our Product Aware audience.

Much of this engagement will be through email, our e-newsletter and, perhaps, through social media. But for this group, we’ll also want to go beyond the mere routine.

We’ll want to give our Most Aware prospects – our customers – the “VIP treatment.”

We’ll solicit their input on product improvement. We’ll invite them to special customer events. And we’ll give them special access to our executives. For these invitations, we’ll use personalized email, and – since no one has time to read all their commercial email – personalized direct mail.

The Big Picture

What’s important to remember is this: your target audience isn’t just segmented by industry and job title. It’s also segmented by Customer Awareness Level: awareness of your company, your product, the other solutions out there, and the problems they solve.

When you launch a new product, most of your most of your prospects for that product will probably fall among the Unaware, Problem Aware or Solution Aware categories. So you’ll need to start your marketing effort there. But as awareness of your product grows and you gain customers, you’ll expand your efforts into the higher categories.

Take-Away Points

Prospects at different levels of awareness have different needs and are more receptive to different types of promotions, offers and product discussions.

Marketers need to tailor promotions to the Awareness Level of their target audience.

Until your prospect is fully Product Aware, the goal of your promotion should be to educate the prospect to the next highest Awareness Level.

Think about your prospect audience: into which Awareness Levels do most of them fall?

Then, think about your recent promotions: •Are they targeting the right Awareness Levels?

  • Is the distribution right for the Awareness Level of your target audience?
  • Are the offers and tone correct for the Awareness Level being targeted?
  • Are they pushing the prospect to the next highest Awareness Level?

Think about these questions as you begin work on your next marketing campaign. And above all, seek to answer this most important question:

“What does my prospect already know?”

Any thoughts on this article? I’d love to hear them. Please leave comments below.

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