Problem Awareness: How to Custom Tailor Your Marketing to Increase Sales

A framework for understanding which customers you should be targeting and their awareness of the problem you solve.

insanely profitable websites

Let’s face it, not all traffic is valuable — some can be down right worthless.

Some visitors may be ready to buy, some are trying to solve a problem, and some are just lost on the internet.

With so many different types of traffic, how do you build a website that converts as many visitors as possible into leads and sales?

The process is surprisingly simple if you know what to look for and, for many of you, this process will prove to be the missing piece to the profitability puzzle.

Warning: The strategy that you are about to read about is advanced and is made specifically for people who want to increase the earning capability of their business up to beyond $100,000 per year. If you are looking for ten quick tips to get more XYZ-type followers, this article isn’t going to scratch that itch.

Let’s get into it.

One Question To Rule Them All

There is the one simple question you should ask yourself before you spend any money on advertising, take time to write a blog post, or even think about creating a marketing strategy.

This question is so important yet almost everyone overlooks it.

Does your customer know they have a problem?

By asking this question, you immediately reveal the customer’s awareness of their problem. From there, it becomes easy to formulate a brilliant marketing strategy.

It’s All About Awareness

Outstanding marketing — the type that gets tons of leads and sales — meets the customer where they are in the problem-solving cycle.

Remember that, if the customer doesn't know that they have a problem, they won't buy your product.

That's why tailoring your marketing and understanding your customer's awareness is so important.

breakthrough advertising

To help make your life easier, I am going to share with you a game-changing insight that was first published 45 years ago.

Originally released in 1966, Breakthrough Advertising by Gene Schwartz remains to be one of the most sought after marketing books ever. With original copies selling for over $500 up until the publisher republished it.[1]

The reason Breakthrough Advertising is so ground-breaking is because it outlines a simple system to categorize any audience's awareness so that you know exactly how to market to them.

In the book, Schwartz categorizes each prospect into one of 5 levels:

  1. The Most Aware: Prospect knows your product and only needs to know “the deal.”
  2. Product-Aware: Prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.
  3. Solution-Aware: Prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.
  4. Problem-Aware: Prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know that there’s a solution.
  5. Completely Unaware: Prospect has no knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own identity or opinion.

An Example: High Awareness vs Low Awareness

To best illustrate the awareness problem, let's look at an example.

Let’s say your goal is to sell a new iPad to two different customers:

In this example, each customer has different levels of awareness about their problem and potential solutions.

As you can see, your marketing approach needs to be different for each of these types of customers.

General Rule: The more aware the customer is of their problem, the more direct you can be in your marketing.

How This Applies to The Web

Because of the way the Internet works, visitors to your website will always be at different levels of awareness about their problems, but that doesn't mean that you can't tailor your content and offerings in a way that allows you to get more leads and sales.

To help you better target the users on your site, I’ve broken Gene's original five awareness levels into actionable information you can use to generate more leads and sales from your website.

Understanding Your Visitors

1) Most Aware: Raving Fans

raving fan

These people are already in your sphere of influence, they love you, they are your biggest fans. This is your most valuable audience. Your goal is to continuously engage them and make sure they know what products and services you offer. These potential customers are going to be the first to buy, the first to share, and the ones who want to hear from you as often as possible.

Where You'll Find Them: On your email list, in your comments, and on your sales pages.

Major Traffic Sources: Opt-in Email List, autoresponders, offline interactions, highly-engaged social media users. (Less than 5 percent, in my experience.)

Action Steps: Give these people a reason to buy. If you are influencing these users via social media, get them on your email list. A high value on-going autoresponder is a good way to make sure they are continuously up-to-date about your best strategies and latest offerings. Get these people to a sales page or into your warm leads funnel. Note: When you present the deal, I don’t believe in offering your products as being on “sale” because it ruins your premium positioning. Instead, offer a great bonus for buying now.

This audience has high problem awareness and is in the Relationship Phase.

2) Product Aware: Window Shoppers

Window Shoppers

This audience knows that you sell a product, but they aren’t sure if what you offer is right for them. They don’t want just any information; they want to know that the product/service you are selling is tailored to their specific needs. Typically, these people understand the basic tactics of what is required to achieve their goals but require more information or motivation. Offering higher level strategy content works particularly well to build trust with these prospects.

Where You'll Find Them: On your email list, on your sales pages, and on your advanced content.

Major Traffic Sources: Opt-in email list, word of mouth, autoresponders, social media. (Less than 10 percent.)

Action Steps: This audience craves reassurance, testimonials, and a highly credible source. You need to continue to build trust and educate this audience. Create a custom tailored three to five-day bootcamp to solve a major need of this audience and, at the end, offer your premium product for sale.

This audience has medium-high problem awareness and is in the Relationship Phase.

3) Solution Aware: Advice Seekers

Advice Seekers

These people know/hope that there is a solution to their problem out there, they are just trying to find the right one. You’ll likely find these people are newest into your sphere of influence. These users don’t know that you offer a solution to their problem but are pretty informed about what their problem is. They may know who you are, but they don’t trust you yet.

Where You'll Find Them: On your blog posts and content pages.

Major Traffic Sources: Organic traffic (~30 percent), social media.

Action Steps: Focus on building rapport and trust with these customers. A well thought out autoresponder sequence is your best bet to educate and lead these customers towards a sale. You don’t want to hard sell these customers, because they don’t trust you yet. Positioning content and strong educational content shines best with this audience. You want this audience to know, who you are, what you stand for, and how your products/services can help them reach their goals.

This audience has medium-low problem awareness and is in the Value Phase.

4) Problem Aware: Sick Patients

Sick Patient

This type of traffic knows they are in pain but may not know what problem they have. The majority of this traffic type will come from search engines, so much so, in my experience about 40% of all organic traffic falls into this category. That’s because people use search engines and look for a solution for a problem they know they have. These people don’t know who you are or trust you but are looking for content that will help them solve their problem or at least educate them about a potential solution.

Where You'll Find Them: On your entry level content and blog posts.

Major Traffic Sources: Organic traffic (~40%) and some social media.

Action Steps: This audience is looking for value and if your content proves itself to be useful, engaging, and game changing, these can quickly become your best customers. Make sure your content educates them about their problem and offers potential solutions, then asks them to subscribe. Focus on building trust with this audience before trying to get them to opt in. This audience is looking for a hero sp create content and/or autoresponders that solve their problems.

This audience has low problem awareness and is in the Value Phase.

5) Unaware: Lost Tourists

Lost Tourist

This is the worst type of traffic. It's a waste of time and bandwidth. It is highly untargeted and can come from anywhere. They may or may not have money, they may or may not have a problem, but chances are they don’t know how they got to your site. Typically, these people are in browsing mode, trying to entertain themselves, and aren’t actively trying to solve a problem, or they are trying to solve a different problem that you can’t help them with. These people have no knowledge of who you are, what problem they have, or what solutions might fit them.

Where You'll Find Them: Anywhere. They're lost.

Major Traffic Sources: Social media, traffic from unrelated keywords, typo traffic, links from random websites.

Action Steps: For non-ad-based businesses, this traffic isn’t worth targeting. Focus on more aware customers to get a higher immediate ROI. Leave this traffic to Gawker/Buzzfeed.

This audience is lost. You should ignore them.

Meet Your Customer At Their  Level

The key to generating more leads and sales from your website isn’t just about “adding value” as most “marketing experts” proclaim. There is actually more to it.

If you're just "adding value" to your customers, you're missing out on leads and sales. (click to tweet)

Sometimes, customers don’t need more value or education about their problem. Sometimes, they are looking for an expert to follow or a solution to solve their problem.

The key lies is in understanding which stage the customer is at and what you can do to encourage the relationship to progress and move closer to the sale.

A Simple Formula for More Leads and Sales

To build a website that meets the majority of it's visitors at their awareness level, there is a dead simple three-part marketing process.

Value → Relationship → Solution

Step 1: Provide Value: Educate the potential customer about their problem and solutions.

Step 2: Continue the Relationship: Push for opt-in and interact with new subscribers to better understand their problems and establish your credibility/authority.

Step 3: Present a Solution: Once you understand what is going on in the mind of your prospect and the problems they are facing, present a high-value solution to their biggest problem.

This model closely resembles how high-end consultants attract more of the right customers while charging more than their competition.

By using this model, you can meet the customer where they are in the buying process and lead them towards the sale, instead of letting them fumble their way through the sales process on their own.

The Secret to Higher Conversions

You see, many content-focused websites do a great job of attracting low to medium awareness audiences via high-value content——but these same websites often fail at continuing the relationship to the sale.

You see, valuable content is now the "admission" cost to compete online.

If you aren't building a relationship, you are educating someone else's customer. (click to tweet)

If you want a competitive advantage in this marketplace, you can't just keep "adding value" instead you must also continue the relationship.

Once you have a relationship and understand your audience, progressing to the sale is the easy part.

It's time to stop obsessing over a tiny increase in conversion rates and time to start focusing on building raving fans and thriving communities.

Final Thought: If you aren't using an autoresponder or other automated marketing system, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.

Reference List:

  1. You can now pick up Breakthrough Advertising on Amazon for ~$80. (aff) ^
Photo Credit: Kenny Mantic, Matteo Paciotti, Klearchos, Seattle Municipal Archives, and Bevgoodwin. Published: 2013-06-25