How Writing for the Stages of Awareness Will Convert More Readers into Paying Customers

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Tell a two-year-old the value of getting good grades in school.

Go ahead. Try it.

If you don’t have a two-year-old handy, let me tell you that you’re wasting your time trying.

But you know that.

So why do we write copy that immediately gives an answer to a problem your reader may not even know they had? And then wonder why your landing page isn’t converting or your emails aren’t being read?

So many of my clients tell me they have a valuable service or product, but they just don’t know how to explain it to people. To let their readers know how incredible the features are. Or how superior their service is.

Then they try to jam all of this really important information and a CONTACT US NOW call to action above the fold. Or they detail every, single technical feature of their product in the first few sentences of a dense email.

What they don’t know is that they’re giving the wrong message at the wrong time. When you do this, you’ll get the same reaction from your reader as you would from the two-year-old. It will go completely over their head and then they’re gone. The two-year-old to his toys or stuffing peas up his nose, and the reader to another website or deleting your email.

So how do you know what the right message and the right time are?

Well, luckily for you this is far easier to figure out than how to communicate with a two-year-old. Or get peas out of nostrils. (Take my word on this.)

And once you understand, you’ll not only get through to your readers, they’ll also hang around and ask for more.

Get your readers’ attention with the right message. At the right time.

Let’s say you sell running shoes. Now, is it going to be easier selling running shoes to an avid runner who knows the value of a good shoe or to someone who has always run barefoot?

Obviously, it will be easier to sell to the person who already runs in good shoes. And the way you sell your shoes to the runners on either extreme will look very different.

They are at different stages of awareness. So, let’s look at what those are.

  • Unaware or low aware – This would be the barefoot runner. She may not have any idea that running shoes exist.
  • Pain aware – This would be a runner who has always run barefoot, he’s tired of stepping on pebbles, but doesn’t know of an alternative.
  • Solution aware – This would be a runner who runs barefoot, and is aware that running shoes exist, but isn’t convinced he should try them.
  • Product aware – This is a runner who wears shoes. She understands that shoes are important, but perhaps thinks all shoes are the same.
  • Aware – This runner appreciates great shoes, buys them regularly, but may not have tried yours yet.

Okay. Now that you know the stages of awareness, let me show you how different stages will require a different message at a different time.

The unaware runner who is happily running barefoot is not ready for a landing page or website that opens with a picture of a shoe and a “buy now” call to action. You should never lead with the product or service for people in the unaware or pain aware stages. They just aren’t ready yet, and you’ll lose their attention immediately.

So, what should you lead with for these folks?

A good start would be to open with a problem they’re having or bringing up a problem they may have in the future. The unaware runner might respond to a headline that lets her know that running barefoot could cause foot injuries by stepping on something sharp or possibly about future injuries caused by lack of foot support.

The pain aware runner who is tired of stepping on pebbles would, not surprisingly, respond to a headline that says, “Tired of stepping on pebbles?” If you lead with the shoe and the call to action, they don’t yet know that the shoe will help them solve this pain. And if you’re not telling them something they want to hear, then buh bye.

Yeah, but I’m not a mind reader

So now you’re probably wondering how the heck you know what stage of awareness your readers are in.

The good news is that you don’t need a crystal ball to figure this out. You’ll only need to do a bit of research.

Some of the ways you can determine the stages of awareness:

  • Spend time in forums where your audience hangs out. If it’s runners you want as your customers, find out what questions they ask about shoes.
  • Survey your readers. Ask them why they signed up for your email, what brought them to your landing page or how many pairs of shoes they buy in a year.
  • Read reviews on your competitors’ sites. See what their customers have to complain about or what they love.
  • Talk to your customers. Yes, actually speak to real, live people. This is the very best way to find out how they feel and what their pains are.

Spending a bit of time doing some research will help you understand your customers and the people you want to be your customers.

And you may have a combination of customers with some in one stage compared with others in a different stage. This can be overcome with landing pages or emails written for each stage. You’ll lose attention (and money) sending unaware readers to a landing page made for people who are aware.

Close that sale

Creating messages that are specific to your readers’ stage of awareness is crucial in closing deals. If you haven’t satisfied their need or solved their pain, then they don’t know they need you.

But now you know how to avoid this. You know how to make sure you’re giving your reader what they need. And when you do you have the chance to not only grab their attention but to keep it too.

Lisa PiersonAbout the Author

Lisa Pierson will show you the crucial elements to include in your copy to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with your clients and customers in Sell with Substance.


Lisa Pierson

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