Stages Of Awareness: How To Align Your Copywriting Based On Your Prospect’s Customer Journey

If only knowing your audience was still enough. For better or worse, there's much more you need to know. If you want to be successful, that is.

You see, your prospects are always at some point in the buying process. And one of your responsibilities as a business owner is figuring out where they are in that process.

To do this, you have to determine:

  • How aware they are of the opportunity of your offer
  • The different stages of awareness that come into play
  • The set of difficulties in every level of awareness

What's important, though, is to note that the buying cycle and the stages of awareness are far from mutually exclusive.

See, every prospect is in the buying cycle, no matter what. But they can also be at any stage of awareness, wherever they are in the buying cycle.

This makes things a little bit tricky but it also gives you plenty of opportunities to market specifically toward your prospects.

But before we start, another huge factor you always have to keep in mind with each level of awareness is that you can lose business permanently when you ask your prospects to buy too soon.

With that being said, let's now discuss how to align your copywriting based on your prospect's stage of awareness.


Understanding The Buying Cycle Before Stages Of Awareness

Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

Before getting into how to specifically angle your copy, you have to understand exactly how the buying cycle works. By now you're probably pretty familiar with it.

But in order to know where your customer's at you have to get really familiar with it.

It's really nothing more than a pattern that every single customer goes through. And it's easy enough once you identify what it means when a customer is at a certain step.

From what they know and what they want to what you have to do to reach them, mastering the buying cycle will help you in every situation.

The buying cycle also works symbiotically with the stages of awareness. That means it's crucial to understand it if you want your copy to reach your prospects in the right way.

Basically, anyone can be in any part of the buying cycle while being at any stage of awareness at the same time.

The buying cycle is very specifically the process of making a purchase that every customer goes through. On the other hand, the stages of awareness refer to a customer's awareness of your product or service.

While they're related, they're still very much separate.

If you sell luxury bananas and you have a prospect's attention, they're in the Consideration stage in the Buying Cycle.

But simultaneously, they could be in the Solution Aware But No Trust stage (OR the Solution Aware, Trust, But Not Sure If Now Or Later stage) within the Stages of Awareness. 

Know what are the core stages of market sophistication here.



Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

Awareness of a problem is the first step, and you're not going to get any sales at this point. But that doesn't mean it's not important. This is where your prospect realizes that they have a problem or a need.

Maybe they don't even know what it is specifically, but they know it's there.

Best case scenario is that they become aware of your product or service. Unfortunately, you can't always hope for that so you're more than likely working with a cold lead.

So it's important that your marketing tries to address your target audience's needs so they realize what you're offering.

One way to look at it is like this: A customer realizes they have a need for a delicious, healthy yellow snack. They're not sure what could solve this problem, they just know they need it.

Well, lucky for them I'm a banana salesman and I have the perfect solution. The only issue is figuring out how to make them aware of what I'm offering, but there are plenty of ways to do that as you'll see.

Stages of awareness: how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey


The next step is where your prospect is aware of your product and thinking about it. But it's important to always remember that they're going to be thinking about other options as well.

This is where your product or service has to shine and really stand out amongst all the others.

You want to present all the unique features of your offer. In turn, you'll be presenting the benefits as well. So consider how your offer solves your prospect's problems or fulfills their needs.

Not only that, but you should also focus on how their life could look after using your product or service.

This would be where I, a banana salesman, need to explain what makes my bananas the best. Whether they're more yellow, cheaper, bigger, or any number of things, there has to be something that puts them above the competition.

So my job is to make sure the customer knows all these things so they can decide if I'm a better fit than my competition.



Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

At this point, your prospect is ready to make a purchase. They've weighed all the pros and cons of your offer against all the others, and they know what makes the most sense for them.

Hopefully, if you nailed the last two parts, you have them on the line and you're ready to close that sale. 

If you're still not seeing them arrive at this point much, no problem. That's what we're going to try to improve in some later sections. And if you are, great. But just closing sales isn't enough.

You'll need to foster a healthy relationship and stay in contact with them to ideally get them to the next step.


Retention And Advocacy

This should be your goal with every prospect. Think about how much easier it is to make a sale when you've already led someone all the way through this process. If you can forgo all that work and make a customer for life, that's always a win.

But maybe even better, they're likely to tell others about you if they're satisfied. And you know how well word of mouth works. In addition, people are much more likely to trust word-of-mouth testimonials from people they know and like.

So just as a rule of thumb, always aim for retention and advocacy with every single prospect.

Of course, you can't win them all over, but the more you can the more the better. And honestly, loyal customers are the backbone of any successful business.


Understanding The Stages Of Awareness

Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

Coinciding with the buying cycle, we also have the stages of awareness. The stages of awareness give you a better idea of how close your prospect is to taking action.

More than the buying cycle, they help you get an idea of where your prospect is in regard to your offer.

Since it's all about awareness, it focuses on what prospects know about your offer. It also gives you the opportunity to see what kind of content is needed depending on where your prospect is.

Without knowing their stage of awareness, it's easy for your content to fall on deaf ears.

So for example, take a prospect who's done some research on photo editing software. They've narrowed their choices down and know quite a bit about each different program.

They're not quite ready to buy but they're close.

Well, in that case, you probably wouldn't have much luck trying to touch on their pain points. Because they already know what their pain points are, and they're much further along in the buying process.

That's why knowing individual stages of awareness is important. You have to tailor your content to wherever your prospect is in that process.

And as a rule, it usually takes more effort and more content to get through to less aware prospects.

By the way, remember that luxury banana example from earlier? Well, once we're done going over the Stages of Awareness, we'll circle back to that to really clarify just how connected the Buying Cycle is with Stages of Awareness.


Not Aware

Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

The first level of awareness is more of a lack thereof. And if your prospect isn't aware of what you can do for them, then there's no chance they'll take action. That means that the unaware prospect is arguably the hardest to reach.

But it's not impossible.

What's important is to make a big promise, something they'll actually care about. And that usually translates to you solving a problem for them. It should be a problem that you know they're tired of dealing with, or a need you know they'd love to fulfill. 

Another strong way to appeal to them is to refer to people similar to them. The next step is to explain something that group is doing or buying.

The prospect can then hopefully relate to this group of people and want to see what they're missing out on.


Pain Aware

Logically, then, this would be the next step. "Pain Aware" refers to a prospect who deals with some sort of pain. Something that gives them a headache every day, literally or figuratively.

So your promise has to take this directly into account. It should answer the question: how can this help me specifically? The keyword is specifically.

Because everyone has different pain points, and solutions that work for some aren't even relevant to others.

Your main goal to reach a prospect in this level of awareness is to come across as though you know the exact pain they're feeling.

They want to know that you relate to them and that they can trust you. And really, the only way you can do that is to convince them that you're someone like them.

In addition, it should be the best solution to their problem, beating out all your competition. It's never enough just to do something or sell something, you have to be the best at it, or at the very least do it differently.


Specific Problem Aware

So your prospect is aware of their pain, but maybe they're also aware of the specific problem they're dealing with. Of course, their next course of action is to solve it. That's where you come in.

Your copy should propose a unique use or mechanism that solves their problem. Something that sets it apart from others. And we both know there are plenty of others.

So you'll have to get creative with how you angle your copy here.

Think about your offer in comparison to your competition. What are they doing and how are they talking about their product or service?

You have to find a way to do something that they aren't, or do it better. Which can be difficult, but nobody said running a business would be easy.


Solution Aware But No Trust

I'd guess you're pretty familiar with this situation. You have a prospect that knows about your product or service and maybe it sounds good to them.

But if you're not an established, trusted business then they really have no proof that you can help them.

Ant that's understandable. There's always someone else doing what you do, so you can't expect people to take a risk when there are other proven options.

What you have to do is explain in detail exactly how your mechanism works. Not only that, but you also have to deliver with consistent quality in a timely manner.

You need to be actively involved and foster a good relationship with your audience as well.


Solution Aware, Trust, But Not Sure If Now Or Later

Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

Finally, you almost have them on the line. They trust that you can help them but they're not quite sure if they want to take action now.

Maybe they think they can get a better deal in the future. Or it's a big decision because of the price so they need time to think. Or it's not their top priority as they have other problems that might take priority.

Well, it's time to give them a reason to take action. So why should they? They need something compelling to nudge them along.

Something special about your offer that adds an extra benefit for them, or something that implies they're running out of time.


Tying Two Ideas Together

Remember the illustration from earlier? 

If you sell luxury bananas and you have a prospect's attention, they're in the Consideration stage in the Buying Cycle.

But simultaneously, they could be in the Solution Aware But No Trust stage (OR the Solution Aware, Trust, But Not Sure If Now Or Later stage) within the Stages of Awareness. 

At that point, it would serve you wisely to create content that:

  1. Builds trust...
  2. And adds urgency and scarcity.

If you can do that, buyers would be pushed into the Decision stage of the Buyer's Cycle.

And at the same time, they'd be pushed into the beginning of the Stages of Awareness, back into Not Aware, ready to buy another one of your products or services.

After conversion, they'd go into Retention in the Buyer's Cycle, and start all over on the Stages of Awareness for another one of your offers (cross-sells, upsells, etc.).

Learn how to use market segmentation here.


Connecting Stages Of Awareness With AIDA

Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

Now you have a better idea about how to identify stages of awareness and how to address them, but what about format?

If you're not hitting the mark with the quality of your copy, no matter how much you know, you're not going to see much success.

You need a framework or a formula that's never going to fail you. And that formula is AIDA. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

If that sounds like it fits perfectly with the stages of awareness, that's because it does. 

So to close this out, let's look at what AIDA really is and what it does.

Learn about the different copywriting frameworks and templates here.



This coincides directly with creating awareness, specifically brand awareness. And to create brand awareness, you need to figure out who your audience is.

While it's not necessarily required, it's recommended to create buyer personas. The better the picture you have of your target audience the better chance you have of getting through to them.

In this stage, it's not exactly important to give every bit of information you have. What you're really trying to do is get your audience's attention.

What should follow if you do that successfully is your audience following the trail to figure out the more important aspects of your business.



Once you have their attention, it's important to hold it. And that's not always easy. So they need a reason to keep paying attention, and you have to give it to them.

The best way to do this is to tell your audience that you know about their pain points and how they affect their lives. What's really effective here is appealing to emotion and the fact that you know what they're dealing with.

And the best way to do that is to tell a story. But not just any story, a story that's personally relevant and hits close to home for the reader.



Now that they're on the hook, they're ready to find out more. This is when you want to go all-in and tell all about your offer. All the features and what sets it apart from others.

But what's most important is to relate those features into benefits. After all, your prospects are truly interested in what you can do for them.

The idea is to show how your offer is going to solve their problems or fulfill their needs. But it's also important to mention how your offer will change your prospects' lives.

It's also important to make note of the difference between desire and interest. Interest focuses more on education and relating to your prospects how your product can change their lives.

But desire is more based on how your audience views your brand. And to do that you have to use more emotional language.

Stages of awareness: how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey


Naturally, they're going to probably want to take action if you've created desire. So now it's up to you to make a sale.

You may want to create a sense of urgency by implying scarcity or utilizing a timer. Or you can sweeten the deal by offering a bonus of some sort.

And of course, you want a strong CTA. This mainly depends on the design of it, so make it clean and easy to read but also make it stand out. Keeping it above the fold also helps so they don't have to go looking for it.


Align Your Copywriting, Boost Your Conversions

Stages of awareness:  how to align your copywriting based on your prospect’s customer journey

Whether your prospect is a professional or average consumer...

No matter what you're selling...

You have to do more than just analyze their character and personality. You have to determine where they are in terms of awareness. All the way from being unaware to being a mere click away.

Your copy should be written specifically for someone in one of these categories.

And that's because people at every level of awareness need different things. Someone who isn't even aware of their problem isn't going to just go for an offer immediately, no matter how good it is.

So the way you come to them is of the utmost importance if you want a response.

But you always have to keep the Buying Cycle in mind too, because every prospect is somewhere in it. And it intersects with the Stages Of Awareness in ways that are essential to understand.

While the Buying Cycle describes a prospect's purchasing journey, the Stages Of Awareness describe their journey in regard to you and your business. 

And no matter what, it can be difficult at times. And you won't always succeed. But with enough practice, you'll end up getting the hang of it. And if you need some help along the way, I'm always here if you want to reach out.


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About Daniel Doan

Daniel is a proven Neuro-Response copywriter with over a decade of expertise bridging the gap between what your company wants to say and what your customers actually want to read.

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