If there is one mistake I see people make in their positioning over and over again, it is a failure to understand their buyer’s awareness.
A great niche and value proposition is your foundation.
But even if you have that, you will fail if you do not understand the concept of buyer awareness.
My goal in this post is to explain to you what buyer awareness is, why it is so important to your marketing, and how to use it as a guiding light for all of your marketing efforts.
What is buyer awareness
Simply put, buyer awareness is your customers location in their buyers journey.
To break that down further, your buyer is typically in one of 4 stages.
Unaware - They are not even thinking about your product, or the problem that your product is trying to solve.
Problem Aware - The buyer is aware that they have a problem, but they do not even know that solutions exist to solve that problem.
Solution Aware - The buyer is aware that they have a problem, and that there are solutions in the market that can help them solve this problem.
You Aware - The buyer is aware that they have a problem, that there are solutions in the market, and that YOU are a potential solution for their problem.
Now, this sounds great in theory, but what does that actually look like in reality. Well, let’s take my business Lead Cookie as an example. Lead Cookie offers a done-for-you Linkedin lead generation service.
Here is what buyer awareness looks like for us at each stage of that funnel for Lead Cookie.
Lead Cookie’s Unaware Buyers - These are customers who have built their entire business on referrals and word of mouth. The thought of hiring someone externally for marketing or lead generation does not even cross their mind.
Lead Cookie’s Problem Aware Buyers - These are customers who know that they have a lead generation problem. They know they need more customers and more business, but they don’t know what to do or how to accomplish that.
Lead Cookie’s Solution Aware Buyers - These are customers who have started researching the landscape for different forms of marketing and lead generation services. They have discovered Linkedin as a possible lead generation source among many other options in the market.
Lead Cookie’s You Aware Buyers - These are customers who have been researching for marketing and lead generation support, they have come across Lead Cookie’s content. They have consumed the content and believe in our philosophy and know who we are and what we do.
Where is your customers awareness?
Now, seeing this spectrum is great, but how do you actually put it into practice?
To start, you need to understand where your past buyers were in their awareness when they came to hire you.
Think through your past customers, and try to really analyze what level of awareness they had when they came to you.
Were they a completely unaware buyer? And you brought them through seeing their problem and you as a solution?
Were they aware they had a problem, but did not even know that solutions existed?
Were they looking for solutions, but did not know that you existed?
Were they aware of who you were and specifically wanted to hire you as a solution?
Try to really analyze this for your best past clients.
For most businesses who have not invested heavily into content marketing, they will find that most of their buyers are in the Problem Aware or Solution Aware stage.
And for businesses who have invested into thought leadership and content marketing, you may find that many of your buyers come through in a “You Aware” stage because your content has nurtured them to that stage prior to speaking with you.
And you will also most likely find that you have had some conversations with Unaware buyers, but in those situations, it is a very hard a long process to actually convert someone to a closed customer.
The first step to using buyer awareness properly is to understand where your buyers are actually at.
As another example, let me share what our customers awareness looks like at Lead Cookie.
0% Unaware Buyers - When we do outreach for our services we often encounter unaware buyers who have no need or desire for lead generation. Simply put, if someone doesn’t need more leads, it is hard for me to ever convince them that they do.
15% Problem Aware - We often come across people who know they have a lead generation problem, but when we get on the phone, we find that they have tried nothing else, and have not researched anything else. Occasionally these leads close, but often they need more time to nurture and develop and go through a longer phase of researching options.
60% Solution Aware - A large portion of our customer base is solution aware and knows that Linkedin lead generation and outreach is a potential solution to their problems. Through the content we put out or that others put out, Linkedin is on their radar as a solution to their problem, and they know they need help doing it.
25% You Aware - We have invested heavily at Lead Cookie into the creation and promotion of our How to Guide to Linkedin Lead Generation. This guide and article has been shared all over the internet, along with our Youtube channel, my podcast, and much of the other content that I produce as a thought leader. As a result, 25% of the leads we speak to are aware of Lead Cookie, what we do and how we operate. Many of our “You Aware” leads have even read our guide, tested the tactics on our own and are ready to hire us for implementation.
As you can see through the numbers above, my time is best spent targeting and speaking to prospects who are aware that Linkedin is a solution to their lead generation problems.
While I could go further upstream and try to educate those leads down the funnel, it will typically lead to a lower close rate and a much longer sales cycle.
In order for us to gain the maximum results from our marketing, we should focus on speaking to the solution aware leads, and investing in content to make more customers “You Aware”.
Now let’s show an example of another company who’s buyers have a very different level of awareness.
One of our customers at Lead Cookie has a set of unique products focused on helping real estate developers market and sell their properties with AR/VR. When we talked through the buyer awareness of their customers we found some great insights.
Unaware - For a small portion of real estate developers, they have been in the business for 20+ years and have always done things the same way. They have no desire or intention to change.
Problem Aware - A majority of the real estate developer market is aware that technology is massively disrupting and changing how their industry operates. They don’t know what the solution is, but they know that printed brochures, open houses, billboards, relying on real estate agents are all considered the “old guard” way of doing things. They know these are outdated, but they don’t understand technology or the internet or what is coming down the pipeline.
Solution Aware - A small but growing portion of the real estate developer market understands that today’s buyers want to experience more from their phone and computer before ever visiting the property in person. There is a growing market that believes that quality marketing means a higher quality property. This portion of the market is actively researching and looking for new trends and technologies. They know what AR/VR is but may not have used it yet or fully understand what it is or how it works.
You Aware - These are customers who have seen the AR/VR products that this client has created through press releases, trade magazines, the internet, or referrals from others. They saw them used for another property and have reached out interested specifically in their products.
As you can see, with this customer, a majority of their buyers are in the “Problem Aware” phase. While it may be easier to make a sale to the “Solution Aware” buyers, that market is currently still small.
Instead, this customer has a challenge of educating their problem aware buyers and bringing them through the customer journey toward understanding AR/VR as a solution to helping market their properties.
Meet your buyers where they are at
When it comes to buyer awareness, there is no right or wrong way to do this.
There is simply the reality of where your buyers are in the journey.
Now, the further down the journey someone is, the easier that sale is to make.
But when you are operating in an emerging space, you often have no choice but to speak to the “Problem Aware” and education them to become “Solution aware”.
But the key to all of this is to “meet your buyers where they are at”
Once you know where ether are in this awareness journey, you can set up all of your marketing efforts to meet them there. You can do this in a few ways:
Meet them where they are at with your Copy
When I was working on the outreach scripts for this real estate client, they used a lot of complex language that was specific to AR/VR and emerging technologies.
During the scripting process, I had to challenge them to say “Do your clients actually use these terms? Would they even understand what these meant?”
The answer in these cases was no.
But this is a common trap that SO MANY businesses fall into when they write copy.
They write using their own language instead of their customers language.
The easiest way to write copy is to simply use all of the statements and words that your clients say to you on a sales call.
Seriously, record one of your next calls with a prospect or client and then go back and write down all of the words they say. How to they describe their challenge.
Do they say “We need emerging technologies to create immersive experience for our prospective tenants”
Or do they say “We need to figure out how to use new technology to sell more units”
Meet your prospects where they are at.
Use their language.
Meet their prospects where they are at with Targeting
The next way buyer awareness can be used is with your targeting.
Now this could be when you do cold outreach, advertising, or any other marketing tactics.
To give a concrete example of this, we have a client at Lead Cookie who has a development shop that specializes in the React programming language.
So when we put together targeting for his outreach, we looked for potential customers who had React or other similar languages listed in their profile.
It would be very difficult for him to take a buyer who did not even know what React was, and hire his development shop. His marketing and positioning simply does not speak to it.
But when he comes across a buyer who knows what React is, and has a pain point staffing a project in that language, his firm is the perfect solution.
Meet your prospects where they are at with Tactics
Another way to use buyer awareness is to use it as a guiding light for what marketing tactics you pick.
For example, I have many web design agencies that reach out to Lead Cookie for lead generation.
But in most cases, if they are solely web design, then we will not be a good fit to serve them.
The reason is that web design is something that someone buys every few years, and it is very hard to hit that timing properly with outreach as 99% of the buyers you reach out to will be in the Unaware stage of even caring about a new website.
In this case, a web design firm would be better off investing in content marketing, thought leadership and inbound channels that will help them hook in those web design leads whenever someone is searching online for web design providers.
Now on the flip side of this, let’s take a look at a service like lead generation, marketing services, consulting, process automation, or software solutions. In most cases, these types of offers are something that can be bought at any point in time.
They are not dependent on a single event or something that happens every few years. As a result, these types offers are a much better fit for outbound as a tactic because someone could buy them any time.
Another example of choosing the proper tactics is focusing on tactics that get you in front of the exact buyers.
For example, the React shop I mentioned would find great benefit from getting involved and engaged in React communities both online and offline. In those communities, he will network with other developers and decision makers already using React.
For the real estate developer products, they could benefit by going to conferences focused on real estate technology or real estate marketing which is where they will find many more solution aware buyers than they would at a standard real estate event.
For Lead Cookie, I have gained a large number of customers by engaging in communities focused around growth and lead generation. These communities of people are constantly testing out new lead generation tactics and are always looking for a great solution.
When you know your buyers awareness, you can begin to think of how you can focus on tactics that get you in front of those solution aware buyers.
Pulling it all together
First, you must understand and analyze where your customers are at in their awareness journey.
Once you have a strong understanding of this, use that as a guiding light for your marketing copy, targeting and tactics.
When possible, try to get in front of solution aware buyers as they will be the quickest and easiest to sell.
But for those of you who have no choice but to speak to the “Problem Aware”, then make sure that you take an education based approach and speak in THEIR LANGUAGE and not yours.