5 min read

Do They Even Know? 🧐

How to Sell to Customers at the 5 Different Stages of Awareness (According to Eugene M. Schwartz)

Imagine my business sells protein shakes, and I ask you to take a free quiz to see if protein shakes are the right breakfast food for you.

What do you think the answer will be? Yes or yes? 😉

In most cases, a tool like that won’t help you grow your business because it does not address the three most common roadblocks to a customer deciding to purchase:

  1. Internal Insecurity: They’re uncertain about their ability to succeed in general
  2. Personal Credibility: They’re uncertain about their ability to succeed with your product
  3. External Scarcity: They’re worried they don’t have enough time, money, or other resources

The “Should you buy this?” quiz won't work for most potential customers, but it does work for what Eugene M. Schwartz would call “The Most Aware” customer.

That's one of the five stages of customer awareness as outlined in Eugene's copywriting classic, Breakthrough Advertising:

  1. The Most Aware
  2. Product Aware
  3. Solution Aware
  4. Problem Aware
  5. Unaware
“Each of these stages is separated from the others by a psychological wall. On one side of that wall is indifference; on the other, intense interest.” — Eugene M. Schwartz

Your job is not to try and shove people over their psychological wall and try to make them more (or less) aware.

Your job is to identify your target customer's level of awareness, and address their intense interest based on where they're at right now (starting with The Most Aware).

I'd love to show you a real example of this, so I'll walk through how Enjoyco connects to potential customers at each of the five stages of awareness.

Full disclosure: I'm a minority owner in Enjoyco as an advisor. They are an emotional wellness business led by my friends Neal and Carly Samudre (a husband-wife team).

1. The Most Aware

"The customer knows of your product—knows what it does—knows he wants it. At this point, he just hasn’t gotten around to buying it yet. Your headline—in fact, your entire ad—need state little more except the name of your product and a bargain price." — Eugene M. Schwartz

Enjoyco offers a Right Fit Assessment to see if therapy with Enjoyco is a good fit.

The assessment has a built-in assumption that you already know you want therapy, and that you’re considering therapy specifically with Enjoyco (which assumes you know who they are).

I must admit, I wasn't sure how well this would work because it's such a clear "Should you buy this?" quiz.

Still, every week The Most Aware customers take the assessment and some have become paying clients just from that quiz alone.

2. Product Aware

"The customer knows of the product but doesn’t yet want it. Here, your prospect isn’t completely aware of all your product does, or isn’t convinced of how well it does it, or hasn’t yet been told how much better it does it now." — Eugene M. Schwartz

Enjoyco sells the promise of more joy in your life! But how? Their website introduces the different options they offer and the stories they tell in their newsletter personalize the products (success stories sell).

3. Solution Aware

The prospect either knows, or recognizes immediately, that he wants what the product does; but he doesn’t yet know that there is a product—your product—that will do it for him. — Eugene M. Schwartz

Enjoyco has free podcast episodes, articles, and a guide called Rebuild Your Joy in 2022: How to Go From Feeling Blag to Feeling Bliss With Your Emotional Health all designed to serve potential customers who want more joy in their life.

Neal and Carly also wrote a book that will be published in January called Start from Joy: Trade Shame, Guilt, and Fear for Lasting Change, a Lighter Spirit, and a More Fulfilling Life.

Those resources give easy entry points into their business as a Sample Solution or Gateway Product for people who are Solution Aware.

Give Away Samples 😋
Have you ever noticed how kids dash toward the free samples at Kroger or Costcofrom a mile away? They get the appeal. Even if you’re not running (on the outside), you’re probably curious to see whatyou’re going to get for free. If you like the

4. Problem Aware.

"The prospect has—not a desire—but a need. He recognizes the need immediately. But he doesn’t yet realize the connection between the fulfillment of that need and your product." — Eugene M. Schwartz

This is tricky, because at this stage your target customer is not typically looking for you.

For Enjoyco, Neal and Carly are touring other people’s podcasts to promote their new book and tap into existing conversations about emotional health and personal growth.

When they talk about beating burnout or going “from blah to bliss” then some people get it immediately and preorder a copy of Start from Joy—those people are likely Problem Aware.

5. Unaware

"And finally—the most difficult. The prospect is either not aware of his desire or his need—or he won’t honestly admit it to himself without being lead into it by your ad—or the need is so general and amorphous that it resists being summed up in a single headline—or it’s a secret that just can’t be verbalized." — Eugene M. Schwartz

These potential customers should get very little of your time and attention. They’re simply not ready! That doesn’t mean they won’t ever be ready, but you’ll be spending a lot of energy to get very few results right now.

Still, when you create free content online on a regular basis (like Neal and Carly do with Enjoyco) you’re creating more opportunities for people who are Unaware to run across your content and get curious–but don’t hold your breath.

Which Customers Are OPEN To Buying? (According to Ray Edwards)
We all know people who have serious problems which you could fix, but as far as you can tell they don’t seem to care. Isn’t that the worst? This might be an awkward-yet-familiar conversation at family get-togethers, where you know Aunt Elaine’s new business idea isn’t

I wonder how many potential customers you have waiting at each of the five stages of customer awareness, ready for you to meet them where they are?

Which stage(s) of awareness are you addressing right now?