Did you know that there are 5 levels of customer awareness?  If sales isn’t your thing, you may be like many people in seeing all customers as cold contacts that need to be won from scratch.  It appears that lots of people see things this way when I consider their advertising messages.  Have you ever seen a billboard like this?

There’s no way that anyone will read all of this content in the 3 seconds it takes to drive by this billboard, but I know tons of companies who advertise like this.  They try to tell every perspective client every little thing about their business in every ad they run.  Not only is this impractical, it’s a really fast way to get dismissed as noise.  It’s also a quick path to frustration when the ads you’re paying good money for don’t work.

Not All Customers Are Equal

Customer awareness is something that helps us to target our messages to potential buyers right wherever they are in relation to our product or service.  It’s the difference between having a cold, formal conversation with someone we don’t know and a warm, relaxed conversation with someone after we’ve been introduced.

The 5 levels of customer awareness are not new.  These were originally introduced over 80 years ago, so I didn’t invent this.  I’m just passing it on, but I will add some original ideas before we’re finished, so hang in there with me.  Here they are:

  • Indifferent – The first level customer is completely indifferent.  This person has no idea that there is a problem or a solution – let alone who you are and that you have a solution.  In fact, an indifferent person doesn’t even know there’s a problem.  This is how a lot of companies see all prospects.  That’s why they try to publish a manifesto in every ad.  Starting here requires an introduction and some small talk.
  • Inflamed – The second level customer is aware that there is a problem, but that’s it.  He is just upset by what’s wrong, with no idea that anyone can help or fix it.  An Inflamed person tends to complain a lot.  That will actually be to your benefit in the end, because he’ll be happy to tell you what he doesn’t like about his current situation.  This, in turn, tells you what he’s looking for in a solution and how your product could do the job.
  • Informed – The third level customer is aware that there is a problem and aware that there is a solution.  This person is informed of a fix, but, for some reason, hasn’t acted upon the knowledge.  This is usually because the solution is too slow, too expensive, too complicated, or too difficult.  She is in a good position to make the transition to official “lead” status.  Because she is already problem and solution aware, she is likely beginning to explore her options.
  • Influenced – The fourth level customer is not only aware of the problem and a solution, but also aware of YOUR solution.  This is what we call a “lead”.  A name on a list, a phone number you’ve never dialed, an email that doesn’t show up on your mailing list or in your inbox is NOT a lead.  A lead knows who you are, what you do, and how much you charge, AND STILL wants to hear from you.
  • Inclined – The fifth level customer is aware of the problem, the solution, your solution, and is already inclined to buy.  Seriously, these people do exist.  They follow you on social media, read your blog, sit through your commercials, and will likely buy if you just make an offer.  Granted this is a smaller population than the other four levels, but closing a sale with these people can be quick and provide the resources you need to go after lower level customers.

Original Stuff Here

OK, now I’m going to add some original ideas to this time-honored wisdom.  At every level I apply the Pain & Passion Method.  This means that I figure out how to appeal to the prospect’s Current Pain or Crazy Passion.  Everyone has one or both of these.  A Current Pain is something that is irritating this person at the moment.  A Crazy Passion is something that dominates a person’s thoughts and occupies a prominent place in his budget.

A Current Pain can be the high price, low quality, or limited availability of something this person wants or needs.  It can also be a physical, mental or emotional pain that she is feeling right now.

A Crazy Passion can be a goal, a responsibility, or an opportunity that is presenting itself at the moment.  It can also be a hobby, a desire, or a relationship that this person is currently pursuing with reckless abandon.

Here’s how I use this approach with each level of customer awareness when I create an ad campaign.

Level 1: The Indifferent Person

I like to think of this person as “Outside”.  If I am in my house and the customer is just outside somewhere, I don’t know anything about who this person is and she doesn’t know anything about me either.

At this level, I discuss pains and passions that are broad enough to appeal to just about anyone.  I use headlines like, “Wouldn’t you like to be the best…?” and, “Don’t you hate it when…?” and “What if you could…?”  The important thing is to approach these folks in a way that keeps them from saying, “Oh, that doesn’t apply to me.”

Once you’ve engaged them in a broad-topic conversation, you can gradually narrow things down as you move them forward through the levels.

Level 2: The Inflamed Person

I think of this person as “Parked” out front.  Here I use Current Pain as an approach.  I try to find out where he goes to share frustrations and complain.  Everyone complains about problems, right?  I know I do.

This is where I look through social media profiles, review websites like Yelp, plain old Google Reviews – basically anywhere I can go to read real complaints of potential customers.  Then I use headlines that contain the same words this person is using to complain.

By restating the customer’s issues and then offering my product as a specific solution, I can speak directly to the thing that’s bugging him most while positioning my product as the answer to his problem.

Level 3: The Informed Person

I think of this person as “on the Sidewalk”.  This time I use Crazy Passion to do the job.  At this level, I try to find out about any potential solutions to her problem.  Like we said above, it could be that the solution she knows about is too expensive, too slow, too difficult, or too complicated.  If I understand the other products and services I’m up against, I can find a way to compete.

I use tools like Google Trends, Influential Blogs, and regular Google Searches to find out everything there is to know about the major players in the space.  I also keep an eye out for any emerging trends that might afford me some room.

By learning about the available solutions, I can present my product to my prospect positively, so it’s easier to see me as an option.

Level 4: The Influenced Person

I think of this person as “at the Front Door”.  My address is no longer a mystery and an opportunity is just a knock away.  Influenced people are great, because I can use both Current Pain and Crazy Passion at the same time.

I reach out to these folks with Facebook Ads, Adwords, Social Media, Blog Posts, YouTube Videos – pretty much any channel I can use to draw them to a sales page, a video, a webinar, or an event.  It’s just like tapping them on the shoulder to get their attention so I can help them out.

By combining Pain and Passion techniques in the same effort, I’m able to deliver a one-two punch to their problem and help them find a solution fast.

Level 5: The Inclined Person

I think of this person as “Sitting on My Couch”.  I heard the knock, answered the door, and all that’s left to do is invite her inside for a visit.  I use the same approach to reach this person as I did in Level 4.  I just don’t have to worry about drawing her in.

She actually came looking for me.  She left where she was, drove to my house, knocked on my door, and now I’m handing her a glass of iced tea and catching up on all that’s going on.

Those who are Inclined are likely repeat customers.  Serving them is all about simply listening when they share and giving them what they want.

Hopefully this post gave you some new insight into the minds of your prospects, leads, and customers.  Try the different Passion and Pain approaches we discussed and let me know how it goes.  Feel free to share ways that you reach different levels of customers.  I love learning from your experience!

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