What’s the most important question to think about when you are ready to start a new copywriting project?

As a professional copywriter, you may say, “What am I really selling? or “Who is my prospect?” And you’d be close.

Have you ever heard of Michael Masterson?

I hope so…

Michael Masterson and John Forde can help you big time.

In their book, Great Leads, Masterson and Forde write about the most important question you can ask yourself before starting any copywriting campaign.

And here it is:

“What does my prospect already know?”

  • What does your prospect know about the product and the company you are writing for?
  • How much do they really know about the problems the product solves?
  • What do they know about other solutions that are out there?
  • Who are the competitors who make them?

Masterson and Forde discuss the type of lead – the headline and opening paragraphs of your promotion – that’s most likely to generate the greatest response.

This is the basis of Great Leads.

Is this question relevant for B2B marketers?

Lead type isn’t so critical in B2B, because we’re not selling people things they don’t really need.

We’re selling solutions to problems that business people need to solve.

Buying resistance is not as high.

So, I often use a simple problem-solution lead.

Is this question still relevant?

… “What does my prospect already know?” …

When we create a new B2B marketing promotion?

I think it is. Because your answer to that question can tell you a ton more than just what type of lead to use.

It will also tell you:

  • What kind of information your prospect needs
  • How you need to talk to the prospect
  • What type of promotion is most appropriate for your target audience
  • How direct you can be in talking about your product or service
  • What kind of offer will generate the most leads

OK, you say, let’s say…

“What does my prospect already know?” is the most important question I can ask myself.

How do I come up with a useful answer?

How do I answer this question in a concise way that will help me make decisions?

Fortunately, that question is not new. And years ago, a legendary copywriter came up with the definitive response.

The Five Levels of Customer Awareness

Eugene Schwartz is an icon in the advertising and copywriting fields.

He is famous for headlines like…

Do You Have the Courage to Earn a Half Million Dollars a Year?

Why Models Stay Young Till Sixty“…

Schwartz also wrote 10 books on advertising and copywriting, including his classic, Breakthrough Advertising.

In Breakthrough Advertising, Schwartz discussed the importance of “customer awareness.”

Schwartz identified the five levels of customer awareness as:

  • Most Aware. These are your best customers – your multi-buyers. They’re brand loyal. They’re enthusiastic about your products. They attend your customer events.
  • Product Aware. These prospects know your product, but haven’t bought it. They’re familiar with your competitors’ offerings. They’re just not sure if your solution is best for them.
  • Solution Aware. Solution aware prospects know about solutions like yours, but don’t know your specific product or service. If your company isn’t well known in their industry, they may not have heard of you.
  • Problem Aware. Problem aware prospects know they have a problem, and have some idea of what that problem is, but they may not completely understand it. They haven’t dealt with this problem before. They’re totally unfamiliar with possible solutions.
  • Most Unaware. These are prospects who don’t realize they have a problem. They simply don’t know a better way exists. If you have a new product that addresses a major drawback of previous solutions, most of your prospects may be at this level.

These five levels form a continuum that breaks up your prospect base into five distinct segments. You can think of them as levels in a sales funnel, if you like, with “Unaware” prospects at the top of the funnel, and “Most Aware” prospects at the bottom.

Prospects at different awareness levels have different needs and desires. In general, the less aware a prospect is:

  • The more education he requires before you can “sell” him
  • The less open he will be to a sales pitch
  • The more indirect you have to be in talking to him about your product or service

So, the customer awareness level is useful for working out what type of promotion will work best for different segments of your target audience.

All you have to do is work out which awareness level your audience falls into.

Determining Customer Awareness Level

How do you work out the awareness level?

Ask more questions.

Probe deeper.

Ask questions about the problem your offering solves:

  • How well known is the problem?
  • How likely are prospects to realize they have this problem?
  • Besides ours, what other solutions are available?
  • How well known are these other solutions?

Ask questions about your company:

  • How well known are we?
  • What is our reputation in the prospect’s industry?
  • Is this prospect likely to have seen our advertising? (What’s our ad budget?)

Ask questions about your solution:

  • Is it brand new? If not, how long has it been on the market?
  • Is it unique, or are there similar solutions available?
  • How much advertising of this product have we already done?

Drilling down will strengthen your understanding of your prospects’ overall awareness level.

Once you’ve worked out what your prospect already knows about your solution, it makes it much easier to figure out what you need to say to them to advance them towards a sale.

Final Summary on The Five Levels of Customer Awareness

1. The most important question to ask yourself when starting a new marketing project is:

“What does my prospect already know?”

2. A handy tool for categorizing what prospects already know is the Customer Awareness Level.

3. The Five Levels of Customer Awareness are:

  • Most Aware
  • Product Aware
  • Solution Aware
  • Problem Aware
  • Most Unaware

What thoughts do you have about this article?

I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave comments below.

stay safe with Greg Noland

You Can Do This. I Know You Can.

Greg Noland

Red Scorpion’s Head Copywriter