Never guess what to write about again
Content should be at the heart of every digital marketing campaign. That is, if you want to achieve results.
If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.
—Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Cofounder
Copywriter Eugene Schwartz wrote about the 5 stages of awareness in his book, Breakthrough Advertising, in 1966. Today, it’s still one of the most effective frameworks for creating content. If you’re not already familiar, here are the different stages of awareness buyers go through:
- Unaware — those who aren’t aware they have a problem, and therefore, don’t need anything
- Pain Aware — people who are experiencing problems or issues but not any solutions
- Solution Aware — those who know they have a problem and potential solutions available
- Product Aware — people who know you offer the solutions they may need but have yet to choose your offer
- Most Aware — those who know you and trust you
I wrote more about it here. But the main idea behind the different stages is this: at any point in time, your prospects are in any one of those stages. It is your job as a marketer (or sales or business owner) to move them to the next stage. This is where content comes in.
The problem, however, is that a lot of content produced by businesses focus on their own products. Promos and discounts. Why you should use our product vs other competitors.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It only becomes a problem if it’s the only type of content you are creating. You are alienating a bigger pool of audiences who haven’t heard about you.
So, if you’re looking for more information on how to use the different levels of awareness to grow your business and attack more people, you’re in the right place. I’ll show you how you can develop your content strategy using the 5 stages of awareness below.
How to Use the 5 Stages of Awareness to Create Your Content Strategy
If you Google “content strategy,” you’ll get millions of results. That just proves how vital creating content is in today’s hyper-competitive markets. One of the quotes I keep going back to is from Mark Schaefer. He said…
Content is no longer the finish line. It’s the starting line.
And that’s true. If you are not writing blog posts and sharing them on social media, you’re fighting a losing battle. Why? Because you’re not even in the competition to begin with.
That said, your content strategy has to be holistic. That means it has to include how you’ll acquire, engage, retain, and support your customers. It shouldn’t be just to get you more traffic. It has to affect your bottom line.
Step 1: Decide on One Product/Service
Start with one product/service that you want to focus on for this quarter.
It can be anything — a major initiative from management; a new product you want to launch; or simply something you want to because you believe in it so much.
Once you decide on which one to focus on, proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Create a Table With the 5 Stages of Awareness as Individual Rows
At this step, just take out your notebook or open up a spreadsheet and create a table that looks like this…
Step 3: Add Keywords or Phrases Used for Each Stage
The next step is to add keywords or phrases people use at each stage. For example, for people who are unaware of your company and brand, what do they search for online? What do they ask their friends?
You can use keyword research tools here, but that’ll just make things complicated. You already know your business. Get into that stage’s mindset and write whatever comes to mind.
Example: Magnet App
It is easier to explain this with an example. So, I’ll use an app that I absolutely love. It’s called Magnet. If you have a Mac, go ahead and get it.
It’s very simple and only does one thing: resize and/or align the current window (or app) to a certain preset without the need to move your cursor to a corner and drag it to the size you want. This is great for working on two apps at the same time like a writing document on one side then a browser on the other.
Keywords or Phrases People Use
Getting started with this is difficult for most people because they are so used to only thinking about the product aware and most aware stages.
The key mindset to get into is this…
What keywords or phrases do people use when ____________.
For example, ask yourself this question: what keywords or phrases do people use or type on Google when they are experiencing problems or issues, but don’t know a particular solution or brand yet? (👈 Stage 2: Pain Aware)
Or let’s say you want to focus on stage 3 — solution aware.
What keywords or phrases do people use when they are aware they need something to increase their productivity but haven’t heard of you and your brand yet.
Then, just continue with the table until you fill it all out.
Step 4: Map Your Existing Content
At this point, if you’re like most businesses, you probably don’t have content at stages 1 to 3. And that’s okay.
You most likely only have content in the product aware and most aware stages.
But the great part is now, you are aware of the opportunities you are missing out. More importantly, your competitors are most likely doing the same thing. Since you know that there is a gap, you can take advantage of this.
Which brings us to the next step…
Step 5: Create Content to Fill the Gap
Start with writing written content to fill the content gap — articles.
Because written content still has the highest chance for ranking on search engines (at least for now). Plus, it’s going to be the heart of everything you’ll be doing in the next step.
Follow the guidelines when creating content for the first time. Don’t worry about stuff you can’t control. Don’t worry about SEO. Don’t worry about word count.
Focus on your customers. Write your content with them in mind.
Once you finish this step, you are already 80% ahead of your competitors.
Step 6: Repurpose Your Content
Once you finished an article and posted it on your website’s blog, it’s now time to think of repurposing your content.
Repurposing your content means using it in some other way. If the original version is used as an article on your website, ask yourself how can it be used on other marketing channels? Ask yourself how you would transform that original article into different formats:
- How would you send it to your email subscribers?
- How would you post it on social media?
- Can you make an infographic out of it?
- What about a video?
- Can you use that video on social media as well?
- What about adding the video to your blog too?
- Can you take the audio of the video and turn it into a podcast?
That’s the kind of thinking you need to have after creating one piece of content so that it doesn’t go to waste.
Step 7: Distribute Your Content
While this may seem implicit, I found that a lot of people still believe that once you publish some blog posts on your website, people will find it and get tons of traffic.
Sorry, but that’s not how it works.
Maybe 10 years ago when there wasn’t as much competition online. But with more than 1.5 billion websites today (and counting), you have a lot of indirect competitors (for their time and attention).
Today, you have to use an omnichannel approach when distributing your content.
Post regularly and engage with your fans/followers.
Remember that consistency is more important than perfection.
Step 8: Analyze Performance
Remember the 10,000-hour rule?
What that means is that the more you do things, the better you get at it. But that’s under the assumption you’re doing it right. And that’s where analysis comes in.
Think of it as having a coach to tell you what you’re doing right and what you need to improve on further.
You can play the guitar for 2 hours a day, but if you’re not hitting the right cords — and you don’t know it — you won’t get any better.
Analyze your content’s performance. The most common tool marketers use is Google Analytics.
Step 9: Improve and Repeat
After figuring out what works and what doesn’t in the previous step, you now have the data to improve. Without the information, you cannot improve.
That’s why it’s important for you to analyze your performance. And you cannot analyze your performance if you don’t perform.
The real determining factor of success is execution. As Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is showing up.”
So, open up your notebook or spreadsheet, think through what questions your prospective customers go through at each stage. Brainstorm articles and other forms of content that will take them to the next stage. Once you have that list, schedule out time to write and publish them.
Did you learn anything new? Have you used the 5 stages of awareness to fuel your content strategy? I’d love to know.