Copywriting needs to reach your ideal client – the one person you’re hoping to motivate to buy. For example:
“Jennifer is a forty-something corporate executive who’s been in her job for a long time. She’s starting to get restless. She sends out a handful of resumes and gets no response.”
Suppose you had a resume service. How would you write copy for Jennifer?
Before I studied copywriting, I might have suggested a headline offering to help Jennifer write her resume more productively. It seems obvious, right?
But there’s one more question that’s not on a lot of checklists.
“Is Jennifer aware she has a problem?”
For a long time, copywriters have identified “stages of awareness” among prospects. It’s important for fine-tuning your copy and even positioning your offers — and maybe your business. The concept comes from a classic book by iconic copywriter Eugene Schwartz.
(1) Jennifer is Unaware when she doesn’t realize she’s got a problem with her resume. At this stage she might be thinking, “I’m just getting started.”
If she visits a career services website, she’ll go right past the resume section. She won’t pay attention to blog posts, articles or books on the topic.
She doesn’t have a backstory yet.
(2) At some point Jennifer begins to realize her resume might be working against her. Perhaps she shows her resume to a trusted friend who exclaims in horror, “You sound like a bumbling amateur!”
Or perhaps a recruiter says, “I can’t represent you till you fix your resume.”
Now we say Jennifer is Pain Aware (or Problem Aware).
Now Jennifer begins to get nervous. She has no idea where to get help. After all, it’s been a long time since she looked for a job.
Her backstory: “I need a resource to help me revise my resume.
Can’t solve it herself: She has no idea where to begin.
What she’s tried: asking the recruiters and going online. But she can’t evaluate the quality of the information.
At that stage, show you understand the pain. Focus on the benefits of a great resume.
(3) Fortunately, Jennifer has many friends. One suggests hiring a resume service. Another says, “My career coach knows everything.” Another recommends a library book. And yet another says, “Get on the Internet.” Now Jennifer knows her problem has solutions, i.e., she’s Solution Aware.
Backstory: I’ve got too many possible ways to fix my resume!
Obstacle: Not sure which one will work.
Tried: Asking friends.
If she’s at that stage, you need to explain how different possible sources will work. A book will only do so much.
(4) Along the way, Jennifer stumbles across your resume service, as well as the services of your competitors. Well, maybe it wasn’t an accident — you did a good marketing job. Regardless, we now declare her Product Aware.
Back story: She’s not sure if she should hire you – she thinks you’re a good fit.
Can’t solve it on her own: Not sure what criteria to apply.
Tried: Flipping a coin. Reading reviews.
What you do: Reinforce why you’re the best choice. Help her set her criteria – “how to choose a resume writer.”
(5) Jennifer would be considered Most Aware when she does her homework, recognizes that you could provide a solution — and is beginning to identify your service as the best one for her.
Backstory: I’m ready for a test drive!
Obstacle: I have to call the company.
Tried: reaching out to your company and getting told, “We’ll jump on the phone.” have
I would add one more level of awareness (although 6 is not as good a number as 5): Market awareness. Are you targeting a market with a lot of competitors? That can be a good thing. If you don’t have much competition, there’s usually a reason.
But when a lot of people are getting hit by ads and emails, they become familiar with the most common tactics. They’ve heard the same line over and over again.
If they’re B2B clients and they do their own marketing, they’ll be sensitive to the way you make your presentation.
For example, I’ve reviewed a lot of marketing from business coaches. One question they almost always ask is, “What would it be like if you could gain [this benefit] with [a lot less work]?
“What if you could get more clients without get-acquainted calls?”
“What would your life be like with six more clients a month?”
One day I was talking to a company about buying their services…and they pulled this line on me. I had trouble keeping a straight face. My answer would be, “Great..but I’ve heard this one before.”
Backstory: The elephant in the room: This coach sounds phony.
Obstacles to solving: Can I trust my intuition? I’m getting bad vibes.
Tried: Recall others who have made this pitch. No thanks!
So you use this story to set your marketing to the client’s marketing awareness levels.
How do you use this information?
Your USP, copywriting, and content topics can be designed to encourage prospects in a particular stage of awareness. If you’re new, or moving in a new direction, you will be most productive when you target Pain Aware and Solution Aware.
What about people who don’t know they have a problem? They require a lot of education. Often they won’t be convinced till they experience the consequences firsthand.
In some businesses, you target the opposite end of the spectrum. People are comparison-shopping. You stay out of their way. .
For example, recently I was looking at new software for a particular need. I was Most Aware. I’d identify a company we’ll cleverly call X as a likely solution. The company responded to my request for a test drive with, “Our representative will call you.”
Huh? I don’t need or want to talk to a representative. I want my test drive! The company hadn’t realized that I’m Most Aware.
The middle groups are the most fun – and most challenging – as copywriting audiences. You can’t move to fast to solution mode …and you can’t ignore them because the problem will get bigger and they’ll be shopping soon.
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If you’d like me to review your copy, or work with you to develop a strategy to reach your audience, let’s hop on the phone for a consultation. We’ll dig deep into your audience and figure out how to respond to your prospect’s awareness level (and a lot of other things). Click here to learn more.https://cathygoodwin.com/storyconsult