When it comes to what to teach our up-and-coming media buyers, perhaps nothing is more impactful than the Stages of Awareness.

If you’ve never read into them, they come from Eugene Schwartz and his book Breakthrough Advertising. That’s also worth a read in its entirety. In it, Schwartz unpacks the Stages of Awareness and expounds upon them.

There are essentially five stages of awareness:


Problem Aware

Solution Aware

Product Aware

Most Aware

The reason we favor this construct so heavily is that, once the stages are understood, they practically demand certain types of ads and copy in conjunction with the level of sophistication of the prospect. As it turns out, the ads sort of write themselves at that point.

Let’s take a brief look at each stage and how to reach them:

Unaware – the prospect is either not aware of their desire or their need to solve the problem, or they won’t honestly admit it. By sheer volume, they are typically the largest segment of the awareness spectrum, but also the most difficult to market to.

In this earliest stage of market sophistication, there are several good ways to reach prospects:

Typically, your LONG FORM ads will work best in this phase

Focus upon education for prospects about the pain they are experiencing and how it relates to others and to their own performance and happiness

Use extreme prospect alignment to pain

Examples: Short, education videos and “snackable” content that leads them deeper into the sales cycle

Problem Aware – the prospect knows they have a problem to solve, but isn’t aware of any specific solutions. They’ve got lots and lots of questions. The best types of narratives to use at this stage of sophistication are:

Ads that focus on the problem and build desire for something better

Ads that answer the following:

What is it exactly?

Where did it come from?

Are there effects I’m not aware of?

Do others have the same problem?

Are there solutions?

What can I do to fix it?

Solution Aware – the prospect knows a solution exists for their problem, but they aren’t sure of any specific products that address it. The bad news is that they still know almost nothing about you or your offer.

In this middle stage of sophistication, it’s important to start fleshing out the solution as follows:

Product demos

Case studies

Success stories

“How we [overcame our problem] and arrived at [desired future state] narratives

Product Aware – the prospect knows your product exists, but they aren’t completely aware of all it does, or aren’t convinced of how well it does it. Good news; you exist now (yay).

It’s time to lure in those future customers by using the following:

Product comparisons


How-to guides, Demos, etc.

Differentiation narratives

Most Aware – the prospect knows your product exists, and they know what it does, but they haven’t gotten around to purchasing it yet. The good news is that they know about you and your brand. The bad news is that whatever you’ve done so far hasn’t moved them across the finish line.

It’s time to go hard or go home with these ads:

Incentive – How can you sweeten the deal?

Direct pitch CTA – No beating around the bush this time.

Bonuses, bundles, discounts

Objection handling content – Why didn’t they convert already? Deal with it in the copy.

You can see that taking the time to properly analyze the stage of awareness will tell you a great deal about the sophistication of your ideal prospect. From there, it’s almost intuitive what kind of copy will work.

I challenge you to go through your offer or offers and make copious notes on level of sophistication and the stages of awareness. Does your targeting align with your findings? Does your copy?

This is the way.

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