#23: Marketing: The four levels of client awareness

You, a business owner, have something to sell that will change somebody’s life. It doesn’t matter what you have. It might be a product, training or service. What matters is that it has real value and truly delivers on its promise. 

By now, I hope you’re sure that your offer meets those conditions. You’ve tried it, tested it with a group of people and you know that what you have is working. It’s the real deal! 

You are ready to sell it. 

The next question is: who do you speak to and how do you speak to them in order to convert them into paying clients?

“A big part of marketing is understanding who you are speaking to and how they are talking about the problem you are solving.” @Mallytov

In my last article, The Marketer’s Mantra: Listen and Repeat, I talked about how important to your success the skill of listening to your audience is.  

Your audience, aka ‘ideal clients’ are not a uniform group. It consists of people who are at different stages of their client journey towards your offer and they all have a different understanding of the problem your offer is a solution to. 

Based on their awareness level, we can divide them into four groups: 

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

Each group will need different information in order to become interested in your offer and a different set of arguments to make the purchase.

Problem Unaware Client

Problem Unware clients could benefit from what we are selling, however, they have no idea that they need it: they don’t see there is anything wrong or that they are missing anything in their lives.  

This is the most difficult type of person to convert. Yet, if you find a message that speaks to that group, you are opening an infinite amount of possibilities for sales and you are addressing the biggest market of potential clients. 

With these clients, you have to capture them with a compelling story that introduces them to an idea they have never considered before. Stories capture people’s imagination, this is why storytelling marketing works best in those circumstances.

Here are a couple of examples: 


Jenny is in her early twenties, energetic and full of life. She feels invincible and is not concerned with her health. One day, as she is browsing the Internet, an ad pops up on a screen:  “Want to feel sexy in your forties? Start working towards it today, while still in your twenties”. Jenny has never planned her life for more than three months in advance. Ageing was not something she concerned herself with, but she resonated with the woman on the ad, who, indeed, looked sexy. Jenny could see herself being the same when her time comes. She immediately signs up.


Orlando has a good life. He has a good, steady job, a loving partner, three children and a lovely house. One day, Orlando passes by a local travel agent and notices a poster advertising a hiking trip in the window display. The poster features a lonely figure in the middle of the mountains and a quote from a musician Jamie Lyn Beatty: “Jobs fill your pockets, adventures fill your soul”. Orlando stops in his tracks. He never thought that his soul needed any extra attention, but suddenly this becomes a strong desire. Without thinking twice, Orlando walks into the agent and books a family trip, keen to share the adventure with his wife and children. 

Source: AuthenticTraveling.com

Janny and Orlando were both problem unaware clients. They were not looking for a solution to anything in particular. However, within minutes they were converted from someone who had no idea that they needed help into paying clients of two companies they have never heard of before. 

Problem Aware Client

This is the second-largest group of potential clients and a much easier group to convert than the first. These people know they have a problem: something is wrong or missing in their lives. They might be in pain, discomfort or simply in need of something.

Sometimes, this group will only be aware of the symptoms but unable to identify the core of the actual problem. They could be misdiagnosing their problem or looking for a solution in the wrong place.  

Nevertheless, this is a group of people who are actively seeking information. However, they may not be in desperate need to solve the problem immediately.

This is where you come in with your marketing. Your role is to educate them on what the actual problem is. Then you will need to agitate that problem a bit to encourage action taking (solving that problem now, rather waiting a month or a year). Finally, you should inspire them with a vision of life without the pain or with all their needs met and catered to. 

Here are some examples: 


Dave has a good life: a good job and fulfilling family life. Occasionally he has a sense of nostalgia that takes over but these are always fleeting moments. He tried to address it a few times. He even signed up to dance classes with his wife (this is all pre-Covid, of course). Still, that sense that his life is missing something has not left him. One day, he passes by a poster advertising mountain rafting, saying: “You have done nothing in life until you try this!”  He realises this is what his soul needed: being active while testing his strengths and endurance. He signs up for a group course. 


Amoya is climbing the career ladder at work and devoting the rest of her day to her children and ageing parents. Being sick is not an option, she cannot afford it. Unfortunately, Amoya suffers from migraines that take her out for a whole day, even two. One day, on her way to work she flips a magazine and stops at a sponsored article with a headline, “Are your migraines giving you a headache?” Intrigued, she opens the article and within minutes signs up for a check-up and buys a set of pills promoted by the article. 

windows-567PbDKfPLE-unsplash (1)
Source: Unsplash

Solution Aware Client

This group of clients is smaller than the other two, but it’s also a much warmer audience. 

They know they have a problem. They have done their research and they are aware of the many solutions available on the market. They’ve tried to solve the problem before. However, none of it worked or if it did, it did not eliminate the problem completely. This group is ready to take action and get rid of the issue for good. 

They do not need convincing how much more happiness, status or life/work satisfaction solving their problem would bring them. They know that already. They don’t need to hear about all the symptoms that the problem can cause. They know that too. 

What they need to hear is that you understand the journey they went through and the effort they put into trying to solve it. They need to have explained why all these other solutions did not work and how what you are offering is different. This is where it helps to have a proprietary method. Finally, they need to be reassured that you were able to help people who had similar circumstances, no matter how unique. 

Using testimonials and case studies is always a good selling tool, as it provides social proof. However, for this group especially it is important to offer reassurance that working with you is a worthy investment of their time and money by showcasing the results your happy clients had results when working with you. 

Product Aware Clients

Product Aware Clients are your hot audience. They know you, they like and trust you. They know you can help them. They just haven’t crossed the Rubicon yet. 

When marketing to all other groups, the name of your offer is never the selling point. Your unique way of approaching the problem is.  Product Aware Clients are the only group that will understand and respond to the name of your offer. That is because they already know it. They have been thinking about it. It was just never the right time to invest in it.

Your job is to help them make that purchase decision. So they don’t delay any more and take action to solve the problem.  

When talking to this group, your focus should be on a special deal you have. The deal could be in a form of a never-before-offered-special bonus. Or pairing it up with another offer, so they get a ‘2 for 1’ deal. You could also offer a discounted price for a limited time. 

Final words...

Like anything, creating a compelling sales message requires a bit of practice and some testing before it gets the results you want. You may need to try several different approaches before you find the type of messaging that attracts the right people. Do not give up. 

If you happen to have a moment of weakness, try to remember that somewhere out there, there is a person that needs what you have. Help them find you and ‘cross the Rubicon’ so they can make their life easier, better, with less pain or more fulfilling.

Spread the word

If you need help with Branding or Marketing