Awareness spectrum


Most content creators start with this rather broad question: Who is the target audience for this piece of content?

That’s an okay question … but it won’t get you very far.

Before you start writing your content – even before you decide your topic and format – you’ve got to go deeper than “target audience.”

You’ve got to get into your target audience’s headspace.

Let’s use the example of a software solution that allows yoga students to reserve their spots in group classes. The target audience for this product would be yoga studios.

Now let’s go deeper.

Do these yoga studios know your brand yet?

Have they bought from you before?

Do they even know that they have a problem (such as overcrowded rooms leading to frustrated students)?

Do they know that this product could solve the problem?

Do they know that there are other solutions on the market that could solve their problem?

How aware of you are they?

The awareness spectrum can help you figure out what’s going on in the heads of your target audience – and help you connect with them right where they are.

Bonus download: Keep these insights handy. Download the free infographic.


Most people will be at the widest end of the spectrum in the Unaware space. Here, people don’t know their problem even exists – so while this might be the biggest pool of customers, it can also be the hardest to reach.

Gaining this group’s attention is the key to helping them realize they have a problem worth finding a solution to.

This is not the time to get heavy-handed talking about features and product details in your content. This is the time to focus on getting noticed.

  • Make an emotional connection.
  • Get readers to sit up and pay attention with an engrossing story.
  • Seek a reaction – laughter, tears, surprise.

While you’re getting your reader’s attention, also weave in the problem. Help them realize that they have a problem in the first place. Until they know this very first thing, the reader can’t move on to the next stage.

In the Unaware stage, meet your audience where they’re at. Because they’re not yet searching for a solution to their problem, they’re probably not going to stumble upon your website. Here are a few ideas to get over this hurdle:

  • Guest post for sites that the audience already spends time on.
  • Run ads in places they’re gathering online.
  • Create sharable content like infographics and ask influencers within your audience’s digital ecosystem to share that content on their own blog or social media.

Problem Aware

Once a prospective buyer is aware they have a problem, they move into this stage. They may or may not be actively seeking a solution at this point, but they are quickly gaining interest in finding a solution.

Once again, this is not the time to start talking about your product. Rather, it’s time to start building your credibility as a person or business who understands the problem.

This is where the relationship really begins, and it’s the ideal time to start educating the audience.

  • Teach the audience how to solve a small but nagging problem.
  • Help them understand that they’re not alone in their problem, and that they can solve it.
  • Help the audience gain a new perspective or become better informed about an issue.

Educational content at the Problem Aware stage works best when it’s authoritative and in-depth:

  • White papers
  • E-books
  • Reports
  • Guides
  • Long-form blog posts

Because people at this stage are probably starting to google their problems, publishing the content on your own website can work well when it’s written with SERPs in mind. But guest posting is also still a great option, too.

Another tactic I’ve seen work well for my tech clients is creating a big, high-value piece of content (like an e-book or a white paper), and then running ads that point back to a landing page where people can download it.

Solution Aware

Solution Aware people know they have a problem – and now they’re comparison shopping. They know solutions exist. They may even know your solution is a valid option. But at this point they’re evaluating the alternatives.

Right now, the audience needs to know why your solution is the right one. It’s time to stand out, persuade and build trust.

Content that tells a story works well in the Solution Aware stage. Walk the reader through a scenario they can relate to, and show how your solution resolved it.

Comparison content also works nicely here. Compare your solution – honestly and with integrity – to other solutions on the market. Help your audience make their decision, even if it means they choose someone else’s solution. In that case, they might not have bought from you, but they’ll be a lot more likely to recommend your solution to others.

To build trust with content, it has to be authentic. Use real-world stories rather than metaphors to create content that moves Solution Aware buyers.

  • Case studies
  • Product walkthroughs
  • Blogs written in a more personal manner, especially blogs that tell stories or include case studies

Product Aware

We’re getting nearer to the point of purchase, now. Product Aware readers know that your solution is a good one for them – they just need to know “the deal.”

Now is the time to keep your solution at the forefront of their minds. Continue to engage them with valuable content – even little value-adds go a long way, here.

Show your audience how your solution can be used in their daily lives, or how they can use a feature to get a specific result you know they’re after.

Now is also the time to include strong calls-to-action in your content. Don’t beat around the bush. Tell the reader to take action. It might just be the last nudge they need to click the buy button.

To move Product Aware buyers off the fence, these types of content can work well:

  • Tip sheets
  • User guides
  • Blogs (especially product-focused posts)
  • Newsletters and email marketing

These folks need just the tiniest push to make a decision, so getting in front of them as frequently as possible is key. Make sure you’re promoting this content heavily.

Most Aware

Most Aware readers are your biggest fans. They’ve likely already bought something from you, and/or they confidently recommend your solution to others.

Now it’s time to make them your advocates.

This is the stage where your content has possibly the most important job of all: to encourage two-way communication and build community. Loyal customers are incredibly valuable – and easily lost. Check this out:

  • Loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
  • The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%, while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. (Source: Marketing Metrics)
  • A 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Source: Bain & Co)

Loyalty program content – e.g. content created especially for people who have actually paid money for the solution – is the first order of business for engaging Most Aware buyers.

This content works really well when it’s exclusive. Deliver this special content via email so the average web-surfer can’t stumble upon it. Think about creating content that helps buyers use the solution they bought. In-depth user guides can work well here.

Also, don’t hesitate to ask this audience for feedback within the content itself. Encourage them to comment on the post, reply to the email or contact you to get answers to questions.

The key here is to double-down on your relationship building in the Most Aware stage.

The following types of content often work well to increase customer loyalty and move buyers toward advocacy:

  • Guides
  • Blogs and emails that answer frequently asked questions
  • In-depth blogs or behind-the-scenes posts
  • Exclusive newsletters

Get into Your Audience’s Headspace by Aligning Your Content to Their Stage of Awareness

Creating content is one thing. Creating content that actually moves you toward your business goals is something else.

To make your content a lot more effective at reaching and engaging your target audience, start by understanding their level of awareness.

Want to keep these insights handy? Download the free infographic.

Awareness spectrum infographic