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One thing in copywriting that I often see as a problem is the fact that the audience is not targeted for the offer. An untargeted, unqualified prospect won’t buy, no matter how good the copy is. (Or at the very least, they will ask for a refund once they smell the coffee.)
But that’s not the topic I want to discuss.
It’s the second biggest copywriting problem. And that is, the copy doesn’t speak to the customer at the stage of awareness at which they happen to be. This is pivotal to ensure that the copy is long enough, or strong enough, to qualify, educate and sell the prospect.
What are these “stages of awareness?” There are four.
I’ve used these before I ever learned about their existence. (Mostly unconsciously through researching a target market while writing copy.) For example, I know that Eugene Schwartz talks about this at great length in his amazing book, “Breakthrough Advertising.”
But I prefer to use my own version of these stages, and an acronym so it is easier to remember and follow.
I call it “OATH.” As in, “Is your prospect ready to take an oath?”
Here’s what I mean.
You see, depending one where your reader is at, the level of education, credentialization and agitation you need to do (and the length of copy you need to write, to a certain extent) depends very highly on how knowledgeable and aware your market is.
Maybe they’re hurting right now. Or maybe they’re not there yet. “Not there yet” means not only how much are they hurting but also how much do they KNOW they are hurting.
That’s what their awareness level of the problem means. And it’s also how educated they are about the solution — let alone your solution.
Granted, this is answered to some degree by how targeted your audience is. The first problem I mentioned earlier. But the copy should flow from, and follow with, that stage of awareness in order to bring them to a successful outcome.
I like to look at it this way…
To me, if they’re ready to take an oath, meaning they’re ready to buy, is based on any one of those 4 stages. Here’s what “OATH” means…
O - They’re oblivious.
They’re unaware about the problem let alone a need for a solution. They don’t know they’re hurting or could be hurting (i.e., that there’s a potential problem they don’t know about and should prevent with your solution).
So in this case, you need to educate them a lot — educate them about the problem or potential problem. You need to bring it to the top of their minds. If you hit them too hard and too fast with the solution and particularly the benefits of the solution, without knowing they have a problem in the first place, you’re going to confuse the heck out of them.
Often, this is what happens with copy that’s too short or too presumptive. Do they really know they’re hurting? Even if they simply have an unmet desire for something (and not really a problem), they’re still hurting at some other level.
As my friend and copywriter Craig Perrine once said, “An unmet desire is also a problem to be solved.”
A - They’re apathetic.
They know they have a problem, but they’re indifferent about the solution. Any solution. They simply don’t care for whatever reason. Perhaps the problem is not important enough in their minds. Perhaps the problem is not urgent enough. Perhaps they’re not hurting enough.
So you need to blow up the problem (or the risk of the potential problem, which is a problem in itself). You need to aggravate it. Make it more real, more present, more urgent, more vivid.
You need to make them feel the consequences of their inactions. Because, you see, good copy doesn’t really induce action. Good copy, in reality, is meant to prevent procrastination — the biggest killer of sales!
And this is even more true with the subsequent stages of awareness, since the more aware they are and the less they act, then the more it’s about procrastination than it is about the lack of desire.
T - They’re thinking.
They know they have a problem and that there is a solution, but they don’t know about your solution. They’re shopping around, they’re considering other offers or they’re just thinking about whether they should be doing something about their problem in the first place.
So at this stage, you don’t need to sell them too much on the problem or the solution. But you need to sell them on YOUR solution.
What is it? Why is it a good solution? Why is it important to them? What makes it so unique, different, valuable? What makes your offer so compelling above over all other choices, including unrelated ones?
With the latter, I mean indirect competitors. For example, an indirect competitor may be a totally different solution — a totally different product or service — that soothes the same pain.
So you need to build value in your solution, too.
H - They’re hurting.
They’re desparate! They know they have a problem and how bad it is, and they even know about your specific solution. But they haven’t gone ahead for whatever reason.
Perhaps they don’t know how to go ahead, why they should go ahead or why they should go ahead now. Perhaps they’ve used other solutions unsuccessfully in the past and are afraid. Their inaction, in this case, is because they’ve seen other offers or been burnt by other, substandard solutions.
Think of it this way: if they’re desperate, then they’re already 60-90% sold. So why haven’t they bought yet? What do they need to get over the remaining “hump?” What’s stopping them from going ahead? What objections do they have left or what questions remain to be answered?
So here, you need to increase proof, urgency and the value of your specific solution. No need for a lot of education here. Just sell them on reasons why and getting your solution now. Build perceived value, proof and scarcity.
At this stage, procrastination (more often than not, based on fear) is the culprit. You need to allay that fear. And to do so, you really need to look at your copy and your offer; to understand your customer at a deeper, more intimate level; and to learn why they haven’t gone ahead yet or what they need to go ahead. (And finally, to give it to them.)
In a nutshell, that’s my OATH formula.
So bottom line, your audience may be more in the oblivious stage, the apathetic stage, the thinking stage or the hurting stage.
This will tell you a lot about not only how much information you need to gather and provide, but what kind of information, and what kind of offer, that will stimulate them and transition them into buying your solution.
And remember, it all starts with knowing your audience and helping them to buy, more than it is about knowing your product and selling it.About the Author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter, author, speaker, consultant, and CEO of The Success Doctor, Inc. Visit his blog and signup free to get tested conversion strategies and response-boosting tips by email, along with blog updates, news, and more! Go now to https://www.michelfortin.com.