In the last episode I walked you through the magic that is an Upworthy headline as an introduction to a concept called The 5 Stages of Audience Awareness.
The actual name is The 5 Stages of Market Awareness. A concept originally developed by Eugene Schwartz.
But I modified it for our purposes.
Every product or idea goes through these stages. And to maximize your chances of getting noticed (and getting read), you’ve got to know which stage your audience is in.
In this 9-minute episode you’ll discover:
- What to do when your reader is weary of your headlines
- How to write a headline when competitors start copying you
- When you should elaborate and enlarge on the mechanism
- How to write a headline if your product or idea is in stage one
- The simple way to revive a dead product or idea (unfortunately, most people start here)
Listen to Rough Draft below ...
How to Use the 5 Stages of Audience Awareness to Dominate Online
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Demian Farnworth: Howdy friend, this is Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.
And as always, thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.
So, in the last episode I walked you through the magic that is an Upworthy headline, as an introduction to a concept called the 5 Stages of Audience Awareness. The actual name is the 5 Stages of Market Awareness. A concept originally developed by Eugene Schwartz, but I modified it for our purposes.
So let’s not waste time … and jump right in. Oh. By the way. Did anyone get the joke I made at the end of the last episode? The string of absurd claims I made in the closing?
I was mocking Upworthy, if you didn’t get it.
Stage 1 – All You Need to Do Is Make the Promise
When your ideal customer is not aware of your product or the benefit it offers, then the first stage of awareness demands you simply make a promise in the headline.
- Build Muscle Anywhere
- Defeat Credit Card Debt
- Read More Books
And in the subheadline you would describe the mechanism:
- This 15-Minute Routine Focuses on Every Muscle in Your Body
- With Only a Calendar and Spreadsheet
- The World’s First Speed Reading App
I purposely chose three markets that have gone through all five stages to help you see how audiences progress.
Stage 2 – Take Your Promise to the Next Level
As the market begins to learn more about your product, and competitors enter that market … the power of your original promise will begin to fade.
Customers will seek a distinction. At this stage you need to state your promise even more clearly …
- Build Muscle on Almost Every Inch of Your Body
- How to Eliminate $3,000 in Debt in Only 30 Days
- Read 24 Books in 24 Hours
In essence, you are being more specific. As you can imagine, you will be pushing the limits of credibility. But let me be very clear …
Though you’re pushing limits here, you must never lie, never misrepresent your product, and avoid hyperbole at all costs.
If you can’t back up your promise or claim with fact, don’t state it.
Stage 3 – Lead with Mechanism, Promise Second
In the third stage of sophistication, we find the consumer weary of your product and other products as well.
They’ve been exposed to extreme promises and have learned to tune out these claims, so you need a technique to reset their expectations.
At this stage the mechanism comes first, and the claim second. The mechanism becomes the point of difference.
- This 15-Minute Chair Routine Builds Muscle on Almost Every Inch of Your Body
- A Simple Spreadsheet and Calendar: Simplest Method to Defeating Debt
- Introducing a New App to Solve the Slow Reader’s Dilemma
And the promise is elaborated in the subheadline.
Stage 4 – Take the Mechanism to Another Level
When stage three copy has been replicated in the market and reached saturation, the power of this headline fades. It’s time to elaborate and enlarge on the mechanism.
Make it easier, quicker, and better. Solve more of the problem and overcome old limitations.
- Now … Build Muscle Tone in Less Than 7 Minutes a Day
- Wall Street Journal Accountants Swear This Is The Fastest and Easiest Way to Defeat Debt
- Read War and Peace This Afternoon with Our Addicting “Angry Reader” App Game
This is a stage of embellishment not unlike stage two.
Eventually you will reach a point that pushes the embellishment out of the realm of believability, and you must discover a new meaningful and believable mechanism.
Stage 5 – Identify with the Consumer
At this stage the market is glutted.
The field is exhausted, and it is the most difficult stage to profit in, to write something that sticks, that stands out. This is where you revive a dead product or idea by shooting directly at the consumer.
- Why Some Men Are So Skinny
- Why Some People Will Never Get Out of Debt
- Are You Embarrassed to Tell People You’ve Never Read the Classics?
And the mechanism is explained in the subheadline. At this point you are really reaching. And in fact you may come to a point of embellishing in the fifth stage — and even combining elements from previous stages.
As Schwartz pointed, this is the same life cycle for every market, for every audience. It begins in stage one and closes in stage five.
Here’s why this is important …
One of the most obvious problems I see is a lack of understanding when it comes to audience sophistication: almost everyone starts in stage one when the markets they are competing in are in the advanced stages … if not in the final.
That will not get the job done. You will not get noticed. You will get ignored. Or, they start in stage four when there market is in stage one or two. They overwhelm them when they don’t have to. So you are not going to be believed. Or trusted in this case.
Naturally you are probably wondering how do you know what stage your audience is in. Look around. What is your competition doing? What kind of headlines are they writing? You can often look at big publishers, too, to see what they are writing.
Until next time, take care.
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