How to send the right message to the right audience

The biggest reason why most marketing doesn’t work is that it’s not relevant to the recipient.

Producing a single piece of marketing in the hope that everyone who reads it will resonate with it is just simply wrong. You see, your audience, at any point in time has different levels of awareness and each of these levels requires a different message from you.

Awareness level in marketing is not a new concept, and it was Eugene Schwartz in his seminal work “Breakthrough Advertising” published over 50 years ago who described the levels of awareness that your prospects might find themselves.

This is often referred to as the Ladder of Awareness and applies to all types of marketing messages and copy, and while it comes in many forms, the general principles remain the same. You can market to prospects at each level of awareness, but you need to make sure that your message is different for each level and addresses that particular level of awareness.

The Unaware

At the bottom of the ladder on the first rung, you have people who do not know that they have a problem.

Clearly, it’s difficult to market to this group, and even the most incredible of offers will not cause this group to take any action. However, informational articles such as blogs are a good way to create awareness of a problem.

Of course, AdWords Search network will be totally ineffective in attracting this group as they won’t be searching for something they don’t know exists. In reality, all your prospects start off at this point at some time until they become aware of their need.

Problem-Aware, Solution-Unaware

On the next rung of the Ladder of Awareness, we find a group where there is an acceptance of the existence of a problem, but they are unsure of the availability of any solutions.

If you are launching a new product, then this is the highest level that your prospects are likely to be. This is where paying for search traffic should begin – people are searching for solutions to their problem which will almost certainly form the basis of their search queries.

At this stage, you should be addressing their problem rather than your solution. So hold the sales pitch!


As we move up the ladder, the prospects become aware that there are solutions to their problems but are still not aware you and your product exist.

Now their search queries start to relate more to generic solutions to their problem. Again, informative articles on these generic solutions are what they are likely to be researching.

Also, this group may well be aware of other, possibly better known, participants in your market and so you should be starting to construct paid traffic campaigns around competitors’ names and brands. This is the time to start producing competitive analysis content.


Then we reach a group of people who are aware of you and your product but are not entirely convinced, despite you providing them with a lot of educational content that your product solves their problem.

It’s still not the time to swamp them with offers and deals because there is still a bit of convincing to do on your part.

At this stage, it’s all about delivering high-value content and ensuring that all the prospect’s objections are addressed. Most objections are, in fact, misconceptions (even price) and so eliciting any underlying “objections” is the secret at this stage of the ladder.

By facing possible objections head-on, you demonstrate to this group that you know what you are talking about and you are answering their questions/concerns in their heads before they voice them.

The people in this group are often described as being Product Aware. It’s time to start marketing your particular brand and product names and also include these terms in your paid traffic strategy.

The Most Aware

For someone at the top of the ladder, they are convinced that your solution will solve their problem they just haven’t got round to buying yet, and it’s only a case of coming up with the right offer. For example,

12.5% discount for orders placed before 4.59pm on Friday

That just may be enough to tip them into a purchase.

This is the group of prospects that you will have the most contact with and will be the most receptive to your messages. This is the group that you will be actively selling to by creating offers and deals – time-limited of course to create urgency. This group can be described as the most aware and receptive. People will only buy at this level.

So now, you can see why that same message or offer delivered to those prospects much lower down on the ladder will have little or no effect. And it’s this sort of message that is often described as not working – it’s not the offer that’s not working – it’s just being delivered to the wrong audience.

Therefor, by being aware, as a marketer, of the various levels your prospects can find themselves then you can adjust your messages accordingly.

Your aim is to move your prospects up to the top of the ladder as that’s where purchases are made.

So you need to establish:

  1. What is their current level of awareness?
  2. What are they currently seeking?
  3. What message would they be most receptive to right now?
  4. How can you attract their attention, given their current level of awareness?
  5. What needs to happen to take them to the next level of awareness
  6. How can you convince them that moving to the next level of awareness makes sense?
David Browne

Author: David Browne

David Browne’s Google AdWords campaigns have been described by the big cheeses at Google HQ as an “art form” – which would make David an artist. David honed his skills at the helm of the very successful Scottish Shutter Company, but having handed over the reins to his daughter and son-in-law he now runs his own digital marketing consultancy and is a co-founder of Barefoot Digital.