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How to convince to buy? Better know where the buyer is in its journey…



Eugene’s Schwartz Breakthrough Advertising: How to Write Ads That Shatter Traditions and Sales Records is an absolute classic in the field of marketing.

It offers a deep insight into consumer’s psychology and how to offer prospects the right offer.

I think that one of the most important take away from this book is to understand that every prospect is always in one of these stages at one point or another:

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The idea is to move them from ‘Unaware’ to ‘Most Aware’ as this is where the ‘buying’ takes place. This process can be applied to almost any field, product or service.

Here are the five stages of awareness:

  • Unaware: The person doesn’t know they have a problem, and it’s usually not worth marketing to them.
  • Problem Aware/Pain Aware: A person knows they have a problem, but doesn’t know there are solutions to that problem.
  • Solution Aware: A person knows there are solutions, but hasn’t chosen one and doesn’t know about your product.
  • Product Aware: A person knows about your product, but isn’t totally sure it solves their problem.
  • Most Aware: A person knows a lot about your product. They are on the cusp of buying but need to know the specifics.

I like to classify the different stages by colour to make it easier to market different messages to each colour. I also classify the key messages.


ICE – Completely Unknown – Unaware

COLD – Prospect Knows You – Problem Aware


WARM – You Are Known and Liked – Solution Aware

HOT – Known, Liked and Trusted – Product Aware

This helps me understand the psychology of potential buyers and how to craft perfect messages for them. Each of these colours also needs to be broken down into AVATARS, because every demographic will have different problems, pains, solutions etc…

The main focus is to remember that ICE Prospects will probably not respond to a direct selling ad for example. So better concentrate on the HOT prospects first.

This is easier to understand with a specific example, so let’s imagine four different prospects:

  • Lucas, a 40-year old man, was in great shape back in his 20s. But since his career and family started taking up more time, he’s gained some weight. He’s ready to lose it.
  • Joe, a 40-year old man, has been overweight his whole life. When he turned 40, he decided that he wanted to lose weight once and for all.
  • Jane, a 42-year old woman who goes to the gym daily and has a 10% body fat and is in the greatest shape she can be.
  • David, a 38-year old man who has been a member of your training program for the last year and lost 10kgs.


David is already a customer and he should be the easiest to market to. So we might have an ad like this for him.

“As a trusted customer of ours, we want to offer you 25% off our new plan as a thank you for being a brand ambassador and a success story that makes us proud to offer this training to people

This should not be a hard sell as we already have a relationship with the client and he already knows and trusts us.


Lucas is already solution aware. He knows he needs to train to lose weight and he is ready to make the jump but certain barriers might be blocking him.

1) Might be price

2) might be time

So we want to reduce these hurdles for him within the ads.

“You want to lose weight, so you need an exercise program.

This program combines strength training, healthy diet, and encouragement to get you results.

It only takes 15 minutes a day and costs $50 per month.

We offer a free trial of 2 weeks and if you are not happy, we will gladly refund you the money”


We are taking away the worry that he might pay and be unhappy and we are also taking away the worry that he might not have the time to do it.

Joe is in a different mindset, he has never been in shape. He doesn’t know how to work out. He might feel uncomfortable about going to the gym, or not really believe that exercise can work. Joe is pain aware but has more hurdles.

  1. Might not want to go to the gym because of self-esteem issues
  2. Might not believe he can do it

The key here is to focus on the pain point (which is the state the prospect is in) and to offer a solution to move him into the warm area.

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What are the key differences here?

  • Joe is only pain-aware, so we need to do more work to get him to buy. We need a much longer message
  • Using the message “You feel uncomfortable in your own skin” and “you need an exercise program” are the things that our prospects currently believe therefore you are connecting with this awareness.

He might now enter the warm section and now knows your brand and the solution to his problems.


As you can see, marketing this product to Jane would be very very hard and arguably a waste of time. She has no problem that she is aware of and marketing a product about a solution to a problem that she doesn’t have would be pointless. We are better off focusing on high intent prospects.


What do you think? Do you agree with that? Could you implement this methodology in your business?

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