Copywriting legend Eugene Schwartz wrote about the 5 Stages of Awareness in his unequaled book, Breakthrough Advertising. Here’s how he classified them:

  • First Stage — Most aware customer who knows your product, knows what it does, and consciously wants it.
  • Second Stage — Customer is aware of the product, but is either not aware of, or not convinced of, all that it does, or how well it does it, or how much better it is than previous alternatives.
  • Third Stage — Customer knows that he wants what your product does, but is not yet aware that there is a product that will do it for him.
  • Fourth Stage — The customer has a need, but that need will need to be agitated into desire AND ALSO connected to the product.
  • Fifth Stage — The Customer is not even consciously aware of his need, or is unwilling to admit his need, even to himself.

According to Breakthrough Advertising, a copywriter should match her headline to the stage of awareness of the prospective customer.

Of course, different segments can and do have differing stages of awareness. Heck, even the same buyer can pass through differing stages of awareness during their shopping process.

Needless to say, the same dynamic applies to PPC Ads, though most PPC Prospects fall within the first three stages. And here’s the important part: ads for prospects in Stage Three must be written differently than ads aimed at Stage One customers.

So how do you know which stage your prospective customer is in?

Easy, you look at what they’re searching for:

  • If they’re asking for a product or brand by name, they’re in that first stage.
  • If they are in the second stage, they may be searching on alternatives to your product.
  • And if they’re describing problems, they’re most likely in stage 3.

Want a practical example? Check out this recent win:

Shipping container moving is relatively new, but there are some people who have heard of it, and these ads were directed to those people, under the campaign title of “Shipping Container.”

In other words, these ads are directed at people asking for the product by category name. So they are somewhere between Stage 1 and Stage 2, and probably closer to Stage 2.

If they were in Stage 1, where prospects are more direct in naming the product or brand, a more direct and specific appeal to savings would probably work best: “30% Cheaper Than Driving Yourself for Moves Greater than 300 miles,” or something similar. Or even a comparison against other shipping container options.

And in Stage 3, more time and effort needs to be made explaining WHAT shipping container moving is.

But in Stage 2, Ads really need to concentrate on driving home the not fully known or believed benefit. And what you’ll find in the winning ad is a double dose of savings: with “More Affordable” in line 1, and “So You Save” in line 2.

But because this is Stage 2 and not fully Stage 1, the ad retains an element of explanation in line 2: “You Pack and We Drive.”

If this seems a tad complicated, think of it this way: you want your PPC Ad’s messaging to be as relevant to the prospect’s concerns as possible. Matching your ad’s copy to the prospect’s conception of the product helps you do this.

It’s something professional ad writers do instinctively (assuming you have your ad groups properly segmented to begin with).

So if this is all new to you, you probably have a whole lot of PPC Profits floating out there with your name on them, just waiting for you to claim them through some smart optimization.

Why not follow this moving company’s lead and give yourself an early Christmas present by doing just that?