Awareness is the top of the marketing funnel. Understanding customer awareness deepens our empathy for the individual customer.
Many senior services and products approach the customer from a point of "you have a problem, I'm here to help." That's a hard nut to crack. A different way of approaching the customer is to understand how they define their needs, and tap into their motivations. Check out our messaging blog post and free messaging template to develop motivating messages.
This customer awareness model comes from great marketer Eugene Schwartz. You can buy his book Breakthrough Advertising on Amazon for $700.00. Yes, it's that valuable.
The first attempt at segmenting customers is typically:
- the user of the product or service, aka "the senior"
- the buyer or influencer , aka "caregiver"
- the referral source, aka "professional"
This is first cut segmentation; there are still different segments within these. All caregivers are not lumped into one group, all seniors are not alike, and different professionals have different needs. But let's keep it simple and limit this discussion to 3 segments.
What do we mean by Customer Awareness?
Different customer segments have different levels of awareness. There are 2 parts to this awareness
- awareness of your service -- high-level brand awareness
- awareness of their need
Each customer has a need they want to fulfill. The need can be to resolve a pain, or achieve a motivating goal:
- Pain, an acute crisis or a nagging difficulty
- Motivation, for authenticity, legacy, optimism, wisdom, simplicity, relationships or special moments
Think about one particular customer. Ask yourself:
- Where is this person in their journey -- their search for a solution?
- What do they understand about their own need?
- How much do they know about the available solutions?
- How much do they know about your solution?
The answers help us determine the stage of customer awareness. There are 5 stages.
1. Most Aware Customers
This customers knows your service or product will solve their need, and they just don't know the price and terms. The Most Aware person already understands your service. The Most Aware person, they are already educated. What they want is pricing information.
This customer wants to see your product offering, what's included, and the price.
The Most Aware customer is so familiar with your service or product offering, you need strong iconic branding and emotional marketing to stand out. If your customers can be categorized as "Most Aware" you must work harder to differentiate your offering.
2. Product Aware Customers
This customer understands your service category, they are aware of your product. What they don't know, and haven't decided, is if your product or service is a fit for them. The customer is evaluating. They are not sure you are the best fit for them.
Here, you need to crush the competition. You need to explicitly tell the customer why you are better than other options, other brands and other alternatives. Your marketing and sales must know exactly how your competition is lacking, and they will know exactly how to crush them.
3. Solution Aware Customers
Solution Aware Customers know the results they want but they don't know how your product will deliver. They need to know HOW you meet their need. They intimately understand and live their need, they know the outcome / solution they want. What they need to know is, HOW do you solve their need?
> Set an outcome or potential future state for this customer, a goal they want to achieve.
This customer is probably hearing a lot of competing claims about benefits and it's all sounding like noise. You need product features, or service features, to differentiate yourself, and back these up with facts. It's not about making bold claims but focusing on your features and data, information and third party validation.
Marketing to these customers involves creating a potential future state or outcome for this person, a goal they want to achieve.
4. Problem Aware Customers
Problem Aware customers know they have a need, but they don't know the solutions. They are deep in their pain or desire. They are new to the idea that a solution exists.
Market to these customers by connecting with them where they are. Tap into this need, agitate it, remind them of their need. Build empathy and lay out your solution. Then, they will become "solution aware" customers, and you move up a stage in the awareness.
Many marketers are frustrated by the problem aware customer. The marketer may be focused on the wrong "need." Remember, a need could be a desire, a motivation, not a pain point. Even if you clearly see a limitation or pain point, it may not be a problem per-se for the customer.
5. Completely Unaware Customers
These customers don't even think they have a problem, need or desire. Perhaps they don't feel the "pain" we see. Yet their opinions, beliefs and ideas are strong. They may be defiant against "solutions" to poorly targeted "problems." (Sound familiar?)
This is a difficult segment to market to -- it's a long sales cycle with multiple touches and a lot of education. Thus, it's the most expensive people to market to.
The customer may not be open to a poorly positioned "solution." The less-strategic marketer will focus on influencers -- referring professionals or family caregivers -- and then hit a brick wall of resistance when starting a conversation with the actual customer.
You can connect with these customers by speaking to their state of mind. Uncover their goal or motivation, and nurture a desire from that goal. They will need more information, more visual stories, and more testimonials, to increase their awareness.
Getting out of "what's the price" conversations
A large swath of assisted living communities and in-home care services seem similar to consumers. They do not clearly differentiate themselves vis-a-vis their peers and competition. The customer believes they already understand the product. The customer's criteria is based on price.
Even in their search for pricing information, customers are frustrating. Like getting a price from a car dealer (unpleasant!), there is little transparency and no readily available information. Most adult communities, senior living and in-home care agencies make the customer struggle for pricing information.
Companies that are undifferentiated in a known field have target customers who are Most Aware. By differentiating their service, a company can target Product Aware and Solution Aware customers.
How do you target different seniors, family caregivers and referral segments?
How senior care marketers can get started:
- Use 1-on-1 research and browse user forums (eg. reddit) to discover what customers experience in shopping for, buying and using your service.
- Use a mystery shopping service to identify how people are really experiencing your process (not what you hope it is).
- Quick-map the customer journey for each segment, and identify opportunities and friction. You can do this with sticky notes.
- Create targeted messages -- copy and visual design -- to create personas for each target segment.
- Create targeted home pages, personalized email series, and online ad campaigns for each segment.
- Update your sales enablement (playbook, coaching and content) for each segment.