Journey of Consciousness

Many coaches find attracting new clients hard work. They’re often comfortable talking about their coaching services and explaining everything, in detail, but still no sale. Sound familiar?

Put simply, you’re talking about the wrong thing. You’re trying to take the potential client all the way from ‘barely aware they have a problem to solve’ to ‘buying and engaging with the solution’ in a single leap. It’s too much. And this is why many coaches feel like marketing is hard work or ineffective. With your existing knowledge and years of experience, the process and product of coaching may feel and seem obvious to you, however a client is often starting at a point of (perhaps blissful) ignorance – they’re not even aware that they have a problem or in fact that working with a coach is even an option. When there’s a mismatch in understanding or awareness, trying to sell your coaching product can be hard work, and ineffective.

By looking at the client journey in terms of five levels of awareness, we can split up the marketing messaging and content to talk to appeal to different stages of the journey. That way, you’re addressing the client’s specific level of awareness, and not overwhelming them or trying to make the sale too early.

The 5 levels of awareness

The theory behind the journey people go on when considering making a purchase is very old – it was published in 1966 by Eugene Schwartz, whose copywriting reportedly sold over a billion dollars’ worth of products. He wrote ‘Breakthrough Advertising’ the book that informs most of the advertising you see in your daily lives and is likely the reason you have purchased most of the stuff you now own.

Although you’re not trying to sell cars, vacuum cleaners or fizzy drinks, these levels of awareness still apply. You can use them to understand where our prospective client is in that awareness journey and then talk to them in a way that appeals to their situation, doesn’t overwhelm them, and guides them rather than ‘sells’ to them.

Let’s look at the five levels.

Diagram showing 5 Levels of Client Awareness

These are the five levels of awareness:

Unaware: A person doesn’t know they have a problem, and it can take a lot of time, energy and effort to move them to the next level.

Problem 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 will solve 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.

Most people think, and most marketing advice will tell you, to focus on those in the unaware level, as that is what the big brands do. For a considered purchase like coaching, and without an advertising budget of millions, this is often highly ineffective. This is why most marketing doesn’t work.

What’s more, if you try to take people through these five levels too fast they get overwhelmed and feel like they’re being sold to – nobody likes that.

e.g. “Are you feeling stressed? – Buy my 6-week Better Sleep programme!”

This is too fast! If I am feeling stressed then why do I need or want a better sleep programme? Will this help? How? Why? If you try to close the sale too early, you confuse the client.

It’s far better to build curiosity – create a little tension, an itch to know more. People love to explore and learn about new things, so a better approach would be to take the client on a journey that they can explore at their own pace. This is what the five levels of awareness enable you to do.

Graph showing the unaware level of awareness

Unaware

When someone is unaware they have a problem, or even that the problem exists at all, they are not – unsurprisingly – looking for a solution. At this stage, you don’t want to try and sell anything to them. Instead, you need to raise their level of awareness to the point that they realise they do indeed have a problem.

In order to progress their awareness level, you need to get them to switch their thinking, or their buying belief. This isn’t easy and can take a lot of time, effort and money to do well. This is why marketing can feel like hard work!

Big brands tend to focus on convincing people that they have a problem. They often rely on creating a problem and playing to people’s fears to encourage them to purchase a solution. This feels unethical and doesn’t sit well with selling coaching services.
Most “marketing advice” focuses on this ‘create a problem and then solve it’ tactic and that explains why most of it doesn’t work or feel right for coaches. With coaching, you’re often working with sensitive and personal issues so it really wouldn’t be ethical to try and do this.

What you can learn from this is that it can be done, but that doesn’t mean it should be done.

So if you’re not going to focus on this level, where should you start?

It’s far easier and more effective, as well as ethical, to start with people who are problem aware.

Graph showing the Problem aware level of awareness

Problem Aware

The next level is Problem Aware. The word problem here isn’t meant as a judgement nor in a derogatory sense. Here it describes someone with a frustration, an issue, a feeling or tangible problem that they want to do something about.

A problem aware prospect isn’t ready to hear about your products. They don’t even know that there are ways to solve their problem. All they know is that something isn’t right.

At this stage, what you can do is support them to join some dots, link ideas together or open them up to a new perspective or viewpoint of their current situation. You’re certainly not going to try and make a sale at this point.

At this stage:

  • Reflect the problem back at them, to show you understand them
  • Show that there are solutions
  • Introduce your method as one possible solution
  • Demonstrate that you’re the best-placed guide to go with them on the journey

Problem aware prospects have noticed that they want to do something about their current situation.

You can use empathy to make them feel seen, heard and understood. And use their own words and their language to help them join the dots and come to their own realisations.

Graph showing the solution aware level of awareness

Solution Aware

A solution aware prospect knows that there are answers to their problem — they are starting to be aware that your method might be the answer to their problem.

Now you need to show them what they can do to solve their problem. But you’re not necessarily focusing on your product yet. You want to educate them about what a good solution looks and feels like, and what they might like to consider when they are choosing a product. This is the stage where the client has questions and is seeking answers. They don’t want to hear about specific products yet because they’re not yet even sure if they want the solution. When thinking about coaching this is where someone is deciding if they even want to solve the problem, whether they’re ready to do the work.

Let’s take an example from the retail world as it makes the case very clearly.

Casper Mattress Size guide showing the different mattress dimensions and size names

Casper Mattresses does a lot of very smart marketing, and their mattress sizing guide is no exception. Someone who is solution aware knows they want a better mattress, but they don’t necessarily know how to choose the right mattress for them. So, to help them work out exactly what they need, Casper has made a visual mattress size guide. They are not trying to sell anyone a mattress with this guide, just giving the answer to a really common customer question. “What size do I need?”.

So, once you have their attention, from the previous level, you have the opportunity to highlight what a solution might look like, or answer some common questions they might have about what kind of solution they actually need. It can be just as useful to signpost someone off to another solution as it is to guide them towards yours. Once they understand what the solution looks like they’ll go looking for it.

Graph showing the product aware level of awareness

Product Aware

Once the client knows what a solution looks like, they know why they want it and they decide to commit to the work of solving their problem. They will now search for a product that meets their newly-acquired criteria. If you have been showing them content in the previous three stages then they will have seen that you’re offering a great solution. Now they’re trying to decide if they trust you.

At this stage, your prospect wants to know about your product, but they might be comparing you with what other coaches are saying and offering. Your job now is to show them why you’re the best fit. It’s likely you’ve already won a lot of trust by simply starting to engage them with empathy. Not many people make clients feel seen, heard and understood. So, you’re probably ahead of most of the competition already.

Now you need to add some authority into the mix. This is where you show them that you’re best placed to guide them to the outcome or insight that they want. You need to show them how your product fits their idea/understanding of what a solution looks and feels like. You need to show them how you can guide them to the outcome, feeling or insight they believe they need to solve the problem. It’s about building trust, not selling. Only once they trust you will they be ready to move to the next level.

If you have taken the client on a journey through the previous stages then you have assembled most of the jigsaw puzzle for them – now you just need to show them that you are the one missing piece in the middle.

Graph showing the most aware level of awareness

Most Aware

Most aware prospects already know what you do. They already think that you’re best placed to guide them. All they need now is to hear your offer. The biggest mistake people make for most aware prospects is saying too much.

So, at this stage, you just need to get out of the way. You need to make it easy for the client to take the first step and make it clear what will happen afterwards. This might be booking a discovery call with you, or completing a form giving you some individual information. It might be purchasing a course or a session. Whatever that step is it needs to be clear, explained in very simple terms, and you need to let them know what happens after they complete this step. So if they book a call, what happens then? If they buy the session, what happens next? This reassures the client that they can trust you – the next step won’t be a surprise.

The Journey of Consciousness

This journey of awareness, of raising the prospect’s consciousness of their situation, will nurture the clients who are the best fit for you, taking them on a journey of awareness from unaware to most aware. The journey forms a key part of the Coach’s Marketing Journey, explaining the six chapters of your own journey to becoming more confident about how you talk about yourself and your coaching practice. With the Coach’s Marketing Journey course you can work through these 6 chapters in a structured way to empower you to regain control of your time, finances and energy.