📂 Growth is a sum of interdependent factors working in harmony

Today's newsletter is proudly supported by Sales.co 🎉

Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. And there's no better way to generate results tomorrow than through email outreach. I couldn't be more excited to partner with Sales.co to help more startups do cold email well. They handle everything from idea generation to a/b testing. All you have to do is show up for the sales call. Founded by two software engineers, their approach is data-driven and scalable, and they only care about bringing you qualified leads. Make sure to mention "Corey" or "Swipe Files."

📖 The following is an excerpt from my work-in-progress book, Founding Marketing. It's a (very) rough draft of thoughts, notes, and research... so feel free to reply with your feedback on what I should expand more on and what needs to be clarified. Enjoy!

Have you ever wondered why some leads take months, even years, of convincing and others seem to already have their mind made up to become a customer before you even know they exist?

The buyer’s journey for SaaS products is incredibly complex. Perhaps more complex than any other industry.

As much as I’d like to think that a buying decision is a simple as a good search, a quick scan of a website, and then entering in account information, it’s not.

We make purchases with emotion, but justify them with logic.

And that logic gets pieced together over time in what Eugene Schwartz called the Stages of Awareness.

He covered this in his classic book Breakthrough Advertising back in 1966.

He broke down prospect awareness into five distinct phases:

  1. The Most Aware: They’re motivated to solve the problem plus they believe your type of solution/product is the best. Maybe they just need to verify or a nudge to get started. Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”
  2. Product-Aware: They’re motivated to solve the problem and aware of your product, but aren’t sure which solution is best. Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.
  3. Solution-Aware: They’re aware solutions exist but isn’t aware about your product or if it is a solution to their problem. Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.
  4. Problem-Aware: They’re experiencing the problem but are unaware that solutions exist.
  5. Completely Unaware: They’re not experiencing the problem your product solves or not aware that there is a problem, even if there is one.

1. The Most Aware

These are long-time readers who aren’t customers or clients yet.

These are the ones you can speak most directly with, but you’ll need to make sure that those direct messages are not hurting your chances with those at different awareness levels.

To get them to convert: Create incentives to get started immediately and reduce friction to get started.

2. Product-Aware

These people are still not sure if what you offer is right for them, even though you’ve educated them about it with some creative content marketing.

They don’t want to be pummeled with offer information, because they’re hung up at an earlier stage of the conversion process.

To get to the next stage: Show them why your product is the best solution.

3. Solution-Aware

This person has a need, perhaps subscribes to your blog, but doesn’t yet know you offer a solution to their problem.

This is where content marketing will shine for you. This is the perfect person to offer a white paper, free report, multi-post tutorial delivered by email, webinar, or other high-value content.

Be sure you’re engaging this reader’s attention, normally via an opt-in email list, so you can let them know about everything you have to offer.

Keep the ratio of content to offers high, to keep their interest and build rapport.

To get them to the next stage: Tell them how to address the problem and what the end result of a solution would be.

4. Problem-Aware

This person knows they have a problem … but they don’t know you.

They haven’t yet been convinced to subscribe to your blog and begin a relationship with you. They might have arrived via a search engine or through a social media channel.

The key point is they don’t yet know or trust you.

Strong content with independent value is critical to everyone in your audience, but it’s these people who most need to see the value up front to get on board as a subscriber.

To get them to the next stage: Show them that there are solutions to this problem and/or show up where they are looking for solutions.

5. Completely Unaware

This is your typical cold social media traffic, the kind that might come in from Twitter or Pinterest.

They aren’t necessarily looking for anything about you or your offer … they’re just responding to a piece of content you put out.

This is why I don’t favor click-baiting with off-topic content.

Sure, you might get some links and shares, and that’s good. But it’s a whole lot better to get your perfect audience, not just whoever shows up.

To get someone to the next stage: Help them realize their problem and agitate in ways that it becomes important enough to explore.

So how do we apply this newfound information to marketing strategy?

What the awareness stages help us understand is that not only do we need to implement the right channels, we also need to show up at the right time. Different channels, and different tactics in each channel serve different purposes for potential customers with different needs.

Customer Journey

Taking someone from completely unaware to most aware is the process called the customer journey.

The vast majority of purchases, even the “impulse purchases”, are actually a culmination of many steps before the purchase.

Over time, and with the right touch points, you can deliver the right experiences at the right times to encourage and facilitate a sale.

You can reverse-engineer what the customer’s journey to your product or service looks like by quite literally mapping it out.

It’s going to look completely different for each business, but the goal is to:

  1. Figure out the major stages of the customer’s journey. You can customize the 5 stages of awareness to fit your own customers and unique descriptions.
  2. Figure out the goals of each of those stages. What are customers trying to accomplish at each stage?
  3. Figure out the touchpoints you can use to help customers achieve their goals at each stage and move them along to the final stage of purchase.

That’s why it’s important to take a holistic approach to each and every one of your marketing experiments. The reality is that there are more factors at play than that one experiment.


p.s. ready to take your marketing skills to the next level? Invest in a Swipe Files membership to get 4 courses on SaaS Marketing.

Swipe Files does not have sponsors. We have partners.

We partner with trusted top-tier service providers. In fact, I reached out to them — each one has been carefully selected and vetted so I have 100% confidence in recommending them to you. Doing business with them supports this newsletter. 😊

See how these services can help you grow and mention "Swipe Files" or "Corey" for special treatment:

  • Conversion Factory — My product marketing agency on a subscription to help you turn traffic into revenue.
  • ReactSquad — The only developer matchmaking service for SaaS startups focused on vetted engineers who focus on React & Node.js.
  • xFusion — Get trained, reliable, and affordable customer support reps ready to go for your business.
  • Sales.co — Cold email from idea generation to A/B testing, all you have to do is show up for the sales call.
  • Videodeck — Done-for-you video production with an expert team at an affordable price.
  • Dofollow — My go-to service for sourcing high-quality backlinks in ethical ways to help you rank higher in Google.
  • Embarque — Level up your content and SEO at an affordable price, from keyword research to content production to promotion.
  • MarketerHire — Get matched with a top-tier freelance marketer within 48 hours.

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