Use the 5 Stages of Awareness to Develop Your Content Strategy

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You know that without a holistic strategy behind your entire digital marketing, you will not achieve great results. 

You also know that content should be at the heart of every digital marketing campaign.

This is also supported by the saying, “If you are not found online, you do not exist” because without content, you will not rank for anything. 

And one of the most effective frameworks for creating content is the 5 stages of awareness

If you’re looking for more information on how to use it, you’re in the right place. 

How to Use the 5 Stages of Awareness to Create Your Content Strategy

If you Google “content strategy,” you’ll get millions of results. That just proves how vital creating content is in today’s hyper competitive markets. 

Regardless of which one you look at, the best strategy is the one that affects your bottomline. Your profits. Your customers. Your leads. 

If all the content strategy talks about is to increase your traffic, stop reading that now. That’s useless. You don’t want traffic. You want more leads and more customers. 

Also, an effective content strategy goes beyond customer acquisition. It also includes customer retention and support. 

That’s the main reason why it has to be holistic strategy and not just address one part of the equation. 

With that out of the way, let’s get started. 

Step 1: Decide on one product/service

Start with one product/service that you want to focus on for this quarter. 

It can be anything — a major initiative from management; a new product you want to launch; or simply something you want to because you believe in it so much. 

Once you decide on which one to focus on, proceed to the next step. 

Step 2: Create a table with the 5 stages of awareness as individual rows

If you haven’t already, you can review the 5 stages of awareness here. 

At this step, just take out your notebook or open up a spreadsheet and create a table that looks like this…

How to Use the 5 Stages of Awareness for Content Creation

Step 3: Add keywords or phrases used for each stage

The next step is to add keywords or phrases people use at each stage. For example, for people who are unaware of your company and brand, what do they search for online? What do they ask their friends? 

Example: Magnet App

It easier to explain this with an example. So, I’ll use an app that I absolutely love. It’s called Magnet. If you have a Mac, you can download Magnet here (and no, that’s not an affiliate link — I just love them). 

It’s very simple and only does one thing: resize and/or align the current window (or app) to a certain preset without the need to move your cursor to a corner and drag it to the size you want. This is great for working on two apps at the same time like a writing document on one side then a browser on the other. 

Keywords or phrases people use

Getting started with this is difficult for most people because they are so used to only thinking about the product aware and most aware stages. For a quick recap, here are the 5 stages of awareness again:

  1. Unaware — those who aren’t aware they have a problem, and therefore, don’t need anything
  2. Pain Aware — people who are experiencing problems or issues but not any solutions 
  3. Solution Aware — those who know they have a problem and potential solutions available
  4. Product Aware — people who know you offer the solutions they may need but have yet to choose your offer
  5. Most Aware — those who know you and trust you

The key mindset to get into is this…

What keywords or phrases do people use when ____________. 

For example, ask yourself this question: what keywords or phrases do people use when they are experiencing problems or issues, but don’t know a particular solution or brand yet? (👈 Stage 2: Pain Aware)

Map keywords or phrases to each stage

Or let’s say you want to focus on stage 3 – solution aware. 

What keywords or phrases do people use when they are aware they need something to increase their productivity but haven’t heard of you and your brand yet. 

Map more keywords or phrases to each stage

Then, just continue with the table until you fill it all out. 

Step 4: Map your existing content

At this point, if you’re like most businesses, you probably don’t have content at stages 1 to 3. And that’s okay. 

You most likely only have content in the product aware and most aware stages. 

Content gaps identified

But the great part is now, you are aware of the opportunities you are missing out. More importantly, your competitors are most likely doing the same thing. Since you know that there is a gap, you can take advantage of this. 

Which brings us to the next step…

Step 5: Create content to fill the gap

Start with writing written content to fill the content gap — articles. 


Because written content still has the highest chance for ranking on search engines (at least for now). Plus, it’s going to be the heart of everything you’ll be doing in the next step.

Follow the guidelines when creating content for the first time. Don’t worry about stuff you can’t control. Don’t worry about SEO. 

Focus on your customers. Write your content with them in mind. 

Once you finish this step, you are already 80% ahead of your competitors. 

Step 6: Repurpose your content

Once you finished an article and posted it on your website’s blog, it’s now time to think of repurposing your content

Repurposing your content means using it in some other way. If the original version is used as an article on your website, ask yourself how can it be used on other marketing channels? 

Ask yourself how you would transform that original article into different formats:

  • How would you send it to your email subscribers? 
  • How would you post it on social media? 
  • Can you make an infographic out of it? 
  • What about a video? 
  • Can you use that video on social media as well? 
  • What about adding the video to your blog too? 

That’s the kind of thinking of you need to have after creating one piece of content so that it doesn’t go to waste. 

Step 7: Distribute your content

While this may seem implicit, I found that a lot of people still believe that once you publish a content on your website, people will find it and get tons of traffic. 

Sorry, but that’s not how it works. 

Maybe 10 years ago when there weren’t as much competition online. But with more than 1.5 billion websites today (and counting), you have a lot indirect competitors (for their time and attention). 

Today, you have to use an omni-channel approach when you distribute your content. 

Post regularly and engage with your fans/followers.

Remember that consistency is more important than perfection. 

Step 8: Analyze performance

Remember the 10,000-hour rule

What that means, at its basic level, is that the more you do things, the better you get at it. But that’s under the assumption you’re doing it right. And that’s where analysis comes in. 

Think of it as having a coach to tell you what you’re doing right and what you need to improve on further. 

You can play the guitar for 2 hours a day, but if you’re not hitting the right cords — and you don’t know it — you won’t get any better. 

Analyze your content’s performance. The most common tool marketers use is Google Analytics

Step 9: Improve and repeat

After figuring out what works and what doesn’t in the previous step, you now have the data to improve. Without the information, you cannot improve. 

That’s why it’s important for you to analyze your performance. And you cannot analyze your performance if you don’t perform. 

This is actually one of the topics I’ll be writing more about. I found that most people, including me for a very long time, don’t want to do something because it’s not perfect. But that only makes things difficult.

As you already know, ideas are everywhere. 

The real determining factor of success is execution. 


Apart from the 5 stages of awareness, there are other tools to help you create higher quality content faster. 

For example, you can use a content pillar approach where you create a big piece of content (the pillar), then repurpose it into smaller pieces

And, if you follow my recommendation of a two-pronged content strategy, you can create content and get results quickly while you brainstorm and plan your content pillar. 

And to make sure you’re creating content across the entire buyer’s journey, you can perform a content mapping exercise.

5 Stages of Awareness You’re Probably Not Aware Of

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Creating content that your target audience will love reading is one of the prerequisites in modern digital marketing. People go through the 5 stages of awareness — and you’re probably not even aware of it!

The problem is, content creation doesn’t come naturally for most digital marketers.


Because most courses in college are teaching old school techniques — where the more interruption you create, aka wow factor, the better you are. But that type of marketing doesn’t work anymore.

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I’m sure you noticed how a lot of organizations are now shifting their spend on more storytelling through articles and videos. Remember the Jollibee and McDonald’s commercial series? Or for big international brands, you have the likes of Nike and Adidas who continually show the struggles and perseverance of athletes but never mention their own products.

Then again, those are huge brands with huge budgets.

But what about us working for ourselves? What about the small businesses? How can we start creating content that people will want to read? How do we get started?

5 Stages of Awareness: A Different Perspective

The easiest way to start creating content is to start with your customer’s FAQs.

I also shared my workflow earlier this year about getting started with video content in less than 30 minutes.

If you’re looking for more ideas on content creation, the next thing you do is to change your perspective — instead of looking inside-out, start looking at your organization from the outside.

I’m sure you already know this — the best perspective to look at your organization is from your customer’s eyes. No matter what your industry or product/service offering, your customers go through the different stages of awareness.

Let’s take a closer look at the 5 levels of customer awareness. This is another way to look at the buyer’s journey.

Stage 1: Unaware

People at this stage are not necessarily in need of anything at this point. Looking at this differently, people are unaware of and don’t care about you. They don’t know you. And most importantly, people at this stage won’t buy from you.

Imagine you are a local pet shop who just opened last week. As you can imagine, there are a lot of people who don’t know you: your relatives, your neighbors, and definitely a whole lot of pet parents. They are all part of this group. Obviously, they don’t know you so it’s practically impossible for them to buy from you at this point.

Stage 2: Pain Aware or Problem Aware

These are people who are aware of their problem but not any solutions.

What that means for our pet shop is this group are those who realized they needed something for their pet. Of course, this can change since the pet store offers a lot of things and there’s a lot of challenges a pet parent might have. For example, one day they can suddenly realize they don’t have enough dog food. Another day, they might decide on getting a large dog, so that means a different dog food, a bigger harness, etc.

The point remains is that at this stage, they became aware that they have a problem (that is related to what you can solve — in this case — as a pet shop).

Stage 3: Solution Aware

People at this level of awareness know solutions exist for their pain but don’t know about yours.

Assume you are the sole distributor of this Super Awesome Dog Food Brand. Obviously, no one else knows about that brand, only you.

People at this stage know they need “food” for their dog. But obviously, there are a whole lot of alternatives out there.

  • Other dog food brands
  • Raw meat diet
  • Human food

Stage 4: Product Aware

People know you offer solutions they may need but they have yet to choose your product.

At this stage, people have narrowed down their options. From our example, since you are carrying the Super Awesome Dog Food Brand, you are inclined to your target audience buying dog food, rather than other the alternatives like feeding raw meat.

But don’t forget, within the dog food category, there are still a lot of other options — Pedigree, Royal Canin, Holistic, etc. You’re simply one of their options.

Stage 5: Most Aware

Visitors know and trust your brand.

People at this stage are fully aware of you, your brand, and what you have to offer.

Putting It All Together: How the 5 Levels of Customer Awareness Works

Using this framework, you’ll immediately notice that there are a lot more people who don’t know you and your products.

If you map them out using circles, you’ll get an image that looks something like this.

5 Stages of Awareness – Graphical Representation

Here’s what you learned in this article:

  • People go through different stages of awareness.
    • Stage 1 refers to people who don’t know anything about you
    • Stage 2 refers to people who became aware of their problems/needs/challenges that you can solve with your products/services
    • Stage 3 refers to people who became aware of potential solutions to their problems/needs/challenges but haven’t chosen on a particular one yet
    • Stage 4 refers to people who have narrowed down their options to a specific category/option to solve their problems/needs/challenges.
    • Stage 5 refers to people who know you and trust you.
  • There are specific content that is more effective at certain stages.

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So, what are you going to do next

If you’re having a hard time creating content for your organization, you’re probably looking at your market too narrowly.

For example, you might only be focused on creating content ABOUT your product (Stage 4). You’re missing out on stages 1 to 3 — with each circle representing a bigger audience than the previous one.

  • What types of content can you create to attract those who don’t know you?
  • What can you share with people who are exploring their options related to what you’re selling?
  • How do you develop trust with these people?

These are the questions you should be asking yourself.

Another application of the stages of awareness is fine-tuning the messaging and targeting of your campaigns. For example, when you use a stage 4 or stage 5 content to target people who are at stage 1, don’t expect that campaign to meet your objectives.

Both content and context aren’t aligned.

I’ll share more examples about this in future posts. In the meantime, let me know in the comments what you think. Are you focused on creating stage 4 and stage 5 content? How can you think differently about creating stage 1-3 content? Are you using bottom-of-the-funnel content to target top-of-the-funnel audiences?

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