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The Hidden ICA definition you haven’t considered (aka What’s your dream client’s Level of Awareness)

Jul 27, 2022

The Hidden ICA definition you haven’t considered (aka What’s your dream client’s Level of Awareness)


How do you create content to best connect with your dream clients? Your strategy really depends on where they fall on the levels of awareness.

Eugene Schwartz, in his classic and oft-quoted “Breakthrough Advertising,” outlined these 5 stages of customer awareness. 

Brian Clark explained those stages nicely here, and I quote:

  1. Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”
  2. Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.
  3. Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.
  4. Problem-Aware: Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
  5. Completely Unaware: No knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own identity or opinion.


There are two specific reasons you want to know where your dream clients fall on the awareness scale. First, the closer to the bottom of the list, the more education you need to do before your audience is ready to buy. And secondly, your audience doesn’t become ready to buy until they’ve progressed through the knowledge states. When you narrow your offer to meet someone in the higher stages of awareness, you’ve already done the work to build the know, like, and trust factor and you can speak with specificity to your dream clients. 


The largest potential audience is also the hardest to market to. These are the Unaware – they have no idea there’s even a problem. In this stage of awareness, most of your content is focused on education. Educate your readers/viewers about what problems may be lurking under the surface. 

For example, you may assume that having puppy biting, jumping, and accidents in your house is just part of the process of raising a puppy. So my friend and client, Sarah, with Get Pawsitive Dog Training, may choose to educate her audience about what can’t be changed from the typical puppy-raising experience and what can be mitigated and managed.  

Or maybe you’re a massage therapist whose clients think their daily aches and pains are just a normal part of the aging process. You can use your regular content to educate your audience that the sensations are actually telling a story and it means there are underlying factors you can address like posture, movement, having a supportive mattress, etc. 


The Problem Aware client knows there is a problem but doesn’t know where to find the answers. So they have lots and lots of questions.

  • Where did this problem come from?
  • What are the root causes?
  • What else may be a problem that I’m not aware of?
  • What possible solutions are there?
  • How much time will I need to devote to solving the problem?
  • How common is this problem?
  • What is the balance between dealing with the problem or taking action and getting the solution? (i.e., how painful is the current situation and how much time, energy, and/or money will I need to expend to change it?)


Pulling on some more of my client examples, Laura Naiser, Mindset Coach, talks directly to Christian entrepreneurs about the consequences of procrastination and feeling stuck. Because many of her clients have built a habit of procrastination, they often don’t recognize the effects until they hear her talk about it. They wouldn’t necessarily say they have a mindset block but they do recognize they procrastinate.

Danielle Levy, business strategist and founder of The Boardroom League, is in a similar situation where her clients feel stuck and overwhelmed but they can’t pinpoint why or how. She educates her clients on how to identify which of her proprietary business houses and rooms they have the biggest problems in and how and why they can take action to fix them.

Most content for the Problem Aware audience should be helping them identify the cause of the problem and give them helpful advice to start addressing solutions. (Note – this is NOT the time to jump to offering YOUR course, offer, service as the solution.)


The third stage is the Solution Aware

Here’s where your audience is looking for specific answers. They understand they have a problem, they have an idea of what types of solutions are available, and you can start guiding them towards your offer.

Share case studies, success stories, and testimonials to give your readers/viewers/listeners the opportunity to see how someone else solved the same problem by using your solution. 

Adding enough information to your client success stories helps prospective clients see how your offer worked for someone “like them.” 

Think through the different types of clients you can showcase. Whether you break them out by gender, location, type of problem, or something else will be directly related to your offer and who is in your audience. 

For dog trainer, Sarah, that means highlighting owners with different breeds of dogs, ages of dogs, working full-time outside the home, retired, working at home, with kids at home, etc. 

While mindset coach, Laura, would showcase how clients in different industries have been successful. She may also choose to show both men and women, different expressions of “feeling stuck” and the wide variety of ages of her clients.


Level 2: Product/Offer/Brand Aware

At this point, your readers are FINALLY ready to hear about your offer. This is a much smaller potential audience but is MUCH easier to sell to. These are individuals who already know they have a problem, they know some of the solutions available, and they are READY to take action on getting the answer/transformation.

Your content has two main jobs at this point: 

  1. Clearly communicate why you are the right fit for this particular client to work with you and/or how your solution is different from your competitors 
  2. Clearly communicate that you can solve their problem, how your offer does that, and remind them why now is the right time to take action

This doesn’t mean you need to go full on into a sales pitch! 

Your content can continue to engage your audience and deliver value-packed information and education. Add future pacing about how amazing it’ll feel to have the transformation your offer provides. 

Continue to share social proof through testimonials and case studies. This is the perfect time to showcase examples that talk about how easy it was to work with you, how quickly the transformation can occur, etc.


The Most Aware Level

This is the easiest group of prospects to market to…but only if you get them to move off the fence!

My mentor, Dan Miller with 48 Days to the Work You Love, has shared a story numerous times about an old farmer and his dog. It goes something like this:

A man stops by his neighbor’s farm and sees his neighbor rocking on the front porch. He goes up and talks to the old farmer. He’s distracted by the farmer’s dog who is lying down nearby and whimpering.  

He finally asked the farmer, “What’s wrong with your dog?”

“Oh, he’s lying on a nail.”

“Why doesn’t he move?” 

The farmer replied, “I guess it doesn’t hurt enough yet.”


Most people are like that too. We all prioritize our comfort…even when it’s not comfortable. It takes more effort to change than to just let things stay the same. 

So how do we help our audience see it is worthwhile to make the change? 

There are 3 main triggers to use:

  1. Urgency
  2. Scarcity
  3. Exclusivity



If your offer has a real deadline (i.e., you are starting a coaching program on a specific day), urgency can be a great tool to use. Together with FOMO, letting people know about when the offer expires, helps encourage your audience to take action. 

The most effective use of urgency, however, is when you can tap into an individual’s own internal urgency. When someone considers what their life is going to be like if they don’t make a change and compare it to what their life could be like by making a change, that can be a powerful motivator. 

CAUTION: This trigger rightly gets a bad rap. Far too many online businesses use “fake urgency” with countdown timers that start over again from zero when you land on the page in a new browser window. Ick! If you are going to use external urgency to promote your offer, make sure it is real urgency. If you have an evergreen offer, this is NOT a time to use external urgency. If your offer doesn’t include a live component, using external urgency is a scammy way to promote it.



Limiting the number of spaces available is another way to encourage your audience to take action. This is most effective when it is YOUR time that you are offering. For example, if you have an early bird bonus that includes private 1:1 calls with you, it makes sense there are a limited number available. When you have a brand new offer, you may only want to include a small number of participants because you aren’t sure how it is going to flow. You may also have a group program with a cap on the number of attendees because of the format.

CAUTION: This trigger is also sometimes used in an icky way. If you have a digital product it doesn’t make sense to offer it as a “limited spaces available” offer or offer a limited number as a bonus. You could give it to thousands of individuals without it costing you anything additional.
In a group program, you may be able to add large numbers of participants without it negatively affecting the program, your team, or your other resources. Be mindful of both the reality and the appearance when using this trigger. 



There are 2 different ways to look at this persuasion trigger. The first is tied to scarcity. When there is a limited number available, it immediately makes it more exclusive to have one. Social proof is a great way to boost the exclusivity in this way. When you have people talking about getting access to your offer, it can drive more individuals to want it.

The second way to look at exclusivity is the social status or prestige benefit of getting your offer. 

When I first heard about this way of looking at exclusivity, I was skeptical. As someone who isn’t into the latest trends (you’ll almost always find me in jeans and T-shirt) and I don’t desire the spotlight, I wondered how making something exclusive or prestigious would apply to someone like me. 

As I learned more about how and when to use this trigger, I got clarity on how social status may be effectively used in a wide variety of situations.

Often this trigger is used in situations where you point out how someone will be seen as the XX with the ABC. For example, my dog trainer client, Sarah, may point out that her students will be seen as the dog owner with the best-behaved dogs at the park.  

My client, Danielle, the business strategist, may say, “Be the CEO who isn’t worried about any “oh sh!t” moments popping up.”

“You’ll be seen as a smart and savvy business owner with all your social media content planned and scheduled while you’re on vacation” may be a perfect phrase for Deb Laflamme’s For The Love Of Your Business.  

All 3 of these persuasion factors can help your most aware audience move off that painful nail.


As you craft your offer, and your prelaunch runway, consider which level of awareness your dream client is currently at. Use your content to move them along the pathway so when you launch, they are ready to buy.





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