How to talk to your peeps this week // A.k.a. the 5 Stages of Coronavirus Response


business n' branding, Copywriting and Sales, Entrepreneurship

I’ll keep this note quick and dirty today with a little help from Eugene Schwartz and his classic Very Good Book I still haven’t finished reading, Breakthrough Advertising.

Because, let’s face it – there are other things you need to tend to that are WAY more important than this blog post right now.

First off, I wanna talk about YOU.

Mainly, YOU likely having a little more courage today to come out of whatever coronavirus anxiety hermit crab shell you may have retreated into last week, and start having conversations with your audience again.

Friendly conversations. Helpful conversations. And yes – sales conversations.

I’ve spent the last week or so on back-to-back calls with clients and coaching students who all have the same question for me:

“What in the world am I supposed to say right now?!”

Or, often more specifically:

“I have a launch coming up and I wanna move forward with it. Should I cancel? Or how do I pivvvvottttttt?”

The answer to those questions is, annoyingly, the answer to most marketing questions even in the best, most abundant of corona-free times.

That depends.

And here’s why (and here’s where our friend Mr. Schwartz comes in):

You may be familiar with Eugene’s famous marketing messaging tool, “The 5 Stages of Customer Awareness”.

If you’re not, it’s basically exactly what it sounds like:

A tool to assess how much education, persuasion, and storytelling is necessary to move a lead to action, based on how much they already know about you and your product.

For example, if you’re someone who sells mullet wigs for dogs, and your audience is full of raving fans of mullet wigs for dogs, you don’t have to explain to them what a wig is, or why it’s adorable. Just let ’em pick their favorite color, and buy.

However, if you’re putting dogs in mullet wigs in front of an audience who’s never heard of such a thing, the language changes. It’s gonna require more education and answered questions. (I.e. “What is that!?” “OMG it’s so cute. Is that a mullet?!” Is that a DOG in a mullet?!”)

Image result for dog mullet wig
Thanks for getting through that explanation. Here’s an actual dog in an actual mullet wig, as a treat.

I use the 5 Stages of Customer Awareness in every copy, strategy, and creative direction project I work on — so if you don’t know it, now’s a great time to learn about it.

Here’s an excellent summation of the 5 stages, via Copyblogger:

  1. The 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.

Got it? Awesome.

Well, move over Eugene (<– sung to the tune of “Come On Eileen”).

Because in these trying times, I want you all to think about a slightly altered version of this that will help you understand your audience a bit better, redesign your messaging, and pinpoint who you need to be speaking to right now.

Introducing, for the first time in history: The 5 stages of Coronavirus Response.

Please keep in mind, this is a summary of varying responses to the potential economic impact of Corona, because that’s basically the only thing I’m qualified to talk about here.

For the medical stuff, talk to your doc.

HOWEVER — these are the 5 ways I see the majority of people responding to the virus and the context of its entire unfolding.

Using these stages as reference points, I want you to ask yourself: which bucket do my people fall into?

Because THAT — more than the headlines, the memes, or the angry Twitter threads — is what you need to be basing your message and offers around right now.

(Quick note: these 5 stages are discussed in the context of coaching/consulting services, as those are what so many of you offer.

However, they can be applied to products and other services as well, even if they’re not business-related. Alter your tone and topics based on what level you suspect your people are at, and the level of consumer and personal confidence you feel they align with.)

The 5 Stages of Coronavirus Response appear to go like this:

  1. The Most Aware: This prospect knows you, what you offer, and how you can help. They’re watching you and are ready to LOCK AND LOAD — they just need to know what’s on the table, and they’ll be ready to jump on it.
  2. Support-Aware: This prospect knows they should keep investing in themselves, and senses that a calm, guiding hand like yours would probably be the best thing for them/their business right now. They likely know you can help them, and that you have a long history of getting results, but also aren’t sure whether your offering is exactly right for them in these wild times. They’re mostly looking for high-level or custom 1-1 support of some kind.
  3. Survival-Aware: This prospect knows they can get scrappy, and keep themselves above water during this time (i.e. they have a a cash cushion, or adapted offers to sell). However, they would probably only be looking to invest in something that feels like a very clear deal with clear next steps, and/or something more hands-on.
  4. Panic-Aware: This prospect senses they’re panicking, but don’t know what do next. How do they get out of “total freakout” mode and into measured action that’ll help them move forward? Still, they’d only invest in something they felt REALLY confident about that could very explicitly help them with their specific problem, probably at a modest price-point.
  5. Total Panic: This prospect is still in “headless chicken” mode. WHAT DO THEY DO NEXT? IS THE WORLD ENDING? They need a calm hand, and are most likely not ready to invest in something right now. Most of the free stuff is being made for these folks, but you may notice the demand for it is already lowering as people begin to adjust to this new reality.

So in the coming days, take a minute to do some research, assess your audience, and ask yourself:

What level are your people at right now?

And, given that stage — what conversations do you most need to be having with them?

What’s their #1 worry or pain point?

What’s going to be most helpful for them, from a strategy perspective, a life perspective, and a future-focused perspective?

Start there.

And then? Keep going.

You’re probably nauseated by the number of people telling you “NOW IS THE TIME FOR LEADERSHIPPP!” at this stage — but truly? They’re not wrong.

We need you.

We’re waiting for you.

Come join the fight.

And I’ll see you in the fray.

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