As a surf business owner, you’re most likely being pulled in a bunch of different directions on a daily basis. If you can picture it, I imagine you’re like a wetsuit during one of those stretch tests where four people each pull on a different limb to sample its elasticity.
One arm might be dealing with guest enquiries. The other arm is probably regular day-to-day stuff. One leg is being pulled in the direction of social media posts and marketing. While the other is being stretched by admin and behind-the-scenes tasks.
In short, you’ve got a lot going on. And combine this with the fact we’re bombarded with emails, messages and notifications daily, it’s easy to be swallowed up by the sheer amount of things you should be doing.
But, if there’s one thing you do need to know when it comes to marketing your surf business, it’s this.
All customers, whether they’re booking a surf trip, buying a new board or signing up for a magazine subscription, go through what we call a “journey” of buying decisions.
You lost me. What do you mean by a “journey” of buying decisions?
Ok, let’s start from the beginning.
You might’ve noticed this already, but people generally don’t make big-ish purchasing decisions in an impulsive, binary or on/off way.
In most cases, customers follow a path that takes them from a starting point to a finish line, which is the moment they make a purchase.
This path or “journey” consists of different stages of customer awareness. And it’s imperative that you know what they are if you want to ensure your marketing efforts hit their mark.
To do otherwise is the marketing equivalent of paddling into the lineup blindfolded with arms akimbo, hoping that by sheer luck you snag a good wave.
So what are these different stages of customer awareness?
The different stages of customer awareness vary from one marketer to another in terms of how many stages there actually are.
Some say that there are only three stages, while others will tell you it’s five.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to run with five. This way you can always scale it back if you feel like it’s too much, but no matter what, the basic flow of these stages is always the same.
- Problem Aware
- Solution Aware
- Product Aware
- Most Aware
But how exactly do these stages of customer awareness function?
How it works is that customers start from a point where they’re not even aware that they have a problem or need.
They then begin to acknowledge that they have a problem, which leads them to look for different solutions. This is when they begin to explore the products or services that can solve said problem. The final stage is when they identify that your product or service is right for them, maybe through features vs benefits articles or other types of guides.
At all times, your goal as someone creating content for their business is to move people from the starting point through to the final stage. And in doing so, build a relationship with them, position yourself as an authority and frame your product or service as the logical solution.
A “logger” look at the stages of awareness in action
Humour me for a moment.
Let’s say you’re a beginner surfer who has just purchased a brand-new longboard. Your first board ever and you couldn’t be more stoked.
In the beginning, you’re just frothing to have a freshie. But after a few lacklustre sessions, you realise something is amiss. Your back foot slips off regularly when you pop up, which is not only causing you to blow lots of perfectly good waves, but it’s also hindering your learning process.
Finally, after one particularly embarrassing wipeout on the wave of the day, you acknowledge that it’s time to solve this issue. So the very next day you jump online and search for ways to prevent your back foot from slipping.
You’re hit with a bunch of different articles on tail pads for your longboard. This naturally leads you down a rabbit hole regarding the various tail pads available.
Which one is best for you though? That’s the big question. And while you can see a few suitable pads, you decide to shelve the search.
After a week, you begin looking once again. At which point you stumble across an in-depth article with detailed reviews on the differences between certain tail pad brands.
As a logger, you need a longboard-specific tail pad that suits the taper and length of your board. And it seems like the longboard tail pads from Gorilla Grip are the obvious choice. A quick visit to YouTube to watch a few review videos confirm this, but there’s just one problem: it’s one of the most expensive options out there.
So, rather than bite the bullet and buy it then and there, you sign up for their newsletter to see if they’re running any promotions.
After reading a few emails like “The best tail pads for longboarders” and “Gorilla Grip longboard tail pads for beginners”, a subject line flashes onto your phone with the title “20% off longboard tail pads”.
Signed, sealed and sold!
Of course, that’s only one example of how people move through the customer awareness spectrum.
The big question though is not only how you can help people to move through these stages, but how can you make sure that their final buying decision is with you?
In my next article, I’ll discuss the different stages with more nuance and show you how to create content for each one.
Until then, happy surfing!
Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.