The Stages of Awareness

Product marketing managers are often asked to create or increase the awareness of a product in the market. The belief is that awareness equates to leads.

Buyers are complex beings and go through stages of awareness as I’ve outlined below. An awareness of these stages (pun intended) helps to understand why the trade show you did last month didn’t result in a gazillion leads.

No Recognition

The buyer has no idea that your company or product is an answer to their problems. You are wearing the Cloak of Invisibility.

Aided Recognition

Provided with clues, buyers can recall your company or product, and that it might be an answer to their problems. You still have work to do.

Unaided Recognition

Buyers recognize your company or product without help. They understand it’s an answer to a problem they are experiencing. The door is open to dialog.


Given multiple choices of vendors/products, buyers will prefer to buy your product as an answer to their problems. You are the ‘go to’ vendor. Congratulations.


Buyers will consistently choose your company or product over others, even when they have had a less than ideal experience. This is nirvana.


Rejection is the opposite of Loyalty. Buyers will go out of their way to avoid your product. For whatever reason, real or otherwise, they think your product sucks. You need to fix this perception.

Jim Semick

Jim Semick

Jim Semick is co-founder of ProductPlan, a leading provider of cloud-based roadmap software for product and marketing teams. For more than 15 years he has helped launch new products now generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Prior to AppFolio, Jim validated and created version 1.0 product requirements for GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix). Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. He contributes at Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSemick.

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