Breakthrough Advertising: The 5 Sales Funnel Stages

In 1966 Breakthrough Advertising was published for the first time, and it changed everything. Marketers and admen had a manual that could turn strangers into customers, and customers into fans.

Today we call it a sales funnel.

Traditional Methods with a Modern Twist

This article will teach you the five stages of every sales funnel, and update them so they can be used for the digital-age.

But first, let me asking you… have you ever heard the classic saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

Of course you have, it’s a classic for a reason. And that term applies to everything! Things that don’t need fixing… Relationships, friendships…

And ESPECIALLY business.

There’s plenty of ways to make money, and one of the most prominent ways is found in Eugene Schwartz’s legendary book, Breakthrough Advertising. In the video above, I break down one of Eugene’s lessons for you, the secret to sales funnels.

Sales funnels are as old as the market itself, yet for some reason, applying the knowledge used in the 60’s still works. To this day! Powerful stuff.

While Breakthrough Advertising was written for marketers who were dealing primarily with print, radio, and Television, with a little bit of tweaking we can adapt the same lessons and apply them in the modern age, using today’s technology.

This works so well because there’s one thing that doesn’t change; human psychology.

And if anything, Breakthrough Advertising is a lesson in the human mind, and how to recognise and influence different stages of decision-making process.

And today, I’m sharing this information with you. You probably already know that people pay top dollar for this kind of marketing education, and you’ve possibly seen those courses that sell for three-thousand dollars?

Most of them are based on the lessons in Breakthrough Advertising.

So without further ado, I’ll be breaking down each section of a marketing funnel, explaining what it is, what’s important at that particular stage, how to profit at each stage, and even how to use this knowledge in a current, up-to-date fashion, via the internet.

The Funnel Itself

To start off with for those unaware exactly what a funnel is, it’s simple. 

A funnel is, by design, made for the sole purpose of taking customers and potential buyers from point A to point B.

Point A being the stage where they are completely clueless. They have no idea who you are, what you’re selling, they probably don’t even know that they have a problem yet.

And that’s what the funnel is for, to get them to go from not knowing a thing about anything, to going through the funnel at various stages, eventually leading up to knowing you and trusting you enough to pony up the credit card information.

And this isn’t limited to just sales, either!

They could go from not knowing about you or your brand to being a longtime customer who gladly shares your content.

They could go from not knowing you to joining your email list.

And all of this? I’ll show you how to do this with integrity.

The goal of all of this is to provide value through education, which will build that valuable connection with your customers.

Trust via education equals good customer relationships.

Now then, below are the five stages of a sales funnel: 

  • Unaware Stage
  • Problem-Aware Stage
  • Solution-Aware Stage
  • Product-Aware Stage
  • Most Aware Stage

And we’re starting off with the biggest stage, the Unaware stage!

Unaware Stage

The unaware stage is the BIGGEST stage there is.

In this stage, this is could be the freezer section of traffic. Completely cold market, with none of them being aware as to what the issue is, and you want to know something?

They’re happy, content. All because the problem hasn’t been brought to their attention. They don’t know that there could be a better life.

In this stage, you’re not aiming for the sales jugular. All you’re doing is planting the seeds of new ideas. Because once the seed takes root and they show an issue, that means that you have the green light to take them further down into the funnel.

Like for an example, you have Sally the blogger.

This will be our customer avatar.

Sally’s using Adsense to monetize her blogging, and she feels like she’s in a good place…

She’s happily churning out blog post after blog post, making a few cents from Google Adsense… not knowing that she could be making a lot more money with the same efforts.

She doesn’t realise there’s a problem.

But you, as a marketer, know she’s missing out and it’s your job to make Sally ‘problem aware’…

So a good strategy to move Sally to the next stage of the sales funnel could be to use Facebook Ads.

What kind of ads?

Well, something that acknowledges her, and where she is right now, that speaks directly to her values and her mission.

You can achieve this through Facebook targeting.

So you target her with the ads, and show her what she’s currently missing out on.

People fear missing out on things, and it’s a good motivator when trying to engage a new audience. It’s called Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

With her seeing things in a new light, she’s now curious and she is ready to move to the next stage…

Problem-Aware Stage

In this stage, things begin to heat up.

Your potential buyers are now aware of something new, something that they could fix/improve.

At this stage they’re now doing Google searches, listening to podcasts, watching Youtube videos, reading blog posts.

They’re seeking out more information that can help them figure out the precise details of the problem.

So continuing from the earlier example, Sally the blogger is now in a bit of a funk.

She’s no longer happy with her Adsense earnings because she knows that there’s a bigger piece of the pie that she could have. 

She doesn’t know how yet, she only know’s she’s missing out (FOMO).

So a strategy for you, as a marketer, to engage Sally could be in the form of content marketing.

This is how the most successful marketers do it.

They strategically use SEO and keyword research.

That starts with knowing what you audience is searching for. One tool is called Keywords Everywhere and is a good alternative to the Google Keyword Planner.

I’ve got a whole bunch of other keyword research tools here:

In addition to SEO, placing the content in communities full of people wading around in the dark, and presenting your content as the beacon of education will pull more people into your sales funnel.

So, if you can position content that helps Sally to fully understand her options and the benefits of changing her approach to blogging, you can easily move her to the next stage of the funnel, the solution-aware stage.

Become a shining light in communities full of people wading around in the dark, be the beacon of education.

Then, once this is successful you could lead them to…

Solution-Aware Stage

In this stage, the leads are a bit warmer.

They’re still on the hunt for their solution to their problem! They’re devouring all of the content, the Youtube videos, the blog posts, the conversations in communities.

Sally from earlier is scouring the web for every missing piece of the puzzle that’ll lead her to her promised land.

And this is where you come in.

A strategy in this stage could be a Facebook retargeting campaign that continues Sally’s education with you.

Again, providing strong content is the key here.

Using that content as a mechanism in getting them to subscribe to your email list is the smartest thing to do.

Here you’re offering gated-content in the form of a PDF guide, video, podcast, or even another blog post, that’s protected behind an opt-in form.

Sally must give her email address if she wants to access the content and continue her education.

The education is key to leading them into the next section.

So let’s stop and pause for a second to think abut the journey so far.

You’ve repeatedly delivered value to Sally. In doing so you’ve built trust and goodwill.

Out of all of her other options, of all the other people who are trying to sell products online, you’ve set yourself apart from everyone else by creating helpful content that educates Sally for free.

Now it’s time to move Sally to the next stage of the funnel, and ask her to make a purchase.

This is the product aware stage of the sales funnel.

Product Aware

Now the people here, they know something important; they know that there is a specific product that could solve their issues (i.e. yours).

They’re warm like bus seats in the south, so all they need is a nudge. 

Sally knows you have what she needs, but she needs just a little bit more of a pull to get her wallet and pull the trigger.

What strategies can you use?

  1. Use Facebook’s Custom Audience tool
  2. Use your own email list
  3. Write product reviews

Lets go through the first strategy.

You have the ability to create an ad campaign ONLY for the specific people who’ve already consumed your previous content.

This means you can generate sales with a small budget, because you’re running ads just to people that have been exposed to your Facebook Pixel.

Here’s how to install a Facebook Pixel, it’s really easy:

The second strategy is to email offers to your list.

Typically, we create an email campaign that spans the course of a few days. Each email needs to do two things; provide value and make an offer.

This builds trust and goodwill, and asks your subscribers to take action and purchase.

Here is an email campaign I use:

The final strategy is to create product reviews.

You show your prospects all of the options in one nice, compact list, tell them the pros and cons of each product and then include affiliate links at the bottom for each one so you can profit.

But what if people don’t buy at this stage of the sales funnel?

These people are the most aware.

Most Aware Stage

These people know what’s on offer, they know what solutions exist and they’ve done their homework.

They know exactly what they need to buy to solve the issue.

These folks are fresh out of the oven hot at this stage, because these prospects are ready to buy.

If we stick with Sally as our customer avatar, she probably came close to buying your offer.

She liked the solution and added it to her shopping cart close, only to hesitate, for whatever reason.

So the strategy for this stage could be another Facebook ads campaign and offer a time-limited offer.

Another proven strategy is to create a coupon code for a special discount.

Offering a bonus can also work, basically it’s anything that’ll prime them and encourage them to press the buy button.

And the best thing is, all these stages already exist as part of every customer’s journey – it’s all simple stuff that anyone can take advantage of.

But how to do you get people into your sales funnel to begin with?

Well, here I’ve got new traffic methods to help you build our your sales funnel, from top to bottom.

Mick Meaney

Hi, I'm Mick! I've been pro blogging since 2004 and I will teach you proven strategies to help you get more website traffic and ethically profit from your passion.

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