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The four stages of learning

As a marketing trainer, I have found this model to be helpful. You can use it to improve career prospects, marketing results and business success.

1. Unconscious incompetence

Someone is not aware that the skill or resource is there. They don’t recognise that this area of their life could be improved.

2. Conscious incompetence

There is awareness of the skill, however, it can’t be used yet. You have been asked to use a new piece of software, but it doesn’t make any sense to you. You try and watch YouTube videos, but they are not helpful.

3. Conscious competence

The individual can do it when they think about it. If you are learning to read music, you have to study the notes and continually pause and run through sections until you can do it without thinking. When certain marketing topics are being discussed, you have to have your notes in front of you.

4. Unconscious competence

It can be done without thinking about it. The car driver realises that they have not been thinking about driving. They have been on automatic pilot. The copywriter finds that the words ‘just flow’ without any effort.

How you can use this model

Think about your professional / business goals. What skills will you need to get there? Make a list and ask someone who has already arrived at the place that you want to reach, to review your list. You can then create a personal learning and development plan.

If you are a business owner or manager, you can do the same exercise for a team or for everyone in your organisation.

Model created by Martin M. Broadwell. See Wikipedia: Four stages of competence.

Nigel Temple

Author Nigel Temple

Nigel Temple is a marketing consultant, speaker, trainer and writer. Topics include: AI / ChatGPT, Marketing strategy, Digital marketing, SEO, Copywriting, Mailchimp. Nigel is available to hire for a consultancy meeting, training workshop, speaking event or marketing project. Email: Or call Nigel on: 01628 773128

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