As a business owner, it’s vital that you know exactly who you’re marketing to.
Of course, you already have an idea about who your audience is. You’ve most likely spent some time identifying your target market, and you probably have some facts like their age range, or maybe their income level.
But simply knowing your target market isn’t quite enough. The truth is you could do better.
In today’s day and age, where we face a tremendous amount of competition on a global scale, it’s more important than ever to make your advertising and marketing efforts count. And in an era where data is readily available and easier than ever to obtain from your prospects –there’s no reason why you can’t hone in on your exact customer and create a prototype of them.
Introducing the customer avatar: a representation of your ideal customer.
For me personally, I’ve found that taking the time to create a customer avatar is one of the most important steps when launching a new company, or marketing intuitive.
This is because having a keen understanding about who, exactly, you’re trying to reach will give you tremendous insight into their buying habits, potential problems that your product can solve, what type of solutions they’re looking for, how to best reach them, and so much more.
A solid avatar or multiple avatars will change the sales copy that you use, which will drive down advertising when you are using specific language to your target market. You’ll also be able to create landing pages will convert better because you area addressing specific pain points versus general problems that could apply to anyone.
In short, a good customer avatar will form the foundation for each and every one of your marketing campaigns and outreach.
If you haven’t created a customer avatar yet, you could be wasting a lot of money on approaches and strategies that are ineffective. By having a customer profile, though, you’ll be able to improve efficiency, save time and money, and tailor all of your marketing, advertising, and even product development strategies, around your customer. Drastically improving your response rates!
If you’d like to use a customer avatar to improve your marketing efforts, read on to see how you can go about creating one.
Why You Need a Customer Avatar
First, what is a customer avatar, exactly?
In short, it’s your ideal customer. It’s the one who will buy your products or services. Your avatar is the person most representative of your target market.
They best represent the customers that you want to attract.
“Isn’t having a target market enough?” you may be wondering. “Why bother taking this extra step?”
Because, the better you know your ideal customer, the more easily you’ll be able to win them over. Having a customer avatar will allow you to get to know them very well.
Assigning a name, age, personality, opinions, hobbies, and even a name to your target customer will also give you something even more specific to work with. It also gives you something tangible. You can almost visualize the person that you’re marketing to, allowing you to easily create marketing and advertising messages that will resonate best.
“Casting a wide net inevitably produces unwanted by-catch and it’s not an efficient use of your marketing efforts,” says Shweta Jhajharia of The London Coaching Group. “To turn a popular phrase on its head –you need to focus on the few, not the many. And that means identifying your ideal customer.”
Personally, I’ve experienced firsthand just how effective a customer avatar can be.
When I first started my business, I was targeting broad general terms. Soon though, I realized that if we were to dive deep into who our customer was, then we’d be able to market to them better.
Eventually, we found that we had five different customers. Each of them had a very different reason for buying from us, and different buzz words that they used when they were thinking of buying. When we narrowed down our customer base, and were able to really get into it –identifying their pain points and interests, everything changed.
No longer were we spending money on prospects that wouldn’t convert, or wasting resources on messages or advertising initiatives that would offer little return. In fact, since we were able to be extremely specific, our cost per acquisition went down, our click rates went up, and our conversion rates improved as well.
Getting Started: Targeting One Person
Ok –we’ve seen the importance of having a customer avatar, now –how can you go about creating one?
First, you’ll want to shift your mindset from the concept of marketing to an audience, and start thinking about targeting a person.
This is something that’s somewhat foreign to us as entrepreneurs when we’re constantly told to focus on our audience, to market to our audience, and create products for an audience. But as counterintuitive as it may sound, focusing on the needs of one, rather than many, is often a better approach. With this strategy, you’ll be able to fine-tune your message for maximum effectiveness.
As Eben Pagan, founder of the Altitude program puts it, “When you really understand your customer and what their needs are, you can create things that speak directly to them and really meet their needs.” Watch his YouTube video to learn more.
Gary Vaynerchuk also mentions the importance of customer-centeredness. He advises businesses to stop taking the classic salesperson approach, and instead, start putting themselves in their customers’ shoes.
Good and Bad Avatars
Ok, so we’ve seen the importance of targeting one person as opposed to an audience, now, let’s take a look at what that looks like practically.
To show you what I mean, let’s take a look at an example of a bad and good customer avatar.
Bad: Our ideal customer uses our product to gain control of their finances. They want to be better freelancers, so our tool is useful for helping them gain control of their income and expenses.
Good: Adam is a 28-year-old freelance graphic designer from Michigan. He spends about 4 hours a week reading blog posts and following links on Twitter, and that is where he discovered a link that pointed to Harpoon.
Adam makes between $60,000 and $80,000 a year as a designer, yet feels like he doesn’t really have a good grasp on how much he is going to make in the next year, so he’s not sure if he should hustle for more work, or tell his wife: “Yes, we can easily take that vacation this summer”.
Adam spent 4 years working for a large agency in town, when he realized that he could do better on his own. He has been freelancing for 2 years now, and is interested in learning about honing his business skills as well as his design skills.
He’s been married for 4 years, and is starting to think seriously about having kids. One of his concerns about having kids is having a good grip on his family’s finances, and feeling a sense of control over how things are going with his freelancing income.
(Much more targeted)
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Identify Your Ideal Customer
Now, with all that said, let’s take a look at some steps that you can take to start creating your own customer profile.
To start, you’ll want to have a good, clear understanding of who constitutes your ideal customer.
Narrowing down your ideal customer will allow you to hone in on the type of client that you want to cater to. This is important. There are lots of different customers out there; your goal is to laser-focus on the best of the bunch.
According to Shweta Jhajharia, your ideal customer should have six key qualities:
They see the relevance in your business
Your ideal customer has a problem that can be addressed by your product or service. In fact, your product is the best solution that they can think of.
They are easy to reach
Your ideal customer has to be someone that you can easily get in touch with. In most cases, this means some level of connectivity, email or social media is important.
They’re receptive to marketing
You’ll also want to choose someone who’s responsive to your marketing. “The best person might not be the boss of a company; they’re spinning so many plates they’ve trained themselves not to be distracted,” Jhajharia says. “Instead you may want to get hold of the person responsible for new plate acquisition.”
They have a short sales cycle
While this will depend on the type of business that you have, generally your ideal customer is one that moves from a lead to a sale in the shortest amount of time.
They keep coming back
In most cases, your ideal customer will spend money with you over and over again. How frequently, will depend on your industry.
They buy the right things at the right time
Ideally, they will buy your core products, and not only when you’re running sales or special offers. Ok, now that you’ve pinpointed what qualities your ideal customer will have –it’s time to find out, exactly who that person is. Who is it that represents the customers that you want to attract? Let’s find out.
Creating Your Customer Avatar
There are a few different approaches that you can take when creating your customer avatar.
Let’s look at two methods now:
Interview Method: For Existing Customers
Shweta Jhajharia recommends interviewing your current customers to get information for your customer avatar.
Here’s the process she recommends:
If you have existing customers, start by extracting a list of all of your customers. This can include past and present customers –as long as everyone is able to be contacted.
Next, choose your best customers. This isn’t necessarily the ones that you made the most sales to, or who spent the most money. Instead, it’s about choosing the ones that you genuinely enjoyed working with the most.
Now, take a list of those top customers, and rank them according to their real value to your business.
Once you’ve found your top customer, you’ll want to get in touch and see if you can conduct an interview with them. Before you call, have a list of questions ready that you can ask them in order to gain an accurate picture of what they like, what they do, what type of magazines and books they read, and so on.
Your goal is to build a detailed profile that will become your marketing avatar.
Research and Brain Dump Method
If you don’t have an existing customer base or are uncomfortable with the idea of conducting interviews, you could always use the ‘research and brain dump’ method.
The best avatars are based on factual data. This could come in the form of information from clients’ browsing and purchasing habits obtained by Google Analytics or collected by adding a custom audience pixel to your website. You could also gather information firsthand from your clients via email surveys.
Once you’ve done some preliminary research, you can start assessing the information that you’ve gathered. Start by listing your demographic and their psychographic traits. You’ll want to brain dump as much information as you can. Give this person a name, and start creating a profile for them.
Or, grab a template, and start working from there.
Here are three places that you can find customer avatar templates:
You could even write a story as your ideal customer avatar. Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine that they’re journaling about finding your product. What did they do before they found it? What are they thinking while contemplating whether or not to go through with the purchase? What potential roadblocks are they facing?
Shae Baxter gives a great example of a story written through a customer avatar’s perspective. In it, “Lisa” is toying with the idea of scuba diving in Thailand. Check it out.
While conducting interviews and writing stories through your customer’s perspective may sound somewhat trite, the truth is they can be tremendously beneficial. By taking the time to really put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and think through their perspective, it’ll challenge you to think through the actual channels, and processes that you’re using to market to your customers.
It’ll help you to discover things that you may be doing that aren’t as tailored as they could be, and could inspire you to find new tactics that you hadn’t yet thought of.
What About Multiple Avatars?
Multiple avatars are fine. I have five for my business, and many companies have at least that many. The problems arise, when you start having 20 or more, ideal customers –unless you’re a major corporation with a wide customer base.
The fact is that too many, is just too broad, and you’ll have a hard time concentrating your efforts for any specific group once you reach that point. In the end, it’s best to ask yourself if your efforts would be better spent going a bit deeper into just one, or two target markets, rather than attempting to cast a wider net.
Now that you’ve drafted up your customer avatar, you’ll want to seek feedback. Show it to your business colleagues, or even your friends. Ask for their feedback. Who knows? You just might get some helpful responses or thoughts that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
Revisit Your Avatar
Finally, when it comes to your customer avatar, you shouldn’t fix it and forget it. Try to revisit it regularly. Just like your marketing strategies, it’ll need to be looked at periodically, to ensure that it’s still up-to-date.
As your business continues to grow, and as you expand into new markets –and gather more information about your customers, you’ll want to update your avatar in order to ensure that your marketing efforts are as tailored and specific as they can be. This will allow you to continue to reap the rewards of a laser-focused marketing strategy.
As you can see, customer avatars = something that’s worth doing.
Having an in-depth understanding of your customer allows you to reach them effectively. Working to create solid customer avatars and then using them to drive the creation of new campaigns and initiatives will help to give you a tremendous competitive advantage, and will prove to be invaluable when it comes to improving your response rates and increasing sales.
Do you have plans to create a customer avatar? Which approach are you going to take?
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