In this article I’m going to show business-owning moms how to create a customer avatar in a way that serves you and doesn’t take too much time. I’m sure you’ve heard about customer avatars and how they can help you market. But do you know how to create one that will be helpful to your business?
For those of you who are new to the business game, a customer avatar is a representation of your most ideal customer. Companies will create them so that they can have that customer at top of mind as they create and market. I’ve seen many different ways to develop a customer avatar, and I’m going to share with you what has worked for me.
Forgotten customer avatars
I see a few problems people have with customer avatars. The biggest problem is that they build them out and promptly forget about them and their purpose. Going through the exercise is good, but it’s a waste of your time if you’re not using it.
Super Specific avatars
Lately, though, I’ve seen an interesting focus on specificity of the wrong customer avatar features at the wrong time. Clients either have no avatar and feel their product is great for everyone in the world, or they have an oddly specific avatar with physical traits that don’t help anyone relate to the avatar. It’s like they’re proud of their creation, as if it’s a challenging homework assignment or a well-crafted character in their next book.
These people are missing the point. The real point is to build a description of your customer to help you do three things:
- To help find your customers
- To help craft the right messages for them
- To learn what products and services will help them them most
You may ask if a customer avatar is even still relevant today?
Yes. Ultimately your customer avatar someone to create content for! In the lonely times of being a business-owning mom, you need a customer to focus on. Without the idea that a real person is reading your blog, buying your products, or watching your videos, it’s very hard to create anything.
Can’t anyone buy my product or service?
Yes, of course they can but you don’t have the budget to market to everyone. And if you try to be broad with your messaging in today’s environment, it will fall flat.
The avatar is who to market to.
But, if others are attracted too, and they purchase a product (even if they’re different from your avatar) great! Same goes for productized services.
It’s a little different for services that are going to take your time and attention though. If that person wants to engage your services, you’ll have to decide if that customer is one you want through a qualification process.
Spending time and effort on customers unlike your avatar are likely to cost your business in extra time and extra expense. Since they’re not like your avatar, they may want customizations you’re not used to or have budgets that don’t allow them to buy the best solutions (and you end up cobbling something together for them).
When is the best time to create a customer avatar?
Create your customer avatar in phases. It will save you time and a lot of headaches. This will be tough for your perfectionists, but you’ll find that you can move forward faster and easier if you do it this way. And over time, you’ll get more ad more accurate.
This is your very first attempt. I’m assuming that you’re just starting out, or at least just starting to think through your niche and ideal customer. What you create in phase one will be a base from which to make incremental improvements. As you’re thinking about your niche, think about the actual individuals in that niche.
Do a quick amount of research or use your best guesses to answer some of the items below. At this point, a lot of the answers will be assumptions. That’s okay for this phase because you’ll hopefully be collecting real data soon.
It may help too, to think of a real person in your life who fits into your niche. When I first started freelancing, I used my sister and her side-hustle business as my customer avatar.
Now, use this as your customer avatar as you start creating and marketing. Starting to create and market is the best path to refining your customer avatar.
Over time, try to talk to the people who consume what you create (free or paid). Don’t try to sell to them, try to learn about them. Where you can, update your avatar to reflect the information you’re uncovering.
Now, start using the updated avatar in your creation and marketing processes. Evaluate whether the changes are helpful by looking at things like your sales, email sign-ups, social engagement. Refine your avatar as you learn.
How to create a customer avatar
I approach a customer avatar a little differently than others. We might fill out the same information, but the mindset is different.
This is based on all the work you’ve done on your niche. The thoughts, attitudes, problems, experiences attributed to your avatar are tied closely to your niche, so as you refine your niche, you’ll get a better and better picture of your ideal customer avatar.
What problem does your niche solve?
There’s an element of “who” in your niche of course. We’re just going to refine that. Make a list of people who have the same problem that your niche solves. Then circle any people/groups that you think or know actually want to solve that problem.
You can’t sell your solution to people who need your solution. You have to figure out who wants your solution. For example, if you have a program to help people stop smoking, you might imagine that everyone who smokes could be a customer. But in reality, there are lots of folks who don’t want to stop smoking, never mind how much they need to stop. They will never be buyers.
What’s their desired transformation?
Where does this group of people start and where do they want to end up? And why?
They start out unable to fit in last fall’s jeans. They want to lose weight to fit into their jeans so they can feel attractive.
They start out burning half the dinners they try to make. They want to learn how to make a few good dinners so they can feed their family without going out for every meal.
Their shoulder hurts. They want to get to a point where their shoulder doesn’t hurt so they can pick up their grandkids again.
Where would they look for information on how to achieve this transformation?
During phase one, this will start as a guess. As you move to phase two, you want to be getting this information from your customers in some way. You can ask, you can run surveys, or you can search in forums and facebook groups for your people and see what they’re talking about.
Try to find out what social media they use, what books they read, what other influencers they follow, or what blogs they read.
What’s stopping them from transforming?
This is very important because different customers will have different things stopping them, and addressing these problems will grab their attention.
From the examples above:
A woman may want to fit into her skinny jeans but feels like she doesn’t have time to exercise.
A mom may want to be a better cook, but hates standing at a hot stove, so she gets distracted.
A new granddad has a hurt shoulder and wants to pick up his grandson, but hates how pain relievers make his stomach feel.
Now, think of general demographics
While you do want to be specific, you don’t want to be arbitrarily specific. This data will be used to help search for actual clients. Don’t list “red hair” if your product or service has nothing to do with hair color. You can imagine your avatar with red hair if you want to, but don’t list it here.
Pick the demographics and physical traits that matter to your marketing. Ideas include: age, gender, location, marital status, economic status, health status, children?, type of pets owned, and physical traits that might matter, such as fitness level or brittle fingernails.
Name and photo
Here’s the fun part. Give your customer avatar a name and find a photo to represent them. This is the place to find someone with red hair if that’s who you have in mind. You can search stock photo sites for “head shots” or one of your avatar’s characteristics.
Alternatively, you can use someone you know like I did.
Display that photo when you create, so you remember who you’re creating for.
Revise revise revise!
As you continually learn more, add more data to your customer avatar. Expand on the beliefs and thoughts of your customers rather than more refined photos.
If this starts to sound invasive, remember that the deeper into the mind of your ideal customers you can get, the more you can help them.
Some further additions to your customer avatar:
What are their big life goals?
What are their core beliefs and values?
What do they see as threats and obstacles?
Expand on their problems and roadblocks
Why does that person consider these problems roadblocks?
Why do they want a transformation?
What will life look like if they can transform?
What will life look like if they don’t transform?
Why they might reject your solution
If you have a customer avatar you’d like to share, please share it in our group, The Done by 3:00 Club! We’re going to be talking in February about niche and ideal customer. If you’re reading this after February 2021, you will find this info in unit 3 in the FB Group.