I’m a Melbourne mum of 2 cheeky teenage boys and 2 super-cute puppies. And I know what it means to juggle motherhood and this crazy thing called life with running a profitable business you love.
I’ve struggled with it at times. But I’ve also succeeded. In a BIG way.
Do you know who you are targeting your products toward? If not, you may find it difficult to nail down the exact messaging and sales strategy that will generate results. In order to truly make an impact and increase your revenue, you need to have a clearly defined target customer — somebody whose wants, needs, desires, and pain points you are intimately familiar with so that you can create marketing materials that truly resonate and help them realise your business has the solution to their problem.
But what if you don’t actually know how to clearly define your target market? What if every time you try you just end up settling on the same overly general demographic? If this is what you’re thinking, you’re exactly who I wrote this blog post for!
Today, we’ll be discussing how creating a clear customer avatar can help you better understand your customers so that you can tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to meet the specific needs of your target audience.
Before we can define the term “customer avatar”, let’s go back a little bit to the concept of your target audience. Your target audience is simply an overview of your business’s customer base. It usually includes information about their age, gender, personality, income and more. We break these traits down into two general categories: demographic traits and psychographic traits.
A customer avatar is a semi-fictional representation of a customer that fits within your target market and is based on data and research. Your customer avatar will take customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals into account to create a well-rounded picture of your company’s ideal customer.
Think about it like this: if your “target audience” is a team, a “customer avatar” is one of the players on the team.
When you are selling a product or a service, it is critical that all components of your business and marketing — content, messaging, offer development, customer experience, etc — are created with a highly specific customer avatar in mind. This is how you can ensure that you are always meeting the needs of your customers.
For example, you might know that your target audience consists of working mums, but without more information about their specific lifestyle and characteristics, it will be difficult to gain a full understanding of what informs this customer base’s decision-making process when it comes to buying.
Conversely, if you do have that deeper and more intimate understanding of the exact type of individual you are wanting to cater to, your marketing and personalisation efforts just became a whole lot easier.
I won’t lie to you — this can be one of the more time-consuming tasks you do for your business if the concept is new to you, which is why I’m going to walk you through the exact process I use to help my clients draft customer avatars.
Information-gathering & research
Your first job is to gather information about your existing customers and use that research to identify commonalities that will help you form your primary customer avatar. My favourite practical methods for doing this kind of customer-focused research are as follows:
Look through your customer database to track trends about how your customers find and consume your content.
Make sure that all lead capture forms on your website are optimised to collect important customer information. A great way to do this organically is through quizzes and surveys in addition to more standard forms.
Consider who you and/or your customer service/sales team is typically interacting with the most. Is there a common denominator (or perhaps a few) that stands out consistently amongst these individuals?
One of the most critical steps to establishing your customer avatar(s) is finding individuals to interview so that you can hear directly from your prospective and existing customers themselves. To find qualified interviewees, keep the following tips in mind:
Your current customers are the perfect place to start with your interviews. They’ve already purchased your product, so at least some of them are bound to exemplify the traits of your target persona. You’ll want to interview customers who have had both positive and negative experiences with your product or service to form a solid understanding of what your personas like and don’t like. Remember, you can learn just as much if not more from your “less happy” customers.
Another bonus to interviewing your current customers is that you are also making them feel seen, heard, and understood by gathering their feedback. As you involve them in interviews like this (and hopefully use their insights to improve the customer experience), you’ll find that it can have a huge impact on their overall loyalty and satisfaction!
You’ll also want to interview people who haven’t purchased your product or don’t know very much about your brand. A great place to tap into this audience is by reaching out to the people whose contact information you have already collected via your lead capture forms. Send a marketing email offering a high-value incentive (like a gift card with cash on it) in exchange for some of their time.
When in doubt, turn to your network to help you find referrals who fit into your target market and are willing to talk with you. Team members, existing customers, and fellow industry leaders are all people you can solicit for help in this area. This method typically doesn’t yield a high quantity of interviews, but it does tend to result in very high-quality interviews, which is always what you should aim for.
In all of your requests for interviews, be clear that this isn’t a sales call and you are not going to try to pitch them or pressure them for an hour. You simply want to hear about who they are and what they want.
Finally, aim to interview anywhere between three to five people per persona, although you can always conduct more interviews if you feel it is necessary. After some time, you’ll begin to predict the direction of the conversations and notice consistent patterns — this is a sign that you are truly beginning to understand and know your customer avatar!
Once you’re equipped with the above research, you’ll have a lot of raw, high-value material about your potential and current customers. So — how can you begin condensing it into an organised customer avatar template you’ll be able to refer back to time and time again?
You can ask demographic questions via online surveys or website forms to collect information about your customer avatar’s age, income, location, gender identity, etc.
When you are conducting your market research and customer interviews, your goal is to always ask your customer “what” and “why.” What is currently going on in their life? What are their goals and motivations? Why do they desire these things? What problems and pain points are they facing at present? Why is this impacting their life? Why do they want to change it? Condense this information into bullet points and separate it into two sections: “Goals/Motivations” and “Challenges/Pain Points.” Finally, be sure to tie it all back to how your products and/or services will help them get what they want.
You should have a myriad of real-life quotes from your market research interviews that exemplify who your customer avatars are, what they want, and the concerns that may be holding them back. Compile these quotes into a list and use your deductive reasoning skills to come up with the top 3-5 most common objections you typically see from your customer avatar. Then, work with your sales team to create a strategy for how to handle those objections in the future.
In your customer avatar document, you should clearly define the nitty-gritty behind the messaging you will use to reach potential and existing customers. This includes the tone and register behind your brand communications to your audience as well as a more general elevator pitch that positions your product or service as a solution your persona will deeply crave.
Label each customer avatar you create with a name (i.e. “Working Mum Wendy”) to allow for internal clarity amongst your team members in case you start to add on more personas later down the line.
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