A Customer Avatar?… Why should I create one of those?
7 Reasons why you must use Customer Avatars in your marketing
” and then I thought, stop trying to get anyone to buy gin, and start focusing on little old ladies…”
Why don’t you use Customer Avatars in your Marketing?
One of the first questions I ask business owners when I meet them is “Describe your perfect customer“
…and I’m continually surprised when they can’t do it, stumble over it, or don’t even get what I’m talking about.
I ask “Surely, having an insight into who your ideal purchaser is would be an asset and help with your marketing?”
… to which they respond with a variety of reasons explaining why they haven’t done it or don’t see it as important.
The thing is… developing and using Customer Avatars to support your communication is one of the most important marketing activities you can spend time on.
…don’t believe me?… Well here are 7 reasons why you really need to be developing and using Customer Avatars in your business.
But First, What exactly is a Customer Avatar?
A Customer Avatar is a detailed description of a person who represents a specific target market for your business.
This isn’t a real person, but by making them real to you, it makes it much easier to understand things like where they get their information from and what’s going on in their head – and thus how they’d respond to any marketing messages you put into the world.
To help “structure” the creation of this person, completing a Customer Avatar Worksheet will help you understand the different aspects of their lives, including things like their dreams and aspirations, daily challenges, sources of information and objections to purchasing.
I see them as a marketers secret weapon, which when deployed ensures that any marketing you do has a much higher chance of success.
Yet despite this, so many businesses still don’t use them – so here are 7 reasons why they should.
Reason #1 – You can’t work with ‘everyone’
One of the first arguments business owners give as to why they haven’t created any Customer Avatars is that they’re worried that by focusing on one small segment that they might miss out on someone not in the segment who could buy from them.
They think that by being so focused on a very small group of potential customers, that they’d turn away a perfectly good customer, or persuade them to go elsewhere.
The problem is that they don’t have the capacity to work with absolutely everyone – no one does.
…and thus by focusing on more specific areas not only are they making their marketing more efficient, they are able to handle the enquiries too.
These areas are your target markets, full of potential customers who’ll buy more, pay more, and love you more (and if you’re not clear on target markets then read this).
Remember, you shouldn’t developing just one customer avatar – you can develop several. I know of an IT business that has over 60 customer avatars… and is still developing more.
You can’t help everybody… so stop trying to!
Using the Customer Avatar is about ‘appealing’ to one specific area. It’s about getting people to “opt in”. It’s not about alienating people and getting them to opt out (so those people who come out of the woodwork to buy that you’ve not been marketing to… they’ll still be there!)
Reason #2 – You’ll focus on market before media (and not the other way around)
One of the key rules of marketing is that you must to consider your market, before you consider your message and media.
Unfortunately, in today’s technology driven world, It’s increasingly easy to for businesses to focus on the media first…
The classic example of this is someone who spends lots of time on social media and see’s other businesses advertising there, and so thinks that they should be doing the same.
“They’re advertising on Facebook, so that must mean it’s right for me”
Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case – it might even be completely the wrong medium!
If you don’t know who your targeting, you won’t know what media they consume… and thus potentially focus on the wrong area.
One of the key aspects of developing any customer avatar is to understand where they get their information – their media – and thus know that when you do focus on a media type, it’s the right one.
Reason #3 – You’ll know what to say
Every business markets themselves, even if they don’t realise they are doing it – how else would they grow their business?
It could be completely offline, using networking and word of mouth… or online, focused on websites, emails and social media.
Whichever is your route (or if it’s a combo of the two), you need to know what to say to get someone to take an action.
If they don’t take action, what was the point?
…and because relevance is at the core of marketing, the more relevant you are, the more likely someone will take an action.
How are you relevant?… By understanding who you are speaking to and tailoring what you say to their own circumstances.
It’s something we do every day in every conversation we have.
If we want to get someone to do something – e.g. persuade your other half to go to the cinema – we are relevant. We don’t just say “let’s go to the cinema”, we say “you look tired, it’ll help you relax”, or “you always say you forget how much you enjoy it”, or even “the film’s got Brad Pitt in, and you know you like films he stars in”.
Each of these responses is relevant to the person I’m speaking to – and thus is more likely to elicit a positive action.
If you apply this to your marketing, and have a clear understanding of who you are speaking to – your avatar – you can get a positive action too.
Reason #4 – You’ll stop wasting money
No matter whether times are tough or not, every business needs to make sure they are being efficient with their marketing spend.
Throwing money at things that won’t work, or not thinking about how to improve things that do is a route to ruin.
The great thing about Customer Avatars is that they ensure we are focusing on the right areas and using the right messages – and thus being effective in our marketing spend.
Throw thousands at a Facebook Campaign?… Does our Avatar use Facebook?
Develop an effective email marketing service?… Is our Avatar using email extensively?
Will they respond to a price led focus in our communication?… Is the Avatar price sensitive?
As budgeting tools go, the Customer Avatar is a very powerful way of ensuring that the money we spend on marketing is spent on the right stuff.
Reason #5 – You’ll stop wasting time
Like money, time is a resource that any successful business can ill afford to waste.
Developing any sort of marketing activity will take time, even if you get someone else involved to help you.
How do you make sure you’re spending time on the right areas, and crafting the right message?
Customer Avatars are there as your marketing “North Stars.”
When you’re lost or struggling with a marketing direction, referring back to your Avatar ensures that you stop wasting time on the things that don’t appeal to them, and don’t develop messages that don’t resonate with them.
Reason #6 – They’re not hard to do!
Another barrier that I hear to create a Customer Avatar (or several) is that people find it hard to do.
That’s why using a Customer Avatar Worksheet is so important in structuring your thoughts.
They break things down into specific categories, which gives you a direction to focus your mind on.
…and although doing lots of research over time will help you craft a great Avatar, most of us already have the knowledge to create one.
We speak to our existing customers all the time, we’ve a great idea of what’s going on in their lives, and why they chose us – and this information informs the development of our Avatars.
So don’t let a lack of research and structure hold you back – download a Worksheet and start developing a better understanding of who you’re speaking to.
Reason #7 – They are easy to start
So what’s stopping you from creating your first Customer Avatar?
One final excuse I hear is that people get confused as to where to start.
If they’ve never done anything like this before, knowing where to start can be a valid barrier, but we’ve all got the knowledge we need to craft our first avatar – our existing customers.
The people we’ve sold to in the past will inform us of who are likely best customers are, our target markets, and thus help us know what Avatar to start with first.
…and even if you’re a start-up with no customers, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of the type of person your product/service is created for… so get to it!
The Customer Avatar touches everything
Most businesses generate money by selling something to someone.
If you don’t know who the someone is, then how will you persuade them that your product/service is the right one for them?
The customer should be at the heart of any marketing communication… and using Customer Avatars to help you craft and target that messaging ensures it hits the right spot.
Customer Avatars touch every aspect of your marketing, making it brighter, better and more likely to succeed.
So… will you create an Avatar?
You can’t help everyone… it’s not possible.
You don’t want to say the wrong thing and use the wrong medium to say it.
You can ill afford to waste time and money on ineffective and bland marketing.
You want your messages to hit home and drive action.
It’s not difficult and you’ve already got the information you need to do it.
Tell me again why you haven’t created an Avatar yet?
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Robin Adams is a business owner who is passionate about helping businesses build effective marketing systems that work and don't waste money. Having a lifetime of Marketing experience (he's got a degree in Marketing before there were degrees in Marketing!) and having worked for big and small businesses and both client and agency side, he understands not only the theory, but the systems that are required to underpin everything.
51% marketer and 49% Chimp, Robin is the main man behind chimpanswers.com and the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest Mailchimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.
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