Who/What Is a Customer Avatar?
In working with our clients in both our coaching practice and our marketing agency projects, we set a lot of foundation work in order to lock in their ideal client(s) for their specific services. We feel a lot of resistance during this part of the process. Probably because most business owners think that their ideal customer is anyone who buys from them. But does that need to be the case? Don’t you deserve clients who trust and respect you? Let’s think from the back-end for a moment. Let’s say you are going to use the two most cost-effective tools available to small business owners today – Internet marketing and Referral Marketing.
In both cases, you need to be able to establish customer avatars for your targeted marketing/advertising practices. You can ask any and every person you meet for a referral, but in reality, only a few “somebodies” will actually engage, which isn’t a very effective tactic in enhancing your practice. Likewise, if you try to advertise to everybody when again, you only need a few “somebodies” to buy your services – you will eventually go broke. So to be specific in your clientele “wish list” is both terrific and very cost-effective.
Should You Name Your Customer Avatar?
Initially, this is going to seem silly, but giving a name to your avatar is a great first step in the avatar creation process. Now, you can’t just give your avatar any old name. Let’s say that we are selling services to female baby boomers born in the early 1950’s. Chances are a high percentage of women born in the fifties were named Susan or Kathy or Mary. It’s pretty unlikely to meet a 70 plus year-old currently named Brianna, so in keeping up with the persona, we would call our first customer avatar Susan. The greatest part about Susan is that she has friends just like her. If Susan needs one of your products or services, most likely her friends will too. Gain one Susan and you could easily gain ten more “Susans” just like her.
Realistically, you are going to have more than one ideal client. A couple of years ago, we were working on starting a coaching practice working with men and women in their fifties. We started sketching out our ideal clients (their beliefs, morals, and values), narrowed in on details (such as living location and family dynamics). We decided to call them Mary and George. At the same time, however, we were also focused on other product offerings to men and women in their thirties. We took a look at the top baby names in the year 1987. Joshua and Jessica were atop that list, and it’s no surprise we called this other customer avatar couple Jessica and Joshua. As strange as it seems at first, the more precise and specific you can get with your avatars, the easier the rest of the ideal client journey is going to be. Consider looking at the socio-demographic naming bias in place for a specific geography, culture, or socio-economic class as well.
What Are Their Goals?
For the rest of this blog, I am going to focus on Ashley (Ash for short), the owner of a new juice retail venue in Pittsburgh. Ashley graduated from IIN – the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and is a certified health coach. Ash’s goal in life is to provide healthy food and organic juice in order to enhance the quality of life to anyone open to a healthy lifestyle. She lives in East Liberty, which is an area in Pittsburgh that has been revitalized by the expansion of Google and other tech employers in the area. The neighborhoods are filled with small boutiques, yoga studios, and cafés. More people commute by walking, biking, and skating than driving cars. There is a very young population base in the area and a noticeable shift in a more healthy approach to life.
Ashley doesn’t have a lot of extra money, but as she is a coach herself, she firmly believes in the value of coaching. She wants to market her business herself and is considering the onCOREventures marketing coaching services. If we are to sell to Ashley we need to understand her goals. From our perspective, our ideal client needs to understand and value coaching over consulting. We know we will thrive with those willing to put in the work themselves, rather than source out a quick fix. If Ashley can realize that marketing coaching is the most cost-effective, viable tool in her tool-belt, not only will she be able to use marketing effectively to meet her business goals, but more importantly, she will be able to do it all own her own? Ashley needs to understand our approach to coaching as opposed to others. She needs to come to trust that our offering works for her better than any other offering.
What Makes Them Your Optimal Potential Customer?
Ash is marketing a new business on a limited budget. She is intelligent, a quick learner, and social media savvy. Blogging has been a great addition to her health coaching practice over the last couple of years. Although, she has not been successful in getting traction through Internet marketing for health coaching, which why Ashley decided to open a juice store.
So simply put she is a good potential customer for us because she is fully aware that she does not know how to market her new business. Ashley has values that are in alignment with our values. She has read our blog on conscious marketing and she holds to these values and beliefs. She wants to keep doing good and creating positive change.
We use a core values index assessment with our clients when they work with us for coaching. We know that most successful coaches like Ashley see a result of Loving Wisdom where truth and innovation are key elements. By understanding Ashley at her core, we are able to communicate with her in a way others can’t.
What Is Their History?
We have touched on Ashley’s back-story in that she has not been able to launch a sustainable coaching practice. She is also very skeptical of a lot of the drip email campaigns and direct response programs out there. It seems that every coach is supposed to use these techniques to get clients. However, Ashley wants to be authentic. She wants to just put great products on the market and have people naturally find them. But she also knows that is not realistic. Her ideal client wants a partner they can trust and relate to. Ash wants to consciously market her new business to her ideal clients. She wants to express her vision of the truth to the world. For Ashley, it is that organic and fresh food can help you not only feel better but also be a better person.
Ashley’s mother died of breast cancer when Ash had just graduated from college. This drove Ashley to educate herself on how what we eat and the stress that we live with can cause disease, especially in conjunction with one another. This passion soon leads Ashley to her IIN program. She found a niche working with young moms, coaching them on the food that they need to be eating. This, in turn, led Ashley to open her juice bar that also sells salads, wraps, and smoothies.
Ashley knows she needs to make a great impression as she opens her new juice business. She also knows that there is no second chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately, Ash has limited funds, but she is determined to make the best impression she can. She has read about our approach to local SEO and the use of directories and reviews to build a business. She hopes that this is a viable way for her to get exposure on Google My business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and the like – which is very important to her.
What is most important to Ashley, however, is her mission – her mission to bring healthy food to the East Liberty area in Pittsburgh and to help other young women live healthy lives and go on to raise healthy children.
What Does Success Look Like?
Ash sees success as being able to pay her employees, her bills, and most importantly, herself. She has tremendous fear in letting down her employees. Part of this success, which will be crucial in working with her coach, is feeling confident in herself. Ashley wants to be able to wake up every day, confident that she is on track to be a successful business owner.
Going back to her core values of loving wisdom, Ashley needs to be seen as both a loving and wise force in the world. She is only successful when she is viewed and valued as being so. While making money is important, making a positive difference is the most important thing her.
What Holds Them Back from Buying?
The fear of looking foolish is a major factor in delaying Ashley. Certainly not having enough money to invest or having the time it will take to master marketing is a fear as well. Making the decision to invest in local directory publication and then use marketing coaching and some of the individual marketing services that we offer are seen as unknowns. Many of the results from the services/packages seem too good to be true.
With her profile, Ash will research until something feels right and then make what might be seen as a rash decision. It is important for Ashley to be able to think out loud. She needs to be able to hear these verbalized ideas and see the reactions of her friends and loved ones. Not being able to do this “thinking out loud” might hold her back. Ashley is the first one in her family to try to start a business and she needs to find a place where she can talk to others and get good advice. If she fails to find that, there is little hope she’ll be able to move forward.
How Do They Gather Information?
Like most people Ashley’s age, asking friends and other trusted advisors is a key way of making a purchasing decision. She’ll ask these people for any advice they may have for her. She’ll look into her LinkedIn network and see if an old acquaintance will let her pick their brain. Research is another vital tool in making a purchasing decision. Ashley will most likely research “how to market my small business” as part of her process. She’ll read online reviews and testimonials from marketing firms. She may even have a few initial consults to discuss her goals and dreams and how those companies can help her achieve them.
Ashley is a voracious user of the Internet. She uses her smartphone as well as her tablet and her laptop daily, and often at the same time. Like most young women, Ashley can find virtually anything online and can navigate background information easily. She will use free time looking up information on whatever device she has with her. Ash moves from device to device with ease.
Are They Social?
Social networks are everywhere. Most people Ashley’s age have a dedicated section on their phones to the social networks they belong to. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube – the list goes on and on. What’s, even more nerve-wracking to a small business owner is that new social networks are trying to trend every day. But how many of them are actually helpful and even necessary to a business? More than you’d think. Any company can create a Facebook page. They can link their blogs and maybe even a press release or two. But to really connect with future clients, business owners need to do more. They need to relate, peak interest, and give onlookers a reason to click. They need to start giving in order to receive.
Remember Ashley’s core value of staying authentic and putting great products into the East Liberty market? Would you ever think that Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest would be the social media tools to effectively fulfill that mission? Ashley already has her Facebook page established. Her blogs are linked and her Twitter stream consistent. She has an up to date LinkedIn profile to represent herself as a health coach. But how else can she reach her ideal clients?
Well, a lot of ways actually. She can use Pinterest to keep boards of healthy salads, smoothies, and meal prep ideas that her clients and future clients can draw inspiration from. Snapchat acts as a behind the scenes look into her recipe creation – both the fails and the keepers. Instagram will aid in helping her continue to brand her new company, showing followers how much you can benefit when you eat the rainbow. Perhaps she even starts to do a weekly video series ranging from recipes and meditation to getting through the holidays without gaining 20 lbs. The possibilities are endless. You just have to think outside the box and use these networks to your advantage.
The Decision to Buy – or Not to Buy…
There are some purchase decisions that are pretty easy to make. The office printer broke and you need to either repair it or buy a new one entirely. Based off your budget and the endless information on the Internet, you can easily pick a solution that will work for you. But a decision like Ashley’s is a bit harder. She has a few options. She can keep doing her own research. Perhaps she’ll start listening to podcasts and read books. Maybe she will try and get some pro-bono advice. And she can slowly work through trial and error and cost to finds what’s working best for her business.
She could reach out to a big-time digital advertising company – a company that would listen to her story, look at her budget, and craft the best solution they could find. But what happens after they craft that solution and implement it? Ashley would get an invoice and she would become transaction number 23,487,234. Ash would have no idea what to do next or how to improve the solution once it started to plateau. This company is continually working with other companies, sometimes even in the same market. They would forget about Ashley and have to do a lot of the same work over again, which would only waste the small budget she barely has.
The third option would be to dive headfirst into the marketing coaching package. In this option, Ashley would be worked with, not worked on. She wouldn’t have to worry about authenticity because her voice would be a constant in the marketing process. She would become a master at marketing her own company. And isn’t that the way it should be, as it is her company after all?
But how does she get there? What makes her pull that trigger? Simple. Her heart and her gut. Through loving wisdom, her core values and languages, and trust in the process. We all know that there are easy ways out of any situation. There are always excuses we can make. We can easily let risk create fear in us, but that is why Ashley is our ideal client. Because she has already experienced for herself what coaching can do. At onCOREventures, she will be valued and understood, not just a project on a to-do list. Her voice will always be heard because hers is the only voice that matters and is the only voice actually making the decisions. Most importantly, Ashley makes this decision because, at the end of the day, our mission aligns with hers – to continue making a positive change in the world.
What Can You Do with This Information?
This example of Ashley is exactly why the exercise of customer avatars is so important. It’s why you need to realize not only who you want to work with, but who you deserve to work with. Knowing who your ideal customers are – their dreams, what makes them upset, what motivates them etc – gives you that much more insight into how to communicate with them. You wouldn’t talk to your retired neighbor the same way you would talk to the teenager who mows your lawn, would you? Of course, you wouldn’t! Even if both your neighbor and the teenager had the same interests and hobbies, there are still decades between them – decades of differences in culture, jargon, slang, and expectations.
To communicate with each effectively, you have to speak to them differently. You have to use different word choices, metaphors, analogies, and syntax. You are going to have different expectations of the outcome. Different audiences call for different amounts of energy in the task of writing. Audiences are not one size fits all.
What’s the Process?
At onCOREventures we actually use three ideal client worksheet components and we hope that our examples here will help our clients when they have to do the work to establish their ideal client and the customer avatar that represents that client. You are welcome to try them yourself now that you have this background:
Ideal Client Worksheet #1
This sheet covers the first four items above and it is part of the Duct Tape Marketing Coaching platform that we use. If you complete the form I will get an emailed copy which I will review for your and send feedback to you if you like. It also gives you a chance to try our process of collecting information for our coaching clients. Worksheet number one is the Ideal client description.
Ideal Client Worksheet #2
The second sheet covers the next five questions and is actually called the ideal client worksheet
Ideal Client Worksheet #3
The last questions are included on the Ideal client persona worksheet.
Not Sure Where to Start?
The world of marketing is rapidly expanding. What’s trending and helping you gain new customers today won’t necessarily be the best way to grow your business tomorrow. With so many moving parts in both the digital and physical marketing space, it’s no wonder small business owners are unsure where they should even start. That’s where the Pittsburgh marketing agency onCOREventures Strategic Marketing comes in. We created onCOREventures for honest business owners wanting to operate in harmony with their core values. If you’re trying to create positive change in the world while also attracting customers who share your values, our “strategy first” methodology may be exactly what you’ve been looking for!
Image Credits – Adobe Stock