Do Customer Avatars Really Matter in Marketing?
Have you noticed just about every marketing book or course you come across starts with defining the customer as the first step? If you google the term ‘Customer Avatar’ it returns more than 360,000,000 results!
Clearly it’s an aspect of marketing that gets plenty of attention. But as a small business, do you really need to have one? And if so, where do you start?
What is a Customer Avatar Anyway?
A customer avatar is a hypothetical person who represents your ideal buyer for a particular product or service.
It is a detailed description of who this ideal customer is, where they find information relevant to your industry and what matters to them when making buying decisions.
Is a Customer Avatar Important?
You might wonder “why bother?“ or feel impatient to jump into trying the latest marketing tactic...
But here‘s the thing. There is a reason marketers always want you to start with this step.
The better you understand who your customer is, the better you're able to speak to them in a way that resonates and gives them the sense that you ‘get them‘.
And why does that matter...?
By speaking their language in this way, you gain their attention. And most importantly, you gain their trust.
When you continue to engage them with content and messaging that is interesting and meaningful to them, you’re able to inspire them to take the next step with your business.
You can speak to the objections that arise in their mind when making a buying decision, and help them to see why your product or service is a good choice for them.
The ‘What-focused’ Mistake
Many businesses get so focused on what they’re selling, that they forget to really think about who they’re selling to.
The problem with that, is no matter how good your product or service is, you can‘t sell it if you don’t have a solid understanding of your customer.
You’ll end up wasting time and money with marketing that just doesn’t hit the mark with your potential customers.
Rather than focusing on the product and its features, the most successful marketing ALWAYS places the focus on the customer.
The truth is, every business no matter the size, needs to start with this step in marketing themselves.
Understanding Your ‘Who’
So what do you need to know about your customer to find success with your sales and marketing efforts?
The main things you need to understand to build out your customer avatar are:
Who they are demographically (age, location, job title, gender, income)?
What sources of information do they use?
What are the drivers for their purchase decisions?
What are their desires and needs?
What are their fears and challenges?
What questions or objections do they have during the sales process?
What is their role in their purchasing decision?
What is the transformation you can help them achieve?
How to Create Your Avatar(s)
Each of your products or services will have at least one customer avatar. If you sell your product or service to different types of customers, you’ll need to create an avatar for each of them.
You first need to decide which of your target audiences is your highest priority (if you only sell to one kind of customer, skip to step 2).
Start filling out your first customer avatar for this audience based on your best guesses and assumptions about your ideal buyer (download free template here).
Validate your assumptions through interviews with your sales staff or directly with one or more existing or prospective clients who meet the criteria of your ideal buyer (this is the most important step so don’t be tempted to skip it assuming you already know the answers!).
Repeat for each type of customer you sell to.
Conclusion & Next Steps
Customer avatars are the first recommended step in building a strong marketing strategy - and for good reason. Businesses that skip this step struggle to get consistent results from their sales and marketing efforts.
Yes, it takes some time to build out an effective customer avatar, but the returns on that investment of your time are significant.