Do you know what they look like? How about what motivates them to make decisions? Are you clear on the challenges they face and things that would stand in the way of them doing business with you?
I used to have trouble answering questions like these. If you’re struggling the same way I was, I’ve got a great tool that will help you zero in on your ideal customer so you can create content that is undeniably valuable to them. It’s called a customer avatar template.
If you’ve never heard of them before, customer avatars are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer. Think of them as your customer. In the customer avatar template, you fill in basic info like income, gender, job title, and age. But you get even more granular and outline their fears, challenges, obstacles, and goals.
Using customer avatars helps so much because once you’re done, you have a core message that speaks to their needs and connects with them on an emotional level. And this core message is what you’ll use for all your future marketing.
Here are a few more reasons to create customer avatars before you start blogging and creating premium content. Further down I’ll show you how you can get started creating your own customer avatar.
Customer avatars start a conversation
We all can get caught in our comfort zone and slip into technical sales jargon from time to time. And most of us are comfortable using a first-person voice (“we”) instead of a second-person voice (“you”). As a business owner, this makes sense. You better than anyone know the history, intricacies and nuances of the products you offer.
The problem is that customers don’t really care, at least not when they’re still getting to know your brand. They care about what it means to them and whether or not you can help them solve their problem.
The more you can visualize your customers, the less you’ll talk about you and the more you’ll talk about them. You’ll start speaking directly to them with your writing about things they want and need to hear. And you’ll get better at creating content that attracts and converts them.
By putting a face to your ideal customer, your writing will naturally shift to a more conversational tone. You’ll start speaking to customers as if they were in the same room with you and be able to translate business goals into benefits that they can digest easily.
Customer avatars get you traction faster
If you’ve been blogging for a while without getting the results you need, it may be because you’re not creating content to attract the right people.
Will your content hit the mark some of the time? Sure. It will also miss the mark. And when you do attract the right customers, you’ll be left without a system in place to convert them into leads and sales.
Knowing who your customers are will take the guesswork out of your marketing strategy. You’ll be able to create targeted marketing campaigns that customers care about and like – with content that has the best chance of attracting your ideal customers, converting them into leads, and then nurturing that relationship until they close as customers.
Avatars deliver better quality sales leads
By creating content that attracts the right people, you can start to form a personal connection through email marketing, which will improve the overall quality of leads you have.
By understanding the needs, interests, and habits of your avatars, you’ll be able to create automated email marketing campaigns that nurture potential customers as they move beyond “getting to know you” and start to like and trust your brand.
Each touch point will encourage contacts to move deeper into your content. As people begin to evaluate products and services and move closer to a purchase decision, your content will reinforce their trust in you and keep your brand top-of-mind.
This gives you the opportunity to generate better quality leads and create customers that are well-aligned with your firm’s goals, values and objectives.
Avatars inform product development
If you truly understand what your avatars want, you can create great customer experiences and align your products with what they really want.
It could be a simple shift in packaging or an entirely new product that customers will respond to. Either way, the more you know who you customers are, the more you’ll be able to respond to their changing goals and challenges.
As you create products and services that respond to their evolving needs, you’ll reinforce their loyalty to your brand and be able to retain them as long-term customers.
(NOTE: Want my easy 3-step process to getting clear on who you’re selling to? Get my Customer Avatar Worksheet.)
Avatars helps you identify where your ideal customers hang out
Creating content and messaging that resonates with your customers is one step toward achieving marketing success.
Knowing how to reach them is another key step. Avatars give you insight into more than the pain points and challenges of your ideal customer. You’ll also know where they’re likely to spend time and get information online.
You can be more efficient with your marketing by putting resources into the channels that they’re already visiting.
If your persona spends most of their time on LinkedIn, you can explore using the publishing platform to share content with your connections. You can also experiment with participating in groups and even starting your own group specifically targeted to your customer avatars.
Avatars builds loyalty with customers
Customer avatars will help you create messages that put your customers first.
Potential customers will immediately sense that you care about what they care about rather than your own agenda.
Even though they may not be ready to buy today, they’ll become champions of your brand and remember you when they are ready to purchase.
Avatars help differentiate your brand
Positioning is about creating perceptions in the mind of customers about your brand. The goal of brand positioning is to carve out a distinctive place in the market and make sure customers have a reason to buy from you instead of a competitor.
If you want to influence the way people perceive your brand, you have to know that your products and services align with what your ideal customers actually want.
Avatars allow you to create a value proposition that will mean something to your ideal customers.
You’ll know where they shop, how they spend their time, obstacles they face professionally and personally, and concerns and fears they have regarding your product.
Not only will your value proposition be meaningful to ideal customers, but you’ll also differentiate yourself from other companies who aren’t using customer avatars to inform their marketing.
Unlike your competitors, your message will spark interest and curiosity instead of falling flat. You’ll evoke an emotional response and make an immediate connection with prospects.
How to create a customer avatar
1) Make a list of questions you’ll ask
All customer avatars should include some basic information as a starting point. Here is some information you’ll want to include:
- Age, gender
- Goals & challenges
- Role at company
- Buying habits and preferences
- Personal background
- How they measure success
Specific questions range from “What’s your daily routine?” to “What news sources do you read on the internet?”
These questions should be a baseline. As you evolve your customer avatars (which you should do every 90 days or so), you can dig deeper into intricacies and details specific to your audience and industry.
2) Gather your research
There are a few ways to get your questions answers so you can create your customer avatars.
The most straightforward is to select a handful of contacts who fit your criteria as an ideal customer and have them fill out a survey. Six to 12 customers will give you a good benchmark.
You can also ask your sales team and other client-facing members in your organization to gather insights and feedback they have on customer needs and interests.
This way you can uncover trends related to questions or comments people have relating to your product. By looking through your contact database, you can also uncover how people find you and consume your content.
If you don’t have existing contacts or leads for your research, create a prospect profile and then spend some time on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google + to find out more about the interests and behaviors of your target audience.
You can then build your customer avatars using educated guesses to start and then when you know more come back and refine them.
Once you have your persona questions answered, look for trends in the responses.
What positions do they hold and what is the age range? Do most live in the suburbs or in cities? What do they enjoy doing in their spare time? How frequently do people use social media, and which ones are they most likely to interact with? Do they answer the phone or prefer email?
Some common themes should start to appear that you can use to develop your avatar.
(NOTE: Want my easy 3-step process to get clear on who you’re selling to? Get my Customer Avatar Worksheet.)
3) Use the research to build out your avatar
Now that you’ve completed your research, use some common best practices to build out your avatars:
- Keep your person fictional. It should be a composite profile of all the people you interviewed.
- Focus on one primary customer avatar and let the others be secondary.
- Create a story from what you’ve learned that tells the “why” behind their behaviors. Use the narrative to identify common objections to your products or services and what factors influence these objections. Depending on the role they play within the organization, objections can range from budget concerns to lack of buy-in from C-level executives to a fear of becoming irrelevant in the marketplace. Whatever they are, knowing the objections will help you overcome them and address future concerns regarding your products.
4) Next steps and execution plan
Update your marketing message
First, update all marketing materials with messaging that speaks to your customer avatars. This includes everything from your website to ads, landing pages, emails, print, and so on.
Every interaction that prospects have with your company should be tailored to your avatars and consistently reinforce your new message.
Your website design in particular must immediately engage your ideal customer. Understand what your ideal customers want to know the moment they arrive at your site and what information would be most useful to them.
Prioritize your web content accordingly, and make sure your marketing message is clear and easy to read. Place the most important information in the top navigation and above the fold of the web browser so people see it without scrolling. This way they will know they’re in the right place immediately, because they’ll see that you have what they’re looking for.
Tailor your content to your customer avatars
Your avatars will be the foundation for all of your marketing from here on out. We’re talking all of your copy and design. Your goal with everything you write is to address the needs and interests of your avatarss at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Tailor your blog posts and premium content so that they speak to your customer avatars. Remember that you’re building relationships and use a consistent voice and language across all content.
Keep an eye on your Google Analytics so that you can see on blog posts, offers and landing pages are getting the most page views and engagement. Staying on top of these kinds of metrics will give you even more insight into your ideal customer. Every time you learn something new make sure to update your persona.
Based on these new insights, you may or may not need to update your messaging and content as well. Your goal with each iteration should be to close any gaps in your content, so that you speak more and more clearly and directly to your ideal customers.
Create landing pages to capture important information
For your premium content, you’ll want to drive people to a custom landing page that lets people know exactly what they can expect to receive by downloading the content.
The landing page will include a form to capture their information. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to grab the person’s name and email. But you can take it a step further and also capture persona information, such as job function or company size. This way you’ll be refining the customer avatars so that they more accurately reflect your target customer.
Get feedback regarding leads
Pay attention to your sales efforts so you know where your leads are coming from.
How many of the leads have you been able to convert into customers? Are there similarities in job function, revenue or other demographics?
As you refine your avatars, make sure you tweak your content and marketing message so that it continues to resonate and engage the right prospects. Refining and updating your customer avatars as you receive new information will shape your inbound marketing campaigns for success.
Knowing the habits of your avatar is key to reaching them when and where they are most receptive. For instance, if your buyer is most likely to check emails early in the morning or just before the end of the day, make sure you schedule your emails accordingly. If they tend to be on Facebook during lunch time, schedule your updates so they show up in news feeds at 12:30 in the afternoon.
If you jump right into blogging and content creation without using customer avatars, you’re simply placing tactics before strategy and throwing time and resources out the window.
The same way architectural drafts are used as a guide for home construction, as a business owner and marketing you need avatars to inform your marketing. They’re essential to aligning your products and services with needs of your ideal customers, and to aligning everyone within your organization to meaningful message that resonates and delights your customers.
Every 90 days or so, measure the response to your content and tweak your customer avatars accordingly. Your goal is to close the gaps where you’re losing potential customers and to continue to deliver qualified leads.
(NOTE: Get my 3-step Customer Avatar Worksheet to start attracting your perfect clients.)