Your Customer Avatar

When you think about marketing your business, you must resist the temptation to group all your customers and possible customers into one big, bland group.

Every single marketing message you give will be seen, read or heard by one potential customer at a time.

It is “from me to you” (just like The Beatles said).

In particular avoid phrases like “some of the people reading this will have money worries and they will be eager to get some more income.”

How To You Find Individual Customer Personalities?

You have to create what are known as customer avatars to get an insight into the minds and lives of your customers.

These caricatures may be based on existing customers or combinations of existing customers.

I develop rounded personalities – age, sex, marital status, children and give them names.

In fact to help me remember who is who, I alliterate (link characteristic and name together with the same first letters or sounds).

So if I was marketing for a car service business, I might have a characters called Clueless Charlie and Know Nothing Nicola.

Both represent customers who don’t have a clue about car mechanics but they want to be treated in different ways.

Charlie needs to be treated in a way that preserves his pride. It’s important he’s not made to feel bad during the transaction.

Nicola doesn’t care that she knows nothing about the internal workings of cars.

Mechanical Mike(or Melinda) would be my character for people who know a lot about cars but doesn’t have the time to do it.

Building Up The Customer Avatar

Concentrate on answering four questions:

  1. Who will buy what you sell?
  2. What is the problem you fix? Where is the buyer’s pain?
  3. What are the needs and wants for the solution?
  4. What does a buyer need to hear to feel good about buying?

Question one helps you to focus on the demographics and psychographics of your market (how they can be described both in terms of facts and the way they think).

Question two delves into why they should be interested in buying what you sell. People who are comfortable want to stay comfortable – there’s no motivation to do anything.

It’s only by being in a painful position or having a strong and passionate desire for something better that someone will take action.

Top copywriter John Carlton marketed his copywriting coaching program with an exercise based on imagining your ideal customer walking into a bar after a terrible day and pouring out his or her troubles to the bar-tender.

It’s a great exercise which gets the creative imagination flowing so I urge you to try it.

Question three focuses on what they need from your solution, to take them out of pain or to lead them to a thrilling experience.

Question four makes it clear people buy to feel better. People buy on hope and expectation.

Marketing To Customer Avatars

When you are writing your marketing, think that you are writing to one particular person.

The car service business could base its entire business on Know Nothing Nicolas. She just wants the job done right for a fair price. She doesn’t want to know what the problems were or the possible options to fix it.

Mechanical Mike on the other hand wants to know about the problems and expects to be consulted about the solution and is happy to talk jargon – and may well make the decision. Clueless Charlie wants to understand the problem and the effects on his car in simple to understand words and to receive a fair recommendation to fix it.

Treat Mike and Charlie the same and you will upset one or the other.

Combining Customer Avatars

Once you understand the customer characters you can compare and contrast what they want and how you deal with them.

Some messages will resonate with everyone – for example all three car service characters would be happy to hear about the “guaranteed lowest prices on parts”.

Mike may like a double the difference guarantee.

Nicola and Charlie would prefer the reassurance of some kind of competitive price check – and if it’s independent of the business, even better.

Another marketing message “We’ll deal with you in plain, simple English and avoid the complicated jargon” will appeal to Charlie, it may turn-off Mike and Nicola doesn’t care.

You have the choice.

Focus on one customer avatar and design your entire marketing (and internal business systems) around that personality and customer segment.

Focus on different avatars through different businesses. This is particularly easy on the Internet where the costs of creating a new, tightly focused website are small.

Focus on a bullseye avatar and hope to attract others who are similar with extra services. Charlie and Nicola have many similarities in the car service example.

Focus on a composite avatar – this is a combination of two or more avatars as a compromise. This may weaken the message for each but give you enough “ticks in the boxes” to attract different types of customers provided your competitors are not better focused.

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