Creating an avatar to define your customer
For every business, big or small, massively successful or just starting out, it’s critical to know as much about your customer as possible. Their lives, their beliefs, their hopes and fears, their purchases and behaviour in general so that your business can meet their needs as closely as possible, whether that be a product or a service.
So why should I do it as a business just starting out & what are the benefits?
It’s standard practise to have a target customer to be able to focus your offer and Marketing activities & spend, after all nobody has a pot of gold that is bottomless (except for a lucky few). It means that you can spend those £’s wisely and with as much ROI as possible right from the start. And, of course, if you meet the needs of these target customers by being focussed, they will be happy & loyal to you. Happy customers = happy business.
Many businesses starting out will have been encouraged to create an avatar as a first step to defining their existing or future customer. Of course, customers will be many (hopefully!) and varied in nature so creating just one avatar may seem like a waste of time. But key is to start simple and work up to being more sophisticated. If you can visualize just one type of customer / client, you’re on the road to being more purposeful and targeted in your approach.
So how do you create these avatars yourself when global, multi-million- pound organizations spend a hefty part of their Marketing budget on it? Isn’t it just too prohibitive to do it on your own?
The answer to this question is a resounding NO. Here’s an approach which I’ve used myself that can get you started:
Step 1: Identify a real-life possible target for your avatar
If you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account or use Instagram for your business, have a look at those people who have already engaged in a conversation with you (even if it’s just a “like”). If you don’t have clarity of who currently buys your product or service (like many smaller businesses don’t) as your social presence is limited and therefore has limited interactions on it for you to analyse, don’t worry. Think about a suitable proxy - whatever your business, think of a suitable competitor or a brand whose success you’d like to emulate down the road. Identify 5-6 customers who are interacting on these sites. The next step is to find out more about them and in order to be able to choose just one who will represent your avatar and the focus of your business.
Step 2: Explore your possible targets.
Once you’ve identified some possible customers either on your site or your proxy site begin the exploration phase. Explore their own social media sites – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to start. Here are some questions for you to think about:
What is their FB page like? How old are they roughly? How do they dress? What brands are they into / wear? Who features on their site? Who is their focus - friends, family, kids? What activities are they into? What do they photograph? Which bands, TV programs do they like? Which brands do they interact with and buy?
What do they post on Twitter? What is the tone and what is the subject matter? Who do they follow? Do they have a presence on Twitter?
What images pop up on their Instagram page? Home focused, fashion, favourite brands? Are they into experiences? Products? Travel?
All this will help you to understand them a little bit and to decide whether they are a potentially inspiring representative for your brand. You may need to repeat the process a few times to identify a profile that feels right and that’s ok.
Step 3: Get creative and bring to life this new representative for your brand!
This is not a stalking exercise, it’s just a means of doing your own little bit of market research without spending megabucks! You aren’t going to be approaching this person directly, you’re simply using their profile as a start for the creative process because they happen to engage with currently, or may just interact with your brand, in the future.
Once you’ve found your customer who feels right for you and your business, start to bring that person to life in more detail. Use their profile as a springboard and a filter and get creative! You’ll be able to use them as a test – “what would this person prefer?” for instance. Of course, you won’t have their answer, but you can begin to hypothesize and have a best guess of what they would say. This is the fun part because of course there is no right or wrong, just your gut instinct. Simple. So you can start to add embellishments that will bring YOUR avatar to life with confidence. After all if you aren’t able to explain why they would buy from you and your brand then you’ve found the wrong profile!
Step 4: Go for it!
That’s it, you’re now ready to talk about your target customer with a degree of confidence and to plan your business and activities accordingly to meet this new target’s needs. As time goes on you’ll be able to finetune your avatar as your confidence increases and you may even want to identify a few more if your business has several different areas of focus
I hope you enjoy the exercise - it should be fun and illuminating. And, of course, it’s rooted in real life, so you should feel comfortable in using it. So… GO CREATE!