For all of the complexity that comes with running a business, one central truth remains consistent: a successful business is all about understanding your customer base and effectively catering to their needs. The former is particularly important, as even if you offer high-quality products and services and your marketing is on point, it won’t really matter if you aren’t going after the right audience. There are many different ways to gain greater insights into your customers and their needs, but most of them are designed with a very broad approach, mostly leveraging demographic data to look at wider trends. Yet while this is a useful option, it lacks the personal touch needed to truly understand the customer’s specific needs. For this reason, one of the most powerful tools available to business owners is the customer avatar, which provides a more in-depth look at one’s ideal customer by moving away from generalized data and instead focusing on creating a unique persona to market towards.
What Is A Customer Avatar?
A Customer Avatar (sometimes called an Ideal Client Profile or Buyer Persona) is a detailed profile of your ideal customer, synthesizing all of their characteristics and personality traits into one person. How you create such an avatar may vary: some base them on existing customers they are personally familiar with, while others craft a persona entirely based on who they would like to sell to in the future. Regardless, your end result should be a profile that depicts a specific individual, complete with age, gender, personal interests, desires, and pain points.
Many business owners tend to think of their audience in terms of their average buyer, analyzing demographics and social groups to understand who is most interested in their products or services. Creating a customer avatar is essentially the opposite approach to understanding your audience: while demographic data asks you to consider your customers as a group and observe their larger patterns of behavior, creating a customer avatar is about distilling this data into a single hypothetical person, with the aim to understand more individual and personal needs that your brand can address.
What Makes a Customer Avatar Effective?
While demographic data and statistics are valuable when it comes to getting to know your audience as a whole, they are often quite broad and can be limited by their scope. If you break down your target audience by their age, gender, and location, you might have a basic idea of who they are, but you won’t really understand their needs or why they buy from you. As such, many people struggle when they first try to create a customer avatar, as they are so used to more generalized breakdowns of their audience that they will struggle to provide the depth that an avatar requires.
For instance, if you are a financial planner, it isn’t enough to say: “My ideal customer is someone who is looking to take control of their finances and become a more effective business owner.” This description is so short and basic that it could apply to dozens of different people, all of them different from one another. A customer avatar is designed to address the personal side of your ideal customer, including the information that statistics and demographics just aren’t going to provide on their own.
When creating a customer avatar, be sure to include the following:
- Their face (grab a picture of a real person online to serve as the face of your avatar)
- Their name
- Their age
- Where they live
- Family situation (married/singled/divorced, do they have any children?)
- What do they do for a living?
- What are their goals?
- What stands in the way of those goals?
- What demographics do they fall under?
- What are their personal interests and hobbies?
- A story of how they found your business and why they want to work with you based on the information you’ve compiled.
Some of this information might seem superfluous, but it all adds up to a fully fleshed-out human being, what seem like minor elements can make it easier to relate to and understand their specific needs, desires, and pain points. For example, putting a real face to your avatar might seem unnecessary, but it helps establish that they are (as far as your business is concerned) a real person. This is also why you should craft a story explaining why your ideal customer needs your services. Many business owners only consider the customer’s endpoint (that they need their services) rather than how they got there, which often reveals important information that offers a more in-depth understanding of their customers.
Of course, creating a customer comes with its share of challenges, as it requires a lot of forethought and careful consideration. If you are unsure about how to start making an avatar or are worried that you are leaving out something important, there are several templates available online that can serve as a starting point. Most importantly, it is worth remembering that your customer avatars aren’t written in stone. They will grow and evolve as you come to better understand your customer based, and the kind of person that would be your “ideal customer” might change over time. Still, having a persona in mind allows you to better make vital decisions, creating a foundation for your marketing processes, and ensuring that everyone within your business knows exactly who you are striving to attract.