If reading this headline makes you think of the 2009 movie starring Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldaña – or the character your child created to represent himself in an online game– well, release that visual.
In the world of marketing, customer avatars are much more robust. A good customer avatar is a multi-dimensional description of your best customer which gives you, the business owner, a deeper understanding of others who are likely to buy your products and services.
Why are customer avatars important?
Let’s face it. Our marketing dollars don’t go as far as they used to. And when it comes to places you can spend your money, we can all agree there are more opportunities than ever before. So, instead of throwing money at new and shiny approaches (I’m looking at you, TikTok), it makes sense to do a little research and find out where your customers go to make buying decisions.
Once you have that information, you can spend your hard-earned money strategically. And that’s one of the best reasons for developing a customer avatar.
How to create a customer avatar
A typical business likely has more than one target market. For example, A nutritionist may work with individuals who have chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as athletes looking to improve their endurance and performance.
Each of these populations have different reasons for seeking nutritional advice, which means each of them deserves their own avatar.
Here are some basic characteristics involved in building a customer avatar:
Gender: how does your client identify? Male, female, other?
Age: be aware of how age factors into the buying tendencies of each of your avatars. If you want to totally geek out, check out this article from the Pew Research Center
Education: What type of education does your customer have? Where did he go to school and, if he went to college or trade school, where did he attend?
Occupation and Income: knowing whether your best customer works long hours or in stressful occupations can help you develop convenient and affordable offers that directly solve your customer’s unique challenges.
Marital Status: Is he married? Does he have children or grandchildren?
Geographic location: Does your best customer live in the same neighborhood and frequent your brick and mortar, or does he order from your online store from all over the country?
Hobbies/Interests: Knowing how your best customer spends his free time can help you determine whether it makes sense to spend time and money on booth space at trade shows and community events.
Values: is your customer an avid environmentalist, passionate patriot, or active in religious and/or philanthropic endeavors?
Print: does your customer read the newspaper? If so, is it the Wall Street Journal or the local hometown daily? And don’t forget about direct mail. The Small Business Association says direct mail can be more trustworthy than other forms of marketing, especially if the recipient has an interest in your business or its industry.
Internet: how much time does your customer spend online and what sites does he visit when looking for information?
Social Media: which social media platforms, if any, does your customer use on a regular basis? Be specific here. It won’t do you any good to spend your time and money developing a presence on Facebook if your best customer spends most of his time on YouTube or LinkedIn.
Television: Does your customer watch television? If so, which channels does he watch regularly and what type of programming does he prefer?
Audio: What radio stations or podcasts does your customer listen to?
Are you ready to get started?
Now that you know what’s involved in creating a customer avatar, you’re ready to create one (or more) for your business.
A Customer Avatar Worksheet is available to new subscribers on my website. Or, you can simply build out each customer profile yourself using an online spreadsheet or spiral bound notebook.
Begin by visualizing your best customer and write down everything you know for sure. Take note of what you don’t know and resolve to do a little research to find out the answers. This might be by sending an email survey, conducting a small focus group,
or asking customers to answer a few questions at checkout. Remember, the more you know about your primary target audience, the more effective your marketing strategy will be.
One more step…
My Avatar Worksheet also includes a place for you to make note of your monthly marketing budget. Know what you can comfortably spend each month on advertising and promotion — then spend it on media your customers are sure to notice.
Also, take a moment to calculate how much you make an hour. Knowing this figure will help you determine whether it makes sense to hire a professional to help you with social media marketing, website landing pages, email marketing, etc., or learn to do it yourself.
Now that you have such great information on your best customer, repeat it as many times as desired for your other target markets and apply it to your marketing strategy.