One of the most popular mistakes of many start-up businesses is that they try to appeal to too many people. They are afraid that if they cater to one specific group, then they will lose sales by ostracizing other large groups of the market. The reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth, while the truth is actually the opposite. When you try to target everyone or even large varying groups in the marketplace, you end up speaking to no one. Additionally, you make it incredibly difficult to tell your brand’s story though traditional marketing, digital marketing and social media marketing, which is what loyal customers buy: YOUR BRAND not the product itself.
But then, less often, our web design agency does get a few clients that have built a customer profile that goes something like this: “My target market is white women ages 22-34 who are college educated and earn 50-100k”. Although, this is better than not identifying your customer at all, it still can result in failure. This type of customer profiling is too generic and will still leave your brand message broad and ambiguous, ultimately wasting your time.
Rather than creating a broad customer profile we require our clients to build an Avatar. Your avatar is based on market research and commonalities that you see amongst your current prospect and/or client-base.
What is an AVATAR?
Your Avatar is an imaginary (or real) person that you target your products, services, marketing efforts, content to. Your product or service should solve a problem that your avatar has. Your marketing should communicate directly with your avatar and your content should improve your avatar’s quality of life. You should look at your avatar (sometimes called persona) as your friend and you should be intimately connected with your avatar.
I know exactly what you are thinking (I know this because I know my avatar, YOU). You’re thinking: “No. Wait, I don’t want to speak ONLY to this ‘avatar’ because I have this other type of client or customer that accounts for a good amount of my business too. I don’t want to lose their business by focusing on my avatar”. So my rebuttal to you is twofold.
1) Your Avatar vs. ‘Other’ Customers
No one said you are going to flat out turn that other customer away. Chances are that by speaking to your avatar, it doesn’t mean that the new message will explicitly exclude the ‘other’ guy. Or…maybe it does. If it does, then I would tell you that you have to choose no matter what. I’ll give you two examples of what I mean.
The other day I watched a commercial for IHOP. They featured a group of firefighters enjoying their pancakes. IHOP’s avatar is the blue-collar worker plus, I’m sure a bunch of other qualifiers. Now, A blue-collar worker I am not, but I sure as hell put IHOP on my calendar for three Sundays out for “Cheat Day Sunday” after watching that commercial. By speaking to blue-collar workers, IHOP didn’t say to me “Hey, Nikki we don’t want you here. We don’t have what you want, so we don’t want your money”. I honestly thought: “Now IHOP looks like a place to relax and let loose after a long shift cause I know firefighters work hard. When is my next time to let loose? I wanna let loose like them.”
On the other hand your avatar might exclude the ‘other’ guy. If Gucci markets to affluent people because they want their brand to exude monetary opulence. They probably DO want to exclude people who make less than 30k. They don’t mind turning down that business because you cant be everything to all people.
2) Building Your Avatar Helps to Tell the Story and Build Your Brand
Think about the greatest brands in the world. They speak to a specific type of person. Their brand tells one story and it allows for a connection to grow with that customer. When the customer can identify with your brand because you are speaking directly to them, something magical happens…it evokes emotion. The surest way to get people to make a purchase is to evoke emotion.
With that being said, I suggest that you start building your company’s avatar. Click the button below to download a free questionnaire to help you build your avatar.
Pull Out the Most Important Information to Define Your Avatar
Some of the answers to this questionnaire matter, some don’t. But I want you to answer them all. And then pull out the important information and build a 3-4 sentence paragraph that describes your avatar. This will help you wrap your mind around who you are as a business and the conversation you want to have with your customers.
Additional Avatar Resources
To learn more about building avatars check out this article from Eofire where I was first introduced to the concept of the “avatar”.