Think about the last time that you went for a job interview (no matter how long ago that was!). Before you stepped into the interview, you likely did a bit of research about both the company and the person interviewing you.
You would have had an idea about what the company is looking for, their culture, and how they do things, similarly, for the interviewer.
When trying to get someone to like you (and choose you), it helps to know more about them so that you know how to best communicate with them. Works in dating, business, and, of course, marketing.
Knowing more about your customers means that you know how to speak the same language, what keeps them awake at night, and what their hopes and dreams are. Trust us, this will come in handy when you start growing your business. Customer avatars provide us with this information.
While customer avatars can be extremely helpful, marketers often make a few common pitfalls when identifying them.
But let’s make sure we are on the same page first.
What is a customer avatar, and why it’s important
A customer avatar (also known as a buyer persona, a.k.a customer profile, a.k.a marketing persona) represents your ideal customer.
Your ideal customer avatar is a customer profile that describes the best-case scenario for your business (not your average buyer). It’s your big spender, your most loyal customer, and the customer who gives you the most referrals.
A customer avatar focuses on one person and outlines everything about them. You can, however, have several customer avatars for your different customer segments.
Why is identifying your customer avatar important?
Creating buyer personas helps you market your products or services more effectively. You can tailor your messaging to resonate with those who will get the most significant benefit from your offerings. It also helps you find your target market more efficiently.
Without researching who your ideal customer avatar is, you’ll keep on targeting anyone and everyone in hopes that you’ll grab someone’s interest. This lack of focus is both costly and ineffective.
When you target everyone, you target no one.
A detailed customer avatar will also help align your business at every level – from product development to marketing and customer experience.
How to create a customer avatar
Creating your first customer avatar takes time and effort. You need to base it on detailed research and data (not guesswork) to be effective.
Here are the main points that you need to cover in your research:
- Identify your customer goals and values.
- Identify their key demographics (e.g., age, gender, marital status, occupation, location, education level, and hobbies).
- Find their sources of information (e.g., do they read many books, do they use LinkedIn a lot, or attend conferences).
- Identify their main challenges and pain points.
- Identify their objections to the sale and their role in the sales process (e.g., what might make them not buy your product or service, and are they the final decision-makers in the purchase).
More often than not, your customer personas may be different from your actual customers. But, creating an ideal customer profile is an excellent place to start researching.
Remember, building your customer avatars will continually be a work in progress. As you start to discover more information and nuances about them, you’ll keep on updating your avatar. Eventually, they will become closer to reality.
6 common pitfalls in creating ideal customer avatars
Getting the customer avatar right can make or break your entire marketing strategy, so listen closely.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when identifying your avatar.
Focusing on demographics rather than psychographics
Yes, demographics are important, but it’s crucial not to forget about your ideal customer’s psychographics. Psychographics include psychological criteria (e.g., attitudes, aspirations, and emotions) compared to the more concrete characteristics found in demographics.
Psychographics focus on the way that people do things and the why. And because we all make decisions based on emotions, understanding why a customer makes a purchase is instrumental in marketing. By understanding the psychographics of your customer, you’re able to base your messaging on what you know will tap into their emotions.
Forgetting about triggering events
There are certain purchases in life that aren’t impulsive. Some products or services require triggering events in a person’s life before considering the purchase.
As a marketer, you need to ask, ‘what happened in my customer’s life that made them interested in purchasing my product?’ Did they recently get married, get a new job, fall pregnant, or move house?
Your customer avatar should include triggering events for marketers to know how to address customers at those critical points in their lives.
Not considering buyer’s journey before/after purchase
If your business has a longer purchasing journey, it’s crucial to consider each stage of their buyer journey. Their buyer journey includes the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage.
Your customers’ persona will change at each stage of their journey, and it’s vital to position your marketing appropriately. The customer avatar should provide this context and insight into the buyer’s journey.
Not including decision-making factors
What aspects of your products or services will your customer assess in their buyer journey? What makes them choose your product over another?
The decision-making factors should include insights from both buyers who chose a competitor and those who decide not to buy a solution at all. If you’re ignoring the crucial factors that your customer considers in their decision-making process, then you’re missing out on the opportunity to answer their concerns directly.
For example, if you know that the price point is a vital decision-making factor for your customer, you can address it in your messaging.
Making up stuff instead of using data and research
A big mistake in creating avatars is basing your customer avatar on who you wish your customer is rather than who they really are.
To avoid this, base your customer avatars on actual data, behaviors, and demographics learned through customer interviews and shared knowledge across your company. Customer interviews are the best way to identify your ideal customer avatar, combined with insights from regular customer interaction employees.
When you only use assumptions, you risk missing out on the insights that will make the most difference in your marketing strategy.
Getting stuck in your own “ideal” vision
Similarly to making assumptions, you shouldn’t get stuck on your own ‘ideal’ vision of who your customer avatar is. Even after extensive research and creating an avatar, it’s essential to remain flexible and make adaptations as you discover new nuances.
Life happens, and interests change. If there’s anything that living through a pandemic has taught us, it’s that we need to be adaptable. And if you’re too stuck in your thinking, then you’re going to miss out on other opportunities that come your way.
Get your customer avatar right
Educated guesses, vague assumptions, and broad targeting aren’t going to grow your business. You need to hone in on your ideal customer and target your messaging to speak directly to their needs and pain points. Identifying your ideal customer avatar will do this for you. If you need an external sounding board to give you expert advice on your customer avatar, you can simply submit your question as part of our Insights Pod membership trial right here.