What is a customer avatar? And why must every business create one? Discover how to find and reach your target market without wasting marketing spend.
What makes a great marketing campaign?
ROI, brand awareness, lead gen and a surge of new customers are the result of a great marketing campaign, but they aren’t what makes it great.
The problem for many businesses (particularly digital start-ups) is that after they’ve designed and developed an amazing product, they take vague guesses at their target market, platform and timing.
Sometimes these guesses get lucky, sometimes they don’t. A decent marketer will analyse the results of these ‘guesses’ and optimise their campaigns accordingly…
…but, this creates a big problem: by the time they’ve adjusted their campaigns, they’ve already wasted a heap of time and money.
It doesn’t have to be like this. In fact, it shouldn’t be.
Educated guesses, vague assumptions and broad targeting aren’t good enough anymore, and there simply isn’t any excuse for it.
What is a Customer Avatar?
A customer avatar is a detailed profile of your ideal customer. It doesn’t make assumptions or categorise people into groups. The avatar focuses on one person and outlines everything about them. It goes into much greater depth than a regular marketing persona, providing marketers with many more targeting tools.
I’ll show you how to make one and target your audience like a digital marketing pro in a couple of moments, but first, take note of the next paragraph.
It’s crucial that you create a customer avatar of your ideal customer, not your average buyer. Your ideal customer is somebody you really want to sell to, they’re high-spending, loyal, repeat buying, referral monsters.
Hopefully, some of you already have customers like this. If this is the case, use this person to build the foundations of your avatar. If not, it’s a clear sign that you’ve been targeting the wrong people.
Who Needs a Customer Avatar?
Short answer: Every business!
Long answer: Small and medium-sized businesses will benefit most from having their own customer avatar(s).
Small and medium businesses need to ensure that their staff’s time, as well as their marketing budgets, are maximised. A customer avatar allows them to do both of these things, by instantly targeting the business’ ideal customer.
Businesses who have previously spent tons of time, effort and money without ever making a decent ROI will also massively benefit from a detailed customer avatar.
Why You Need a Customer Avatar
One of the most common marketing errors made in digital marketing is broad targeting. This usually results in one of the following problems:
- Brands and businesses who try to appeal to everyone, actually end up appealing to nobody.
- Marketers who try to speak everyone’s language, connect with nobody.
- Businesses who attempt to reach everyone, spend way over the odds and (rarely) reach their target market (especially their ideal customer).
It’s crucial that you REALLY know your target market.
The better you know your target market, the more people you’ll connect with, the more repeat buyers you’ll create and the more referrals you’ll generate…
…and all of this will come at a much smaller cost!
A detailed customer avatar will also streamline your business at every level. When you have an avatar in your crosshairs, everybody involved in the business can up their game and focus their efforts efficiently:
- Product Development: Your dev team will be able to create a product that is specifically aimed at one person. This makes the process more personalised, targeted and relevant. Products like this will instantly resonate with your ideal customer.
- Content Marketing: A customer avatar uncovers the true pain points of your ideal customer, allowing content creators to produce content that solves and appeals to their needs. This type of content is evergreen, does very well on search engines and engages with your true target market. If you are able to solve your customer’s real pain points, your brand will be much more appealing!
- Paid Traffic: If you’re running ads, it’s imperative that you have a clear customer avatar in mind. When time and money are involved, you must give your ads every opportunity to perform at their optimum. Understanding everything about your ideal customer allows you to target them precisely, hone your creative and write your copy effectively.
- User Experience: When you know who your ideal customer is, you can create the perfect experience for them beginning with their first interaction, web visit and purchase. A perfect user experience guarantees repeat custom and referrals.
How To Create a Customer Avatar (Part 1)
Now you know how valuable a customer avatar is, it’s time to create one. You’ll need to start by drawing up a long list of questions and getting inside your ideal customer’s head before answering them as accurately as possible.
What questions should you ask?
Everything and anything! The more you know about your ideal customer, the better you’ll target them…
…but, just in case you don’t where to start or would like to better understand the most relevant characteristics of your ideal customer, I’ve created an awesome shortcut for you in our customer avatar template.
This template covers the absolute MUST-KNOW topics of your customer avatar. If you haven’t created a customer avatar before and would like to benefit from all the invaluable advantages (written in the rest of this article) get it now. It’s FREE and doesn’t require contact details!
How To Create a Customer Avatar (Part 2)
When you have your customer avatar template ready, it’s time to begin.
As a general rule of thumb, I always start by giving them a name. This makes your customer avatar easy to remember, reference and helps you flesh out an artificial character.
After your name, continue down the central column (outside the four boxes) through age, gender, marital status, #/Age of children, location, quote, occupation, job title…etc.
It’s crucial that you’re super-specific from start to finish. For example, when entering ‘age’ do not write 30-40. Being broad is exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Be specific. Get to know this ‘avatar’ as if they are a real person.
If you want, you can even find a photo of somebody online who represents your ideal customer.
When all the general information is complete, move onto the top left box ‘GOALS AND VALUES’ and work your way around in a clockwise direction (you don’t have to do it this way, I just think it’s easier).
As you enter the information, make sure you never veer from your customer avatar’s mindset. It’s very easy to slip into your own, or that of your average buyer. Be them for twenty minutes. You’ll learn a lot.
Don’t Stop There
This customer avatar template is yours to keep forever. So, why would you want to stop with just the one customer avatar?
Many businesses profit from multiple market segments. Print the template as many times as you need, and use it over and over again for every single segment!
After you’ve created your first one, the rest are a walk in the park.
When you understand who you’re targeting in every market segment, you must layer them in order of importance. This allows you to target (and prioritise time and budget) your most valuable market segment first.
A customer avatar should be a fundamental element of your marketing strategy. It creates a foundation for targeting and allows everyone in your business to understand exactly who you’re striving to attract.
Marketing campaigns that already know the specifics of their target market will always require less money and time, and provide a greater ROI.
The customer avatar template attached to this article is a great place to start for small and medium businesses. It creates a platform for you to get even more in depth as your marketing skills develop.
Don’t forget your customer avatar template before you leave! It’s FREE.
And if you’d like to learn more about the Customer Avatar and see an example that we’ve already filled in, create a free account on the Einstein Marketer Studio and access tons of amazing marketing videos, action plans and educational content!
Great article Josh. I certainly appreciate the necessity of getting the customer avatar extremely specific – our Startup, however, needs to reach out across different industries to Business Owners. In the same vein, I’m wondering how Airbnb & Uber (in the Early Years) created their respective Avatars.
I feel that we have the same issue; how did they do it?
Hey Malcolm, thanks for the comment. Without any insider knowledge, i really couldn’t tell you how AirBnb or Uber created their avatars.
One thing that will help you is to create multiple avatars for different segments of your target market. Through ads and digital marketing, you’ll soon discover which of this is most responsive and profitable.
I struggle to see any remarkable aspect to a customer avatar vs Buyer Persona. Don’t tell me that buyer Personas are average and generic because, only when done well, they aren’t. Quite the opposite they are very precise. If the answer is “ideal customer profile” then, it’s an ideal customer profile”. AKA ICP. An ICP is a set of buyer personas that match very well with your offering and company. A buyer persona exists regardless of whether your company or product exist. Make sense?
Hi Donato, the buyer persona and customer avatar are very similar, and yes I agree, using several of them will help you target different corners of your market.
Hi Josh. Thanks for the Avatar Template. Its really useful. Wondering whats the Quote field’s content, benefit and purpose? Thanks again.
Hey Gauri, the ‘quote’ field is for a quote that your avatar would live by. This helps to understand their ethos and morals a little better. it might sound a little obscure, but everything in their adds up to a much better understanding of your target market.
Hi Josh , Great article, can you explain what the Challenges & Pain Points are ? and also what Objections to the sale and role in the purchase mean too please?
Thanks for the comment, here is the answer to your question:
-Challenges: testing problems in their life that they are trying to overcome e.g. trying to lose 5 pounds in weight
-Pain points: problems and hang-ups that they have about themselves and their everyday life and about the problem that your product solves
-Objections to sale: these are reasons that somebody wouldn’t buy from your business, e.g. the product is too expensive, it is difficult to obtain, it wouldn’t suit them
-role in purchase: this states whether they are a buyer, they are a trigger to buy or they can influence somebody who can purchase. e.g. this is relevant to b2b businesses in particular.
Hope this helps!
Nice Article learn a lot from this article.
why should I limit the avatar to a specific age if it helps for all ages and genders?
Hey Ofir, you should limit the age so you can better understand an individual and target them better with marketing materials. For example, a man aged 50 will need to be marketed to differently than a girl aged 21.
If your product helps all ages and genders, analyse your current customers or creating multiple customer avatars and target each of them with different types of marketing materials.
Thanks for this post! I’ll get to work on my avatar ASAP.
I never thought about creating an avatar myself before – I will give this a go. Thank you Josh
Good luck Phil! An avatar should make a massive difference when used correctly.
Great advice! Thank you Einstein Marketer!
Hello, I enjoy reading all your articles on the Einstein Marketer blog. This is a little
comment to support you.
This is very much interesting. I need to apply this now!!