Do you ever introduce yourself like this?
“Hi! I’m a woman between the ages of 25 and 60 years old, who loves dogs, works in the financial industry, is married, with 2 kids, and frequently shops online.”
I very much doubt it!
And as you read that, did I come to mind?
I’m guessing not!
But that describes who I am AND who I am not.
So, with your description in mind, how can you possibly create content or ads that inspire me (as well as the zillions of women not like me) to buy from you?
If you’re a member of Andrew and Pete’s ATOMIC community, and a Content Maverick, then I’m sure your ideal customer avatar is waaaaaay more detailed than that. Right?
If you’re still not quite as specific as you’d like to be, don’t worry there are tips ahead to help you to go from a Google Earth view of your customer to sitting across the table from them having a drink.
Put a name to a face
I can’t see the word “avatar” without seeing a Clip Art face-less graphic or a strange blue being from another dimension. Neither of those is my ideal customer. Calling an ideal customer an avatar removes them from your empathy sphere. What’s that? Well, I think of it as the distance between you and someone else. The closer you feel to someone, the easier it is to relate to them.
Customer avatars can change your results but only if you ‘flesh them out!
What if you change it from ‘my ideal customer avatar’, to my ideal customer, Judy?
You just made a huge leap closer to Judy. Now she isn’t a one-dimensional graphic, she is someone you might pass in the grocery store. And human!
I’ll even bet when you saw the name Judy, a picture popped into your head of someone. Maybe a friend, relative, or even a celebrity? When you can visualise your ideal customer, you can imagine how they will react, what they need, and how they feel. Which comes in kind of handy when you’re writing content for them!
For instance, if I have my Aunt Judy in mind when I look at the Content Mission Statement I created in Andrew an Pete’s Content Mavericks course I discover even more ideas for primary, personalised, content for her (and everyone like her!)
CONTENT MISSION STATEMENT:
I’m going to create content for people like Aunt Judy who have no time to make dinner, a limited grocery budget, and want to get slimmer, so they can save time, money, and lose weight.
Put some life into your data
Data can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Analysing the actions of your customers and potential customers can offer AMAZING insights, better results, opportunities for automation, efficiencies, and so much more.
Trust me, I’m a big fan, but when the focus relies heavily on data and graphic avatars, the humanness can get lost. The human being you serve is sometimes lumped into a broad category. Then you create content designed to appeal to every man or woman in that category, and it most likely will appeal to no one.
You can change that by asking yourself:
Who do you love?
When I help a business owner zero in on who they really want to attract, I ask them to write down the first names of three current (or past) customers they love working with. Then they answer a few questions about them. It is SO much EASIER to answer the questions and make decisions when you have a specific person in mind. Just like going shopping for a gift is easier if you are buying it for a specific person instead of the grab bag at the office holiday party.
- Write down the names of your 3 favourite customers
- Estimate their ages
- Note what they bought from you
- Write a few sentences to describe their personality – formal, funny, quirky, serious, shy, etc.
If you’re an ATOMIC member grab your Content Stamp table and add the information above for the three customers you would clone if you could!
For example, let’s say your favourite customers are Walter, Catherine, and Kerri, and they are around 32-37 years old. You know their personalities and which product or service they chose.
Going forward, you can easily make decisions on everything by keeping those 3 people in mind.
You’ll be able to determine what content to create, which social media platform to be on, what networking events and conferences to go to, what photos or graphics to use in your marketing, – the list goes on and on!
We’re all alike (not)
Another thing to ask yourself is, “Are they exactly like me?” If they are, great!
If not, (and a lot of times they aren’t) you need to make choices in your marketing that may not appeal to you, but definitely will to them.
A client I worked with has a product that is specifically for construction companies, workers, and building fans. The main colour in his website was black – black background on all pages, with a lot of fast-moving graphics and lots of text in grey font that was cool looking but hard to read. He and his web designer LOVED it.
When we went through the ideal client exercise, he realised the people who hired him most were usually women. They were the ones in the marketing departments who paid his company to make videos of current projects that they could use to win future bids.
- They made it possible for him to fill his YouTube channel.
- They were the ones funding his vision of having a TV channel for builders like the Golf Channel.
We definitely wanted more of those people!
So, the first thing we did was redesign his site with a different colour palette and new design elements.
He hated every minute of it.
He hated every layout, every revision, and his web designer threatened to quit over it.
But he realised that they initially designed the site for themselves, not for the people who hired them.
As you can see it isn’t frilly and pink with images of kittens. But it IS more inclusive, and he’s seeing an increase in inquiries since the redesign!
Go where they are
I encouraged another client to look for opportunities to speak on podcasts. He’s an attorney and he immediately named four podcasts geared toward the legal industry, that he planned to contact. I asked him if he’s looking for clients who are lawyers, and he said of course not!
That’s when he got it.
He’s a lot less likely to be heard by the clients he wants to reach on those podcasts.
Sure, it’s a great way to get referrals from other lawyers, but he already gets those.
He also thought his ideal clients were 21-65 years old. *Sigh*
After identifying three favourite clients he realised they were 40-50 years old. So now he doesn’t wear himself out going to every networking event for young professionals, or look for speaking opportunities at Bar association luncheons, or write blogs about issues facing new graduates or retirees.
Your favourite podcast, online community, networking group, etc. might not be the best marketing opportunity for you. Spend your precious few marketing minutes in the places where your ideal customer hangs out.
Once you have the names and faces of your ideal customer in mind, there are three unique questions you can answer to connect with them faster and on a deeper level.
1. What’s their number?
Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book, The Road Back to You, could easily be required reading for college marketing classes because it offers a deep look into the nine personality types you and I live, eat, and do business with daily. As you read this book, you will definitely identify people in your life who remind you of the different types, and you will probably recognise yourself. Or you can take a free online quiz to find out what your number is!
If you read it with Walter, Catherine, and Kerri in mind, you may discover some nuances that you can use in your content or the images you use. This is another way to gain insights into what motivates your favourite customers.
I started my career as an actor and this book reminds me of the character work I used to do when starting a role. I had to set aside my own motivations and fears and take on my character’s. It’s a skill I used hundreds of times over the 25 years I was a working actor. It is also a real asset in marketing consulting. It’s second nature for me to fully immerse myself in the customer’s story.
How to apply it to your marketing:
- Read the book or look through the short descriptions in the link to identify your ideal customer.
- Use the insights to find and create content that connects to them deeply.
You will find yourself writing blogs, web pages, sales pages and even social media posts in a slightly different tone when you are writing to a real customer. I say ‘to’ because the words, tone of voice (formal or informal), and approach you take is like a love letter to your customer.
2. Who is their villan?
Fans and followers of Andrew & Pete might have heard about the Suit-Douche, their brand arch enemy.
“…We can’t stand him; he’s the very opposite of who we want to be. Having an arch enemy helps you to define who you’re not and acts as a guideline to how you should and shouldn’t behave.” – Content Mavericks by Andrew and Pete
I want to swivel your perspective slightly, from your arch enemy to Walter’s (you remember Walter, one of your favourite customers?)
Think about his enemy or the Villain in his story. It could be human or not. Like, The Boss (the one at work, not Bruce Springsteen) or High Taxes.
Villains are not feelings or emotions – that’s what they evoke. They frustrate us, bring us down, trip us up, and keep us from becoming who we want to be.
In Building a Storybrand, Donald Miller’s wonderful book, there is an in-depth look at Villains, Heroes (your customers), and other story elements. The Storybrand framework he created applies the story structure used in great films and stories, to marketing.
He explains how to clarify your message in a way that casts your customer in the Hero role and you as the Guide who will help him become who he aspires to be (using your product or service). His book is filled with fabulous examples of companies using villains in their marketing.
For example, in the U.S., Allstate Insurance has defined their customers’ villain as Mayhem. It’s out of our control, can hold us back and pops up unexpectedly to keep us from achieving our goals. Mayhem is everywhere and anywhere, so you better be insured for it! They personify Mayhem brilliantly in their TV commercials.
Link to commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_5IdWWRL4w
How to apply it to your marketing:
- Make a list of potential challenges your customer faces. Is there a common thread? Something that is working against them?
- Once you identify the Villain, use your marketing copy and images to show your customer that you understand what they are wrestling with, and you’re taking a stand against it too.
3. What is their internal problem?
Another really powerful concept in the Storybrand framework is the idea that there are three levels of problems your customer is trying to solve when they make purchases.
The external problem drives the inquiry, but it’s usually the internal problem that drives the sale. Even when it’s a leaky pipe or flat tire. The internal problem is the one they will purchase a solution to solve.
If you are a plumbing company, do you offer customers transparent pricing and your home phone number to call if the pipe leaks after you fix it?
Then you will probably be chosen over your competition if your ideal customer’s internal problem is self-doubt and a fear of making the wrong decision.
They are worried about getting ripped off, misled, looking like an idiot to their spouse, and left not-so-high and dry if the same pipe you fixed bursts again. However, with your amazing “call-me-at-home-anytime-and-I’ll-come-back” offer, you solve that AND the leaky pipe!
How to apply it to your marketing:
- Identify your customer’s internal problem by taking the external problem they call you for and brainstorm ideas around what they might be feeling inside when they call you.
- Create a one-sentence answer to the question: What is my customer’s internal problem? Examples:
- Afraid of looking like a fool in front of his wife
- Doubts she knows enough to choose the right professional
- Confused and under pressure to do it right this time
Explore all or one
You can explore all three of these questions with your three favourite customers in mind or just the question that appeals to you the most.
Save you time and money
Understanding your ideal customers, the way you understand a friend or loved one is the key to creating marketing, products, and events that attract the people you love to serve.
You will make better decisions, more easily because,
You will know:
- Which social media platform to spend time and money on
- Which organisations and conferences you should join or invest in
- What conferences and luncheons you should be trying to speak at
- What news media you want to attract
- When and where to spend money on ads
- What to say in those ads!
- What zip codes or postal codes to send your flyer to
- What social media groups to seek out and offer content to
- Which podcasts to pitch
- What colours and images to use on your website and all marketing materials
- Where to network
- How to ask for specific referrals and actually get great leads because you make it easy for your colleagues to think of someone exactly like your ideal customer!
Now, go give your avatar a name and a FACE, for Pete’s sake!
AND share who or what your ideal customer’s Villain is in the comments!
I’m a marketing consultant who helps you get a crystal-clear, 3-D picture of your ideal customer. Then we recharge the magnetism in your current marketing and create a marketing map that leads busloads of them to you.
I have crushes on Mark Ruffalo and the late-great Alan Rickman, both of whom I met waiting for a panini (not on the same day). I like to paint and I’m an over-the-top dog lover. Half of my career I was a working actor playing roles on stage, film, and TV. I lived in New York City for 20 years, so yeah, I’ve got some street smarts.
Now I live in Birmingham (the one in Alabama). Why? Love. It turns out my soul mate was in the last place I thought to look. I’ve worked with big brands like Pepsi, Macy’s, Verizon, and small business owners here, there, and everywhere. In my spare time, I shower my rescue dog, Mookie with ridiculous amounts of love and treats.