What Is a Customer Avatar?

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To market your products or services effectively, you need to gain insight into your ideal customer. That way, you can find them more easily. Plus, you can tailor your messaging so it resonates with those who will get the greatest benefit from your offerings. And that’s where the customer avatar comes into play…

A customer avatar (sometimes referred to as a buyer persona, marketing persona, or customer profile) is a representation of your ideal customer—the type of person you want to purchase your products or services. 

Chances are you’ve seen this phrase tossed around countless times, especially in terms of digital marketing. But up until now, you may have been confused about what it actually is. You’re not alone. In fact, a lot of business owners struggle with this piece of the marketing puzzle.  

So, let’s clear up a few things!

Here’s what a customer avatar is:

Here’s what a customer avatar is not:

Handled correctly, an avatar provides valuable insight into who your ideal customer is, what they want, where they spend their time, and how your offerings can address their problem. 

Building out your customer avatar (and putting it to good use) can help you make the most of your marketing dollars. It serves as a guide that keeps you from wasting resources targeting the wrong people, being in the wrong place, and applying the wrong messaging. Ultimately, it’s the key to experiencing marketing and sales success. 

Who Should Have a Customer Avatar?

This is a question we see often. So, let’s address it right now: Every organization, regardless of size or industry, should have a customer/client avatar. 

Every. Single. One. 

(You did see the part about it being the key to experiencing marketing and sales success, right?)

Even big companies that have been in business for years should have avatars they reference. More importantly, they should take the time to update these ideal client/customer profiles because the elements covered (e.g., problems, desires, spaces frequented online) change over time.  

However, having an avatar—or multiple avatars, depending on how much you need to segment your target market—is especially beneficial for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses (both B2Bs and B2Cs). As mentioned previously, it allows you to make the most of your budget, focusing your digital marketing efforts for better results. And that’s something every business owner can appreciate.      

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Note: Avatars aren’t exclusive to for-profit organizations. Make no mistake—this is a valuable tool for churches and nonprofits as well. Those who operate in these sectors can reap great benefits by taking the time to craft donor avatars. 

Why You Need a Customer Avatar

Black male business owner in industrial office space looking pensive.

When it comes down to it, you need a customer avatar so you understand to whom you’re trying to sell—the perfect customer who will spend big, make repeat purchases, and promote your business to others. This is the type of person who will have a high customer lifetime value (CLV). It’s the type of customer you want more of so you can grow your business.

Here’s the hard-to-swallow truth: Although you may think you know who that is, you don’t. 

No business owner does. 

And until you do your research, you’ll continue targeting anyone and everyone in hopes that someone will bite, which is both costly and ineffective. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news…

On a lighter note, having an accurate, fleshed-out avatar gives you the opportunity to be more specific with your marketing messages and allows you to improve on a variety of areas.  

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Ultimately, you need a customer avatar because you have to know your ideal customer before you can attempt to sell to them.  

How to Create Your Customer Avatar

Creating your first customer avatar does require a lot of time and effort. As mentioned above, you need to base your avatar on data, not guesswork, and make sure you’ve covered all your bases. But rest assured it’s all worth it in the end.  

Plus, the process has been broken down into steps to make it a little less overwhelming.

Here’s what to do…

Step 1: Do Your Research.

First things first, you need to do thorough market research to get a firm grasp of your ideal customer. The good news is they may be an existing customer who has purchased your products or services already. In that case, you can use their information for reference and send them a survey asking additional questions for further insight. You can also collect data by setting up a poll, requesting their input on a questionnaire, or conducting an interview.   

However, if the perfect customer hasn’t found their way to your organization just yet, that’s okay. It just means you need to perform some secondary research, such as gathering data from third-party reports, looking at Q&A sites, and reviewing social media conversations. This kind of outside information is particularly valuable for businesses that are just getting started and don’t have a lot of first-party data of their own.  

The trick is to put your biases aside and get inside the mind of your ideal customer. It’s all about them, not you.   

Step 2: Fill Out an Avatar Worksheet. 

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to start building the actual customer avatar. You’ll be pleased to learn this step is pretty straightforward. You just need to put the information you’ve compiled into an avatar worksheet (download one HERE). 

Start by giving your avatar a name, which adds another layer to this fictional character. You could also upload a stock photo to take it a step further. Sometimes it helps to visualize your ideal customer. 

Then, move on to the following sections:

Demographics

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Goals and Values

Sources of Information

Challenges and Pain Points

Objections & Role in the Purchasing Process

Step 3: Repeat the Process as Needed. 

Odds are good you have more than one ideal customer. And if that’s the case, you need to create a customer avatar for each one. That way you can ensure that your digital marketing efforts are unique to whichever segment you’re targeting. 

Fortunately, the process becomes a breeze once you’ve done it before. 

Note: In the beginning, it’s best to stick to three or fewer. If you create dozens of avatars, you’ll wind up casting your net too wide.    

Takeaway

Remember: Your customer avatar is the key to experiencing marketing and sales success. It’s what allows you to truly understand your ideal customer so you can attract more people who fit this profile. That’s why it should be viewed as an essential part of all marketing strategies.

Knowing… 

…makes all the difference in the world when it comes to focusing your marketing efforts—and working toward growing your business. 

So, download a free customer avatar template HERE and get to work! And remember, you can always reach out to Viral Solutions for help. 

 


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Filed Under: Business Tips

About Lisa Thorstenson

Lisa began her sales, marketing, and category management career at Clairol, where she helped pioneer the company's analytical capabilities. She then spent more than six years at L'Oréal USA, during which time she launched and managed the Category Management Department across all categories and gained category captain positions across most major retail partners in all categories, leading to L'Oréal's rise to the #1 beauty brand position. Lisa then stepped into the OTC medicines arena when she joined Novartis, where she expanded her expertise into channel strategy and marketing across multiple categories. Following her time there, she joined Bristol Myers Squibb, where she was an integral part of the senior team responsible for the launch of their new “standalone” consumer medicines division. Following the sale of this division to P&G, Lisa joined The Yankee Candle Company to head up their business development initiative, where she opened new retail channels and significantly grew the business. In 2006, Lisa joined Sleep Innovations and brought her successful CPG approach and expertise to the foam bedding industry. She spent the next decade leading various initiatives throughout the organization, including channel marketing, marketing, creative, communications, and e-commerce.

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Lisa started her own consulting business in 2015, primarily focused on business development and marketing for companies with a desire to enter the consumer retail markets or diversify into new categories. She worked with a wide range of companies, from commercial building material suppliers to towel manufacturers. Lisa has extensive experience with retail trade classes, product commercialization, marketing, packaging, and market research.

In her free time, Lisa is dedicated to helping local charities enhance their efforts, whether it is a fundraising event at church or assisting the American Legion with event planning for their annual Memorial Day services. She is also on a personal mission to inform friends, neighbors, and local businesses of elder care abuse. This is a significant issue in all communities across the country.