What Is a Customer Avatar?


Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for additional insight and accuracy.

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 to resonate with those who will benefit most 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 is and how to create it. You’re not alone. Many business owners struggle with this piece of the marketing puzzle. And the same goes for most church leaders and nonprofit professionals.  

That’s why we’re going to provide some much-needed clarity and help you leverage this tool for success.

What to Know about Customer Avatars

Although the avatar concept has existed for decades, many still struggle with it. There are a lot of misconceptions about what it is and isn’t. Adopting them can lead you to make some costly mistakes.

So, let’s clear up a few things…

Here’s what a customer avatar is:

Here’s what a customer avatar is not:

When 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 a customer avatar for your business (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. That way, you don’t target the wrong people, hang out in the wrong place, or apply the wrong messaging.

Make no mistake—your avatar is a foundational piece of your marketing strategy that puts you on the path to success.

Does Every Business Need a Customer Avatar?

The short answer is yes. 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 profiles regularly. That’s 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.

How This Applies to Nonprofits

We may be focusing on customer avatars for businesses, but the concept isn’t exclusive to for-profit organizations. An avatar can also be a valuable tool for churches and nonprofits. Those who operate in these sectors can reap significant benefits by taking the time to craft donor or member avatars.

For churches, it’s about identifying the ideal member—someone who will join the community, attend services, participate in groups, etc. For nonprofits, it’s about pinpointing the ideal donor—someone who aligns with the mission and regularly gives to the cause.

Why It’s Important to Have a Customer Avatar

Holland of Viral Solutions holding up a customer avatar sheet.

When it comes down to it, you need a customer avatar so you understand who you’re trying to sell to—the perfect customer who will spend big, make repeat purchases, and promote your business to others. This is the ideal customer 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 new

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

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 conduct research into your market to get a firm grasp of your ideal customer. The good news is there 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 using the following tactics:

However, if the perfect customer hasn’t found their way to your organization just yet, that’s okay. There’s more than one type of market research you can do. You may just 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.

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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:


Goals and Values

Sources of Information

Challenges and Pain Points

Objections & Role in the Purchasing Process

Step 3: Repeat the Process as Needed. 

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

Fortunately, the process becomes a breeze once you’ve done it before. You just need to repeat steps 1 and 2 until you’ve covered all your segments.

Here are some examples of when you need multiple avatars:

Note: When you’re just starting out, it’s best to stick to three or fewer. That way, you can stay organized and hyper-focused on a select group. If you create dozens of avatars, you’ll wind up targeting too many at once. 

Step 4: Update Your Avatar Routinely.

After creating your customer avatar, it’s important to go back to it now and then (yearly is a good place to start). Many business owners overlook this step. But if you want to leverage this tool fully, you can’t afford to skip it. 

Your avatar is a representation of a real person. And as you know, people aren’t static; their preferences and habits evolve over time. They may flock to new social media channels, develop different purchasing behaviors, or experience fresh challenges. 

By keeping up with these changes, you can ensure that your marketing efforts remain relevant and effective. Updating your avatar allows you to accurately reflect your audience’s current needs, desires, and pain points. It helps you tailor your messaging and strategy to resonate with them in the here and now.

On top of that, regularly revisiting your avatar enables you to stay ahead of the curve. By anticipating shifts in behavior or emerging trends, you can position your brand as a leader. 

So, don’t underestimate the importance of returning to the drawing board, collecting new data, and adjusting your avatar.


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.


…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. 


At Viral Solutions we are committed to seeing YOU succeed. It is our goal to grow your business with proven digital marketing strategies that will help your business for the long haul.

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Filed Under: Strategy