11 Questions to Help You Define Your Customer Avatar

When you try to sell to everyone you run the risk of selling to no one.  In order to promote your offer effectively you need to truly connect with your prospect and the first step to connecting with them is to understand them. When your prospects feel you are talking to them directly, that you know and sympathise with their situation, that you can seemingly read their minds, they will buy from you. They trust you. You achieve all this by defining a customer avatar (or customer profile) – a fictitious character who will benefit most from your product or service, i.e. your ideal prospect.

Whenever you create or market a product remember the mindset that you are selling to one person. Any product you’re planning starts with defining your customer avatar – not the product idea. You’re not in the business of creating needs. You’re in the business of finding out what people’s needs are and delivering the solution.

Failing to clearly defining your target customer

  1. Today’s customers are too savvy and, frankly, tired of being sold to. As a result, they’ve learned to filter out most of the marketing messages that bombard them daily.
  2. Trying to sell to faceless prospects is ineffective and costly.
  3. Being product-led instead of market-led. Start with the customer avatar and develop the product that solves their problems.

11 questions that will help you clarify your ideal customer profile

  1. What is your avatar’s biggest source of pain? Successful products are “painkillers” not “vitamins”, i.e. your avatar is more interested in a cure than in prevention (we all are – it’s human nature). By knowing your prospect’s greatest pain you can create a product to remove it and direct all your marketing/promotion efforts accordingly. The more keyed in you are to your avatar’s pain, the easier it is to sell your solution. (You don’t have to be a great marketer to sell hotdogs to a hungry crowd).
  2. What do they worry about? Humans hate uncertainty. We equate uncertainty with threat and we’ll go to great lengths to remove it in an attempt to restore our peace of mind. What does your avatar worry about? What hangs over their head and brings them down when they think about it? If you can identify your avatar’s worries, you’ll go a great way to earning their trust.
  3. What are they afraid of? What fills your avatar with dread? What activities do they know they should do but avoid out of fear? It could be public speaking; asking for a date; presenting to an investor. Your avatar may be close to success if they could just remove certain fear barriers.
  4. What are their predominant thoughts and emotions when thinking about their situation? Imaging the inner dialogue that takes place in the mind of your avatar when they think about their situation. List their thoughts. What are their “If only I could” statements? e.g. “If only I could… get more customers… overcome my nerves… lose this weight”. What emotions does your avatar experience? Despair? Sadness? Hope? Optimism? If you could get into their skin – what they’re thinking and the language they use – your avatar will be receptive to your product.
  5. What has your avatar tried without success? Other experts may have gone before you, making promises they did not deliver on. Maybe they did not solve the problem; or they glossed over the most difficult challenge; or they hyped their offer so that disappointment was inevitable. What frustrations has your avatar experienced as a result? What has left them dissatisfied, cynical and annoyed with offers like yours? What defences has your avatar erected?
  6. What do they want less and more of in their lives? What negative experiences does your avatar want to minimise or eliminate? Slow-paying customers? Wasting time on unsuccessful pitches? Difficult employees? These may not be as pressing as their main problem or worries but nevertheless they erode your avatar’s peace-of-mind and wellbeing. What positive experiences do they want to increase? More money (no surprise); happier customers; increased referrals etc. Ask yourself what small battles your avatar engage in regularly and what small victories make their life easier.
  7. What are the greatest threats to their wellbeing? Is there a threat looming on the horizon that could hurt your avatar? Perhaps there is strong competitor entering the market. Or they’re facing retirement with insufficient savings. What is the brewing storm on the horizon? What help do they need to navigate it successfully?
  8. How can you help your avatar make the most of any opportunities they may have? What opportunities lie before your avatar? (They may or may not know). Can you draw their attention to the positive possibilities, i.e. help them see hope? Hope is a powerful emotion and we love those who inspire it in us. If your avatar is aware of their opportunities, do they know how to proceed to make the most of them?
  9. What is the ideal outcome they’re looking for? If your avatar could wave a wand to fix their problem what would the outcome look like? (Incidentally, this will be seed of your product idea). What would be the perfect solution?
  10. What is their ideal self-image? How does your avatar see themselves? How do they want to feel? What do they want their life to represent? How do they want to be perceived by others? What is their legacy? How do they want to leave their mark in the world? (This is what Abraham Maslow called self-actualization in his Hierarchy of Needs).
  11. What is their dream goal? In terms of health, wealth and relationships, what does your avatar want to achieve? What is their perfect life? How do they want to be spending their time? With whom? Doing what?

Takeaway points

  1. Always imagine you’re creating for and marketing your product or service to one ideal prospect, i.e. your customer avatar.
  2. If you can fully define your avatar, selling your product and marketing your business becomes much easier.
  3. Always start by defining your avatar first, not your product, i.e. identify your target market then define your offer. (You can have a suspicion of the type of product you’re going to produce but it must always be backed up by a customer avatar).

Action steps

  1. Define your customer avatar. Who will you serve? Typically, you will only have one (ideally) or two avatars per product you create. If you find yourself creating more than three avatars, you need to refine your product further to target a more specific market.
  2. How can you reach your avatar? Facebook ads? Google ads? LinkedIn? Trade press? Advertising on industry websites? Hosting a webinar? Reaching out to industry bloggers?
  3. Use your answers to the above questions to draft your sales material. Demonstrate you fully understand challenges your ideal customers face by interweaving their problems, thoughts, feelings and desires into your sales copy.

Photo credit: Innovation Lab via Foter.com / CC BY

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