I’d like to share with you a way to engage with more prospective customers than at present – and that probably means demonstrating they can benefit from engaging with you and your business.
As you’ll know, right at the heart of effective marketing is knowing who your ideal customer is. Once you know this, you can do a great job of helping and supporting them, while of course, satisfying their needs along the way.
Over the years, I’ve had the importance of understanding and establishing your ideal customer as an ‘Avatar’ drummed into me. An Avatar is sometimes referred to as a Persona and is a fictional, generalised representation of your ideal customer. Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two or many. The most I’ve seen being used at one time is eleven.
I remember an entire day’s module at the Chartered Institute of Marketing that was dedicated to establishing the ideal customer Avatar: there have been other marketing courses since then and they’ve all given significant weight to creating the Avatar.
The Avatar helps you to answer some key questions:
- Who should you be engaging with?
- Who out there will have empathy with you or your products and services?
- Who will you target with marketing messages and what ‘language’ should you use?
- How can you personalise and target different segments of your audience?
- And most importantly, who will see you as relevant and likely to be able to satisfy their need(s).
Let me say from the outset, that I agree with establishing your ideal customer’s Avatar. It’s very important if you want to be an effective marketer. Essential in fact.
However, most people I meet do not go about establishing their ideal customer Avatar correctly. They miss out an important part of the process, so their marketing results in lack-lustre performance and very often reduces their marketing efforts to a waste of time and money.
I see so many marketing people make the same mistake around creating their Avatar, so I want to share with you a better way.
Your ideal customer’s Avatar
A popular method of determining an Avatar or Persona is to build up a picture of your ideal customer from what you already know about them.
The assumption being that you have met a good number of prospective customers and customers in the past, so you should know a lot about them. So you will dip into your experience of talking to and meeting them to build a big-picture / Avatar / Persona – largely, from what you already know.
Typically, to end up with a useful Avatar / Persona, you will want to establish:
- Their background. Job, Career path …
- Gender, age, income, location …
- Demeanour, communication preferences …
- Their goals – and what we can do to help them achieve their goals
- Their challenges – and what we can do to help them overcome their challenges
- Their objections to buying your product or service
- How they’d like your product or solution to be described
- How to present your solution to them in a way they’d understand and welcome
The problem with dipping into your experiences of customers and prospective customers to build the picture / Avatar / Persona, is that you will have to make compromises. There will be gaps in your understanding and you’ll be forced to make assumptions in order to fill in the gaps and complete the big-picture.
However, there is a better way that will be far more effective, more accurate and more likely to result in your target audience engaging with you. And it’s simply this.
Rather than rely on what you know, or think you know about them, find out from them – what they think, their challenges, their goals …
Starting to build the big-picture / Avatar / Persona from your own experiences of customers and prospective customers is fine, but it’s just the starting point. See this as Part One.
Part Two is to fill the gaps in your knowledge and build a more complete, more accurate and ultimately, more successful big-picture / Avatar / Persona. You do this by listening what they are saying about your topics of interest.
Here are three great sources for listening to what your ideal customers are actually saying –a lot of it is out there on social media.
- Facebook Groups. Find the groups where your typical customer-types hang. Read what they are saying. You will notice them talking about their challenges (this or that hasn’t worked out / Can anyone tell me …) and their goals (Has anyone ever … / How do I – should I …). You’ll also find out a lot about them and what interests them.
- Look at reviews of your competitor’s products and services. It’s easier if you are marketing products rather than services because you have a huge choice of websites selling and reviewing products, but reviews for services are also out there.
Ignore the one and five star reviews and focus on the rest. Three star reviews tend to give good comments and are probably more honest than the others.
- Look at the testimonials section on your competitor’s website, where you can read about what they like and value. Be sure to take note of the ‘language’ and terminology being used, as you’ll want to replicate this in your own marketing.
If you extend your research to include these three sources, then expect to significantly improve your marketing engagement and conversion rates.
Happy marketing …