Introduction to the Customer Avatar…
Here at Better Sales Funnels, we have worked with clients and businesses for more than ten years in the online and offline space. We have worked with brick and mortar business owners. In that time, we also have immersed ourselves in building the skills of online business (think building customer avatars, websites, funnels, online stores, driving traffic, marketing, sales, etc).
Our team is currently focused on helping small business owners and solopreneurs. We love helping people who are just getting started in business to harness the power of the internet, websites, email lists, and social media. It is a powerful thing to be able to help someone get their first clients and start making money in their chosen niche, service, or profession.
In consultations, we get asked, how can I sell more products? How can I make more profits? How can I succeed in my business? Before we ask about the bottom line, products, expenses, employees, marketing strategies, anything, we ask about the customer avatar.
You will not believe how many business owners cannot adequately provide any details or information about their customer avatar. The first thing they want to tell us about is the product they sell, or the service they provide. This happens every time.
And by the way, these individuals should not be punished or criticised for thinking this way. Starting your own business is so very personal. We develop businesses based upon OUR ideas. The sort of business WE want to have. What sort of interests WE have. After all, this business is our baby. We don’t want to sell products that we don’t know anything about. That we aren’t passionate about. After all, the whole point is to do something WE LOVE, right?
Our passion can be our downfall…
Unfortunately, that focus on passion and love for the delivery of a product or service is the downfall of many a business. You can sell your passion product or service if you know how to sell it, and WHO to sell it to. If you don’t do that work to develop the client avatar, then it will be incredibly difficult.
In this article, we are going to talk about this key component of starting a successful business–building a client avatar. By the end of this article, you will know what a client avatar is, when in the business planning stages you should create your avatar, why having a client avatar matters, and, step by step, how to build your own client avatar.
***Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase.
What is a customer avatar?
The customer or client avatar is the answer to the question: WHO are you going to sell to?
You might thinking of the avatar as your “dream customer” or your “target market.”
But your avatar is more than just your target market. If you own a store focused on selling white water rafting products, your avatar is more than just generally people who like rafting, or who will buy rafting themed products. Your client avatar is your creation, individualized to you and your business. It is not something you can just take from somewhere online.
It is a workup of the person who will ideally buy everything you have to offer. And here’s the key. It’s not just what THEY want to buy. The key is that they will want to buy from YOU. This is why you cannot just choose the same characteristics and details from your competitor’s avatar. Your competitors avatar is not going to work for YOU, in most cases.
To succeed in your business, online or offline, you are going to be trying to differentiate yourself from your competitor, so your client avatar is going to be and needs to be different from that of your competitor. Otherwise it will be difficult for your ideal customer or client to make the decision to buy what you have to offer.
Your strengths and weaknesses matter…
In creating your avatar, you have to look inside of yourself and look at your strengths and weaknesses. Are you someone who works well with beginners? Do you want to work with beginners? Or would you rather work with people who have already established some skill?
Russell Brunson, in his book Dotcom Secrets, talks about how he was making a successful living helping people start businesses online, but that he hated the work he was doing, because instead of helping people build their dreams, the majority of his days were spent helping people set up their hosting and websites. He had not spent any time thinking about WHO he really wanted to work with, and who he really wanted to help, and instead focused on who had any money whatsoever to pay him for what he knew. Once he sat down and created his avatar, the focus on his entire business changed, because he knew WHO his customer was. And once you know WHO your customer is, you can easily find them and attract them.
Here’s another example…
Here’s another example, take Garrett White. He is a fairly controversial guy who created a coaching program for a very specific profile of customer. He will tell you outright that he has stopped trying to sell products and services to people that he doesn’t know or can’t understand. His programs are aimed specifically at middle aged men who are married, have kids, who are also business owners, and don’t mind that he cusses all the time.
When he speaks about building his business, he gets a lot of laughs when he speaks about how he doesn’t understand women, and because he doesn’t understand women, he doesn’t try to sell products or services to them. In fact, he goes out of his way to REPEL the individuals who are not his avatar (women). For example, he attracts clients into his coaching program with the heavy use of videos and movies. He asks his wife to watch new videos, and if she says she hates it, he uses it. If she says she likes it, he sends it back to his team.
Why wouldn’t he want people outside of his avatar? Because he knows that he can’t serve them as well as the customers within his profile. In his experience, he makes more money and generates fewer headaches for himself by focusing on the client or customer that he can actually help, not just anyone who happens to come through the door with the cash to sign up.
When should I develop my customer avatar?
You should create your customer or client avatar as early as possible in your business planning. If you have already started your business, don’t worry, it is never too late. But if you are struggling with where to start and how to get started, we implore you to START with your avatar. Once you have established your avatar, so many other questions will be so much easier to answer.
Most people start with the service or product they want to offer, and then might get to their customer later down the road, if at all. Because once you start signing leases, buying stock, running ads, it is tough to take the time to sit down and really think through this exercise. This is one of the reasons it is so neglected.
You should also return to your avatar on a regular basis. Each time you evaluate your business, your product, your service, adding new products, new services, making changes, you must make sure that it all fits within your avatar.
Why does an avatar matter?
The client avatar is a description of your ideal client. If you know your client avatar inside and out, then it will become very easy to sell products to them.
If you start with your product, you will have to figure out how to do it in reverse…how to find the customer who wants to buy your product. You might find that this is very difficult, or perhaps impossible based upon the product, your geographical location, or your advertising budget. It is very discouraging to find out that it costs way to much in ad spend to acquire a customer for a product that you have already invested in.
If you develop your customer avatar, you will be able to develop products and services that they will rave about and buy. When you know them, their characteristics, what they look like, what they are passionate about, what their goals and dreams and desires are, you’ll know exactly what you can successfully sell to them. You’ll also know where you can find them to sell things to them.
Real world examples…
Here’s are some real world example of what happens if you don’t develop an avatar.
Realtor with tons of experience is looking to make more money coaching other realtors. We talk about what she will use to attract her coaching clients. She has prepared a ton of materials aimed at brand new realtors. “How to get started” content. We ask her, do you want to work with someone if the ink isn’t even dry on their license? She says, no way. Really, her ideal client is someone who has a year or two of experience, who is making some money, but wants to take their business to the next level. So we were able to make changes to her “bait” to attract the right kind of coaching client.
Small business owner loves jewelry. She decides to open an online store through Shopify or Woocommerce. Next, she stocks the store full of products that she can dropship for cheap from China. She figures that she can sell the combo alloy necklaces for a few bucks, get epacket shipping for free through AliExpress so there’s no additional shipping costs, and she’ll be good to go. But here’s the problem…who is her customer? And how much will it cost for her to get that customer to buy?
Those cheap alloy necklaces are being sold all over the internet, often for less than she wants to sell them for. She goes on Facebook and discovers that it costs between $7-$10 to get a sale of a $4 necklace. Then she also discovers that the folks who want to buy that $4 alloy necklace get confused by the silver “alloy” and believe that she’s duped them. Or that the necklace is of poor quality and return it, demanding their four dollars back.
Maybe she could make the product profitable with Facebook advertising, but she doesn’t know enough about her customer to develop much of a custom audience on Facebook. She doesn’t know what they like, dislike, who they follow, what videos they watch. This gal chose the Shopify store because it seemed fun and interesting to HER, but in hindsight, she would have been better off really thinking through her customer, and how and what to sell to them.
Don’t go for broke…
We’ll just tell you right now, your customer avatar is NEVER going to include broke people, or people who can’t afford to buy the product you are selling. If you aim your product and advertising and people who cannot afford what you are selling, you are asking for trouble. They might buy it, but they are more likely to want to return, refund, or complain about the product to get their money back.
How to build your own avatar…
We didn’t come up with this process. We read Russell Brunson’s DotCom Secrets and utilize his recommended techniques.
Open up a word doc or an excel spreadsheet. Start just writing down the answers to these questions in as much detail as you can.
Ask yourself these questions:
Who are they?
What do they look like?
Does their race, color, ethnicity matter? If so, include the relevant characteristics and details.
Don’t be squeamish…
Getting in deep about the characteristics of your avatar are critical. This isn’t about discrimination, this is about making sure that you can offer the best of what you have to the ideal person who wants to buy it from you.
How old are they?
Married or not?
Children or not?
Work or not? Employed by others or self?
What do they like to do?
Who do they spend their time with?
Goals, dreams desires?
What do they want out of life?
Do they want to change anything in their life?
Look for a random picture of someone online that represents that dream customer. If you need a separate profile for a man and a woman, go ahead and create that. Once you have that profile picture, put it somewhere you can see it. Give him and her a name, and refer to them specifically as though they were real people.
Its amazing how your perspective changes when you have a physical picture of your ideal customer, instead of an informal idea in your brain.
Brainstorm or seek out:
Where can you find this ideal man or woman?
If they work, where is that?
Where do they hang out after work?
On the weekends?
Do they interact online or on social media?
If so, where? And how?
What websites do they frequent? Do they read online? Who do they follow?
What interests do they have?
If you haven’t developed the who, you can see that it is almost impossible to develop the where.
The most important components…
The who and the where of the avatar are the most important components.
And once you have developed the who and where, you can then develop your products, because you’ll know what they want to buy and you’ll know how to find them to sell it to them. You’ll know what their pain points are, what they are looking for to solve their problems, what they need, what they are willing to buy.
This exercise is particularly useful for selling online, because so much of driving traffic on the internet is about knowing your customer. On Facebook, you develop audiences to show your ads to based upon the information Facebook collects, what they like, dislike, watch or don’t watch, whether they spend money online or not.
That Facebook pixel is following all of us around online if you don’t shut if off. It goes beyond Facebook. It knows what you are reading, what you google, what you watch on YouTube.
As a business, you can harness that data and put your products right in front of people who are likely to be interested and able to buy. The same is true for developing content online–you know what people are searching for in web browsers, you know the keywords to create ads around in Google and Bing.
Knowing your customer…
Knowing all of this about your customer means that you can target them efficiently and directly. But the same is true offline. If your customer is a millennial who lives in the city, doesn’t drive a car, and gets her news from Facebook, you wouldn’t invest in television, radio, or phone book advertisements. If your customer is a 65-85 year old male who watches the news on a television, doesn’t use the internet, and doesn’t use a smartphone, then you wouldn’t pursue messenger bots, Facebook or google ads. You might consider radio, or the yellow pages because this group still utilizes radio and the yellow pages.
Obviously these are some very general example, but we use them to emphasize this point. You would think that it’s obvious, but for many who are just getting started, it isn’t.
If you want more about building up your avatar, get Russell Brunson’s DotCom Secrets. This is a powerful (yet affordable) book that packs a big punch for those who are new to online business.
We’ve written about his book a handful of times on this site, you can check out our 2018 review of the book.
Finally, you might also be interested in our recent post: Teachable vs. Thinkific Guide For Beginners.