Truly understanding your target market is one of the most crucial things when it comes to starting to market and sell products online. It is only by having a clear idea in your mind of who you would like to reach, sell to or help that you can tailor and target your messages to have the strong impact on your target audience that you will need to make your new internet business a success and attract customers. Here we look at a powerful exercise that can help you define your target customers – the customer avatar.
What the customer avatar means is identifying your best customer – the person most likely to buy from you time and again and respond to your messages with the greatest positivity – and come up with an “avatar” for all the people in that demographic. Essentially, it is a visioning exercise where you think about your typical best customer, and what their life is like. Here is an example:
Creating the Customer Avatar
I want to start marketing fitness programs, and I have identified that the market I want to sell into is best represented by a 35 to 40-year-old guy. So, to create my customer avatar, I have to flesh out this guy and think about his life, his family, what interests him, and what his problems are that my product can address.
So to start with I gave him a name. I called him Mark. I gave him a type of job. He worked in an office. He had an hour commute to work and an hour commute home. He worked from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. He lived in Pennsylvania somewhere in the suburbs. He had this white house with a beige garage door and a beige minivan that he drove home. And every night when he came home there was a Big Wheel and some other toys on the front lawn that the kids didn’t clean up.
Mark had a couple of kids, and the family was everything to him. So he just wanted to get home each day after work and he wanted to spend time with his wife and kids.
But back in college he was a pretty active guy, and he really wanted to get back in shape. Maybe it was something to do with his wife or some type of relationship issues, or maybe some guys at work were giving him a hard time. Or maybe he just didn’t have the energy. Many guys like Mark say they want fitness programs because “Hey, I just want more energy to keep up with my kids.” His kids were getting to that stage now where they just wanted to play all the time and he couldn’t because he had gotten out of shape from his sedentary lifestyle of driving and office work. In his backyard he has a barbeque, and that’s where he goes every night and has a barbeque with the family. And then they play a little bit, baseball or basketball in the backyard. Then he reads a story to the kids and they go to bed.
By this point it’s 9:30 at night, and that’s the only time he has to exercise. So, this is when Mark comes online, and he’s looking for some program that he can do in his basement with just a little bit of equipment that he’s had stashed away or built up over the couple of years or got at a garage sale. And this is when my business can sell to Mark. We understand he is tired, and doesn’t have much time. We understand that his priorities cannot be centered around his fitness program. With all of this in mind, and with an empathy for Mark’s life, we can sell to him, and everyone just like him.
Mark is not, of course, a real person, but he is a customer avatar for thousands of real people that make up the ideal customer for this business. By writing sales messages that speak directly to Mark and tell him how my product can solve his particular problems, I can ensure I am speaking in terms that my target market will find relatable and appealing. The closer an individual is to Mark, my ideal customer, the more impact these messages will have and the more developed my business can become in that niche.
And that is the same level of customer knowledge and appreciation that you need to have. No matter whether you’re going to sell as yourself in a personality type business or whether you’re going to create some type of online store that just sells products, you really need to know who is going to buy from you. It’s very, very important stuff. So that’s what I recommend you do. Figure out all those details about the best potential customer in your marketplace.
In some cases, you may not need to come up with a creative story about your ideal customer, because for many internet businesses, the ideal customer is the business owner themselves – you. Maybe you set up a business to sell to people just like you, and so your customer avatar may be yourself. Alternatively, it may be someone else you know. Maybe a friend of yours is the ideal customer for your business, and you can think of them as your customer avatar. Whether your avatar is a real person or someone you have made up to represent your demographic, it is important to know all about them so you know exactly how to talk to them.
This sort of customer profiling is done all the time in business, with even the biggest, widest reaching brands and companies having stories in place about the type of people who choose their products. It is a good practice to get into to attract customers. You may find your customer avatar varies from product to product, or is the same throughout everything your business does, but it important to know your target market on this sort of level to sell effectively and attract customers.