Mark is 34 years old. He works in Scranton, Pennsylvania at a job he dislikes, for a boss that he hates, at a company that would make The Office look like one of America’s best places to work.
Each day at 4:30 p.m. (or some days a few minutes earlier if his horrible boss is already gone) he shoves his cheap rolling chair under his beat-up, old desk and walks down the two flights of stairs to the company parking lot. He opens the sliding door of his beige mini-van and throws his knapsack in amongst the jumble of toys and snacks on the floor of the backseat.
After a 15-minute commute he’s home, just on the outskirts of town. Mark slowly pulls into his 30-yard driveway, carefully maneuvering around the toys, basketballs, baseball gloves, and hockey nets scattered on the pavement and lawn.
He parks 10 feet short of the garage because of the bicycles blocking his way. Mark gets out of his van, pushes a few toys off to the side and onto the grass, and bounds inside… suddenly bursting with energy.
“Hey babe, I’m home,” he says to his wife, Tanya, an x-ray technologist, who works the early shift at the city hospital.
“Hey Marky,” she replies. “Boys, go see your daddy.”
His children rush him at the door, each grabbing one of Mark’s legs and yelling, “Daddy!”
Mark drops his knapsack to the floor and, struggling, scoops them both up in his arms.
“You boys wanna play ball?” he asks, turning his head left to right and back again.
Their eyes light up. Mark and the boys head to the backyard. They each grab a tiny baseball bat and wait for their turn to swing at the big plastic ball that daddy lobs to them. The next 30 minutes fly by.
“Marky, will you put the chicken and hot dogs on the grill?” Tanya yells out the window. Mark calls a time out, sends the boys inside, and takes a plate of food out to his Weber grill on the back deck.
He’s very proud of his deck, the grill, and the green space he’s carved out for his family. It’s what he works so hard and sacrifices for every day. He loves having his other “boys” over after softball to have a cold beer or two on those long, Pennsylvania summer nights. Even better, he looks forward to impressing his in-laws every July 4th with what he believes is the best backyard party in the neighborhood.
It’s not much, he admits to himself, but his backyard is where he can still be the King of the Jungle, the alpha-male that he remembers himself being in college. Mark makes only $60,000 a year, but he spends every penny of that on his family and creating experiences that will last them a lifetime.
After dinner Tanya and Mark wash the dishes, give the boys a bath, read them a bedtime story, and tuck them into bed. Afterwards they both crash onto the couch, but for Mark, it’s only for a minute. Soon he’s changing his clothes, grabbing his shoes, and heading down to the basement.
“You’re not going downstairs again, are you?” Tanya says with a pouty look on her face.
“It’ll just be 30 minutes, babe, I promise. That’s how long this guy Craig Ballantyne from Men’s Health said the workout would take,” Mark replies. “After that I’ll shower and we can watch whatever you want… and we can even have ice cream. Deal?”
“Okay,” Tanya says with a sigh. “But tomorrow’s your off-day, right?”
“Yes, I promise. We’ll take the boys to Dairy Queen, drop them off at your mom’s and then go to a movie. It’s date night and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Tanya capitulates with a smile.
And with that, Mark descends into his ‘dungeon,’ as he affectionately calls it. This is where most men would have a “man-cave.” But in Mark’s old home, he’s carved out an 8-by-8-foot area for his workout bench and the rusty dumbbells that he purchased at a garage sale.
Mark flips open a copy of Men’s Health that Tanya gave him last Christmas, and goes through one of the workouts I’d written for the magazine.
It hasn’t always been easy for Mark to find the time to work out, but he sticks to the habit to have the energy to keep up with his boys, and to set a good example for them.
And frankly, as much as Tanya feigns annoyance, he knows she appreciates the fact he hasn’t gone soft like the husbands of all the girls at work. His thrice-weekly thirty minutes in the basement is a sacrifice they are willing to make in order to keep the magic alive.
Thirty minutes later, as promised, Mark is done. Soon he’s in and out of the shower and back on the couch, joining his wife for the final few minutes of The Bachelor.
“You smell so good,” Tanya says to him. She stands up, grabs his hand, turns off the television, and pulls him toward the master bedroom.
And that, dear reader, is Mark, my customer avatar for my Turbulence Training business. It’s been that way for over 16 years, with few modifications.
If you haven’t heard of the phrase, Customer Avatar, before, most marketers agree it’s the #1 step in getting your marketing message right. A customer avatar is generally described as “a fictional, generalized representation of the persona most likely to buy from you.”
As we learned from Gary Halbert in yesterday’s lesson, your customer avatar should speak clearly to the prospect you desire, and should be willing to repel those that you don’t care to attract.
Creating an effective customer avatar requires you to know the prospects in your market. In the example above, I first got to “know” Mark by spending hundreds of hours as a moderator on the Men’s Health online fitness forum. It also helps that I share an affinity with Mark about everything from the lack of time to similar distractions and desires.
With a clear, concise customer avatar in place, it makes it easy for me to write sales letters and email marketing campaigns, and to create the best follow-up products for my perfect prospect.
Having a customer avatar is like having a clear bulls-eye for all of your efforts. But without a clear picture of who you are marketing to, you’ll struggle with a scattered, shotgun approach.
Creating your customer avatar is the #1 step in getting started with your marketing.
It identifies exactly whom you are talking to. It dictates your product creation, your sales positioning, and what you will — and will NOT — say in your marketing.
For advanced marketers, a customer avatar helps determine the advertising platforms. (Will you use social media, Google Adwords, or newspaper and radio ads?)
You don’t need to write a story of such great detail as I did today, but it wouldn’t hurt. At the very least, make sure you know the following about your Perfect Prospect:
- Their “name”
- Occupation and income
- Marital status, kid status, family details
- Religious and political beliefs and educational background
- Where they live, what they drive, and what they do with their time (i.e. hobbies)
- And then, perhaps most importantly, their Fears & Desires, specifically how these pertain to the problem they have and the solution you offer.
Don’t be intimidated. It’s not as daunting of a task as you might think. To make the process easier, my friend, Ryan Deiss, and his team over at Digital Marketer have put together a great worksheet to help you build your customer avatar. Download it for free here.