Meet Michelle –
Michelle is a local born Singaporean married to a British expatriate. She has 2 kids, a boy and girl, aged 8 and 4 respectively.
Michelle’s 8-year-old is currently in Primary 2 in a local primary school. He has a problem paying attention in class and did not do very well academically in his first year in primary school.
His teacher also has difficulty controlling him in class and Michelle frequently receives calls from his teacher, especially when he becomes disruptive in class and forgets to do his homework.
At home, he can’t focus while doing homework and is not able to sit down for more than 30 mins without being distracted.
This frustrates Michelle as she tries to help her son learn and focus but feels that it is getting more difficult day by day because he is getting more rebellious and expresses his frustrations by crying when he does not understand or does not want to continue studying.
Michelle is currently looking for solutions on the internet and is quite active on social networks and forums like Parentsworld.com.sg and Motherhood.com.sg and also subscribes to Young Parents Magazine.
She researches extensively on available centres and companies that can provide the best for her son, she doesn’t delve deep into the scientific nature of children psychology but she believes in frameworks and formulas that are credible and supported by experts and professors.
She is cautious but not apprehensive to these concepts.
She also feels that she is the only one that truly cares about her child’s future and that her husband doesn’t give much thought to it. However, he agrees with whatever she says and will pay for anything she really believes will work. So money isn’t really an issue.
Typical Day: Michelle wakes up early at 6am to prepare breakfast for her 2 children. She then drives both of them to their respective schools and then to work. She’ll be in the office by 9am and works till 5pm.
When she gets home at about 6, she unwinds for 30 minutes before preparing dinner for the whole family. Then she tries to get her kids to complete their homework and she tries to get them to focus and complete it on time before their bed time at 9.30pm.
After tucking her kids to bed, she does research on children development and spending time with her husband.
Alright, hold on to your horse for just for a second: You’re probably wondering who “Michelle” is, and why in the world I’m telling you about her, so let me get straight to the point –
We’ve been using “Michelle” for years as a potential “Customer Avatar” for any education company selling children enrichment programs to middle and upper-class parents.
Why “Michelle” Is Extremely Crucial To You Business Owners
Here’s whats happening – I know that most of you guys are probably not in the education niche, but theres a very important reason I told you about her – so sit tight for the next 5 minutes, and pay attention to this valuable skill that the most successful businesses use on a daily basis, and is applicable to EVERY company in EVERY industry. (Even if you’re in an uncommon niche like selling steel for construction, or pest removal services.)
“Wait, but Nick – How can you dare say EVERY? Every business is different…”
Well, you’re absolutely right – Every business is different, EXCEPT for one thing they all have in common –
ALL businesses need to market and sell their product / service to their customers.
And to do that effectively, the first thing you need to do is get a clear idea of WHO your ideal customer is, and what makes them tick: Their pains, fears, desires, pleasures and habits,
Because once you know your customer well, you’ll know how to make them buy – And that’s going to have a HUGE impact on your marketing and sales efforts.
Briefly, here are the benefits of creating a comprehensive Customer Avatar (Some also call this a buyer persona):
- You’ll Be Able To Identify The Perfect Customer Who Is Similar To Your Current Most Profitable Customer – This is that one gentlemen/lady that you spent the least time persuading to buy and yet handed you the cash in his hand with a big smile on his face (and yours).
- You’ll Have A Clearer Idea Of What Makes Them Tick – You’ll be able to strategically place your marketing messages in their daily thoughts by twisting their pain points, stimulating their pleasure hot buttons, and overturning their shallow objections into selling points.
- You’ll Have The Ability To Find Them Wherever They Are, Even If They’re Commuting From Work Or In The Toilet – Okay, maybe it isn’t the best to find your customers when they’re busy in the toilet, but you get my point. Utilising the suite of powerful targeting options most advertising platforms provide you, you’ll be able to laser target them with your homing marketing missile to sell them whenever, and wherever, with a targeted marketing message that they’d relate to (and buy from.)
So, now that you’ve seen briefly just how useful a solid customer avatar is, let me show you how to get started with your very own.
The 5 Crucial Steps To Creating Your Very Own Customer Avatar
1) Write Down Their Profile
First, write down their demographic details like I’ve listed out below.
- Marital status
- Family size
- Monthly income
- Highest level of education attained
Though simple, knowing these little nitty-gritty details about your customer allows you to make certain educated guesses based on the traits that your ideal customer possesses, for example:
- How old they are – which tells you a lot about their generational habits. (Think a 20 year old girl vs a 40 year old lady, and the difference between the way they behave.)
- What role they play in their family – Like “Michelle”, a mother behaves extremely differently from a single lady. (This is just one example.)
- Where they live – which is crucial if your small business is based in a certain location.
- Whats their social status – which affects the way they spend, and make decisions. (Lower vs middle vs upper class. Do they buy for themselves, or to maintain a certain image?)
- How educated they are – which affects how they react to your marketing messages and their awareness levels.
- What racial / religious habits they might possess, and so on.
Alright, now that you have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is and what traits they posses, you now need to go deeper into their behavioural habits so you understand more about the way they behave and what they do.
Now, the next few questions might need some primary or secondary research to be done right, so if you’re unable to answer any of them, give your best customer a call and ask him these few simple questions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: All these answers have to link to solving the problems they face related to your product offering (E.g. if you’re selling shoes, the following answers have to be about fashion, or buying the best shoes that match their style). I’ll explain why shortly, but first:
- What books have they read?
- What magazines do they subscribe to or buy often?
- What websites/blogs/videos do they often visit/read/watch?
- What conferences or events do they attend?
- Who are the thought leaders they follow or respect?
These preferences are extremely important – Because chances are, if your ideal customer has these interests, they’ll be looking them up online –
And what does that mean for you as a business owner?
Remember what I mentioned earlier about ad targeting? Knowing your customers interests will allow you to target your online advertising and marketing material on Facebook / Google / LinkedIn, etc via their powerful back-end ad targeting platforms.
As I mentioned earlier, this is why the answers have to link to solving the problems they face related to your product offering.
This is crucial because you really don’t want to be wasting your budget showing your messages to the wrong people, who aren’t the right fit / aren’t interested in what you have to sell at all.
2) Identify Their Pains And Challenges
All aboard the the empathy train / emotional roller coaster! Here’s where you channel your inner psychiatrist to truly understand what pains your customer faces daily and how serious these pains are.
Is the pain recurring? Does it happen just once? What’s the frequency of the pain happening? How does it affect them in their lives?
NOTE: Keep asking yourself, WHY?! Why does this pain happen? Why is it recurring? Why is it affecting them?
By doing this, you’ll be able to go even deeper into the core reason for their challenges – and when you know this their pains at the back of your hand, you’ll be able to sell them anything that solves this problem!
Why does this work? Well, think about that time you had a toothache, or bad flu. What did you do? I’m pretty sure most of you bolted to the dentist / doctor to find relief for your pain, and no matter the cost, you either didn’t mind or parted with the cash reluctantly.
Either way, the point I’m trying to make is – When a person is in pain, costs become a minor consideration in the face of the solution.
And in this case, your product IS the solution. So, here’s what you’ll need to find out:
- Their pains
- Their sufferings
- Their worries
- Their fears
- Their anxieties
- Their challenges
- What keeps them up at night
- What embarrasses them
The more of your customers pains you are able to understand, the more effective they are in helping you persuade them that you are the right guy to eliminate all of these problems.
3) Identify Their Pleasures And Desires
Most business owners skip this part, thinking that pain / fear alone is enough to motivate their sale.
They’re not exactly wrong, but think about this for a quick second – What if you can understand your customer’s needs, their wants, their desires, and what they will never be able to say no to?
If you can promise them what they truly desire and show them how by buying your product or service, they’ll be able to get that quickly and without hassle, wouldn’t they be insane to say no?
To do that, ask these questions:
- Their needs
- Their wants
- Their biggest goal
- Their pleasures
- Their desires
- Their aspirations
- Their fantasies
- If they have a magic wand, what would they wish for?
- If they can accomplish just one thing this year, what would it be?
The thing most business owners fail to realise is that on the flip side of pain, pleasure remains as one of the core driving forces that motivate people to take action, and if you are able to trigger your customers pleasure points, they’ll find it extremely hard to refuse your offer.
4) Find Out What They’ve Tried In The Past And What Their Objections To Your Product / Service Are
This part is pretty interesting, so pay attention closely –
Chances are, if your ideal customer is facing pain with their problem, they’ve tried to solve it before.
So, even though you may think your product / service may be all that special or different, you’re not the first person to come along claiming to have a solution to their problems, and you definitely won’t be the last.
Through their experiences and failures to solve their problem, they’ve definitely built up a wall of what we like to call “objections”.
And to be able to move them to take action, you’re going to need to tear this wall of objections down.
So ask these set of questions:
- What have they tried before?
- Did it work? If not, why?
- Are they still using that solution? If not, why?
- What have they said no to?
- Why did they say no?
Once you know what makes your customer say no, and their immediate concerns about your solution, you’ll be able to turn these objections into strong selling points for your product / service.
Of course, this only works if:
1) You have a solid product / service that can truly solve their problem, and
2) You know your product like the back of your hand – Or you’ll crumble in the face of your customer objections.
5) Create Your Own Customer Avatar Story
Scroll back to the top and read my little story about “Michelle” agan – You’ll notice that I’m pretty detailed in explaining:
- Who she is,
- What she has experienced,
- Her current daily challenges,
- What is her typical day like, and even
- What she does in her free time.
To create your very own customer avatar story, use the answers that you’ve gotten from asking the questions in this post, and arrange them like how I did for “Michelle”.
Now, you might be wondering what the point of the customer avatar story is, and why its useful – The big idea here is to be in your ideal customers’ shoes and know them inside- out, and whenever you want to craft a new marketing message, you’ll have this story to refer to.
Know what they see, hear, say, and experience almost every single day.
NOTE: Be descriptive. Be detailed. Include their typical day. Make it look believable. Make sure you can see them in front of your eyes, feel them, hear them, and understand them like you two have been best friends for years.
Only by doing this will you be able to truly understand them and offer a solution that solves their problems, paves their way to reaching their aspirations, and most importantly – gives them something new and unique, something they can never say no to.
Last, BUT Definitely Not Least
Test out this customer avatar formula on someone that you know for feedback. This person should be someone that’s familiar with your business and customers, such as your business partner or marketing team.
After penning down your customer avatar, ask your partner if they are able to:
- Visualise this person
- Understand what makes this person tick
- Identify their pains and challenges
- Identify what they truly want, and
- Have a clearer idea of what they will say yes to and how badly they want that.
If they are able to check all these criteria, you know that you’ve now got yourself a comprehensive customer avatar.
Now, go and use this in your advertising, in your positioning, your communication messages, or maybe even develop a product to suit this ideal client.
You’ll find that now that you have a crystal clear idea of who your ideal customer is, you’ll find more of them in no time!
You’ll be able to:
- Filter the “not-so-ideal” customers that you don’t want,
- Find these ideal customers that are ready and waiting to buy from you,
- Increase your sales, and
- Grow your business.
The best part? You’ll enjoy it every step of the way dealing with clients that are easier to sell to and would love to maintain a customer relationship with you!
And there you have it – Your very own customer avatar! Use this whenever you have a new product / service to offer, and you’ll find that your marketing efforts work 10x more effectively now that you understand exactly what makes your customers tick.
Now that we’ve come to the end of your customer avatar journey, drop me a comment or e-mail below – We’d love to know what you guys managed to think of, and if you guys faced any problems while trying to create your own customer avatar!
Oh, and to help you guys get started immediately , we’ve prepared our very own Customer Avatar Worksheet – You can download it right below.