Part 2 – Create Your Customer Avatar
You cannot use your website to attract your best customers by broadcasting your life history, or by simply listing the features of what it is you are selling.
This type of self indulgent website content will not set you apart in the eyes of your potential customers.
Because they care much more about how you can solve their problems, rather than reading your pedigree.
So as much as you might want to use your website to tell the world how great your product or service is, you can only really convey to your customers you are the best solution for them by demonstrating that you;
- Clearly understand and empahthise with them and
- Have and understanding of their problems and can demonstrate how they can be overcome
These two points are missed in most small busness websites I come into contact with. As such they cause the website owner to send out the wrong message and end up attracting the wrong crowd.
So How Is This Scenario Avoided?
With an avatar.
What Is An Avatar?
An Avatar is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer and the life they lead.
It is someone you need to get to know very well, by either basing them on a person or persons known to you, or what you can gather from research, or a bit of both.
Not knowing or understanding what makes your avator tick will leave you flying blind when it comes to creating the type of content that will attract them to you.
This makes creating a customer avatar an important, nay, critical, step in your website build and marketing plan.
Your research into your perfect avatar will not only build a composite of all the good stuff you identify in the people you either want or have had in your business, but also all the things that keep them up at night that you can help with.
If you are panicking at this stage, then fear not.
You don’t have to have a complete dossier on your customer avatar right out of the gate. You just need enough intel to start your website build with the best chance of connecting with your ideal audience.
Where To Start With Your Customer Avatar Data.
There are plenty of avatar experts on the interwebs, so a quick Google of “How To Create Your Customer Avatar” will keep you busy for a while. However, since you are here, you can follow along with me as I start this example website project.
As I mentioned earlier, you can define your ideal customer or client avatar by using a living example of someone you know, or drawing from your experience of working within your field of expertise.
I could use my interactions from folks I’ve helped in the past, but for this example I’ll be drawing from my finance background and base the site around a bookkeeper or small accounts business.
I have a good few years of finance industry work behind me, so I have a reasonable idea of how a set up for a finance or accounts professional would work.
Also, I am able to define the trials and tribulations of their target audience in relative comfort.
For example, major headaches for non financially literate business owners are attempting to keep the paper trails simple or how to manage their cashflow effectively, but more about that later.
So, How Do I Start This Exercise?
I usually draw up a simple mindmap. You don’t have to do this, but it helps me get the creative juices flowing as I am a “visual” person.
I started this mindmap on my phone while waiting to get my eyes tested for some new contact lenses.
This demonstrates the flexibility of content creation.
Provided you have the tools to hand there’s no reason why you can’t utilise your “downtime” to get some ideas and notes captured.
In my case it’s a smartphone with a few key apps, but a standard issue notebook and pen will do just as well if you prefer to go analog.
Using these spare moments to capture a few notes, or to jot down a couple of ideas has the added bonus of preventing you from getting wound up when you find yourself being delayed when you are out and about.
Obviously if you are on a deadline and your time is really pressed, then this may not be the case. However, my point here is to not let the opportunity to create content pass you by.
Here’s the first draft of the mindmap after I completed it on the laptop.
I thought about sharing a video of me completing this, but I think you get the idea of how this process works, plus I don’t want to bore you with my dull monotone voice.
So that is the basic set up of my avatar. This gives me an idea of who I am dealing with and what direction to take with the website content.
The Customer Avatar Deep Dive
As I mentioned earlier, you do not have to draw up a mindmap if that is not your thing, but you will need to get a detailed insight into your ideal customer. Basically, you need to make this person as real as you can , so you will need to compile a FBI style profile of them.
Why is it so important to do this?
Well, you need to get inside the head of the person you most want to help for two main reasons:
- To get to know how they think and how they view the world. You want to go beyond just understanding what their problems are, you also need to learn what they mean to them. This may sound very woo-woo, but being able to “walk in their shoes” will give you more empathy and insight on how you can connect with them.
- You are designing the perfect customer who you want in your business. You want to know you’re gonna get on with this person and that you will have a real desire to help them. There are certain traits and values that you hold dear, that you would like to see in your perfect customer. Similarly, there are folks with values that you want to exclude from your world. Now’s the perfect time to start designing.
I need to build on my inital mindmap and create a more detailed profile of this person by using a Customer Avatar Worksheet.
This is a checklist of the main characteristics of your avatar.
There are many different versions of this type of checklist on the interwebs, but this is the one I currently use.
I would love to say that I created this all by myself, but as I mentioned before, I am no marketing guru and I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel.
Instead this worksheet was influenced by this post by Chimp Answers and this one by WorldWideSalonMarketing.
If you want to get your hands on this version, then feel free to download it here:
I’ll take you through how I completed this worksheet.
To make this person “real”, you’ll need to give them an identity which is what done did here.
In my example I’ve drawn on someone I personally know (who is not a bookkeeper) and merged her with my finance knowledge to create a “real person”.
Her situation is fairly similar to what I have written, and is something that I can identify with.
I would encourage you to spend time on this part and apply the same approach of naming your avatar, giving them some history and making them someone who will be a the centre of your marketing.
Deeper Dive Questions
Now we are getting more clarity.
Again, these questions are ones I have either “borrowed” from others, or I feel are relevant to this persons occupation.
You, of course, are free to use whatever questions you want. But, you need to make sure they will help you build up a meaningful connection with your customer avatar.
Here, I have listed what I think is important to Jenn from both a business and a personal standpoint. The two are definitely intrinsically linked, but I find it helpful to have separate perspectives on someone.
The typical day approach is also very useful. It gives me an understanding of the time pressures a person faces and how a decent website with an effective marketing strategy would give them some “time freedom”, which in most cases is what they really want.
At this point, I need to remind you that THIS WAS NOT COMPLETED IN ONE SITTING. In fact I had a small glass of wine to assist me.
I’ll continue here with the deeper dive questions…
I need to understand what kind of work ethic my avatar has and what I personally identify with. It’s important to me to work with folks that challenge me, but in away that is not flat out critical, but is healthy and allows us both to work toward a common goal.
(Phew that was deep!)
The worst and best case scenario are a couple of questions I definitely did not think up myself. Nonetheless, they are very important as they define the world that your avatar wants and the one you can help them avoid.
Here, I’ve attempted with my (again, borrowed ahem) questions to get more depth around where or who Jenn will look to in order to get things done or find out how they are done.
I like to work with folks who are willing to take on a “learning curve” and who are not afraid of being “idiot in the room”.
I see everyday as a school day and I enjoy working with folks who think the same.
The last question (which I definitely borrowed) provides me with more empathy for this person.
Her answer tells me that I have to not only keep the communication loop open, but not fill it with technobabble
My initial data set is complete, however building an Avatar knowledge bank is an ongoing intelligence campaign. I have the basic outline, so I can get cracking with the rest of the planning and build.
Any any intel if pick up later down the track will be added to the customer avatar file.
Next up is to list the topics that will form the basis of the website structure and the content pillars.
Best of luck with your site.
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