9 Steps to Creating a Perfect Client Avatar (and why you must have one)
If you try and talk to everyone, you will talk to no one. Defining your ideal client avatar will help you attract the people who will be a joy to work with. The downstream impact of this is profound both for you and your clients.
You may have heard terms like buyer persona, customer profile, or ideal customer as alternative descriptions of this mystical person. No matter. They are all talking about the same thing.
You may also have heard people say that there's no need to identify your client avatar.
They will find you by a natural process of osmosis. That requires you to be very clear in your own mind about the problem that you solve and how it manifests itself in people's lives in different ways.
And, of course, it will manifest itself in different ways in different target markets...
So it's best to focus on one client avatar in one market vertical, at least to start with, so you can attract coaching clients, build business momentum, and establish the control over your own destiny that you always wanted.
Here's what a client avatar really is...
- A composite of up to 12 traits every one of your ideal customers possesses.
- One of which is an urgent desire to solve one high-value problem.
- Plus the disposable income to pay you to help them solve it.
- So they have common needs, wants, and desires.
- All of the above are defined in a single profile.
- Which helps you to develop a clear messaging strategy.
In this post, we will take a deep dive into defining how to create a perfect client avatar and in the next, we will go into why it is just as important to choose one vertical from the many target markets that this ideal customer may exist in.
Here’s what a client avatar is not...
- A short, vague description that lacks important details.
- A list of characteristics and traits that never changes.
- An amalgam of all your potential and/or existing customers.
- A profile that has been created based on guesses/assumptions.
- Thrown together in 5 minutes only to be forgotten.
- A “nice to have”.
I'm sure by now that you have realized that your existing definition of your ideal customer avatar needs more work. That is not a surprise. That profile is based on the conversations, you have with folks in your target market. As your understanding of it deepens your ability to define your client avatar grows.
And in so doing, your messaging strategy gets distilled.
You cannot have one without the other.
It is not an option. Big companies like Coca-Cola get their feedback from focus groups before testing the market. Facebook grew from its first faltering steps at Harvard in 2004 to become a behemoth over 15 years. Each evolution was based on feedback from its market.
So let's get down to the serious business of creating our client avatar in 9 simple steps.
Step 0: Sources, Resources, and Useful Questions.
- What gurus do they follow and why?
- Where do they hang out (Both online and in-person)?
- Social Media platforms (Facebook, Linkedin, Tik Tok, Instagram, Youtube)
- Other communities (Reddit, Circle, Mighty Networks etc)
- Websites (Quora, Buzzsumo, Answerthepublic)
- What materials do they read?
- Magazines (Magazine Newstand)
- News Aggregators (Flipboard, Pocket, Fark, Inoreader )
- Books (Amazon.com, Bookbub.com)
- What do they listen to?
- Music (iTunes)
- Podcasts (Fusebox, Blubrry Podcasting, Spreaker)
- Books (Kindle.com)
- - To answer these questions, use this phrase “but no one else would” and complete sentences like these:
- My ideal customer would read [BOOK], but no one else would.
- My ideal customer would subscribe to [MAGAZINE], but no one else would.
- My ideal customer would attend [CONFERENCE], but no one else would.
Step 1: Identify demographics
Basic but essential details include... age, gender, marital status, location, job, income, and education for example. Go further than this and imagine where they live, the environment they live in, their lifestyle, and more.
Not least this information is useful when combined with the previous step to targeting audiences for a Facebook Ad campaign but is also an essential kick-off point for a deeper understanding of your ideal client.
Think about the environment that say, a Gen Z client avatar grew up in compared with a Boomer.
They will each have a different library of memorable events...
The former will remember the birth of Facebook, the iPhone, and the Great Recession. The latter will remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile crisis, and Martin Luther King.
Different historical contexts lead to different collective attitudes. You would do well to mine these...
Step 2: Identify their major goal
Your client avatar tells themself that once they have achieved their goal, life will be amazing. Your job is to describe just HOW it will be amazing so they can recognize the change when it begins.
There are three threads to this description.
- The first is external...
The material things that will change. A bigger house and a bigger car, for instance... OR a tiny house and no mortgage. It depends on your avatar's goal in life.
- The second is internal...
How they feel inside. The emotional transformation. More confidence. More fulfillment. And more relaxed.
- And the third is philosophical (Social)...
How does this transformation change their identity? What stories will they tell about themselves through the things they buy (or don't buy). How will they be viewed by society?
These three things are bound together and help to describe the goal. The more effective you are at describing this the more you will be able to connect with your target market.
Step 3: Identify their big challenge
Your client avatar has one urgent and major struggle that they are wrestling with.
The more urgent it is, the more desperate they are to solve it. The more they will see the value in a well-focused offer... Your offer, because this challenge just happens to be the one thing that you help your clients resolve.
It shows up in their lives in different ways on different days.
Knowing these scenarios is important. They are the hooks you will use in your social media posts.
The more accurate they are, the more effective you will be at stopping the scroll.
Step 4: Be specific about who they are not
So far, we have done everything we can to describe the client avatar themselves.
Now let's do our best to bring that person into sharp relief by describing who they are NOT. To do this, think about where they are on their journey.
For instance, have they just set up their business and so are struggling to gain traction?
Or are they three to five years in and earning a minimum of 5 figures per month?
For a life coach, both instances may manifest the same problem in different ways with different consequences and different things at stake.
You have to choose one and run with it because your whole messaging strategy relies on being clear about who you are talking to.
This is about positioning yourself to gain maximum leverage.
I will go into the 4 steps involved in the next post...
Step 5: Go deeper by asking... Why
Asking the question - WHY? - takes you back to the fundamentals. The first principles.
So when you arrive at this point, it's best to review your notes and question each phrase and sentence until you have come to what for the moment is a full understanding.
The next step is to reach out in communities and groups and start conversations with people who could be your client avatar. Respond to their posts in the comments. Read what others have said.
Do people agree? if not why not?
Do those comments align with your notes?
And go to the books on Amazon your client avatar would read and check out the 3-star or fewer book 'reviews'.
There is gold here... In their own words and phrasing.
Step 6: What do they believe now?
Defining their starting belief gives you an essential insight into their current mindset. It may well be that the problem they think they have is just a symptom of something much more profound.
As an expert, you can see that immediately.
If Henry Ford had asked people what they really wanted, they would have said a faster horse. He gave them a Model T so don't take the answers to your interview questions (Yes, it's good to conduct a few but not with your friends or family) at face value.
Read 'The Mom Test' to learn how to ask the right questions.
Step 7: What do they need to believe to buy from you?
This is where you need to have moved them to after they have engaged with your posts. Once you have defined this endpoint, you can trace your client avatar's route from starting belief to buying belief and all the waypoints in between.
This is the essence of your messaging strategy.
An example of a buying belief for a coach could be that their ideal customer needs to believe they are an expert... An authority who has demonstrated through their posts that they not only understand what they are going through but also how to help them achieve their goal quickly and elegantly.
They have to believe that they are the best person to work with no matter how much they have to pay. And they have to believe that they have to work with them NOW.
You won't find any other client avatar worksheet example that goes into ideal customer belief systems but for me, it is an essential part of getting to grips with your communication strategy.
Step 8: How do you help them?
Matching the solution you provide to the problem/desired outcome is the final step.
It is your job to use your expertise to design a program that delivers the result your ideal client desperately wants to achieve.
To create a high-level 3 to 5-step process that does the job.
This is your minimum viable product.
Go no further until you have tested the market to find out whether this resonates with your target market.
Step 9: Name your client avatar (and find their picture)
The last thing to do is give your avatar a name - Pete The Procrastinator or Vivienne the visibility coach, for instance - then go find a picture. This should personify all you have discovered about your client avatar.
Pin the picture somewhere you see it every day.
When you sit down to write a post, you are having a conversation with this one person.
Here is how Einstein Marketer defines a customer avatar:
“A detailed profile of your ideal customer. It doesn’t make assumptions or categorize people into groups. The avatar focuses on one person and outlines everything about them. It goes into much greater depth than a regular marketing persona, providing marketers with many more targeting tools.”
Here is an example of a client avatar (in brief)
Amanda knows that the only way to grow a successful coaching business is to Turn Pro, focus on the smallest possible commercially viable niche and make herself indispensable to the peeps in her audience.
She knows that selling her time by the hour is the nearest equivalent to having a boss and a 9 to 5.
She knows she has to package her expertise and systemize what she does because that this will still allow her to tailor the package to the client.
Cookie-cutter programs serve no one least of all Amanda’s desire to serve each client in the best possible way including making sure they invest in the package best suited to their needs whatever the cost.
She understands that…
The frequency of the messenger always outweighs the frequency of the message.
So she has been relentless in investing in her own development and working with personal coaches.
Amanda knows that good marketing makes sales superfluous.
That she cannot outsource her marketing without owning her own strategy (link to proof post) but wants her messaging to be empathy-driven, not coercive like the most on ClickFunnels.
She knows she has to be clear on her values and never deviate from them. She considers this to be the only way to build a long-term emotional connection with her peeps.
When they understand her why they will either want to know more about her or they will disappear.
And that’s a good thing.
Because when that happens she will be seen as an authority. The authority to the people in her audience… not just an expert.
Amanda knows she has to build emotional bridges with each person in her audience... Because that rapport will ensure she is first in line when it comes to a buying decision.
How Can client Avatars Be Used In Marketing?
With a customer avatar, you can produce content that resonates with your ideal customer, increasing their interest in and engagement with your business. Instead of guessing at what they want to consume, you can use data and insights to provide real value through different types of content.
And you can develop a communications strategy that is client-focused. That talks about their hopes and desires, their problems, their beliefs, and not your product or service.
No one cares about what you do.
They only care about their urgent problem and how to solve it and until you can prove you are relevant they will not give you a mili-second of their attention.
Attention is the most valuable thing anyone can ever give you.
And you have to earn it.
The person who understands their ideal customer the best will connect with them the best. Create the deepest engagement and win more business than their competitors.