Paul’s my customer avatar and he embodies my target audience in a single persona.

Why have I spent time and energy researching and imagining the life of my ideal customer? Because it’s the basis of creating a customer avatar – an efficient and effective communications heuristic.

I run everything my business says and does past Paul. How will Paul find out about my business? Will Paul like this new service? What will Paul think of this advert? What can I do to encourage Paul to work with me more often?

Developing an avatar makes the process of putting yourself in your audience’s shoes easier.  Rather than repeatedly trying-on a range of imaginary shoes, boots and stilettoes, you’re looking for the perfect pair that you can slip on whenever you need to. Imagining what one person will think/say/do is much easier than envisaging how a crowd of people will react.

It’s also easier to imagine the response of your well known and loved avatar than the more abstract concept of ‘your customer audience’, which is likely to include a range of ages, interests etc. Just like it’s easier to guess the thoughts of a friend versus a group of acquaintances.

Creating a customer avatar forces you to get to know your ideal customer intimately.

What’s a customer avatar and why spend time creating one?

A customer avatar is a detailed description of your ideal customer (not an average of your existing customers) and includes ‘psychographics’ (behaviours and values) as well as demographics.

It’s a tool that’s used to inform decision making throughout a business – from product development, sales and marketing to customer service and delivery.

Taking the time to research and develop your customer avatar focuses your marketing and sales. It targets your efforts on the highest spending, loyal customers and prevents wasting time and money on activities with lower ROI.

Often it’s appropriate to have more than one avatar, especially where you’ve multiple products or service.

What info should a customer avatar include?

Demographics:

  • Age

  • Sex

  • Marital status

  • Location

  • Occupation/job title

  • Income

  • Level of education

Psychographics:

  • Goals and aspirations

  • Values and morals

  • Personality traits

  • Hobbies

  • Favourite Media (e.g. newspapers, magazines, blogs, websites, social media platforms and podcasts)

  • Influencers (e.g. market leaders, gurus, experts)

  • Other influences (e.g. conferences, industry shows)

Product relationship:

  • What is it about who they are, where they are at, or what they do that makes your product/service precisely what they need (pain point)?

  • What might prevent them from purchasing you product (barriers to sale)?

  • Role in the purchasing process

How to create your customer avatar

  • Use your own data

Explore any data from your online marketing activity – who is engaging with your brand, who goes on to become your best customers, do they have anything in common?

If you’ve a CRM system use it to identify those that spend the most, do they have anything in common?

Bring your sales and customer service team into the process. What sort of person do they find the easiest to sell to and work with?

  • Use industry/market research

There’s a wealth of information online. From the Office of National Statistics and Google Scholar, to industry bodies and publications – use the internet to check your assumptions.

Developing your customer avatar

It’s worthwhile checking your customer avatar periodically. As your business grows, so will your data.  If your product or service offering changes, there a good chance your ideal customer will too.

Even if your offering hasn’t changed, your avatar will have. Paul’s aged. Are you still targeting Paul? Has his goals and aspirations changed as he has gotten older? Are you now targeting Paul’s little brother or even his son?