Why You Should Create A Customer Persona- And How You Are Leaving Money On The Table And Missing Out On Sales By Not Creating One…
How many times have you heard that you should figure out your customer avatar? Probably as many times as you have heard that you should build a list.
When you look at the typical avatar worksheets, you will see silly questions such as where they went to school, where do they work, what movies do they watch, what magazines do they read, how many kids do they have, where they go on vacation, etc.
Initially and I even had a coaching client ask me why are these questions relevant?
Why do you care what TV shows your prospect watches, or what charitable organizations they donate to?
Initially it sounds silly to have to figure out all of these details about your prospect/target audience however, I am not exaggerating when I say it literally is everything. Let me explain…
Buckle in because this will probably get deep and long but trust me when I tell you that it will be so worth it for you if you grasp these concepts AND figure out your customer avatar.
How Your Customer Avatar/Buyer Persona Forms The Basis Of ALL of Your Communications With Your Leads/Prospects
In a previous article, I discussed the buyer journey and the psychological steps a buyer goes through, the information they are looking for in order to come to the conclusion that they need a solution to make their pain go away.
Position yourself as someone that understands their pain on an emotional level, and your chances of them purchasing from you greatly increases. That is assuming of course that your solution is a match and that you can actually help them with their pain/problem.
When coaching I always try to get my coaching clients to imagine and put themselves in the place of their prospect.
Why? Just so you can relate to them? That's not it at all…
The real reason is and this is a little deep. Just warning you. I don't mean to get all "new agey" or anything but the truth is we are all emotional creatures. We make buying decisions based on emotion first, then logic second.
The reason your prospect is even looking around, trying to find information is because they know that something is not right, something in their business is not working as it should be. Let me try to explain…
Remember that they are researching trying to find answers. The more you can speak to their pain, the more you earn their trust and increase your potential for earning their business.
Let me break it down like this: Let's say for example your prospect is a local business that is struggling to get enough customers. They don't have a consistent marketing plan and you know that what you offer could really help bring the leads in.
On the surface their pain is that they don’t have enough customers. That is their problem on a superficial level.
Remember that we are emotional creatures. It's the experience that we seek or want to repel.
For example, let's say I want to be debt free, have a million dollars in the bank, have a house paid off, a Porsche SUV, and not have a 40 hour per week job.
Why would I want those things? I want the experience that those things/desires would give me. I want my friends and family to say wow- "she's pretty successful."
"Dang all those dreams and hairbrained get rich quick schemes finally paid off."
I want the Life the house and money and nice car represent. You see, secretly, we want to be like that uber successful person. Now we don't know anything about Mr. or Ms. successful at all. Their life may be in shambles, but we want what we IMAGINE their life to be. We want the experience. We want the feeling(s). Remember, we are emotional creatures that seek emotional experiences at our root or core of who we are.
It's the same on the flip side with your prospect that doesn't have enough customers. Superficially, that’s' the problem, but really the real pain is the what if…
The Dreaded What If Scenarios
What if my business fails and I have to file bankruptcy, and close my doors - EVERYBODY WILL KNOW I AM A FAILURE. My spouse, in-laws, kids, relatives, friends, everyone will know that I failed. If they know I failed, then I will be ashamed, embarrassed, belittled, feel like a loser, I could go on and on…
That is the experience the pain will give them. That is why you want to complete a customer avatar. You want to relate to their problem on an emotional level.
If you can genuinely show them that your product/service can actually help them not only get what they want, but avoid the pain, you will gain so many more customers effortlessly. Not only that, but you will blow your competition away.
Can I tell you that the majority of people don't bother to figure out their customer avatar? They wing it. That puts you at a major advantage. Because you will be able to communicate to your prospect that you KNOW that the experience they will face if they don't get this problem solved will create real stress and havoc in their lives, AND you can help them avoid it.
Once you understand your customer, and complete the avatar, all of your marketing, sales copy, web copy, content, profile, emails, basically all your communication should flow from what you have learned about your ideal prospect.
The completed avatar will allow you to communicate to your prospect in such a way that lets them know that you can help prevent their shame and embarrassment that would occur if their business failed as a result of not getting enough customers.
How To Actually Complete Your Customer Avatar When You Have No Clue Where To Start
For most it's hard to complete a customer avatar because it requires a lot of contemplation, research, thinking and more research.
Now that you have made up your mind, that YES! you need to complete an avatar because once you do that, you won't be stuck anymore, wondering how to approach your target market through messaging or marketing.
Now does that mean the very first email you send to them you want to say something like,
" My ________ will get you more customers so your business won't shut down and your wife won't think less of you. When should we meet?"
I wouldn't recommend that at all. But going into that first message, you do want to build a relationship that is based on honesty and trust so when it does come time to truthfully let your prospect know what would most likely happen if they don't act, you can say it and speak "truth to power". At that point, they will be open to really hearing what you have to say because of the trust and understanding you have acquired by completing your ideal customer avatar.
Here are some steps to completing your avatar, then I have an avatar worksheet you can download.
Further on down this article, I go over each portion of the avatar worksheet so if you decide to complete one, you won't get stuck.
Steps to completing the customer avatar:
Step 1: Put aside enough time, if you have never done this or haven't thought this deep about your target market, or haven't done any research and don't know anything about them, then you need to set aside I would say about 4-6 hours from start to finish.
Step 2: Decide who your target market is. This is sometimes harder that it seems. Some of you know and have experience working with a particular niche, and I recommend that if you have experience in or with that niche, and you like working with that niche, that is the best place to start because you have that experience and have some comfort level in working with them. You probably have some insight into them as well.
Step 3: Download the avatar worksheet, I would recommend that you have your computer, tablet, or phone handy so that you can do some research to confirm what you believe to be the case with your niche.
Step 4: Try to imagine yourself as that niche. For example, say I wanted to work with dentists. I picture my dentist(s). Most have been male, middle aged, I try to find some common elements between them. I try to picture what their life is like, what their practice is like, we know what college they graduated because they almost always have their diplomas and licenses on the wall. You can do the same with your niche. Go to several business networking meetings. Typically every meeting has attorneys, insurance sales people, accountants, etc. You should be able to form some conclusions on gender, age, education level, etc. If you can't get to networking meetings, Google your local BNI chapter and you can see who belongs to what meetings. That will tell you all you need to know.
You can also visit forums. For example, small business forums, dental forums, attorney forums, contractor forums, etc. You will be able to get a sense of that niche by visiting forums and watching the questions and responses.
Step 5: Stay the course. Its' gonna get ugly. It's gonna get silly. You are going to want to stop and talk yourself out of completing such a stupid exercise. Don't stop. It will pay off in spades.
Geography: Where does your target market live? Is this a regional or local business? Is your business national or international? Write down the geography in the geography section on your avatar worksheet.
Age: What age range is your target market? You can make some inferences here. For example, if you work with recent college grads, then you know that the age range is probably 22-30. If you are working with professionals, write down the age range based on your experience or research with that niche.
You may wonder why this is important. Because our age and generation we grew up in, the societal norms at the time typically helps to shape our beliefs. By determining a general age range, it will help you to understand who your target market is at their core.
Generation: I usually categorize by millenials, baby boomers, gen x. Even writing this section of this post, I have a distinct picture in my mind of each of these "generations". Again, it will help you get a clear sense of who your target market is at their core.
Relationship status: Even though we don’t' know everyone's exact marital status, you can lump most of them in as either married, single, etc. For example, if you were to think back at all of the different doctors you have had to see in your lifetime, either due to your medical needs, or your kids medical needs, or your extended family's medical needs, you will probably find that most were married. If my target was doctors, I would put married for relationship status.
I recently had a coaching student mention that they didn't have a clue and everything was just a wild guess. It is not so much guessing as drawing reasonable conclusions based on the information you have either gathered from your research as mentioned above, or your knowledge of that industry. That is why I recommend that if you have experience/knowledge about a particular niche, and you feel comfortable with that niche, then go with what you know.
Education: Put down the education level your niche most likely has achieved. If you are not sure, you can form a conclusion based on what they do. For example, if they are an attorney, you know they had to have graduated law school. If you want to work with CPAs, you know they had to have graduated from a 4 year university. If you are working with trades, you can assume they more than likely attended trade or vocational school.
For those niches not so obvious, dig in and do some research. This is why I mentioned that it would take probably 4-6 hours to complete this with the proper research.
Work/Title: This is how they refer to themselves if someone were to ask them what they did for a living.
Income: You should be able to get an idea of what the average income is for your niche by doing a bit of research if you don't know or aren't sure. Check out salary.com or the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get an idea of the average annual salary. If you know that your target's main pain is not enough customers, than you can reduce the average salary after taking into account their lack of customers.
Home type: Does your niche own their own home, have a few homes, live in a flat or apartment? Do they live with their parents? For example, say you were selling jewelry or phone cases to the "tween" market, you could safely assume your market lives with their families and that they don't own their own home. If you are dealing with a recent college grad target, you can assume they probably are not yet established enough to have their own home. This may require you to do some research and draw some conclusions based on your knowledge and understanding of your target market.
Average family size: Does your niche have children? If so, how many? Again, you will not know exactly how many children everyone in your niche has, but typically you can based on your knowledge and experience with that niche/demographic, draw a reasonable conclusion. If you are not 100% right, will it matter? Don't stress, remember that your main goal is to get a sense of who your target market is at their core.
Other: I use this as a catch all. Anything that you know about your target market that would help you get a sense of who they are at their core, their core pain, put it in this field.
Business and Industry: Put the main industry you believe they fall into. For example, are they in marketing, the legal field, technical/software, technical hardware, manufacturing? Try to group them into an industry as this will help you find them on LinkedIn.
Entertainment: I know what you're thinking… What do I care what they like to do for fun. Remember your goal. Ideally, you would like to be able to close your eyes and have a picture of who your target market is, what they look like, what they do for work, what they do for fun, and anything else that will help you understand who they are at their very core. The more you understand them, the more your marketing materials will be able to speak to their needs.
Family and relationships: Does your avatar have grown children? Do they have extended family they are typically close to? Are they single, married, divorced? All of these events form our beliefs, how we deal with others, preconceived notions about others and the world. The more you know, the better your communications to them will be relatable and desirable. Ideally you want them to say to themselves, " that really speaks to me" when they read an email, or read marketing collateral from you.
Fitness and Wellness: I know, I know, you are scratching your head here. "What does that have to do with anything?" "How in the heck do I know if they workout or not?" Although this seems kind of silly to dig this deep into you getting to know who your target niche is, the more you know, the better off you will be and the more clients you will be able to acquire.
If you are not sure if they work out or not, draw some reasonable conclusions. For example, I had a coaching student whose niche was attorneys. Based on averages and all the attorney's he has seen in different events such as networking meetings, chamber of commerce, and other local events, he could conclude that, while the majority of them were not obese or anything, they were more than likely sedentary and not health conscious. If they were sedentary, then they probably were not in the best of health and would probably be facing typical future health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, etc.
All those are probably things that could be built into effective communications as addressing part of the symptoms of the effects of not doing anything about their problem(s). Do you see how these are all inter-related?
Food and Drink: Does your audience like the finer things in life? Do they have champagne tastes on a beer budget as we like to say? Do they eat fast food? Do they eat organic? That could be an indication that they value quality and care about what they put into their bodies. If they care what they put into their bodies, that belief system probably carries over to other parts of their life. You could use that information to help communicate your solution to them when the time comes for you to do so.
Hobbies and Activities: Does your target have pets? Do they binge on Netflix? Are they politically active? Do they belong to a church? What type of vehicle do you think they have? Going back to the attorney example, They would probably be more likely to have a luxury sedan or luxury SUV, not an economy car. The more information we can gather, the better we will be when we communicate with them.
Do you see how each bit of information you gather will help you as you get a really good sense of who they are. The better understanding of who they are, the clearer your communication becomes and the more your communication resonates with them.
Sports: Does your target audience watch sports? Don't get frustrated because you aren't sure. You can draw some reasonable assumptions. If you are not sure, then leave it for now. It could be after you work with more of this target niche, you will learn this about them. Remember the end goal here is to simply understand who they are at their core.
Charitable donations: Does your target audience routinely participate in charitable activities, donations, or give of their time? If so, put it down here. This is very telling about your target market. It could be an indication of what they hold important to their hearts. If they wish they could donate more but can't due to always working or not enough cash flow, this goes to the some of the effects their problem has on different areas of their life. The more you know, the more you can point this stuff out to them.
Digital Activities: Does your niche belong to Facebook or LinkedIn groups? Would you consider them tech savvy, early adopters, or late adopters to technology? Their online behaviors and their knowledge of them could help you understand their level of understanding with technology especially if you are offering any type of marketing services.
Financial/insurance/investments: Is your target hurting for money? Are they constantly struggling in feast and famine mode? Are they doing well? Do they have plenty of cash flow/reserves and have investments?
Knowing this type of information will help you get a sense of their pain. Typically pocketbook or wallet pain is a symptom of a larger problem. If your avatar analysis concludes that they typically are in feast-famine mode and have cash flow issues, they are in critical condition and if they don't act soon, the wheels will fall off.
If you know this, you can include this in your communication to them. This is designed to bring them to reality. You don't want to manipulate, but rather communicate truth and value.
Spending habits: Are they credit card users? Do they like having a platinum card? If so, that is probably an indication that status is important to them. If you sell premium services or luxury items, you can use that to develop a marketing copy designed around how your quality product/service will eliminate their pain. Remember, you may not know this about your audience. If not, then do some research, dig into forums, ask Quora. Try to find out as much as you can about your target market.
Purchase behavior: What type of stuff do they purchase? Are they a Walmart shopper or Neiman Marcus customer? Similar to the spending habits question, this will tell you a little about what they value, service or price.
What are their concerns related to your product/service: This is an objection that you will need to overcome. If you have never sold to this market before, then again, do some due diligence to figure out what their possible objections are to what you offer.
Is it price, lack of provable results, takes too long to implement, don't have the resources to manage it after they adopt it? All these are questions you really need to spend some time figuring out so you can overcome these objections in your communication/marketing copy to them or when you present your product/service to them in your sales presentation and follow ups.
What has happened in the past that led them to this point? This question really is how did they end up where they are now in their business needing a product/service like yours?
If you take a situation where someone needs leads, what got them to the point they are needing leads, (this is different from wanting leads so we can grow by x amount)?
Let's say I want to work with CPAs. Through research, I have determined, that most CPAs I deal with at networking meetings are crazy busy during tax season, then they go into a lull period and struggle to get new clients. Further research has shown that they are competing with H&R Block, Turbo Tax, and they get clients that want H&R Block pricing but full blown CPA services. They have struggled in the past and don't have a recurring client base that uses them regularly year after year.
You have further determined based on research, and your knowledge of the niche that they lose clients and are tired of the one off clients that just look for Groupon like specials. You have concluded that what has led them to this point was in fact them running Groupon or daily deals and that was causing their practice to attract the deal seekers.
If that was the situation, your answer to what has happened in the past that led them to this point would be generally ran Groupon or daily deals in an effort to get clients now only to realize they attracted single use clients and had no longevity. Hope that logic helps!
How do they feel about what happened in the past: This is where you almost want to try to channel your avatar. How did they feel? Defeated? Disappointed? You want to really capture their past feelings.
Why? Because we buy based on emotions. We need to understand their pain and disappointment they felt when yet again their previous marketing strategy didn't work as they expected. You need to be able to overcome the objection and to take them to feeling that way again so they realize that they never want to go back there again, and your product/service will solve their problem, not keep them in pain.
Why should they even care about your product/service: Let's say you have gotten in front of your ideal prospect and they were to ask you, "Why should I even care about your product/service?" "What can it do for my business?" That is the answer you want to put in this section.
How does your product/service solve their need, pain, or make them feel good: This is an extremely important question because it goes to the heart of their motivation/desire. Remember what I said earlier about experience, we seek or repel certain things for the experience. We fight against and do everything in our power not to fail because we don't want to have the experience of being a "failure" in our loved ones eyes. We buy the luxury vehicle, because we want to feel successful, when people ogle our Porsche for example.
Channel your avatar. Put yourself in their shoes and their business. What would happen to their business if they used your product/service and how much better would their business be? How many more new customers would they realize? By answering this question, you can paint the picture to your prospect of how much better off they would be if they used your product/services.
How does your product/service better their life: Remember how we value or repel the experience we would have if the pain or pleasure activity were to occur. This question goes to the positive experience they would have. Let me give you an example, let's say that your product/service will conservatively on average help them gain an additional 7 new customers monthly. You can break down what this would look like in additional revenue or ROI for them by calculating the ROI by using our ROI calculator.
Let's assume 7 new customers monthly equates to an additional 3k per month revenue. What could they do with an additional 3k per month? Could they invest in new equipment? Could they pay down their credit card debt? Get caught up on bills? How would that make them feel? Relieved? Calm? What would some additional relief do to their quality of life? Maybe they wouldn't be so stressed. Maybe they can finally sleep ok at night. That's how deep you want to go with this.
What goes through their mind before they purchase your product/service: Is it a price objection? Are they thinking is this really going to work? What if this doesn't work? You want to as closely as possible anticipate possible questions or concerns before they purchase so you can overcome them in your follow up copy and during the sales presentation.
What is the final "straw" that makes them pull the trigger and move forward with purchasing your product/service: Here is another area where you want to channel your avatar. Put yourself in their place, they have a problem. That problem is causing them discomfort. It looks like your product/service can solve their problem but they are skeptical. Skeptical that it won't work, that it will be too difficult, you won't be able to deliver…. I could go on and on.
If you were in your avatar's shoes feeling that way, but deep down inside, they know they need to do something, what would get them to say yes?
Is it the fact that you are the only one that paints the picture of what would happen they kept the status quo? Is it the fact that things are just going to get worse if they do nothing? If the "thing" that makes them say yes can be prompted by you, (i.e., you are able to paint an accurate picture of what would happen and what the likely scenario would be if they didn't go with you) you can in some regards, control the outcome or at least help increase your odds of them actually signing up with you verses either doing nothing or going with a different solution/solution provider altogether.
About You (your core): Really examine your desires and motives for wanting to work with this niche
This section is really about you. Why are we asking these questions about you, your experience, motivations, and work ethic?
What you don't want to do is put a lot of effort into a niche that you really don't like working with, or that's going to cause you grief.
This business is hard enough under the best of conditions. There are things you will have to do that seem like a huge grind. You don't want to add to that by having a situation where you procrastinate and drag yourself to getting the stuff done that actually needs done in order for you to begin generating leads because the niche you focused on is not a good fit for you.
This section will help you do some soul searching to make sure this is who you want to work with.
I recommend going through each of these and just do some soul searching and perform a gut check. Once you complete the worksheet, save it, then put it away for about 24 hours. Let your mind process what you did, making sure you answered, and researched the best that you can.
What to do with the avatar worksheet once you are finished with it
Once you are finished with your avatar worksheet, and are pretty confident that you have a good understanding of who your target market is, what their pain, fear, and motivators, that will form the basis of all of your marketing copy.
Here Is The Bottom Line About Completing Your Customer Avatar - Most Don't Complete One
I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs, small businesses, digital marketing agencies and I can tell you that probably 1-3% actually go through the work of completing an customer avatar.
If you do put in the work and invest the time it takes to complete your ideal customer avatar, not only will it pay back in spades, but you will place yourself and your business in a very distinct competitive advantage. You won't be winging it anymore. You will be purposeful in your targeting, and your messages will resonate with your target audience because you took the time to get to know them.
It is my hope that you set aside the time and work through the avatar worksheet. Let me know how it goes and stay purposeful! You can download the customer avatar worksheet below and use this article to help you complete your avatar worksheet.