Apr 132011

When you are marketing and selling to your target market, or your market “niche,” should your copy read as if you are speaking to a large group or to an individual? Ask any marketing expert and without hesitating, they will tell you that almost without exception, you should be writing or speaking to an individual. As much as we may all be part of much larger groups, we like to feel unique and we want to have our particular needs addressed, not those of everyone around us.

So as a marketer, how do we accomplish speaking to one individual and still manage to touch on the benefits of our product or service that address the needs of a large percentage of our target market? The answer is quite simple: we create and address in our marketing a “customer avatar,” which is nothing more than a composite of the most important characteristics of all the members of the niche we are trying to reach and persuade. Many experts even suggest that we give that “person” a name and put a picture of “them” (someone you think approximates their most important characteristics), so that we can keep them top of mind and so that when we are marketing to “them,” the words flow naturally, as if we were in a conversation with a good friend.

As you create your customer avatar, which characteristics should you include? The answer: as many as possible, so that you can get as complete a picture (in your mind) as possible of the “person” you are marketing to. The list below is not all-inclusive but indicates some of the characteristics you should include as you build your customer avatar:

Emotional hot buttons
Greatest wants
Greatest fears
Greatest frustrations
Greatest goals and aspirations
Most difficult macro and micro events they’ve live through
Most pressing issues right now given whatever is happening in the world
All traits that are relevant to how you create your offering and target your marketing

Note: the characteristics that you list for your avatar need to be very specific, particularly in the areas of wants, fears, frustrations and aspirations.

Now that you have created your customer avatar, it is key that in all your marketing, whether it’s written, audio, or video based, you speak to this person. It’s important that you speak directly to them and don’t use generalizations. Remember, your avatar wants you to address their specific needs. Will you miss some people in your target market this way? Yes. However, if you’ve built your avatar correctly, you will be speaking directly to the persons with all the characteristics that you want your ideal customer to have. Your message is thus much more likely to get through and have the persuasive effect you are seeking.

It’s possible that you are targeting multiple niches in your business. Depending on how different those niches are, you may therefore want to create multiple avatars, so that when you are marketing to a particular niche, you can be “talking to” the avatar that is most relevant.

You may find the whole process of create a customer avatar a bit odd in the beginning. It’s not often that most of us have the occasion to create imaginary people. However, if you’ll give it a chance, you will quickly see how much easier it is to write copy and to speak in a way that really gets through to your target marget, thus improving the results of your marketing and sales efforts.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about creating your customer avatar. Leave a comment below, or in the top right corner of this post. We read and respond to all comments.

Paul Morin

Twitter: @companyfounder.

  • jelina

    I find it interesting that you suggest making an imaginary person. I wouldn’t know where to start even with the basics you gave. However its a jumping off point and gives plenty of good ideas, so thank you for that. I do agree that humans by nature like to feel like they are unique and will be more likely to purchase from someone who makes them feel this way. So if making a target person will help you do this then by all means go ahead.

  • Creating an imaginary person in the form of an avatar is mainly just a way for you to organize your thoughts and understanding of your target market. I have to agree with you that it can seem a bit strange to be creating imaginary people, but give it a try and you will see that your marketing copy will likely improve considerably.

  • Madelyn Amateur

    The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.

  • Bill Kasten

    Thank you. Though some may find this exercise “strange”, I see it as an invaluable suggestion. In forty years of commercial credit work, those with whom I “connected” usually gave me the fewest problems. Though many may not use ‘credit’ and ‘marketing’ in the same sentence, the connection to the client is what is important.