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As a reminder – an avatar is a representation of an ideal customer. It’s a fictitious character representing the most common traits, characteristics, needs and wants of your regular customers. Sometimes, there can be more than one avatar. As a rule, the intention is to define a small number of targets, as tightly as possible.
The obvious next question that everyone asks, of course, is “how do I do that?”
Establishing an ideal audience is an intricate process which enables you to communicate effectively with your target market. However, most businesses have many customers. Given the wide variety of demographics, locations and circumstances of those customers, it might not be obvious who represents those people.
Creating an avatar is an incredibly powerful tactic which can streamline the process. It allows you a greater insight into the mind and desires of your chosen target market.
Although great time and care should be exercised in the creation stage, choosing an avatar is quite a straightforward and strangely enjoyable process. Here are five steps to creating an appropriate avatar:
5 Steps to Creating an Avatar for your Ideal Audience
Brainstorming is a great way to create a blueprint for an avatar and this requires gathering as much relevant information as possible about the target market.
Some people take this to great detail. I listened to someone recently talk about their avatar’s favourite cocktail and the book the avatar likely read last week.
But we don’t need to start there. Just get the basics in place. From age and race to location and income levels, this data can identify the general features and characteristics of the most likely customers in your target market.
Most customers won’t exactly fit this profile. But on average, your key customers will mostly fit most parts.
As best as you can, go beyond demographic info (statistics like age/income). Try to paint a picture of their personality:
Why are they a customer?
Why are they coming to you?
What’s happening in their life or business now?
How does that feel?
If they could change it, what would be different?
What would that feel like?
Choose a Name for the Avatar
Choosing a name may seem like quite a bizarre step when it comes to creating an avatar. However, this is central to the methodology involved. It’s an efficient way to keep your team focused on the expectations and needs of the customer.
This is also a way of humanizing the image and injecting personality or characteristics into the avatar. Selecting a memorable name is important and word association can serve as a clear reminder of the target market. For example, Dave the Designer or Terry the Teacher.
In a design session, for example, someone can ask “So, how would Phillipa the Professional Photographer react to this?” Or when you’re writing a blog post, you can write with that person in mind
Create an Image for the Avatar
Let’s keep the person clear, real and present in your marketing and content creation – add an image of them. Either a human-like photo, or a stylised avatar, the end result is the same. Having that image of Phillipa reminds you that you’re not writing for some random person, you’re writing to help her.
Many online resources provide avatar images but if you wish to create this from scratch, there are also several websites who provide easy access to avatar creation tools at an affordable price.
Create and Use a Summary
Yes, creating an avatar is extremely beneficial but remembering to incorporate this avatar into the thought process or decision making is equally as important. To help, make a one page summary, which outlines everything you have established about this very specific character.
Tip: Don’t make it too long or too formal a document. It’s a summary of the customer’s personal details, circumstances, needs, wants and desires. It’s not a biography!
Step into the Shoes of the Customers
Finally, it is always important to take this opportunity to step into the shoes of potential customers. In this regard, businesses can identify crucial points pertaining to the needs of a customer and seek to understand how they can retain the interest of their target market.
And what if I can’t do all that?
Sometimes, I talk with someone who just can’t do this. For one reason or another, it’s not simple for them. Writer’s Block, if you like.
Often, the easiest place to start with is those around you.
Assuming you have an existing customer base …
Who are your favourite customers, and why? What do they have in common? Which ones are most profitable? But don’t only look at profitability, but also at the experience of working with them.
Who are your least favourite customers? What do they have in common?
As you can see, creating an avatar is quite a simple, albeit thoughtful, process. However, you can see how this helps you target, and talk with, that prospect. At the same time, this should also be a rather enjoyable part of the journey; after all, this is only the beginning of your relationship with your new customers.