One of the holy grails in marketing has been the creation of an avatar of your ideal customer. But when I hear someone say they've created their customer avatar I secretly cringe a bit.
Traditional avatars based on external demographics like age range, sex, career type, amount of children, and social status may provide a false sense of your ideal customer, leaving a whole segment unnoticed and untapped.
We've got a better way to help you identify Perfect Pete or Ideal Irma.
The customer you want to attract can’t really be defined by demographics. Many “experts” in the marketing field will tell you that you should create a very specific avatar by trying to put yourself in the shoes of Perfect Pete and answer really specific questions. They’ll tell you to begin with the basics, then move on to ever more distinct details like their goals and values, what books and magazines they enjoy, and what websites they frequequent. I even found one source that recommends you guess what gurus influence Perfect Pete.
Whaaa??? I suppose they have an argument as to why these pretend characteristics might be helpful, but if you’re a real life business owner, I think that’s a needless time suck.
You already know who your ideal customer is:
the person that will buy what you’re selling.
Your real Ideal Irma is the gal who sees your website, your ad, or your store and says, “This is just what I’ve been looking for. Sign me up!” Who cares what age she is or whether or not she owns her own home? If she’s a Buying Betty, she’s your Ideal Irma. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)
Here’s an example of why the typical avatar method could be limiting your business.
One of our clients, an owner of a yoga studio, wanted to target people who were interested in practicing yoga. She’d already identified her market by all the traditional avatar features.
But instead of guessing at Pete and Irma’s characteristics, we asked real people who were already practicing yoga what motivated them to do so. We asked them a series of questions that were designed to pull out their buying motivations: what motivated them to try yoga? What was going on in their lives at the time that prompted them to get into yoga? Why were they drawn to yoga instead of another discipline? What keeps them coming back?
The answers we found didn’t exactly line up with the owner’s Pete and Irma avatars.
We discovered there was an array of different age ranges of people attending yoga, from 21-year-olds to 60-year-olds, male and female, professional and retired.
More importantly, we discovered that the patterns in buying motivations were similar. They either had previous injuries to recover from, had achy joints, or wanted to increase their flexibility. After finding the primary buying motivations, we found other interesting patterns.
They were people who were previous swimmers, dancers, pole jumpers, weight lifters, and sports players. This was a consistent finding. They were previously active before their commitment to yoga and had a pattern of committing to routines and habits.
Now that’s a target market!
We found the kind of detailed information about what draws people to yoga, and we’ve opened up several market segments to target that a cookie cutter avatar would have missed.
Identifying your target market this way will make your tactical marketing plan much more focused, leading to more successful campaigns, eliminating wasting time on people who aren’t really interested.
How can you discover this for yourself?
You can discover your ideal client by talking to people who've already bought a similar service you provide and ask their buying motivations for purchasing that product or service. With enough interviews, you'll see the patterns, and it'll become clear to you how and to whom to market.
Ask your current customers these questions, but also look for opportunities to engage people who patronize other similar businesses, even your competitors! You can find people by hanging out where Perfect Pete and Ideal Irma hang out.
In our yoga example, our owner could join Facebook yoga groups and chat with the people there. She could engage people on LinkedIn and Twitter who share a passion for yoga. She could attend yoga seminars and participate in yoga classes at resorts and hotels. What a great resource for finding yoga enthusiasts from all over the world! By thinking outside the box, you can find your ideal customer in lots of different places. And if you convey your passion for your business, people are usually more than willing to answer your questions and give you insights.
Here’s to your Perfect Pete and Ideal Irma! May they be open with you about their buying motivations for your product or service, leading you to a whole new world of Buying Bettys, Purchaser Pauls, True Tillys, Dead-On Dans, Textbook Tinas...