Have you heard the term “avatar”? No, it’s not about the 2009 movie; rather, in today’s tradigital (= traditional + digital) marketing environment, an avatar is a persona that represents your clients or those who could refer potential clients to you. And, if you’re in business, that is basically anybody you interact with: either the person is a potential client or a potential referral source.
Why It’s Important to Know Your Avatars
Simply put, the more details you have on your avatars, the more targeted your communications can be. The more targeted your communications are, the better your relationships, and the fewer resources (time, money, effort) you’ll spend on marketing your business. That’s it in a nutshell. Pretty compelling, right?!
Who Are Your Avatars?
Your avatars are your past, present and future clients, as well as past, present, and future referral sources.
However, not everybody is an avatar for you. Ideally your avatars will meet the following criteria:
- you are very familiar with them;
- they want what you have;
- you can reach them en masse (or in groups);
- they have the resources to engage your services.
Really, your avatars are “your ideal clients”.
Demographics and Other Matters
Depending on your product or service, your avatars may
- be of a certain age group, gender, profession, or income bracket;
- live in the country or be city slickers;
- have no kids, or children of a certain age;
- hold certain values;
- have specific goals, depending on where they are in their life’s journey.
You also want to be aware of how purchasing decisions are made. Is there another key decision-maker?
All of these are good pieces of information for you to know, and the list goes on. But what is even more useful – and often overlooked – when deciding on whom you serve best are these questions:
Do They Want What You Have?
It goes without saying: Not everyone who meets certain characteristics is in the market for what you are offering. There are a slew of competing factors that might negate the perceived need for what you have. The more you are aware of these challenges, the better you can determine on whom to spend your marketing resources, when and for how long.
Where Do They Hang out?
You’ve heard the old adage “it’s a numbers game”, right? It refers to having to collect many “no’s” before receiving the desired “yes’es”. Thus, the more often you get to connect with your avatars, the faster your pace to success.
This is where the before-mentioned “group”-setting is important. The larger the number of your avatars you can encounter in one spot, the greater your chance of making real connections.
Do They Have the Resources to Pay for Your Services?
This question, whether they have the resources to engage – ahem, pay for – your services, is a question often overlooked and not sufficiently explored – to the detriment of many a struggling business owner. To be clear, there is a difference between those that say “I don’t have the money” and those that truly do not have the financial wherewithal to be able to afford your services. It goes without saying: having a target market that is in a financial position to pay for what you are selling, increases your chances of gaining clients tremendously.
How to Reach Your Avatars
When you know where they hang out in a group, you need to be there. Opportunities to connect with them are abundant.
- network at an event or sponsor one;
- be a featured speaker at an organization’s annual meeting;
- lead a workshop for a service provider who also caters to your audience;
- write an article in a relevant publication.
(Check out our “101 OFFLINE Marketing Tactics for your Small Business“)
You can leverage your resources by increasing your chances of reaching your avatars – offline and online. The key is to pursue the right venues – and do so consistently – to set yourself apart from your competitors.
Reaching your avatars also involves effectively communicating to create that connection.
Have you noticed how we now communicate differently?
- One of the key elements of communicating with your people today is to speak with them in words that they understand.
- Keep the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) – from their perspective in mind – at all times. Talk about what they care about. Provide valuable information they can use and that makes their life better. In the process, you create goodwill and it will be remembered.
- Try this the next time: Incorporate the exact words your clients use to describe their problems in your offer. When you reflect back to them – in their own words – that the services you offer solve their problems, they will realize that what you’ve got is exactly what they want.
How to Develop Your Avatars
The best way to get to know your avatars is to have a conversation with each.
Yikes! An actual conversation??! Yes!
Set up a phone call or meeting with the folks you have already served or whom you are currently serving. Do the same with those that have referred clients to you. Ask them, if they would agree to spend a half hour with you and share their insights, as you are doing a research project (which is true). Have on hand a set of questions you developed beforehand and that are of importance to your business model. Actually listen to their responses. Ask more questions. Listen more. And be sure to take notes, because what they say is exactly what you want to incorporate in your marketing communications: their words!
We’re All People
People still do business with people, thus the human element plays a significant role.
When you have your conversations, pay attention to the ancillary information they talk about. You know, the fact that their college-bound daughter is home-sick and how they deal with it; the major-league team that needs a new manager, in their humble opinion; the last island vacation that was such a fantastic experience for them, but they had to leave their dog in someone’s care… Those are the non-business, real-life issues that comprise a relate-able conversation. They’re the same elements that also allow you to open up a subsequent conversation down the road. The more people feel heard and listened-to, and the more they get to talk about what matters to them, the more they will like you. The more they will like you, the more likely they are to engage with you.
We are building and nurturing relationships in a world that bombards each of us with a million marketing messages a minute (only a slight exaggeration). Relate-ability is what you’re going for when you’re building relationships, and business is all about relationships. Make sure you know your avatars and engage them with topics of interest to them. When you do, you move them farther along their journey to becoming and remaining your client.
Even, if you’ve been in business for a while, it’s a good idea to revisit your avatars. To help you do that, we have an Avatars worksheet you can download. It’s a free resource you can use to become more clear about and focused on the topics that’ll move the needle in your favor on your client attraction counter.