When the film ‘Avatar’ was released, the concept of a ‘representative’ quite quickly entered into popular language – and to such an extent that most of us when we think of the word would probably still immediately associate it to the film. What remains lesser known is that an ‘Avatar’ is a key concept in defining a business’s marketing strategy. One of the most important stages in any business’s marketing strategy is to identify who you are targeting – very precisely.
While most business owners usually know the answer intuitively, they are still not focusing closely on this as a component of their marketing strategy creation. I’ve found that following a step by step process to defining an ‘avatar’ for your business, invariably leads to greater clarity and a more focused marketing strategy. The most common first question I get from my business coaching clients when we start this process is, “How do I identify the target market?” or “How do I identify the target audience?”
The mistake they are making here is that they are thinking of whom they are targeting as a “target market”. As I have explained before, target markets don’t work. The first thing you need to do is think of targeting a person not a target audience. This target person is what we call your “avatar”. The next question is, “Well, how do I select this target person or avatar?” This is a valid question, and actually requires more structured thought than you might initially think. There are 6 essential qualities you should be identifying in your avatar to ensure that you are targeting the right person for your business.
1. Sees the Benefit & Relevance
On the loyalty ladder, the person that you are targeting should be your raving fan. Whatever the problem is that you are solving, you should solve it for this person and you should be the best solution that this person can think of. This is actually the most important thing. If your avatar loves you and what you do, then everything else becomes easier. They will convert more easily, they are more likely to come back again and again – every step after this becomes really easy. So focus on this one first.
2. Easy to Reach Out To
Your avatar should be someone that you could easily get in touch with. For example, if you provide cleaning contract services you could choose a target person who is the head of operations in a good-sized corporate company, or you could choose the person in charge of operations at a school. Which one do you think is easier to reach out to? It would probably actually be much easier to contact someone in the corporation – they are in a position that is designed to be contactable. You have to carefully consider how difficult it is to actually get in touch with your potential avatar, and factor that into your decision.
3. Receptive to Marketing
Your target person should also be receptive to the marketing you use. Going back to the cleaning contractor example, while it is easier to get in touch with someone at a corporation, they are less likely to be receptive to marketing. Corporate heads have marketing constantly thrown their way, while a school is less likely to get as much and will probably be more receptive. Sometimes, your avatar may not be that receptive to your marketing – that is ok. The point here is to compare between your different avatars and, ideally, choose one that is more receptive.
4. Have a Relatively Short Sales Cycle
This is another one that is more about comparison than absolute value. You want someone where the time to go from lead to purchase is minimised. You may ask, “How short is a short sales cycle?” and really, that depends on your business. What you need to focus on is choosing the target person among your choices that has the shortest sales cycles.
5. Built-In Repeatability
You want your target person to be the kind that buys from you over and over again. This may not be the case for every business – some services are one-time only. However, with most businesses, it is a waste of your marketing spend if you are incurring all costs to get a lead and they are only buying from you once. Your marketing budget should be an investment, not a “spend” – and so when you make that investment, you want it to give you as much return as possible by increasing the number of transactions that a single converted lead makes. This increases the lifetime value of your contact, which decreases the acquisition costs – and this is a critical part of creating an unlimited marketing budget.
6. Good Spend Value & Margin
Is your customer coming in and buying products or services from you that actually deliver value? Are they buying your products that actually have a high margin? Or are they only purchasing your peripheral products rather than your core ones? Do they only buy from you when you give them offers or put things on sale?
Remember, you should be segmenting your customers not just to identify their value, but also to determine how you approach them. Your target person should be a raving fan – which means they believe in what you are doing and are willing to pay for the quality products you are creating. Often, as we run through the above 6 essentials for choosing a strong avatar my business coaching clients often say, “Ok, let me create my avatar.” But here’s the key lesson: You do NOT need to create your avatar from scratch.
Your Avatar is Already a Customer
The exercise I do – both with my clients and for myself – is to take the list of customers and go through them one by one. Categorise them and assess them based on these 6 essential qualities. Make sure you choose customers you like. Would you want to have a coffee or a drink with them? You should be fond of your avatar, and they should be – I will say it again – your raving fan. I can guarantee you, if you do not skip this step and tightly identify your target person, you will be amazed at how easy it is to set your marketing strategy.
Writing your content, defining your channels, figuring out the design of your website or marketing material – all these decisions will become so much easier once you know exactly who your avatar is. Your Avatar may not necessarily have blue skin and pointy ears, but as you define your marketing plan, you should be able to clearly visualise them and understand what would and would not work for them. You should be able to place yourself in their shoes – walk around a bit – and understand what does and will drive their decisions.
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