Creating Your Avatar: 5 Questions You Must Answer About Your Ideal Customer

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Savvy business owners know who their customer is. Answer these 5 important questions and narrow down your target.

Quick, imagine your target customer.

What kind of person are they? What are the main problems they face? How do they behave? What do they value?

If you haven’t internalized a complete picture of your target customer sometimes referred to as an avatar or persona - you need to take immediate action in this area.

According to Harvard Business Review, 64 percent of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand. In light of this statistic, it’s obvious that an understanding of your customers’ values is key to gaining traction in the marketplace.

But how do you determine those values in the first place? After all, the global marketplace contains a nearly endless number of customer segments that all value different things.

Related Article: You Are Your Best Asset: The Importance of a Personal Brand on Social Media

A Product for Everybody Is a Product for Nobody

You simply can’t try to appeal to everyone. Entrepreneur Seth Godin, in his landmark book Purple Cow, speaks to this point: “Don’t try to make a product for everybody, because that is a product for nobody. The way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market.”

Every entrepreneur needs to focus their business on appealing to a very specific subset of the population. After all, the Center for Retail Management at Northwestern University reports that up to 15 percent of a business’ most loyal customers account for 55 to 70 percent of the company’s total sales. By creating a loyal customer base, you will not only have a steady stream of revenue, but these “evangelists” will spread the good word about your company to their entire cohort.

Where to Begin

This can seem daunting if you haven’t tackled it before, but getting started is easier than it looks. Answer these questions in writing and disseminate to key stakeholders. Keep in mind that this is an iterative process you’ll need to repeat it again and again. Make sure to read through to question five to see why and how.

1. What Problem Does Your Business Solve?

You probably already know the answer. But it’s important to keep this in mind to frame the rest of the exercise. If this is something you haven’t considered yet, definitely step back and do some serious work answering this question. This article from Entrepreneur is an excellent start.

2. What Kinds of People Face These Problems?

You may already have a general idea of this, but it’s time to get specific. Start broad and drill down, and don’t limit yourself to the usual demographics. Think about the defining aspect of your target customer. Yes, it could be their gender or their age, but you should also get creative. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how they might describe themselves to you.

Remember, this works from either a B2B or B2C perspective. The only difference is one is concerned with an organization, the other with individual consumers.

Related Article: Together Forever: 6 Challenges Every Family-Owned Business Faces

3. What Do They Value?

This one will take a lot of critical thinking and some initial guesswork. Once you have a 360-degree view of your avatar, it’s time to drill down as deeply as you can into their mindset. Given their interests, challenges and self-identity, determine their values.

A busy person may value convenience above all else, or a young business may seek immediate growth. Nothing is definite, but if you put yourself in their shoes and think carefully you can come to some helpful logical conclusions.

4. How Do Their Values Shape Their Behavior?

Now consider how these values may shape their interaction with your business. This will help you determine how your product should function, but also how it needs to be marketed.

Someone who values social proof will seek out testimonials from people they know or trusted review sites. A consumer short on time will need to be converted quickly and efficiently. A young business may need a product or service that provides immediate results. There are many ways values can shape behavior, and making well-educated guesses is the best first step.

Related Article: Get Smart: What is Business Intelligence and Why Do You Need It?

5. Where Can You Find Them?

You absolutely must answer this question if you want to properly complete this exercise. Once you figure out your ideal customer, you need to determine where to find them, digitally and physically. If you can’t reach them, you can’t convert them into paying customers.

But it’s also important to do this so you can interact with them. If this is your first time doing this exercise, you probably have some great ideas about who they are, what they want and how to appeal to them.

But now you need some validation so go out there, hear what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Casually talk with them to learn more about them. Even invite some for testing or focus groups. And each time you gather new information, run through these five questions again and refine your understanding.

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