Why ideal client avatars are bogus (and what you need to do instead)
Google ideal client avatar and you’ll see about a gazillion results telling you why you need one. Why they’re the bee’s knees, and how you can’t run a business without a client avatar.
But here’s the thing.
A client avatar is just a made up person.
Your “ideal” client.
That you made up.
In. Your. Head.
It’s almost like you have an imaginary friend. A mythical client. A unicorn.
First, what’s an ideal client avatar?
A client avatar is a ‘persona’ of your ideal client. You give this persona a name, find a picture (so you have an idea of what they ‘look’ like), and then create demographic and other information for this persona.
It’s defining your target market to an insane level of detail.
Why a client avatar is (allegedly) important
When you create your ideal client persona, you’ll then know all this info about them which will help you get into their head.
Supposedly, you’ll then picture this “person” when you create your offer and write your copy.
Bulldust. It’s all bogus…
Why ideal client avatars are bogus
You really don’t need to know what your “ideal” client (or even your real client) eats for breakfast. How she takes her coffee. What she does for fun. How many kids she has. Her favourite colour. Which Greek god she worships. And what flavour of ice cream she wants to eat when she visits Mars…
It’s not important. None of that affects her motivation to buy your service.
Think about it.
- If you’re a business coach, does the fact your client has three kids – named Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion – influence the way you’d craft your coaching package, or how you’d market it?
- Or, say you’re a photographer. If you know your “ideal” client loves raisin toast and a cappuccino, will you have to adapt your photography packages to suit that breakfast preference?
No. Nope. No way.
It just doesn’t matter to you. Simple as that.
Of course, I’m simplifying a tad here. I admit it.
An ideal client avatar doesn’t just focus on those extra tidbits. It does cover demographics, and so maybe knowing your “ideal” client’s income will influence the way you price your package (although it really shouldn’t).
Maybe knowing your client stresses over providing for three kids and funding her active wear addiction will help you understand her worries and everyday concerns. Maybe. But maybe not.
Yes, I am just calling out the most ridiculous aspects of client avatars to prove my point.
If you want to go ahead and create an ideal client avatar, by all means, go right ahead. But don’t waste your time dreaming up answers to questions that’ll have zero influence on your offer or how you’ll market it.
So, what does matter?
Your (actual, real live) clients’ problems.
Specifically, the problems you can solve.
Two things are important to you:
- What is her problem?
- What’s her ideal solution to this problem?
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Your client’s problems
- What problem, or problems, does your client have (that you can solve)?
- And how does she describe it?
I’m going to say that again because it is key:
What words does your client use when talking about her problem?
Your client’s desired solution
- What solution does she want? What is her desired solution?
- And, importantly, what words does she use to describe it?
You can delve a little further here:
- Has she tried to solve this problem before?
- With what?
- Why didn’t it work for her?
- What was good or bad about it?
Getting inside your client’s head
Ideal client avatars are meant to get you inside your target market’s head. And I agree, getting inside your client’s head is super important for you. It’s something you definitely must do.
But you only want to get inside your client’s head to the extent it helps you understand her problems (that you can solve) and her desired solution. So you can create an offer that’ll help her – by meeting her wants and needs.
Instead of creating a client avatar, focus on getting the answers to the above questions from real live, breathing, flesh and blood people. Preferably your current or past clients.
Getting started is easy
Start with your current or past clients.
What have they said to you in emails, phone conversations, or their testimonials?
Look for (or try to recall) sentences with things like:
- “I hate it when…”
- “I’m sick of…”
- “I just wish…”
- “If only…”
- “I would love…”
- “I need help with…”
Be on the watch for anything that describes their pains, problems, frustrations, questions, desires, and wishes.
Keep an exact record of what was said. Remember, you want to know exactly which words they use and how they phrase their problem.
Same goes for the solution. Those “I wish” type statements are gold – your clients are telling you exactly what they want.
You can also survey your past or current clients. This is a fantastic way to get verbatim comments (so you can use their exact words when crafting your offer and writing your copy).
No problem. Stalk your likely clients online.
Look out for those same types of sentences, but this time look in Facebook groups where your likely clients hang out.
Look in online forums, blog post comments, book reviews, and even testimonials on competitors’ websites (you just want the words your type of clients use – you’re not looking to copy your competitors, ok?)
You can even survey people on social media. Create a survey and promote it on your social profiles and in Facebook groups where your potential clients hang out.
Do whatever you can to get intel on what your potential clients are saying about the problem they have.