Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would probably have heard of the customer avatar creation for developing marketing strategies.
I tend to use the term “persona” because of my web application development experience, which is where it all began for me more than a decade ago. Your customer avatar, or persona, typifies the traits and tendencies of the person who is likely to ‘buy’ your products and services. But some people don’t bother developing a customer avatar. They don’t think it helps.
So why am I telling people it’s the right way to go? It’s definitely a question worth probing.
Recently, I had an email exchange with a prominent branding expert I admire. Her position on customer avatars was unequivocal. She doesn’t believe in developing an avatar. She focuses very much on being true to herself. Her ethos if I were to summaries it is this:
Be yourself and the right people will be attracted to you.
From where I stand right now, having done the necessary work to be here teaching my clients about brand building, I understand where she is coming from, and it makes sense in some instances. Yes, I get it, but it isn’t universally true.
When I help people with building their brand, I aim to get my clients out of their own ‘heads’. We often think so deeply and so much about the work, what we do, and how we could make things better that we forget the vitally important question of ‘Who is it for’.
Avatar or persona development isn’t done to somehow manipulate our customers’ way of thinking. The main driver needs to be firmly rooted in developing our own empathy muscles.
Without the necessary empathy towards our customers, we are bound to make the fundamental mistake of assuming we are selling (put the name of your products/services here).
What we are selling isn’t the thing.
We get to offer our customers a story to tell themselves. When you can share the story that aligns with your customer’s own story, she is more than happy to pay.
What are you talking about, Songy!?
I know you didn’t see that coming.
Everyone tells themselves stories when buying something and paying for something. Those stories are what we, the ones offering products and services, need to understand. What is the story that justifies the purchase? How do you get to that level of deep understanding? This is where we circle back to avatars. You do it by developing personas and creating empathy maps for your customers.
So if you’ve been thinking that you’ve done all that fancy avatar development and it’s not working for you, this may be your opportunity to revisit and consider the points I’ve raised for you here. Truly, what I’ve shared in this post has been a game-changer for most of my clients.
Suppose you’re serious about taking your brand building to the next level. In that case, you’ll want to consider this aspect of your avatar development and start building that empathy muscle of yours.