The ideal client avatar….
It’s an exercise I’ve still not done, or at least not done seriously.
Because every time I see it, it’s simply too ridiculous for me to take seriously.
What’s your ideal client’s favorite song?
(I don’t even have a favorite song at any one time)
How long is your ideal client’s commute?
(Zero minutes because they work from home…but they’re still listening to podcasts even without a commute)
How many children does your ideal client have?
(Ok, super important for some businesses, but my clients range from intentionally childfree to 3ish kids)
What color underwear does your ideal client wear?
Two coaches I’ve worked with made me go through this exercise, and I was a legitimate smartass about it out of spite (#sorrynotsorry). My avatar ended up being a marine biologist who was engaged then ended it, and her commute was 23.5 minutes to NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland on the red line on the DC metro if the line was running on time, and it never was, and her favorite color was blue because she’s a feminist and doesn’t do pink, and her favorite song was, ironically, Pink’s “Just Like A Pill” because she enjoyed it in middle school….
The good thing about ideal client exercises is they give you marketing fodder for your copy and promotional materials.
If your ideal client legitimately watches The Bachelor religiously while singing to Beyonce and charging her healing crystals, that’s Facebook ads targeting gold.
It’s also great for sales page language, social media content, blog posts, and some level of really asking yourself, “Who do I want to work with?”
But it doesn’t have to be that silly or oversimplified.
Your ideal client is not an avatar any more than you are.
You are a dynamic person with diverse and even contradictory likes, wants, skills, and beliefs. And so are your clients.
Your life and business desires and needs will change every year, if not hourly. You will evolve as a person, and you will evolve as a business.
But, if you’re doing it right, your mission won’t change. Your deeply-held visions of what life can look like for you and your loved ones will shift, but not change like a commute time or favorite TV show.
These are the things you really need to know about your ideal client.
1. What do they want out of life?
A home in Ibiza and the freedom to travel 9 months out of the year?
$40,000 take-home each year to supplement their wife’s income and send the kids to private school?
The ability to fly their hairdresser in LA to their house in the Hamptons every 6 weeks?
A multi-billion dollar valuation on their tech startup?
Obviously, these are very different people. But their “Why” can give you insight into their freakin’ souls.
You can maybe guess what each of these people watches on TV or does for their commute (takes a helicopter?), but you have a much clearer picture of this “avatar” than you do from thinking about their favorite restaurant meal.
Even better, now you know what problem they need solved. How do you take them from #2 to this place?
These are all business examples (what can I say, I’m incredibly biased), but the same thing applies to B2C companies. A tough mudder former Marine who wants to compete in bodybuilding competitions will need a very different type of personal trainer than a mom trying to get back in shape after having a baby. The boho chick looking to style her elopement from Etsy and Pinterest won’t be served well by your boutique, luxury wedding services.
What do they want, and how can you get that to them?
2. Where are they in life now?
It will, on average, take a lot longer to bring a welfare dad to the point he’s buying a private jet than it will to take a corporate executive on the same journey.
A 30-something hipster lady probably won’t identify with your middle-aged moms group (just yet).
Someone living with their parents probably doesn’t have the money for your $10,000 mastermind.
A VA in her first year of business probably doesn’t want to pay $2000/month for business coaching.
Yet time and again I see my own clients targeting the wrong people with their current offers. Sure, they may be your ideal client someday, but right now it’s not going to work out.
If you’ve collected a Facebook group of new business owners, but you only offer an upper-level, large investment course, you’re shouting into the abyss. Or worse, making your group think you don’t understand them, don’t think they’re good enough for you, and how did they even find this group in the first place?
The advice to “meet people where they are” is relevant for every industry. Acknowledge where they are when concocting your offer and your copy, and get in front of the people you can reasonably provide a solution to for their answer to #1.
3. Who are they turning to for advice?
This is marketing gold that is more valuable for targeting than their favorite song. Who are they already looking to to solve this problem?
Is it Oprah? Marie Forleo? Someone you’ve never heard of before?
Find out who they think has the answers (hint: look at their Facebook groups, page likes, and Twitter/Instagram followees). How are these experts solving your ideal client’s problem? What are they offering your client that is so attractive to them?
You can use Facebook ads to target these types of people exactly–using copy that speaks to them based on…
4. How are they talking about their problems?
Once you know who your people are, what they want, and where they hang out online, it’s time to pay attention to their actual language. Take screenshots of their questions in Facebook groups or on Twitter or in blog comments.
Maybe you’re saying “Tired of feeling fat all the time? You need to lose weight!” (Oh god, please tell me none of you are actually saying that)
But your clients are saying:
- “I’m tired of feeling so run-down all the time and know I need to eat better.”
- “I love my body but I have trouble exercising as hard as I’d like to at my size.”
- “I like healthy food, but I never know how to prepare it correctly.”
Yeah, no wonder your thing isn’t selling.
Solve their problem in their language.
Listen, the Ideal Client Avatar exercise can work. That’s why people are using it. But if you want to think about your clients like humans rather than like marketing fodder, these 4 questions will give you much more insight into how to position yourself and your offerings than any worksheet about their hair color.