So last month after offering big embarrassing evidence of not doing our homework on our ideal client profile, or avatar, for our in-depth marketing class, we figured it was time to talk about building your ideal client profile, and their avatars.
What is an ideal client profile?
This is the profile of the person who really, really wants your stuff or needs your services. This is who you are selling to. It’s easy to tell yourself that EVERYBODY wants or needs your stuff. But the reality is, that’s just not true. Your stuff may benefit everybody, but who is really buying or has the potential to buy from you?
Nailing down your ideal client profile (or profiles) will help you focus your time on qualified prospects and will help you guide product development to fit the needs, desires and wants of your customers.
How do you know who your ideal client is?
We’ve talked exhaustively about research over the past month because it is super important. Your marketing dollars (6 to 12% of your budget, according to our 2021 Small Business Marketing Survey) are too precious to try to spend it all on an unknown target.
Here’s what you need to know about your ideal client:
- Their wants – what makes them feel good, happy, smart, etc.?
- Their needs – what questions are they asking? What do they want to learn or overcome?
- Their behaviors – what do they do and where do they do it?
- Their viewpoints – how does their age, gender, occupation or lifestyle shape their experience?
- Demographics – age, gender, location, occupation, income
- Ways of being – causes, entertainment, celebrities, affinities
- Psychographics: anxieties (pain points), things to alleviate, barriers to overcome, tangible things they need to feel confident
- Their interests – what kinds of things, people and places do they like? How can these things help your brand catch their attention?
How do you find this information?
Professional marketers do a lot of research. It costs money, but it is a great way to learn about your target audience in a big, broad way. Those methods include:
- Surveys – a well-written survey can provide you with great quantitative data – big numbers about a lot of things. Also good – include open-ended questions for people to provide comments. These comments are GOLD! You can learn a ton from people’s honest feedback.
- Focus Groups – small groups of people whom you believe fit your target demographics that can give you a deeper dive into areas you’d like clarification or areas where you want to learn more about their attitudes, emotions and pain points.
- Brand awareness studies – this is a form of market segment survey to see if people really know who you are. Perform these both before and after a major campaign to measure the difference.
- Ad and/or message testing – this involves testing paid ads or sending A/B test messages to see which ones resonate the most. Ideally, you have a pretty large budget to expose your ads to more people to be sure of your results.
Budget-friendly ways to build a generalized idea of who your ideal client is
If you’re not selling to a massive national or international audience and you just really want to figure out who you could be reaching with your marketing, here are a bunch of great ways to find them.
Start with who you know – ask your best customers why they choose your products or services. Find out what made them buy from you and why they keep coming back.
Do some Facebook research – Which content performs well? What are people saying in their comments on your posts? Who are the people who follow your page? What are their interests? What are your competitors posting and how is it performing?
Facebook Audience Insights – Your Facebook business platform has all kinds of great demographic information for your Facebook and Instagram pages, which content performed best and how wide your reach is.
Google Trends – Google is the world’s largest search engine, and it’s a great resource for rich data about people’s behavior. Go to http://trends.google.com/ and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see what kinds of things people were searching for in 2020. When writing this blog post, four of the top five beauty tips were how to cut, style and color your own hair. If you’re a salon owner, this is great information to help you understand your clients’ and potential clients’ pain points – someone needs a really great color and cut and they are looking for you!
You can also use Google Trends to find seasonal trends, top trending keywords and lots of other cool stuff.
Thought leadership – What worked in middle school still works today – read! Start by googling “how to build your ideal client profile” and see what pops up. Read current articles by well-known sources and look for others by big names in the industry – AdAge, DigiDay, Emarketer, and beware of anyone who just wants to sell you software.
Speaking of software…
OK – you’ve done your research, and now it’s time to build a client avatar or client persona. Here’s a great template to use from Hubspot: https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona.
While you’re in there, look around. Hubspot is an expensive marketing tool, so you don’t need to buy it, but they offer some really great free tools like this template, social media calendars and other goodies.
What’s a client avatar?
A client avatar, or persona, is a fictional version of the people you’ve been researching. Your client avatar has an occupation and a host of thoughts, beliefs, habits, challenges and needs.
You’re going to give them a name – get creative and have some fun with this! Maybe you deal with nonprofits and you can call your avatar Edward the Executive Director (or ED for short.)
For great results, you’ll add a photo –a stock image of someone you think matches your ideal client profile to create a sense of the real human behind your client profile. Because when it all comes down to it, you are providing products and service to human beings, in all our messy, wonderful glory.
You’ll hear a lot about data-first marketing, data-driven strategies and the like, and that’s all good stuff to be sure. But the heart of your business is to help people – whether you’re helping them solve a problem, fill a need or grant a desire, you are helping people.
B2C vs B2B
In B2B (business to business) sales, your ideal client profile most likely will describe a company. Your ideal client profile in B2B marketing will cover topics like which industry or vertical they’re in, annual revenue, employee headcount, geography – location and distribution, customer base, and other related items, but your customer avatar or persona will be the person or persons you’ll sell to. In many B2B instances, you’ll have multiple decision-makers, so it’s good to know ahead of time who those people are.
Bringing it all together
We’ve been working with a new client to build out their ideal client profiles and personas. It’s really fun talking to people about why they do the things they do and make the choices they make. And, we’re going to have four really great client avatars to build our messaging for. We know what makes them tick, we know why they sought to buy from this business and why they keep coming back.
When we build our marketing plan for this new client of ours, we’re going to use this information to build solid strategies to reach these audiences. We’ll build the messages they need to hear to solve their problems, meet their needs or grant their wishes with this client’s products and services in the ways they best receive information.
And it’s going to work beautifully because we know who they are. We know what they want and need. And we know how to reach them.
This is the magic of research. We would love to hear from you how you researched and built your ideal client profile and your customer personas. Email Kathie at email@example.com or Renee at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how it’s going!