Whether you call it a customer avatar or a customer persona, defining your audience matters. In order to market or even to communicate well as a business owner, it’s important you consider the person with whom you’ll communicate.

Most business owners have at least a vague idea of their customer. “People who eat out in the Dover area.” “Parents of kids under 1.” “People who wear clothes.” But the most effective marketers and communicators take it five steps further. Instead of broadly defining your customer, specifically craft A CUSTOMER. Just one.

Need help crafting and defining your customer avatar? I am your girl. I’d be happy to work with you to not only define your avatar but also to help you define your communication style. But if you want to do it yourself, here are some tips.

What flavor is your Customer Avatar?

 Before you can even begin to consider what flavor awesomesauce your website and business need, you’ll need to spend some time with a notebook and a pen. See if you can answer the question: “Who is your ideal customer?” I suspect you’ve got an idea of you your TARGET market is … “Moms over 30 who like to shop” … but if you were going to pick one person to market to, who would it be?   I’m not talking about your easy customers. You know who they are — they’ve already drunk the Koolaid you’re selling, whether your focus is on baby carriers, cloth diapers, cleaning services, software, or anything else. They already know why your products are awesome — and chances are, they already know why *you* are awesome.

If Koolaid flavor is the awesomesauce you’re hoping for, cool. Stop here. And if it is, that’s ok. There’s nothing at all wrong with having a tiny, focused business with a few loyal customers.   On the other hand, maybe take some time to stretch out a little. There are customers who deserve to know about you and your products/services, but they need some convincing. They need to believe in what you’re selling, and they need to believe you’re the one to sell it to them.

Defining the Customer Avatar

Who is this elusive customer sitting on the fence? Well, for starters, they can afford to buy your products — and they will prioritize that purchase. But what else? What is your customer’s gender? Tell me about their family — about their friends. Take the pen and start jotting some notes; maybe sketch them out a bit. Do you like them? How many children or pets do they have? What does your Customer Avatar drink in the evening?   Once you decide the answer to that question, grab yourself a cup of the same — wine, tea, water with lemon and cucumber.

Name your Customer Avatar and visit their home

Get to know this ideal customer of yours. Give them a name. Give them a little nutshell history, and think about their problems, their worries, their troubles. “Who is this person? What are they looking to get out of life? And what do I provide that will bring them closer to achieving it? What’re they afraid of, and can I help?” (If the answer is not, grab a fresh piece of paper — because you’ve accidentally sketched someone else’s ideal customer!)  

Are you ready to give your customer a name yet? Invite yourself into their home? Settle down on the couch and look around — what kind of couch is it, anyway? Do you sink in? Is it a practical couch or a pretty one? Stained or pristine? Is there a hand-crocheted afghan on the back of the couch or a basket of chenille throws nearby? Did you take your shoes off when you came in? Don’t skimp on the details. Knowing this customer is going to make a big difference in what kind of awesomesauce you are ultimately preparing.   Look around the house and get a feel for it. Really describe it. Where is it? What town, what neighborhood?

Snack and snoop

While your ideal customer is in the kitchen making you a snack (what kind of snack, by the way?) take a moment to rummage through their closets and drawers and notice what they like to wear. What do they wear to feel good? What do they wear to be comfy? OK — quick. They’re coming back. Rummaging through people’s closets is incredibly rude. Didn’t your mother teach you *anything?* Get back to the couch.

By now, it’s getting late — you’ll have to hurry up and finish that snack or you’ll find yourself in the medicine cabinet next. But wait! Before you go, jot down what sort of snack your host has served you. What sort of plate? Is it paper? Stoneware? Ceramic? Fancy? What colors?   You probably *should* use the bathroom before you head out, and again, take a look around.

Now that you’ve finished the visit, jot down the notes from your meeting before you forget them. Where does this customer work? What’s on the top of their bucket list? Etc.  

Choose a photograph or sketch

That’s it. All that’s left is to add an image. If you are not much of an artist, perhaps take a moment to print out a photo of your ideal customer before you go to bed tonight. Maybe you even know someone just like this person, in which case, it might be fun to spend some time snooping on their Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Tuck your notes into a safe place, and if you think of anything to add, go ahead! This is your new imaginary friend.

How was this exercise for you? I’d love if you’d comment with any insights, thoughts, etc. below. Or just say “hello” and tell me how to mix your customer’s favorite drink.