Do we really know our customers?

It was back in January of 2017 when sitting in a conference room in Warsaw, Poland I was shocked to see that my marketing world had fallen apart by merely understanding three fundamental concepts tied to the power of storytelling.

Storytelling has been around us since the beginning of humanity; It has shaped our culture, formed tribes where narrated stories were passed down to generations.

Stories will bridge the gap between customers and products. Stories have the power to change perception and even make our brains release oxytocin, which makes us feel good, have empathy and trust.

Storytelling has shaped the way I am doing business today, and I hope it will do the same for you. I have the intention to shed some light on how easy it is to change the perception of our clients and how this new reality will create better products and services.

Three simple concepts:
– The Customer Avatar
The Empathy Map
The Hero’s Journey

I am writing a series of articles on each one, entering in depth to share with you the tricks and tips on how to implement it, and how to understand the impact these three essential ingredients will have on your marketing strategy.

So let’s start with the Customer Avatar:

So what is an avatar? Its origins come from Hinduism, and it means a representation or incarnation of a deity into a physical form. In computing words: “an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user’s alter ego or character.”

In your business, your Avatar is that one person that represents your target audience. If you can understand them, then you can understand your market and therefore sell your product and service better.

Avatars are critical for any business not only to understand your customers better but also to reach your audience in a personal and more credible way. I can not stress the importance of understanding how much better your marketing will become if you map out your customer avatar.

You may try different marketing strategies, but if you are not aware of who your customer is and what they need, then your results will not be as productive as you may anticipate.

So let me ask you this: Do you know who your avatar is?

So what if we did the simple exercise of creating a small Avatar map on who your real target audience is? Easy right? Think again, since it is probably one of the most challenging activities to complete.

For some reasons we are corrupted by whom we think our Avatar is. Maybe we even hate our Avatar; perhaps our Avatar is a woman when we thought it was a man. Maybe the age is wrong, their interest is not aligned, or their pain points are not even close to what you offer and sell.

If you feel you know your customer or have been working the industry for the past ten years, do yourself a favor and start collecting data about your customers. Make a conscious effort to map this data onto a customer Avatar. You may be surprised at the results you get.

At first, I thought that defining an Avatar was not going to be complicated at all. I know who buys my services or products, but then I realized that the deeper we got into the exercise, the more I did not know about them, the less I knew about their daily activities. Had I been trying to sell my product to the wrong customer?

We can improve our sales if we understand who our Avatar is.

There are a couple of visuals you can use to create the Customer Avatar. I use this one from Digital Marketer which I find very helpful and practical to use.

Defining your Customer Avatar:


So here you go, start going at it and fill out as much information as you can about who your Avatar is: Find a name for them, age, gender, are they married, where do they live.

Then add goals and values, challenges and pain points, where do they get their information from, objections to buying a product, possibly yours.

It will take you a while, sometimes even days, you may need to go back and re-do it over and over again until you feel comfortable with your Avatar. Remember this is the person that will most likely buy your products and services.

Let me break the four quadrants of the Customer Avatar and show you what you can do with all this information to mold your message and tone.

Goals and Values:

Align your product with his/her overall goal, if your Avatar buys your product, you better have something that can help them accomplish their goals or at least become a facilitator. Make sure you have something to offer them, be aspirational and you will sell more.

You will understand their values, what do they believe in, how can we use this information to target them better and offer them a real value of your product and service.

Challenges & Pain points:

Probably one of the hardest to detect, try not to think of your product or service at all here. These are their challenges as professionals, their fears. These are their actual daily worries, where they may focus most of their productive time.

My company, for example, has an event marketing platform so when I got to this part of the Customer Avatar, I realized that our clients biggest fear was obtaining real-time data from their events to justify their investment.

This made me shape a unique strategy, focusing on how our platform is capable of displaying real-time event data for brands and agencies, allowing them to tweak their event while it was live and not lose money to post-event data analysis.

The only reason I was able to emphasize this part of our platform was because we detected a challenge that defined most of our clients through our avatar.

We also gave our clients many data points on how the industry is using technology to monitor and track events, essentially providing them with data from the competition.

Here we tapped into their pain points, their fear to lose clients to their competitors. We managed to understand them better, so they were able to make decisions based on what they fear and challenge.

We ended up selling a lot more using this strategy than just talking about our features and benefits.

Objections & Role in Purchase Process:

My favorite section of the Customer Avatar! They will have objections regarding your offer. Try to be very thorough here so that you will be able to know in advance what they will object to, so be ready to refute it and make your case.

We usually have a couple of slides, or canned speeches to objections we have found are regular and consistent in all our meetings. Make sure you crush them with data or case studies, this will give you more credibility, and it will allow your Avatar to understand your product or service better.

One more thing, don’t spend too much time with the person who is not the decision maker. Spend time with those capable of making the decision. If for some reason you are not able to get a meeting with the decision maker, then make sure that whoever was sent to talk to you becomes your ally.

They will probably find your product and service unrivaled and will defend and make the case to the person who makes the decision. So make sure you treat them with the utmost respect and educate them properly since they will be the ones doing the sell.

Sources & Information:

I usually use this section as a reference to see what they like to read, where they get their information. You can do three things from here:

1-Target them with ads and track their online activity to have them see you everywhere they go.

2-Create content to be published on these channels to educate the avatar about the importance of your service and product. Adding value to their life will make you more credible and valuable.

3-Understanding what books they read will provide valuable feedback on how to mold your message and your tone.

It may sound far-fetched, but this will give you a better idea of how this Avatar will react to specific stimuli.

So what if I have multiple Avatars?

That is possible; a company can have more than one Avatar. In our case, we have an Avatar for Brands, an Avatar for Agencies, and Avatar for event organizers. They can all use our products, but they each have different needs and specifications.

Start with your primary client and make an Avatar out of them. From there start to subdivide your customers and create the different avatars.

Take your time, managing different Avatars is complicated and requires much effort to create. Start out slow and pick up speed gradually, it is better to nail one Avatar and progressively target the rest.

You will find this exercise extremely rewarding. It will be hard at first since you will do a lot of scribbling and changes. The result should be a profile you feel conformably with and one that identifies with your audience.

The feeling of positively knowing who your audience is makes the marketing strategy so much easier to do.

So now that you have defined your Avatar, you can now move to a deeper understanding of the Avatar by adding the next layer: The empathy map.

Empathy is such a strong word, and if a business is not a relationship, then I do not know what is.

On my next article, I will walk you through the empathy map, how to improve the perception we have of our clients, how to detect the difference between what they may say to you and what they want to say and how to properly package and understand your Avatar’s emotions.

Leave me your thoughts, doubts or comments; I will be more than happy to respond and send you links to articles or more information regarding the Customer Avatar.

“Tell me, and I forget, Show me, and I remember, Involve me, and I understand.”

Have an awesome life!

By the way, if you are wondering who gave me this course in Poland, you should unquestionably check out James Cook Media. Sam Cook is the creator of these fantastic sessions on storytelling, and he dives in deep on a comprehensive workshop.