Why a Client Avatar Might be Useless for Your Service-Based Business

If you’ve been in business more than a year, I know you’ve been told to create a client avatar. Marketing strategists and coaches will tell you that you need to list out all of the characteristics of your ideal client. Give them a name. Give them an age. And write to them.

Here’s what that looks like. 

  • “How much money does she make?”
  • “What kind of car does she drive?”
  • “Where’s her favorite place to shop?”

You get the gist of it.

 
how to build a client avatar
 

Now, answering these personal questions about your clients can be useful in particular instances. For example, when your designer is creating a mood board it should be based off of the preferences of your ideal client and not your own.

But creating a persona named Lisa who loves to drink margaritas and just got engaged isn’t going to help you write copy that convinces her she needs to invest in your services.

MY CLIENTS DON'T APPEAR TO BE SIMILAR

When I was a career coach, I worked with women from six continents and 13 states across the country. Here’s a sample of some of them:

  • A corporate litigation attorney splitting her time between Romania and Spain while building her own business.
  • A high-tech marketing professional, burnt out and looking for a more fulfilling career path.
  • A photo  production freelancer hired by GQ, H&M, and Glamour.

On the surface these women appear to lead very different lives. And I can attest, they do! So how could they all be attracted to my business?

WHAT BINDS THEM

For most of us, our clients are actually quite different from each other. I’ve heard people say, “How do I write to my target audience when they have different needs?” My response is this: What are the common questions that they’re asking?

My clients were asking these types of things:

  • How can I have freedom in my decision making but also stability in my career?
  •  Is working for myself the only way to feel fulfilled in my work?
  • I’m unsure how to talk about my experience in a way that’s relevant to what I want to be doing next. Can you help?
  • I know I’m really good at this thing, but why do you think I’m not conveying that in interviews?

Paying attention to the similarities in their challenges, desires, and frustrations was the magic bullet in figuring out how to link my services to what they wanted in their career.

Framing your target audience in this way doesn’t mean you’ll attract ALL of the people who have these questions. Nor do you want to. You have a specific vibe and way you like to work with clients and that matters just as much.

For instance, I’m most effective with clients who are ready to dive in, allocate the time, and make changes quickly. Those who need a lot of time to process and like making decisions over time are probably not the best fit for me, even if they sound like my target audience.

RE-FRAMING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT

Knowing what your target audience is looking for is far more important than knowing whether they prefer beer or wine.

Shifting how you think about these prospective clients will help you see opportunities to serve a wider, not narrower, audience. This will have cascading effects in your business, including:

  • Moving you from a deficit to an opportunity mindset. By understanding that your people don’t all have to appear the same, the sea of prospects opens up wider.
  • Building your confidence. Once you see how many people could benefit from your services, rather than a narrow subset of individuals, will allow you to quickly understand how many people are looking to invest in what you offer.
  • Writing made easier. When you know how people describe what they’re looking for you can use their language to guide your web copy, newsletters, and social media posts.  No more searching for the words that will connect with your audience!

Take the first step by looking at the clients you’ve worked with. Review their inquiry forms. Re-read your email exchanges. Why are they reaching out? Where are they stuck? How do they describe the difference you’ve made in their life or business?

Action brings clarity and this, my friend, is going to completely change how you think about your business.