How to Humanize (And Talk to) your Ideal Client Avatar

(prefer video over text? click here to watch the Facebook Live instead)

Alrighty, Dr. Frankenstein – it’s time to take those spreadsheets and data points and bring ’em to life.

This week we’re going to humanize your client avatars and learn how to talk to them effectively.

From 2D Data to 3D Profile

“At Amazon, Jeff Bezos leaves a chair empty at meetings to signify the customer persona is in the room listening to the decisions they are making. “

  — iPullRank, “Personas: The Art and Science of Understanding the Person Behind the Visit”

By now, you should have a beautiful spreadsheet chock-full of data on your ideal client.  (You can read more here, in case you missed last week).

So – the purpose of getting all that data was to humanize and focus your messaging. But, since a spreadsheet isn’t exactly human, you’ve got one more step – you need to take your information and turn it into a person.

Essentially, you are creating a Facebook profile of a fake person who would be your perfect client, like this beautifully-designed example from Inbound Marketing:

It doesn’t have to be this fancy – even a simple Google doc would do – but there are two important things I’d suggest:  

  1. Add a picture of a person
  2. Give them a name

For example, let’s say that your ideal client avatar is a millennial solopreneur mother who’s growing her successful side-hustle (an online service-based business) into a full-time gig that replaces her 9 to 5.  So, you should find a picture that roughly matches that description:

(I found this picture pretty fast on my favorite image site, Unsplash.  But since you don’t need to worry about licensing for this internal stuff, you could just do a Google image search and use what pops up there.)

I’m gonna call her “Mary”.  And now, every time I want to write something to promote my business or a new service offering, I pull up Mary’s picture and profile information and ask myself, “How can I write about this in a way that Mary would care about?”

Or, if you already have clients, you could pick one or two of your favorites and write specifically to them.

This is actually something I do in my own business – I have a list of post-it notes above my desk with the names of all my clients, past and present.  And sometimes when I’m struggling with a particular piece of writing, I’ll look at that list or pull up a client’s Facebook profile, and it’ll remind me of who I’m writing to and what they need.

Create an Anti-Avatar

In case you’re overwhelmed by the pressure of creating your PERFECT ideal client, let’s back up and try to reverse-engineer this.  Most of the bookkeepers I know are analytical to a fault – to the point where they end up with analysis paralysis. So, if it’s easier, start with what you DON’T want, and also take note of what kinds of people are conspicuously absent from your researched data.

Here’s a few examples:

  • If you’re a 100% remote bookkeeper, then you don’t want a client that is uncomfortable with remote technology – your anti-avatar, therefore, is “not tech-savvy”. 
  • Or maybe you noticed that all your favorite clients so far happen to be parents with kids still in the house, so you add “empty nester” to the anti-avatar.
  • Think also about the price point of your services – if you’re doing complicated work at a high value, make sure you’re talking to people who can afford your prices, and add “budget-seeker” to your anti-avatar

And, just like for your ideal client, find a picture and name this person, too.

Behold – William the ANTI-avatar!

He’s a dapper chap, isn’t he?  I think I’ll call him William.

This, of course, isn’t a profile of a bad person 🙂 This is just a profile of someone who isn’t a good fit for your business and wouldn’t benefit from what you have to offer or say.  So why waste your time, and William’s? Don’t worry about talking to him – focus on talking to and helping Mary.

Exclude to Excel

One of the main reasons for using personas is that when you target everyone you actually target no one. The art of segmentation is about narrowing your focus in on people in the market that are more likely to become your users/customers so you can better serve them.

— MICHAEL KING, “Personas: The Art and Science of Understanding the Person Behind the Visit”

Yes, I’m reusing this quote from an earlier post – because it’s that good.

I want you to repeat this next part after me: Just because my services can help a lot of people, it does NOT mean I should be talking to all of them at the same time.  Say it again, and say it OUTLOUD, because it’s important.

Your messaging needs to be specific, even to the point of excluding some groups of people you could possibly help. 

Remember, we live in a world where personalized messaging is the expected norm.  So, in order to be heard, we have to personalize and niche our messaging.

I have an example of this in my own business – I am a content marketer exclusively for bookkeepers.  Could I help other online business owners write for and promote their business?  Of course! And I always have non-bookkeeper clients I actively work with.

BUT – I pinpoint my messaging specifically for bookkeepers.  That is my niche, it’s where my ideal client avatar is, and, instead of my voice getting lost in a sea of generalist copywriters trying to help everyone, my message is heard loud and clear by people I love to work with and who need my help.

And here’s an important thing to keep in mind – as I exclude non-bookkeepers, it means I can get really focused on and excel in my work for, and messaging to, bookkeepers.  It’ll be the same for you as you focus in on your smaller set of ideal clients.

… So, we’ve come all this way, taking all this time to figure out exactly WHO we’re talking to.

Now that we’ve finally got that dialed in, what do we say?

80% Value, 20% Sell

“If a brand focuses too much on itself within social media as a means for boosting sales, its audience will immediately see through it and tune it out. Only by discovering what your audience is really interested in and responding to those needs, will your brand be able to maintain a consistent, sustainable, and engaging online social media presence.” 

— Sofie De Beule, “The 80/20 Rule: Why Just 20% of Your Social Media Content Should be About Your Brand

Oh man – there is so much I could talk about here (because this kind of stuff is exactly what content marketing is), but right now I just want to give you a couple valuable things you can take action on right now.

First, follow this rule of thumb: if you post 5 times a week, give sales-free value in four of those posts, and make a sales pitch in just one of those posts. 

Content marketing is a slow burn – it’s much more like old-fashioned dating than a Tinder date.  But if you’re willing to put in the time and work to woo potential clients over the long haul, stats show that you’ll be rewarded for your effort.

Remember our ICA, Mary? Here’s a couple examples of how you can give value to her:

  • Think about one of her common problems and solve it. Does she want more automation in her finances?  Write a post about your favorite automation apps, like HubDoc, or teach her about how to use rules and transaction memorization in Quickbooks
  • What are the common tax filing deadlines entrepreneurs need to be aware of?  Provide a page on your website with a list of dates and share the link, and/or remind her of upcoming dates with well-timed social media posts
  • Did you find a good article or blog post about bookkeeping tips for entrepreneurs?  Then be helpful and share that on your page – you’re just making yourself more of a trusted source for curated content about her business’ finances

And second, when you do write that fifth post to sell and promote your services, remember this very important truth:

People don’t care about your Quickbooks certification – they only care about how you can help make their lives better.

This is something called “selling benefits, not features” – and your Quickbooks certification is just a feature.

So don’t tell Mary what you do – tell her exactly how what you do will benefit her:

  • Tell her how many hours she’ll save by outsourcing her bookkeeping – and therefore get to spend more time with her family, or put more billable time into her business
  • Tell her how her stress level will go down by not having to worry if her records are current or if she’ll get screwed in an audit because she didn’t know how to DIY her bookkeeping correctly
  • Tell her how she can increase the profits from her business, because you’ll help her create a data-informed plan once you expertly translate her numbers

Summing Up

Content marketing is 62% less expensive than outbound marketing [such as paid ads], yet it generates 3x as many leads.

— JULIA MCCOY, 9 Stats That Will Make You Want to Invest in Content Marketing

Yes, it takes time and effort to get all this information together and create this imaginary person – but it’s an imaginary person with real results. (I mean, check out that ROI compared to paid ads!)

Ideal Client Avatars are an essential cornerstone for successful content marketing in your business – and now you know exactly how to put a really good one together, and put it to good use for your business. So go forth, write good consistent content, and woo and wow some new clients!

Liked this? Wanna read the first two posts in this series on making and using Ideal Client Avatars?

Part One: “Having a “Target Market” Isn’t Enough – Why Your Bookkeeping Business Needs Marketing Personas”

Part Two: “How to Find the Data you Need to Create Marketing Personas for your Bookkeeping Business”

And, like always, please feel free to comment here with any questions you’ve got, and friend or follow me on Facebook at Pukkapith Content

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