Customer Avatars in Marketing: Know Your Audience

What's My Line

“Know your audience” is something you often hear when it comes to speakers, lecturers and politicians but as a marketing content creator, having a feel for who you are speaking to is just as important.  Whether you own the company and need to know your customers better or work for a company as their marketing voice (both in-house or contractor), you cannot create relevant content unless you know who you are speaking to, what is important to them and what they are looking for. This is why creating customer personas / profiles / avatars is so critical prior to creating a marketing campaign.


So, who is your audience?  Every organization is different but take a look at some of these possibilities:

  • Customers / Donors
  • Potential Customers or New Market Segments
  • Partners
  • Sponsors
  • Suppliers
  • Current Employees
  • Highly talented potential employees you would love to recruit (i.e. “We’re a great company to work for!”)
  • Investors

Each time you write, blog, post, tweet, etc. you are speaking to one of these. Now within categories we must delve deeper and identify subgroups, and write a “bio” of each fictional person.  You may start with assumptions but back that up with research.

Researching Avatar Characteristics

Data can come from several sources like: Focus groups

  • Old Fashioned Observation
  • Social Listening
  • Interviews
  • Census Data
  • Reviews

Here is a quick example for a hotel or conference center:

Meeting Planner Patty

Hello, I am Patty, a meeting planner for ABC corp.  In addition to organizing meeting space, hotel rooms, flights, airport transportation, speakers, entertainment, printed programs and name tags, (phew) I want to make each event memorable.  My goal is to get everyone in the company excited about attending the meeting, engaged while there and talking about it years later.  I’m looking for unique venues for off-site events, one-of-a-kind experiences and unique ways to get employees to connect face-to-face.  If I can’t make that happen, they all might as well have an online conference call and get right back to work, right?  My job is to share the company message, create company loyalty & motivation and facilitate an atmosphere for employee synergy that more than justifies the expense and time off-site.

Personally, the long hours and travel can be tough on my family so I make a point of either bringing something special back or arranging for them to meet me the day after the event for a quick getaway.

I have zero patience for poor customer service, rude employees and broken partner agreements.  With everything on my plate, who has time for those things? So, Patty is a desirable customer type because she has a respectable budget.

If we were to write a blog post with her in mind we would NOT mention how affordable we are, or our central location.  Instead we would discuss all the unique things to see and do in our destination.  Also, a spotlight on employees who exceeded customer service experiences would be of interest. See how a persona or avatar helps us decide what to share and what not to share?  If we had not taken the time to consider this specific customer type’s expectations we would waste our time (and money) communicating on and on about our holiday special but no one may be interested in that topic.  Or, even worse, we would attract the wrong customer (not profitable) with all that “economical” content.

An Avatar in the Movies

A hilarious example of “walk a mile in the customer’s shoes” is the 2000 movie “What Women Want”.  Mel Gibson plays an ad executive who realizes he cannot effectively create an advertising campaign for female products that he knows nothing about so he brings home a few of the products (pantyhose, wax, lipstick, etc.) to try them out and get a customer’s perspective.

Now it’s your turn (no guys, you don’t have to wear the pantyhose).  Can you think of three to six distinctive types of people who are current or potential customers?  Let’s go beyond “Soccer Dad Duane” and consider different generations, geographical backgrounds as well as marital status and family types.  Or perhaps you offer various products and services and you want to create an avatar for each. Let’s consider: Demographics

  • Values / Beliefs
  • Needs / Wants
  • Objections / Issues / Problems
  • Questions

Avatars for the City of Raleigh

Here is a fantastic real life example from the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau where they have identified seven visitor personalities and offer tourist suggestions according to those interests:

Creating personas takes a great deal of time and research but can be worth it when you realize how much more effective it will make the marketing, content creation and social media efforts going forward for a small local business, non-profit organization or a big corporation.