Do you remember Second Life, your very own 3D, virtual world where your imagination is brought to life with real people and places created by you? Well, “real people” meaning avatars: you, but your virtual you.
The use of the word avatar has been around for a very long time, originating as a term used in Hinduism to represent the material manifestation of a deity (thanks Wiki!)
Your avatar, or perfect customer
So why do we love using the word avatar to talk about who our perfect customer is in the world of entrepreneurialism?
Well, by definition, an avatar does represent a single person, right? So why not make that single person your perfect customer to help you in building your business?
For our purpose here and now, let’s define an avatar as a person (singular) who embodies your perfect customer: they are the person who you are creating your business, your content, your services and your products for.
In fact, your avatar cannot wait for you to launch your business, because what you are going to provide them with is going to help solve the pain point and fill the informational void they are currently experiencing.
Yes, these are the reasons why defining your avatar is SO important!
The first step: defining your avatar
Defining your avatar is one of the first steps you should take once you decide you’d like to start your own business.
You can’t start – and then continue to grow – a successful business where you do X, Y and Z if you don’t know who you’re doing all of that for.
So who is your avatar?
Let’s look at a comparison so you have an idea of what defining your own avatar might look and sound like.
What an avatar is not:
“My avatar is anyone who likes the topic X and wants to learn more about it.”
What a good start to defining your avatar sounds like:
“My avatar is 25-35 years of age, works a full-time 9-5 job, has a family with 2 kids and finds themselves frustrated and feeling alone every day because they don’t know where to find the knowledge that I’m going to provide them about X.”
A really good avatar (shortened version):
“My avatar is 32. Her name is Melissa, and she is a writer. She’s been wanting to start a blog for months now, but she doesn’t know where to start. She’s a good writer, but she could really use some help on how to structure and format a blog post – plus, she’s not really sure what exactly she wants to write about most of the time.
She is working part-time and earning her graduate degree online, so she’s usually studying up on how she can start her blog on the weekends. Melissa lives with her boyfriend and they both want to travel more, hate their jobs and don’t make enough money.”
See how I went from really, really broad in my “What an avatar is not” example, to very, very specific in my “A really good avatar” example?
I not only know a bit about Melissa (her demographics), but I also have a good idea about what her biggest obstacles are and her pain points – and as importantly as what her pain points are, I also know what she wants MOST (her dreams and aspirations).
Defining your avatar is like your stake in the ground
As an entrepreneur, you will come across THOUSANDS of forks in the road – decisions that you feel are putting the weight of the world on your shoulders.
- What type of content should I create?
- What should the focus of my content be?
- How long should my content be?
- When should I publish my content?
Really knowing your avatar allows you to quickly choose the right path – make informed decisions based on what you already know about your perfect customer – which will help you continue to move one step forward versus two steps back.
Is my avatar really – real?
You might be wondering, “But how will my avatar help me make decisions if they’re just a definition of a person, and not someone who I can actually call on the phone and talk to?”
While your avatar might start out as written words on a page, once you’ve defined them, you can actually go out and find them – talk to them, ask them questions – and figure out whether or not they truly are your perfect customer.
Because they are absolutely real – you just have to go out and find them now.
The second step: Finding your avatar
Once you have an idea of who your avatar is, you have a place to start.
Now can go out and find them and actually talk to them in order to figure out if your business idea and direction are viable.
Look for them:
- In online communities (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+)
- At in person meet ups (meetup.com, conferences)
- Through your own networks (asking others if they know someone like your avatar)
Once you’ve found them, really talk to them. Invite them to sign up for a free 15-minute chat, and ask them:
- What are your biggest struggles?
- What are your dreams and aspirations?
- What don’t you like about your current situation?
Open-ended questions are best, because once you know your avatar intimately, you’ll be able to start creating content that can truly help them and that is creating using their own language. Really pay attention to the words and phrases they use, and how often those words or phrases come up in the different conversations you’re having.
The third step: How your avatar can help you
Here’s an example of how John used his avatar, Jimmy, when he was started thinking about creating products for Fire Nation…
Because John wasn’t quite sure where to start with product creation, he decided to start listening for cues in the emails he was receiving from his audience and on social media where he was already interacting and engaging with them regularly.
Something he heard several of his audience members talking about was how they wished they had a 1-stop resource for how to start a podcast.
They weren’t concerned with how to grow a podcast, or how to monetize a podcast – they just wanted to know how to start a podcast from step one to step done (done = published on iTunes).
The solution to their struggle
That’s when John decided that it was a must for him to write his first eBook, Podcast Launch: How to Podcast, which he published in February 2013 and is still selling on Amazon today.
But when he first started writing Podcast Launch, there were a couple of times that he had to stop and think:
- What exactly needs to be included in this book? and
- What should my chapters be titled?
At this point in time, EOFire was about six months old, so while the information was still fresh in his mind in terms of how he launched EOFire, it was essentially stuff that he already knew how to do very well.
Therefore, trying to determine even the most minute details to include in the book was tough.
So what did John do?…
He turned to his avatar, Jimmy.
Every step of the way, he asked himself what information, tips and recommendations Jimmy would need in order to start his own podcast.
Because John knew Jimmy SO well, (he even made a video about him that you can watch here!), he knew exactly what Jimmy would want and need in a book about how to launch a podcast.
Podcast Launch currently sells on Amazon for $0.99, and includes 15 video tutorials, one or more for several chapters in the book.
John currently has over 415 customer reviews, and he makes an average of $100 a month in passive income from the eBook alone.
John wouldn’t have been able to create Podcast Launch without Jimmy
It was because he knew everything that Jimmy wanted and needed that he was able to write the book for Jimmy.
He knew what Jimmy struggled with, and where Jimmy aspired to be, and therefore he was able to create the solution that could help Jimmy get past his struggles all the way to launching his own podcast.
How important is defining my avatar?
The purpose of this post is not only to provide you with a good example of what defining your avatar might look and sound like, it’s also to show you how important defining your avatar really is.
Without your avatar, you’re going to have a very hard time making decisions that could change the course of your business as you start to grow.
Who is your avatar?
Remember, in defining your avatar you are defining a single person who is looking for the information and resources that you’ll be providing through your business.
Your business will exist to help solve the pain points and fill the informational void your avatar is currently experiencing, and the resources and strategies you share will get them from where they are now, to where they want to be.
Can my avatar evolve?
Yes! Your avatar can (and should!) absolutely evolve.
Just because you define your one perfect customer doesn’t mean there aren’t TONS of other people out there who want and need what it is you have to offer. They may not be your perfect customer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from what it is you’re providing.
And just because you define your one perfect customer, that doesn’t mean that after having 10 conversations with someone who you think might be your avatar – but ends up NOT actually being your avatar – that your definition can’t change.