6 MIN READ
Client avatar, marketing persona, buyer persona—different words describing fictional and general representations of a company’s ideal prospects and customers. My personal favorite is client avatar. Client avatars are a necessity and are incredibly valuable to have as part of your marketing strategy as your firm develops and grows. (And yes, even if you already have a niche, you should still have client avatars.)
Avatars allow you to create a detailed, lifelike description of someone who embodies the characteristics of your niche. For example, say your niche is dentists. You could say, “I work with dentists” but it's likely not that simple. You may be working with dentists fresh out of school, dentists who are approaching retirement, or dentists who own their own business. Sure, they all have dentistry careers but each one has different challenges and needs from a financial planning perspective. Taking time to create and build out separate client avatars for each of these demographics will allow you to identify specific characteristics of the people who are most likely to become your clients. You’ll better understand their needs, wants, goals, and pain points so you can communicate the right message at the right time.
Let’s dive into the different benefits of having client avatars within your firm:
- With a better understanding of your client avatars, you’ll be able to write better copy that resonates with your avatars, whether it is email messaging, blog posts, or newsletters, because you’ll constantly have an eye towards your audience. When writing this copy, you can think of exactly which audience you are speaking to—what do they want to know? You may end up having specific email newsletters that are catered towards each avatar or build out email nurture campaigns for your avatars. Avatars will help keep your marketing tactics hyper focused.
- You’ll better understand which social media platforms you should be spending time on. One avatar may be more active on Facebook while another may be more active on Instagram. You can refine your messaging on all of your social media platforms so you are posting and sharing relevant content specific to the audience on these platforms. You may also discover during this process that avatars aren’t active on a platform that you are actively using, which will save you time and energy.
- If you dive into the world of paid advertising, including social media ads, you’ll understand better where to spend your marketing budget so you have a better return on investment. You’ll know exactly where to advertise and which audience to advertise to.
Overall, creating ideal client avatars allows you to create a brand for your audience and to communicate that brand to the world. Your marketing will attract prospects who are similar to your ideal client avatars, making the sales process simpler, smoother, and more effective.
How to Create Your Client Avatar(s)
First things first, the process of creating your client avatar(s) can and should take some time. Creating an ideal avatar will require thinking through different questions, researching data you have, surveying your existing client base, and looking through your CRM database, Google Analytics, and social media analytics to uncover trends. This process takes time because you really need to understand who your prospects and customers truly are. There are a variety of client avatar questionnaires and worksheets on the internet that will be useful as you create your avatars. Below I outline a few common questions to help you begin brainstorming. You may find that some client avatar questions resonate more with your firm than others. You also do not need to answer every question that is on a client avatar worksheet. Using the example questions below and a mix of questions from different templates, you’ll be able to design a client avatar worksheet that works for you and your firm.
It can be helpful to interview current clients to gain insight into how they felt prior to becoming clients to plug into your client avatars. You can ask current clients:
- What were they thinking before they began working with you for financial planning?
- How were they feeling and why did they feel that way?
- What were they looking for in a financial advisor?
- How did they find you or hear about you?
- How did they feel once they began working with you in a financial planning capacity?
The goal is to write out as many details as you can during the client avatar creation process as this will help your avatars feel more real and human-like to you, which in return will help you define the avatars that are most ideal to your firm and help you paint a more complex picture of who these avatars are. You’ll also want to be sure to give your client avatar a name. Again, this helps bring your avatar to life and make them feel more human to you. These names can be as simple as “Graduate Grace” or “Retirement Ron”.
Don’t try to create all your client avatars at the same time—tackle one client avatar at a time. Throughout your client avatar creation process, you may also determine your negative avatars, or clients you don’t want to work with. Identifying negative avatars will give you an even clearer understanding of your firm and target market, creating an even greater return since you’ll be spending more time with the clients that are right for your firm.
Now it is time to begin building and thinking through your ideal client avatars. First, start by identifying who your ideal clients are. This is the time to really dig into whom you work with. Using my example earlier of dentists, in this section I would list out the types of dentists that I work with. For example, recent graduate dentists, dentists approaching retirement, or business-owner dentists. Congratulations! You are now on your way to designing your initial client avatars. Now you will begin digging in further to each of these avatars, one at a time. Use the questions below to help you begin brainstorming.
- What’s on their mind? Take time to list out what is on the mind of each avatar. Realistically, they will have some similarities but also some differences. Some questions to think through to help you put some thoughts down on paper are: “What are they concerned about?”, “What are they researching?”, and “What do they need help with?”
- What is the background of each avatar? What previous experience do your avatars have when it comes to financial planning? What tools and resources are they currently using or have they used in the past?
- Why are your avatars interested in your financial planning services? What are their goals?
- What may be keeping your ideal client avatars from making the leap and working with you? What are some common objections that you have heard in the past? List out any obstacles you can think of and what information you can provide to help bridge the gap.
- Top Needs. What do your avatars need from you most? What services do you offer that will help them meet their main challenges?
- How They Differentiate. How does each avatar differ between the other avatars? This information is key because it will guide the way you approach prospects because knowing the way in which they differentiate, will in turn help you guide the messaging you push out to them. This leads us to the next step...
- What message resonates most with each particular avatar?
- Selling Points. What does each avatar value? What is going to “sell” them on working with you? How can you help them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges?
- What makes now the right time for each avatar to become a client?
- Content Offers. What helpful resources do you have already that you can push to each avatar to help them further down your marketing and sales funnel? Do you have blog posts you can plug into an email nurture campaign to send their way? Do you have content downloads that would be useful?
It’s important to remember that your first draft of your client avatars, isn’t your last. After you get your thoughts down a paper, give it some time, and then circle back. You’ll likely find that you have additional thoughts about each avatar. As you go about your day-to-day work, additional ideas may come to mind as well. As I’ve mentioned, you want your client avatars to be as real and as human as possible, so as you're working with real prospects and clients, write down anything that comes to mind that will make your avatars even clearer.
Share your ideal client avatars with colleagues, coaches, your study group—anyone who will provide you honest feedback. They’ll likely be able to offer an outside perspective and further insight that will continue to help you build out your client avatars. Once you have your avatars built, plan to review them regularly. As your firm grows, you’ll continue to learn more about the people you serve and work with. Incorporate this new knowledge into your client avatar documents to consistently have a clear understanding of who your ideal clients are within your firm.
About the Author
Lindsey White is known as the Network Navigator at XYPN, helping prospective members learn more about membership and what it takes to join our growing community. She is passionate about sharing the tools and resources the community has to offer to help individuals start, run, and grow their own fee-only financial planning practices.