Walk In Their Shoes – Or Discovering Your Customer “Avatars”

“You never really understand a person unless you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” – Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

The Startup Business Strategy PeopleWho are your ideal customer avatars?

Not sure what I mean?

Well if we were in a crowded street with people of all backgrounds and from all walks of life, who would you point out and say “they would be my typical customers”?

In other words, what are the unique characteristics that make up your targeted customer groups? What are their ages, their professions, their likes and dislikes, their hopes and aspirations?

Still not sure?

Well let me explain why knowing your customer avatar is critical in this day and age.

To do this, we must understand that there are two types of marketing approaches…

  • Transactional
  • Relational

For transactional marketing, basically a customer purchases your goods and services for the exchange of something tangible – like money. It is one object being transferred to another party for the receipt of a different object, but perceived as equal value (well in economic terms each receiving party generally perceives that they are getting more value from the exchange – otherwise the transaction would not occur). The vision of both parties, is generally not beyond the initial transaction.

For relational marketing, the “customer” perceives additional value or intangible value, than just the object itself and the seller generally holds a view of maintaining that specific customer relationship for the longer term – hence the vision is way beyond just this first transaction.

Today, we are moving toward more relational marketing. Customers are more informed of product features and for many products (and services) they are becoming more commoditised – hence to compare on price alone, is no longer effective. One must consider the “complete package” or value proposition, that is on offer, but critically more so, the “value proposition” perceived by your customers.

Since the perception of value from intangible benefits will vary from person to person, it is therefore important for you to define specific customer groups or avatars, so that you can position your products and services more effectively.

Now I know a lot of this is marketing 101, but it is always good to go back to first principles to reinforce the importance of such concepts.

When you start defining the specific customer avatars that your products and services will then target, you are putting in place an intent to engage in a long term conversation. You are seeking to build rapport because you are now more intimately involved as you are coming from their side of the “transaction”. You understand their “pains and gains”, you are walking in their shoes.