Raise your hand if you’ve ever done an ideal client avatar (ICA) exercise. Yep, me too. Keep your hand up if you’ve been told that your ICA should be your North Star, guiding every marketing decision you make. Again, me too.
But, after 16 years of helping brands and businesses of all sizes and types brand themselves to reach their ideal customer, I’m here to tell you that it just doesn’t work. Knowing your ideal client’s favorite Starbucks coffee drink or what kind of car she drives didn’t help your marketing when you first started out and it’s not helping today. (Hear me out here before you click away to reassure your ICA that it still has a spot in your marketing toolkit!)
You need to know your ideal customer’s objections, stories, where she is in her customer journey—literally ALL of those things—before you need to know her favorite pair of shoes. Why? Because all of these things are actually useful in your content. And your content drives your marketing.
*ding ding ding*
See where I’m going with this now? Knowing and understanding the mindset of your ideal customer is where you find the gold you can use to attract and convert them. And that kind of insight will actually make a tangible difference in your marketing (and profitability!) as compared to time wasted trying to figure out if she’s a clearance-rack-at-Kohl’s or a splurged-pair-of-red-bottoms kind of shoe woman.
See, when we focus on those material aspects of our ICA, it really does a number on us when it’s not working. We’ll say, “I know what she drives! I know what she wears! I know where she gets her clothes from… How come no one is responding to my content??” Then we attack ourselves for not doing it right. It’s time to stop, take an honest look at what’s not working, and pivot to a better method.
So, if you’re going to look at your ideal client, let’s REALLY look at her.
For example, if you work with moms of small kids, that’s awesome! Also? That’s millions and millions of people. We can go deeper. What stage of motherhood are they in? What are their objections, as in, why might they NOT want to hire you? It’s important that your content speaks to ALL of these things—items which your avatar only skims the surface of and is not really prepared to tell you fully. And when you’re doing your marketing yourself, not having that information makes the whole process even harder for you.
So, here are four questions you can ask yourself to get a fuller picture of your ideal client so you can create content that actually speaks to her.
1. What’s her problem?
I’m not talking about pain points here. What does SHE believe is wrong? Not what you can fix for her. It’s so very easy to talk over our clients’ heads. Don’t do that unless you want to lose them, like, immediately. Meet them where they are. Help them right there. Then, once they’ve entered your ecosystem, you can nurture and educate them into the full scope of how you can help. But if you go too hard on all of your expertise too early, they’re not going to make the connection that you can help them now, and they’ll assume you aren’t for them. (It’s not true, but it’s what they’ll think.) And remember, we’ve got seconds to catch their attention. Seconds, people!
2. What’s her stage?
There are different stages in every journey. You help hairstylists? Awesome! What type? Natural hair? Short cuts? Color? How long have they been doing hair? Are they newbies? Seasoned? Pivoting from one niche to another? Each stage needs to be addressed in a different way. Marketing is all about specificity, so you want your people to see your content and know without a doubt that you’re talking to them. Don’t worry about everyone else, the thing about a great brand message is, if you do it right, even people outside of your ICA will hop on board. Fun, right?
3. What are her stories?
What happened to her this morning, last night, last week? What brought her to your doorstep? Get specific. Know her situation and tell her story. I call that her “A point.” How is she walking through your door the first day that you meet? What’s just happened to her? Remember, we meet them where they are.
4. What are her objections?
Why might she not hire you? It’s so empowering to know this stuff. Now you can speak to it before she even says it. It helps your content to pre-frame your ideal client before she even gets on the call with you. You’ve addressed those internal worries. Common ones are: “This costs too much.” “I don’t have the time to do this.” “I can figure out how to do this myself.” Search their objections for ones that you can overcome, and add them to your content bank. (Content bank?? Yes! Knowing these things will give you more content! Can knowing her exact salary give you more content?? Maybe… maybe not.)
Finding and converting your ideal client doesn’t have to feel quite so impossible. With these four questions ready to guide you beyond the ICA, you can start speaking more confidently and accurately to your ideal client, knowing that this time, she’ll feel heard, seen, and understood.
“Understanding the mindset of your ideal customer is where you find the gold you can use to attract and convert them.”
Image: Mecca Gamble Photography Courtesy of Shaunda Head
About the author: Shaunda Head is an Atlanta-based brand strategist and digital marketer who helps women align ALL THE THINGS in their brand so that their brand message can impact more powerfully. The founder of SHH CREATIVE, A Dope + Different™ Agency, Shaunda brings her 16+ years of experience to bear as she creates and implements strategies in marketing, branding, and copy to help her clients SHOW UP and drive higher connection with their own true, dream clients. You can find out more about Shaunda and her work at shh-creative.com.
Featured image: Color Joy Stock