Beyond the avatar (give customers what they want)
There’s a concept in marketing called “the avatar”. I’ve written many articles over it.
Today, I would like to pose another way of viewing the Avatar and marketing.
The idea, as a marketer, is to keep the avatar in the front of your mind, particularly when you are working on a new product or service.
“Am I giving my avatar what he needs? Am I solving his problems?”
Apple, McDonald’s, Republicans, Democrats know their avatars down to the most infinite detail.
Focus groups and surveys are all tools used by marketers to develop their avatars and learn how to speak to them. The groups are asked to find out what their avatar wants… not necessarily what they need.
You see… the issue with avatars is that you design products based on what a potential client tells you. What they tell you isn’t necessarily what they need or really, really want.
Don’t get me wrong, the concept of an avatar makes total sense. You should be doing it.
However, I want you to view the creation and use of avatars differently, I’ll explain more below.
Sometimes, an avatar may not make any sense at all for your business.
Sometimes you gotta take the lead.
Get out front.
The problem with avatar’s is that they don’t lend themselves to innovation.
The audience doesn’t always know what it wants. It’s your job to tell them. More accurately, show them what they need.
They will know it when they see it.
A few years ago, no web hosts offered private networks. Today, just about every big company offers a private network of some kind.
The years before the private network became popular, you could ask 100 people what they wanted from their dedicated server host. I’d wager a small handful would even mention private network. I would be the vast majority wouldn’t of known what it even was.
Then one day… the private network is launched…
“YES! That’s exactly what I need AND want.”
The point is, they can tell you what they want, but not everyone knows what they need…
… but, when they see it, they know it INSTANTLY.
George Lucas worked for five years before it made the big time. During that five year period, did Lucas have a clue if his baby would take off or crash? He made it because he thought it was cool, not because a focus group thought it may be cool.
They know their audience for sure. Make no mistake about it. They have their avatar down to the last hair on their goatee. But they don’t use their avatar models for product creation.
No one can know what Steve Jobs was thinking throughout his many years of product development, but I’ll wager it was pretty similar to this:
“What do I love? I love music. But I hate going to the music store and then loading the music onto my computer. Then I don’t like loading the music onto my MP3 player. What if I could create a store that’s online and allows you to download music and easily transfer it?”
He created something based on his own needs. He built it because he wanted it and thought it was cool.
The audience is always behind.
Your new product may fail. It may stink.
However, it might take off like the private network, iTunes, and Star Wars.
Now, here’s where the avatar gets REALLY interesting.
Once you have a product people want, you can use Avatars to nail down your marketing efforts.
This is where empathy maps, surveys, focus groups, and phone interviews can really help you target your ideal customer.
Knowing your avatar helps you buy ads on the right sites, advertise in the right magazines, and speak their language on your landing pages.
Knowing the avatar personally creates the bond to the product they want. It helps you speak to them in their own language.
Without a proper avatar, you are unable to dial in your message so that you generate more sales. Avatars are best used to fine tune and tweak our marketing.
While avatars can be used for product creation (searching for new idea’s), the best idea’s come from asking ourselves what do we think would be cool?