woman making notes in a journal

Your Ideal Client Avatar - Beyond Demographics

If you’re a student of marketing, you’ll be familiar with the ICA, aka Ideal Client Avatar. It’s a fundamental component of any marketing strategy. Your ICA is the persona of a fictional (although it could be based on a real) person you LOVE working with and for whom your offer is a perfect fit.

The thinking is that if you know WHO you are selling to, you will have a message that connects, and the sale will happen. But if you are too general in your approach, no one will connect. If you market to EVERYONE, you are selling to NO ONE.

As a coach, consultant, or service provider, you have a particular set of skills. Your clients have specific challenges that only you can address. Although, in general, your offering can help a broad range of people, the more you narrow your focus, the better your audience will see themselves in your marketing. And that is the goal: to connect with the specific kind of person you want to serve. Contrary to how it sounds, the more narrow your target, the better “bullseye” you will achieve.

But typical ICA work that we’ve all been taught is falling short of connecting with your prospects. Here’s why…

Demographics are only the beginning.

In my overview post about capturing your ICA’s attention, I said we start with demographics to narrow the field. In our target analogy, demographics help us form the outer rings of who we aim to win. Things like age, marital status, education, income, job title, etc., can help eliminate 90% of people not suited for your offer/service. 

We are taught to name the ICA. Get to know her well – where she shops, what she reads, where she hangs out online, her religious and political views, passion projects, etc. These are super helpful to know. The more detailed your avatar, the more quickly you can find her and put your offer in her path.

Again, this is not new, and you may have already done this. Bravo! You are a rare entrepreneur. My kind of people! *high-five*

But don’t stop there. 

Woman with hand on head

Why demographics are not enough.

People are complicated…Knowing all the demographics helps narrow the facts about a person but doesn’t address the emotional or psychological realities they are facing. Just because I’m a 50-something woman with health challenges and money to pay for help doesn’t mean I’ll click that button to work with a health coach. 

Two women talking

Continuing with a health coach client as an example, here are more questions to consider that may help you get into her state of mind:

  • What happened at her last doctor’s visit?
  • Who in her life depends on her to stay in good health?
  • What in her past is making healthy living difficult?
  • What has she tried and failed in her quest for a solution?
  • What would good health look like for her?
  • What would good health enable her to do?

You get the idea. When we can drill down into our avatar’s life, we can paint a picture of a real person, not just a prospect. It’s a subtle shift that makes your marketing so much more compassionate

The outcome of this type of research is that you begin to empathize with your ICA. She’s not just a prospect to buy your offer. She is a person with real needs that you can support.

This line of thought is where the magic happens. The language you use to speak to someone in empathy is vastly different from someone you hope to sell a product or service to. It is a shift in messaging that will draw in your avatar. 

The line of questions I’ve listed above will help you define her pain points as well as give light to what motivates her. When you show that you understand the problem, the avatar becomes more receptive to your solutions. When someone can see you understand the problem, they most often assume you know a solution.

But in your messaging, you don’t want to only focus on the negative or “turn the knife,” as they say. You can also show a vision of the “gain” they are looking to achieve. People want to be inspired by real solutions. If you demonstrate how you understand what they’re after, and can guide them to their “promised land,” they will follow you. 

But we still aren’t finished. There is one more critical piece to address…

smiling woman in straw hat

What needs to be in place before they work with you?

You can know their precise demographics, speak to their inner pains and gains, and even show them the aspirational results, but they won’t take the next step if they aren’t at a place to work with you.

You have the opportunity – they need to have done the preparation. Make a list of what that preparation looks like. What do they need to believe or what do they need to have done in order to answer your call to action?

To explain this further, let’s go back to our health coach example. What does your avatar need to have in place before she answers your Call to Action:

  • Believe that change is possible – it was for them, why not me?
  • Willing to ask for help.
  • Ready to take your guidance.
  • Be strong enough mentally to at least complete the program.
  • Willing to invest in themselves by working with you.
  • Have a support system that will encourage her growth – or at least no one working against her change.

You get the idea. It takes more than your avatar being presented with your opportunity. Some preparation has to have happened. 

But is their preparation out of your control? You can’t do the work for them but you can guide them to it. Sometimes naming the steps can help her self-assess if she’s on the right track. Addressing the preparation is a great place to nurture your avatar toward the preparation. Write and post about it. Explain and encourage the step-by-step process.

A Content Creator's Gold Mine

On a practical note, when you have considered numerous questions about her life, you can create volumes of content to speak to each point. Coming up with what to blog, post, and email about is incredibly easy and will be eagerly read (and shared) because it speaks to actual pain.

Even when someone outside your avatar parameters shows up on your site, posts, or email list, they will think, “This person really cares. I want to work with someone like that.” Having a narrow avatar only helps your reach instead of limiting it.

woman coach with hands up

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation”

After all, we are talking about an IDEAL Client.

It’s tempting to get into the trap of taking on every client who comes into your world. STOP IT. You don’t have to. Breaking free of the scarcity mindset is so important. (But that’s a topic for another day.) It’s called an Ideal Client Avatar for a reason. Set your sights high. What you reach for, speak to, and create will connect with her. She’s out there!

Some things I know my clients need in place to work with me are:

  • Understand good personal boundaries for themselves and me.
  • Respond well to timelines and deadlines.
  • Trust my experience and listen to my input.
  • Are passionate about what they do and genuinely love their craft.

These things have come to me over the years, and I’m sure I’ll keep adding to them. 

Karelin and client

Don’t forget the most important reason for this exercise. When thinking about the IDEAL of who you want to work with, you get to choose. Who is a pleasure to work with, not a chore?  Set your standards high. There are enough people who fit your criteria.

So stop settling for simple demographic data when creating your Ideal Client Avatar. Dig deep into her world and know what preparation needs to occur before she clicks. Then, make that the focus of your content. The more time you spend in her world, the better you’ll know it. The better you know it, the more empathy you will have for her. 

And really, empathy is what the world needs more than anything.