This was originally published for Twenty Over Ten’s Market Assist Blog.
Often, when I speak with advisors who are tackling their content marketing, they’re getting caught up in the content creation piece of the puzzle.
They might start by creating a blog, and writing a few posts about topics that have high-ranking search terms, or that incorporate local SEO. Then, maybe, they start distributing their content through a newsletter and social media. Realizing that they want a bigger audience, they launch a lead magnet and nurture funnel to grow their email list.
Unfortunately, as business owners go through this content creation process, it’s easy to get burnt out (and fast!) when they don’t have a strategy fueling their creation. You may get writer’s block, run out of content ideas, or just get bored with the constant grind of content creation. The good news is that there’s an easy fix to this problem:
Create a client avatar.
Typically, I recommend that people tackle this initial step well before they start looking at all of the “should do’s” floating around out there. Client avatars positively impact your marketing, motivation to keep serving your clients to the best of your ability, sales, and so much more.
What is a Client Avatar?
Your client avatar is a representation of your ideal client and your target audience for your marketing. Creating a client avatar helps you to understand your ideal client on a deeper level. It clearly defines your niche and helps you to hone your messaging, sales pitch, content, and pretty much every other element of your financial planning practice.
How Can You Create Your Own Client Avatar?
People approach the client avatar creation process in a few different ways, but I like to keep it simple. Start with a list of demographic and psychographic traits, then expand the list into a long-form client case study, or short story that captures the client. If you’re feeling extra creative, you could create a handy little powerpoint slide, or PDF, that includes your client avatar description and a few images to put a face with the personality you’ve built.
Start by Asking Questions
When you get started creating your own client avatar, it helps to start by thinking about the niche you’ve chosen for your firm. That might be tech professionals in California, or it may be pre-retirees in Iowa. Even if your niche feels broad, it’s a good kick-off point for you to start asking some more specific questions. These questions might be:
- How old is my ideal client?
- What’s their household income?
- What career path have they pursued?
- What responsibilities do they have?
- Are they married? Single? In a relationship?
- Do they have kids? If so, how old are their kids?
- What stage of life are they in?
- What are they passionate about?
- What are their life goals?
- What are their biggest fears – and how does their money play into those concerns?
Now, here’s where I sometimes get push back from advisors who I speak with about their client avatars:
I don’t have a true “niche”, they say, Our firm works with a really broad range of people. How can I create just one client avatar?
It’s okay that you feel this way, but I’m going to burst your bubble: I guarantee you have a niche of some sort – you probably just haven’t framed it that way yet. That’s what this client avatar process can help you do!
By uncovering the deeper fears, goals, and values of your ideal client, you’re creating a psychographic niche. Your clients may span a wide range of ages, professions, locations, and more – but more than likely, there’s a consistent thread that ties them together and makes them your ideal clients.
More often than not, the consistency across all of your ideal clients is something intangible. Following this exercise, and asking yourself these questions, will force you to dig deeper to better understand your ideal clients: who they are, what they want, and what motivates them. This will ultimately help you to hone your messaging, and to serve them in an even more elevated way.
Your Client Avatar Summary
Brendan and Samantha have been married for several years. They have two kids, both in elementary school. They’re busy with family activities, both of the kids are enrolled in after-school sports and music lessons, and they feel like they barely have enough time to check all of the “must do’s” off the list by the end of the week.
Brendan is a Business Analyst in the tech sector, and Samantha is a secondary education teacher. Together, they make a combined $225,000/year. They know that they make enough money, but are still struggling to cover all of their monthly expenses.
They dream about traveling, and maybe even taking the kids on a year-long sabbatical where they explore the world together but have no idea how to make that happen. Their mortgage is a huge burden, and they’re worried that they won’t be able to live the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed about if they keep going the way they are now.
Using Your Avatar
You can plug your client avatar into several different places, both internally and in a client-facing way. Personally, I like to use them on websites as client case studies, and in any prospect-facing PDFs. When you create the client avatar to be a story, people are more likely to connect with you, and to view your services as tailor-fit to their needs.
How Can Client Avatars Help Your Practice?
Now that you have your newly-created client avatar, you’re ready to apply it to your practice! Of course, I like to start by using it to hone your marketing message. Here are a few steps you can take to make marketing easier (and more effective) using your client avatar:
- Comb through your website copy. Does your messaging sound like it’s geared toward your avatar’s goals and fears?
- Create a content calendar. What financial questions does your client avatar have? What concerns are they facing? Write about those topics! And remember – the more specific you can be, the better.
- Think about social media. Where is your client avatar hanging out online? Lean into your social media efforts on those specific channels.
- How do they want to be communicated with? Does a monthly email newsletter make the most sense? Or would they prefer a quarterly printed newsletter sent via snail mail?
- What touch-points will be meaningful to them? This can impact even the small aspects of your marketing. For example, if your client avatar values making an impact, sending a card each year announcing a donation to charity in your client’s name in lieu of a client gift may be a big hit (and generate more referrals).
Beyond marketing, your client avatar can help you to focus your sales funnel, update your client onboarding process, adjust how you approach discovery meetings with new clients, and figure out ways to generate referrals. When you connect everything in your business back to your ideal client avatar, you’re setting yourself up for success.
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