Last week I talked about my super-simple process for market research & today I’m here to talk about how to use that data to create a profile of your ideal customer avatar, or ICA.
Before I jump into the 3 exercises I did to determine & refine my ICA profile, I want to give you 3 reasons why having an ICA is so important & address the most common objection I hear to having an Ideal Customer Avatar.
One of the primary reasons why having an ICA is so important is that it allows you to have one specific person in mind when you’re talking to a large number of people. When you do this, you can speak to hundreds if not thousands of people as if you were talking to ONE close friend. The best podcasters and online marketers do this so well. If you follow someone online that you feel like you’re best friends with even though you’ve never met them, you probably feel that way because you’re their ICA. Having an ICA is the best way to get the right people to know like and trust you
Secondly, having a clear ICA also helps us to avoid shiny object syndrome. It creates a filter to evaluate new ideas. We can ask ourselves, “is this the best way to serve my ICA?” I know you may struggle with figuring out where to show up on social media, how to do so, and how to avoid feeling like you have to be everywhere all at once. The best solution to this problem is just to ask yourself: “Is this a place where my ICA would hang out online & how can I best serve him or her?”
Lastly, it also helps us to avoid selling to someone who won’t fully appreciate you and what you have to offer. Some of the biggest headaches I’ve experienced in the course of doing business have come from silencing that little voice in my head that whispers: “This person sitting in front of you is not the right fit. Don’t take her money.” Trust me, you are doing yourself and the prospect a disservice when you do business with someone who isn’t the right fit. And figuring out where to draw this line comes largely from experience. It’s probably going to take a few headaches of working with the wrong people to figure it out.
Now I’m going to give you a sort of counterintuitive example of someone who does this very well. There’s a particular business coach, I won’t give his name, but he’s written a very famous book. A ton of people recommended his book to me so I picked it up and read the opening chapter… and I hated it. I absolutely hated it. There was just something about the way he talked and how “salesy” it felt. Also he was an advocate of working insane hours to beat your competition, and his philosophy around business just really rubbed me the wrong way.
But here’s the thing, I know for a fact that he’s a multi-millionaire not despite people like me strongly disliking him… but because of it.
He purposely came off strongly in the opening chapter of his book to make sure the right person continued reading his book. If that wasn’t the case, I might have bought the book, read it, and then wrote a very negative review about it. But instead, I was able to determine right away that I was not his ICA.
On the flip side, if someone really bought into his philosophy after reading that first chapter, they’re probably a raving fan of his for life.
Now the most common objection that I hear to having an ICA is that it can be too restrictive. No one wants to unnecessarily turn new clients away because they don’t fit a narrow & specific profile.
I totally get this, I’ve felt this way before too. But one thing that I’ve found is that people will still want to do business with you even if they don’t fully fit the profile of your ICA. If you say you work with mothers, people are still going to reach out to you who don’t have children (unless you say that you ONLY work with mothers, which is totally okay to do if that’s your choice).
And you are able to attract your ICA, even when they don’t fall within the particular demographics you specify when you focus far more on the psychographic rather than demographic qualities of your ICA. If you work exclusively with women who are going through chemo for example: what fears and desires are going on under the surface? Maybe they feel like they are losing their femininity? If so, that’s a fear that not just women going through chemo can relate to & will connect with, even if you openly say you work with women going through chemo.
Oftentimes your best clients will have the same fears and desires and beliefs in common, not necessarily any kind of gender, race, or socioeconomic status.
So let’s go ahead and dive into those 3 exercises that I did when defining my ICA. There are so many good exercises out there to do this, I know that Marie Forleo has one, Amy Porterfied has one, and my own coach Mallory Schlabach does as well. I put my own spin on these exercises in a way that has worked best for me.
My first activity is to sit down with a pen or pencil and describe your ideal, premium client in as much detail as possible. This is the person who is the perfect candidate for your most expensive product or service. Focus on internal traits rather than external, meaning psychographics over demographics.
You can and should weave in the statements made in your market research meetings, but you can also mix in some of the beliefs and traits that you had when you were first starting your own journey if that’s relevant to your business.
Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and commit that your pencil will not stop moving until that time is up. I used to say this all the time back when I was a High School English teacher. Don’t self-edit as you write. Just write. Also, bonus points if you invent a name for your ICA. Mine’s name is Jessica.
Okay, after you’ve done the first part, the next exercise is to answer these 3 questions:
Describe a client who you know is a good fit for your most expensive product or service, but they’re convinced that something or someone else is the solution. What beliefs do they have about themselves, your industry, or the world?
Describe someone who is on the fence about using your most expensive product or service. What thoughts or beliefs do they have that are holding them back from purchasing? What objections might they have?
What beliefs does someone have to have about you, about themselves, or about the world in general to fully understand the value of what you have to offer and to purchase your most premium product/service (This can be a more abbreviated version of exercise #1)
These 3 profiles should describe a 3-stage emotional journey that your ICA must go through to fully know, like and trust you. This can also be the basis of 3 offers or price points. It might sound like you’re describing 3 different people here, but if you did this exercise correctly, you should be describing the exact same person, but at 3 different stages of their journey.
Quick side note: if your most premium product or service costs $40, odds are that the transformation necessary to buy isn’t going to be as long or as profound as the transformation necessary to make a $10,000 purchase.
So this is going to end look very different depending on your business model, and it’s probably most valuable an exercise for someone with a business that requires a larger commitment from their customers.
So with these 3 exercise we’re starting out with a very broad view of your ICA, and we’re getting much more specific and narrow.
In this last exercise, you’re going to write a one-liner that describes what you do in one concise sentence.
A good one-liner should:
Describe the basic outline of what you do, but not everything that you do (you don’t want a 3 page run-on sentence)
It should attract your ideal client by showing that you understand their pain and that you have a solution.
It should open up a story loop, meaning it should spark curiosity, so that you ICA will want to ask for more info.
I was going to walk you through my process for doing this, but it would make much more sense to print it out and see it on paper. If you head to www.ashleyvogler.com/one-liner, you can download my free worksheet that will walk you step-by-step through my process for crafting a one-liner.
Just to show you where we’re headed with this, the words that you choose, and any other decisions you make in your business must be made with one person in mind: your ideal customer avatar.
That’s the only way that you can have any kind of impact as a small business owner, especially when you’re marketing online.
Like I mentioned last week, At the time of this recording, I’m walking my students through this whole foundational process in my group coaching program: The Secret Sauce Society.
So if you’re in the early stages of growing a business & you’re overwhelmed by all the things you feel like you have to do to get a business off the ground & design your online presence, I’d love to help you cut through the noise, or we can even call it music because there is so much great free content out there, and that can make it even harder to focus on the next best step.
So the best way to find out if the program is the right fit for you is to head to that link I mentioned earlier, ashleyvogler.com/one-liner to download my free worksheet. After you download, I’ll send you a few emails that will give you preview of what it would be like to join my group coaching program. That way you can decide if it’s the right investment for you and your business.
But you can also head directly to www.ashleyvogler.com/secretsaucesocietyinfo to learn more about the program directly.
Last but not least, keep an eye out for next weeks article to hear about how I designed a bare-bones website in just 1 week & I’ll share the most essential ingredients that every website needs.
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