At the foundation of any successful business is your ideal client. Without clients, you wouldn’t have a business! Thing is, how do you attract more of them into your sphere of influence?
Turns out, those marketing strategies and tactics that rely on AI, messenger bots and automated responses miss the point of being in business in the first place. While they are immensely helpful, they lack one important quality that often we (as shoppers) require: the element of connection.
If you’re struggling to find new customers, sign new clients or build a fan-base for your product or service then this week’s article is for you!
I’m going to teach you the super simple way I build more connection in my business and how you can be more human in a digital world.
The Old Way of Creating An Ideal Customer Avatar
The last ten years has seen an increase in what’s known as the ideal customer avatar.
A simple exercise in theory, it’s an opportunity to better understand WHO it is you’re serving. Through questions that prompt the business owner to describe their ideal customer, avatars have become a business staple.
But are they effective?
Turns out, customer avatars are beneficial to some degree but not so beneficial overall. When armed with a team of high-level marketing professionals, big businesses use avatars to their advantage. That’s because their avatars are backed up by data and research.
When it comes to online businesses with small budgets, customer avatars are limited by an entrepreneur’s inability to dig deep into their customers’ psyches.
While it might be easy to name your avatar Jane and assume she goes to CrossFit (maybe just like you), it’s not so easy to get to the heart of why she’s motivated to workout, eat healthy or not skip a workout.
Often online business owners assume who they serve are a lot like them (which they can be) but miss out on big opportunities to connect further when they aren’t willing to dig deeper.
What Empathy is and Why it’s So Important
Empathy (according to my handy dandy dictionary) is:
(n) the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
It’s being able to see or feel someone else’s perspective or experience, as if you were in their shoes.
Empathy is different than sympathy which is more the sharing of feelings between people.
In essence, empathy opens us up to the rainbow of emotions, experiences and perspectives in others.
The Power of Empathy in Customer Profiling
Did you know that empathy has a lot to do with how successful a business becomes both on and offline?
Turns out, empathy is a leading force in why or how a shopper buys:
- How a business relates to and positions themselves with prospective clients
- Why a consumer purchases one product or service over another
Without empathy, businesses wouldn’t be able to solve problems.
Many times during a ideal client avatar exercise you’ll be asked to identify and expand on what problems or issues your client is facing:
What brings them to your business?
What do they hope is achieved when working with you?
What’s keeping them up at night?
And yet, without empathy you will either not be able to answer these questions at all or you’ll miss the mark entirely. Empathy is the key that unlocks your business potential in the eyes of your client.
Getting Started With Empathy Maps
If you want to dig deeper and really get to know your ideal client, empathy maps are the answer.
An empathy map is one step beyond the ideal client avatar exercise.
It lets you see, hear, feel and think like your ideal client.
Empathy maps help you connect with clients in such a way that you literally finish each other’s sentences. They are that powerful!
STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR GOAL
Get clear on who you’re stepping into the shoes of and the problem you are attempting to solve.
What question are you asking that you need their perspective?
What problem are you trying to solve?
Be very clear on this first and then move on to the mapping.
New to Empathy Mapping?
STEP 2: START WITH WHAT THEY SEE, HEAR & SAY
To fully immerse yourself in their world you need to understand what they say, hear and see on a daily basis.
It’s more than generalized demographics, it’s visualizing their lived experience.
Some questions to get you started:
- What’s the first thing they see when they open their eyes?
- Describe their morning routine.
- Are they grumpy and groggy or energized upon waking?
- Coffee or tea?
- Do they listen to music? Do they have a favorite song to pump them up for the day?
- Do they have pets? A spouse? Kids?
- What do they hear in their house? On the way to work? In the car? On the metro?
- What do they say to themselves before a work meeting? While checking emails? On social media?
STEP 3: MOVE ON TO WHAT THEY DO
The next step is to determine their actions.
- Did they make it to that spin class?
- Do they read a bedtime story to their kids at night?
- Do they make themselves a cup of coffee in their favorite mug everyday?
- Do they check social media or email first thing each morning?
- Do they drive to work? Take public transport?
- Do they take time for themselves everyday?
STEP 4: DETERMINE WHAT THEY THINK AND FEEL
This is where empathy mapping is most beneficial. A few questions you might consider:
- Do they beat themselves up for not getting to the gym?
- Do they talk themselves up before that big presentation?
- Is their inner voice more positive or negative? What does it say as they go about their day?
- How does (s)he feel about their job, relationships or world issues?
- What does she think about her body?
- How does she feel about having kids?
- Does what she thinks differ from what she feels (about relationships, her career path, her sexuality, her religion, her….etc.)?
To dive deeper into the subject, my two favorite books on empathy marketing are: