This week, I am up in the mountains east of San Diego writing my new book, The Marketing Guide for Financial Advisors, so I’m excited to feature a guest post from Jake Wagner, host of the podcast, Digital Marketing for Financial Planners. Jake and I are both passionate about embracing a niche, but he has a new way of thinking about your niche: by using avatars!
An avatar is a fancy term for an icon that represents a person. In this case, the avatar (or persona) represents your ideal client. By thinking about your target clients in terms of who they are instead of what they are, it’s easier to understand what motivates them and why they choose to work with you. I hope you enjoy the guest post. Next week, I’ll give step-by-step instructions to create avatars for your own ideal client types!
How Avatars Help Your Marketing
By Jake Wagner, CDMP, Principal of Wagner Communication Systems
We’ve all been encouraged to think about our prospects as target markets. You probably have defined your ideal clients’ age, income, and profession. Identifying your target market is a worthwhile exercise. At the end of the day, though, you’re attracting human beings, not target markets.
The best way to understand who you’re attracting is to use an avatar that is a representation of your ideal client and has elements of each of your active clients. Too often, businesses default to thinking in terms of generic “target markets” rather than thinking deeply about the person they want to attract and how they are going to do it.
1. Avatars Go Beyond Target Markets
Target Markets result in a shallow understanding of who you’re trying to find. Market research reports let you know that you’re looking for a man or a woman, their age and how long they’ve been in their business.
Though this is great to know, these demographics fall flat when you translate that to finding your prospect on a social network. You need to get into the inside of your prospect’s head. It will be easier to find your prospect if you understand how they tick. Using an avatar helps you identify their interests and concerns. It is easier to find your prospect if you know what they care about, where they get their news, and what groups they belong to on LinkedIn and Facebook.
2. They Give You Social Information
Because avatars allow you to understand your ideal client’s passions and interests, they make it easier to know where to find and target your prospect on social media. Most social networks focus on a person’s behavior, interests, and demographics.
For example, LinkedIn knows what school a user attended, which groups they belong to, and which companies they’re interested in learning more about. For Facebook, the data lies in relationship connections, interests, and engagement through the content we post and share. By understanding the transformation your clients want from you, you can kick start your relationship with them.
3. They Help You Understand “Why”
One of the most powerful things you can do to help your firm is to understand why your clients make the decision to work with you. Which life conditions will trigger them to seek you out and let you manage their finances?
Defining the wants, needs, and fears of your Avatar makes it easier to understand their feelings and concerns. This helps you recognize patterns in why clients choose to work with you. You can position your marketing to appeal to the needs and concerns of your clients that they might not be able to verbalize.
4. Avatars Put a Name and a Face with Your Prospect
Creating a persona for your prospects allows you to think about who they are. This informs you about what they may find off-putting or interesting. It’s helpful when communicating with your staff or making decisions, because you can always ask “Would ‘Diligent Dave’ value this part of the client experience?”
5. They Help You Create a Customer Journey
At one point, your best client hadn’t met you and now they are a loyal fan trusting you with the most intimate financial elements of their life. I recommend writing down the steps each avatar or client takes. Start with them never having met you to getting to know you to deciding if they like your style and if they trust you.
This doesn’t stop once they become a client. How will they experience your firm when they schedule a meeting, arrive at your office, or receive follow up information? Are they naturally incentivized to give you referrals? This process is called the customer journey. Envisioning your avatar on that journey enables you to tailor it to your prospects’ and clients’ needs, fears, and pain points.
Creating an avatar doesn’t have to take a lot of time or be too rigid. Most advisors I work with have two to four avatars that they update on a regular basis. By thinking through your different clients and what motivates them, you can get an edge on your marketing and make it easier to find and attract your favorite clients.
Thanks to Claire Akin for sharing my article on her blog! You can listen to my Digital Marketing for Financial Planners podcast episode with Claire here.
Thanks for the guest post, Jake! This week, I encourage all of us to spend some time thinking about our best clients. What do they have in common with each other? What are they passionate about? What are their key motivators? Next week, we’ll discuss how to create three to four client avatars for your firm and how to use them in your marketing strategy. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you’ll get my weekly marketing tips!
Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency a digital marketing firm serving top independent financial advisors. Claire is a former Investment Advisor Representative who holds her MBA in Marketing from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis. It’s her goal to help advisors grow their businesses by embracing a true specialty.