What the Typical Customer Avatar Gets Wrong

May 15, 2023

PSA: This blog post is an expansion of one of my weekly newsletters. Join us here so you don’t ever miss this goodness again.

Guess who’s back?

Back again…

(Sorry if that’s stuck in your head all day long now. Gotta love a good throwback.)

Aaaanywho, I’m back! This time with a Make Believe Brand that I actually wish existed (if it does, please send to me!) and four different marketing strategies gleaned from just a few, very very very clear, real life, customer desires.

Just! A! Few! Clear! Customer! Desires! Four! Diff! Marketing! Strategies!

I’m computer-screaming at you right now because this. is. good.

Buckle up, get your notes app ready, and get comfy (I didn’t ever promise brevity, now did I?):

Wait. Hang on.

We gotta start at the beginning first. Which is prooobbbsss where you started (still are, perhaps?) at one point or another – 

With the dang ‘customer avatar’

If you were sitting across from me in the coffee shop right now, iced chai in hand, remnants of the lavender brownie we just shared still makin you happy, the gleeful ambient noise of all the other coffee shop goers, you just saw me roll my eyes five times quickly and throw my hands halfway up into the air… that’s how I feel about the typical customer avatar, just so we’re really clear here, okay?

Alright, anyhow. This really cool Make Believe Brand, let’s call them…. I Latte You… came to me KNOWING their company and product and brand is so freaking awesome. They’ve got zero doubts about their awesomeness. But they have all kinds of doubts about HOW to get their awesomeness out into this world.

This Make Believe Brand is beautifully designed, a bit quippy & witty, a briliant coffee company that really nails the at home latte’s in two simple steps – they’ve got vanilla, lavender, hazelnut, iced or hot options.

K, so they came to me lots of confidence in their brand, but kind of wishy-washy about their ideal customer. They thought they knew the ideal customer pretty well, but she just wasn’t buying.

I start taking this made-up company through my signature Heart Mapping Method, and when we get to the customer portion, they stop me, they say they know their ideal customer and bust out… you already know… their ideal client avatar sheet!

AH! My eyeballs bulged! I smiled a little bit, knowing what was coming…

“Our ideal customer’s name is Lilly. She’s 35, lives outside of Chicago, but not, like, too far out. She has a bachelor’s degree in (idk, something), is married, has two young children, with an annual household income of 150k. She shops at The RealReal and also enjoys a good Target run.”

I (kindly) stare.

“Okay, that’s a good start,” I say. “What’s keeping her up at night?”

“What?” They’re looking at me like I’ve got Lyle Lyle the Crocodile sitting on my shoulders. 

(man, the influence of those little twins on me… here it is again!)

“What’s she struggling with? What’s the thing she really, really, really wants to do or be or feel, but keeps running into some sort of block up?” I ask ’em.


And then this is where things start to get really, really fun.

Maybe a taaaaddddd bit… shall we say… like standing in a rainstorm for this make believe brand?

But like, a summer rainstorm, at the beach… where the air is hot and humid but still feels darn good, and the breeze is slightly blowing but definitely not hurricane strength, goodness gracious no, and you’re all calm and cool cause you know this is just what happens at the beach, you know the sun’s about to come right back out and this wet sand is gonna be dry in no time.

A rainstorm like that. ^

Okay, I digress. Anyways!

“Can we throw that ideal client avatar out of the window for a sec?” I ask them. Now THEIR eyes are the ones bulging…

“We gotta go a lot deeper. Waaayyyyy deeper, make believe brand.”  I say.

Great marketing & brand messaging is rooted in empathy.

Not in boring logistics that you could gather from someone’s tax return.

THIS is what Heart Mapping is all about. THIS is what Make Believe Brand, I Latte You (don’t judge me right now, i never claimed to be a top notch namer of things!), is missing.

I take Make Believe Brand through the customer portion of Heart Mapping, we get super clear on all the good stuff about their customer that actually matters. Not the boring stuff on the tax return.

And then, at the end, once we’ve got the customer and brand’s Heart Map in clear view, we know all of the below about their actual ideal customer:

Now that they know their ideal customer inside and out and as well, if not better, than her own BFF knows her, and NOW that they’re approaching their messaging & marketing from a place of radical empathy, then, just from the few thingz about Make Believe Brand’s customer above, here are four different marketing strategies they could roll out – almost instantly, too… that’s the magic of Heart Mapping & getting so damn clear on your customer + your brand and where it all intersects… things click into place, finally, and roll quickly.

Marketing Strategy #1 – The Email Welcome Sequence
Since they know this actual customer of theirs is a real life tired, high achieving, maybe-or-does have small kids, they know the coffee need is as real as the need for a sunny, drinks-with-tiny-umbrellas-guaranteed, rejuvenating vacation.

So you bet your bottom dollar their welcome sequence is gonna be as promising as those Bachelor proposals look. 

Meaning, they could create an entire welcome sequence centered around their “tired as hell but don’t you dare worry, girlfriend, we’ve got you” messaging: The email could start off, bold and bright, with “HI SLEEPY.” Eeexxcept – ookkaaayyy put your visual imagination to work here, k? – the graphic crosses out ‘sleepy’ and starts rolling through [BRILLIANT, LOVELY, INSPIRED, ENERGIZED, etc. etc. etc.]

^ THAT would get that tired lady’s heart + eyeballs a lot more than “Welcome to the family! Here’s how to enjoy your at-home latte.” 👈🏼 Too freakin’ boring to ever matter.

Their welcome sequence would carry on with how their coffee is better than that-very-longed-for vacation, and, thanks to their very easy process, it’s a lot easier than actually booking, and actually going on, said longed for vacation!

The following emails in their sequence would be just as fun and engaging as the first (most important) one, and would walk them through how to use the coffee (do you ‘use’ coffee? I think not, but in this Make Believe Brand’s case, ya totally do) easily and quickly, and what else they can expect.

Like, Marketing Strategy #2 – The Regular Email Series
Make Believe Brand knows their ride or die girl is a trendsetter among her different groups – she’s always finding the best, sharing the best, and curating the best.

They also deeply understand that the few minutes she has to herself in the morning, before the rest of the house wakes, before she starts emailing and working and stressing… these moments are her favorite of the day. She gets her favorite mug, settles in, and dives into her version of inspiration, or a good article, or even her own joy-inducing camera roll.

I Latte You runs with this prized moment. They BECOME PART OF this moment. 

Their regular weekly email series, Coffee Chats, features inspiring interviews, cool products (new mugs that feel good and heavy and the perfect amount of hot in your hand!), and a coffee-shop-at-home playlist + tips on how to make their special latte-me-time even better.

They make this newsletter so good, so binge-worthy, so #littlejoys inducing that their customer forwards this email to her BFF. And the word-of-mouth, referral marketing carries on wave by wave… Wooooossshh (hear that? that’s the peaceful sound of a turquoise wave crashing against the white sandy beach from the vacation Make Believe Brand founder just took because she’s not stressed the f out anymore since she figured out her customer and marketing! wooooosh)

Next up, Marketing Strategy #3, The “You Take Care of Them, We Take Care of You” Email Campaign
Make Believe Brand knows their actual ideal customer has lots of bff’s spread across the country. They also know she’s a darn good friend. She’s thoughtful and likes to spoil her people.

So, they make it easy for her to do so. They create marketing material around this key value of their customer.

The “You Take Care of Them, We Take Care of You” campaign features different gifting options – Exclusive I Latte You gift baskets, bundles, or gift cards.

This alone, with the right messaging and positioning, could be enough of a campaign to see traction for Make Believe Brand.

But they could take it a step further and sweeten the deal – they could offer a discount on buy 1, gift 1. They could offer an exclusive gift-for-you when you gift-to-them product.

Real Life Brand, BoxFox, does an incredible job of this every single time you purchase from them.

I Latte You’s customer sends her friend across the country, the one who’s struggling through something hard as all get out right now, the perfect pick me up. She loved that she could tailor the message – even some of the packaging! – to her friend’s ~ feelings. ~

empathy empathy empathy ^ Forget the generic gift message or even the same ole packaging. Make Believe Brand offers ‘get well soon,’ ‘so sorry, this sucks,’ ‘yay! hooray!,’ cards/packaging/whatever.

And no, I know what you’re thinking – they’re not giving away the whole enchilada (is that even the correct saying?) for free. They’re offering this as an upsell.

But because they know their customer super duper well, they know this matters to her. They know that by offering this, they’ll become her one and only favorite any time she wants to send a thoughtful gift to someone.

aaaand Finally, Marketing Strategy #4, Limited Edition Partnerships
Half product development, half clever marketing strategy – partnering with a beautiful pottery brand (East Fork, anyone?) on a limited edition mug. The kind she’ll get out of the dishwasher in the morning for.

Seasonal flavors, provided in partnership with the most on brand spice or syrup or whatever flavor company out there (love you, Diaspora). A fun little bundle to welcome each new season.

There’s a myriad of ways that I Latte You could partner with different brands for special bundles or limited edition or seasonal thingz. A beautiful, on brand way to get in front of many new customers, AND surprise and delight their already won-over customers. Yes’m, please.

PHEWIIIIEEEEEEEEE! How ’bout that! Four solid marketing strategies pulled from a customer’s Heart Map. I like Make Believe Brand so much already, don’t you?

And notice how none of the four marketing campaigns above are centered around social media.

Not. a. single. one.

More on that later, cause this dissertation does need to come to an end eventually.

Empathy and the deepest, deepest, deeeeeepest understanding of your customer’s psychographics should be driving every single part of your brand – from your messaging & marketing to eeevverrrryything else.

This is exactly what we do together in the Heart Mapping Experience, and why I truly believe every single brand and founder needs to go through this experience at some point or another.

Also, you may need to read all that again.

til next time,

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