Risdall’s team works closely with our clients to help define customer segments and to understand customers’ needs. Customer Avatars are one of the tools that we have found effective and use frequently. Here are some common questions you may ask when considering if a Customer Avatar is the right tool for you.
What is a Customer Avatar?
A Customer Avatar is your blueprint for understanding your customer. The Customer Avatar is a snapshot of a person in time. At this point in time, it defines:
- What is your ideal customer struggling with?
- What are their goals and aspirations?
- Who are they?
- What influences their decisions?
- Where are they now and what is the next step for them?
- What are their jobs like?
- What are they excited about
- What can your product/service do that transforms their lives (to a more desirable future state)?
How to approach creating Customer Avatars?
Our work in marketing is based on human interactions. It is not about a business selling to a business or even a business selling to consumers. It is about human-to-human interactions. What is the problem your buyer needs to solve and how can you, the seller, help to solve that problem? Person-to-person. It is understanding who the people are that you are serving so that you can deliver a valued product/service that transforms them to their desired state. When you ask questions about who you are serving and consider the answer from their perspective, it can open up a whole new world of how you interact with your prospects and customers.
All good relationships are built on mutual trust, over time. A Customer Avatar gives you insight in how to build that relationship and how to help your customer get to where they aspire to be. Customer Avatars help you build a long-term relationship with your customers by continuing to evolve your products to support their needs/wants so that your customer becomes your best advocate.
How does a Customer Avatar compare to a Persona?
A rose by any other name is still a rose? Not necessarily.
You may have personas, audience definitions, targets, etc. that you use to understand your customers. Each of these have their own use. We have found that targets and audience definitions are generally groups of people, while personas take it to the next level by focusing on demographics and psychographics. The Customer Avatar goes even deeper and helps you to understand your customer’s world – the stressors, the opportunities, the vision for the future. It can be applied across a business as well. Our clients have used Customer Avatars to evolve their sales training, to develop new products, and to target prospects in their Customer Value Journeys.
How do Avatars help businesses?
Our goal with the Customer Avatar is to start a repeatable process that moves your ideal customer from first purchase to buying your products/services time and again to becoming your strongest advocate. And, as an added value, the Customer Avatar gives you and your entire organization insight to your customer. An avatar can:
- Align your sales and marketing teams so that you prioritize and focus on the ideal audience; one that would benefit by using your product or service
- Deliver your content team with insights for messaging and talking points that resonate with prospects and customers
- Deliver marketing teams insights into trigger points and effective marketing tactics, increasing your chance of delivering the right message, to the right audience, at the right time in their search for a solution
- Improve marketing, sales and customer service interactions with your prospects and customers by helping them understand the transformation they can expect through your product or service
- Inform your development teams, giving them opportunities for product and business growth
- Training your sales team, and boosting their confidence to deliver effective talking points
In our next post, we’ll answer questions on how to find your customer avatar, how to create a Customer Avatar, and who should be involved in the process. Once you’ve defined who to reach, you will want to understand and define their journey, read more about the Customer Value Journey here.
Ready to get started? We can help you identify your ideal customer avatar in an afternoon. Give us a call or schedule a time to come in.
*As a trained and licensed DigitalMarketer Certified Partner, we use the DigitalMarketer framework, which includes the Customer Value Journey, Customer Avatar Canvas and other tools and resources.
The Customer Value Journey is a blueprint for creating a predictable flow of customers. It defines the step-by-step process of converting total strangers to high-value customers and brand promoters. Modeled after human relationships, it includes additional steps not found in a traditional marketing funnel. Not only does this lead to a more natural sequence of interactions, it helps align organizational and customer interests around shared success, leading to happy customers, advocates, and promoters. For these reasons we believe documenting the Customer Value Journey is arguably the most important step in formulating a sound marketing strategy for businesses.
What does a Customer Value Journey look like?
We know in human relationships if you go directly from “Hi, how are you?” to “Would you like to spend the rest of our lives together?” your chances of success are next to nothing. In fact, it’s likely to trigger a pretty swift and undesirable response. If you are lucky enough to earn a date but spend all your time talking about how great you are and how much the other person needs you, what are the odds you’ll get a second date? Why would it be any different in a business relationship? It isn’t. Understanding the steps along the way in a human relationship or a business relationship will help you to be purposeful in meeting your potential prospects where they are, with what they need. Below are the stages of the customer value journey intended to guide your ideal customer on their journey from unaware prospect to raving promoter.
Stage 1: Aware
The Aware stage describes how qualified prospects first hear out about your brand, products, or services. You want to make an impression and earn a click or visit. This may be through paid advertising (e.g, paid search, display, social boost, billboards, bus wraps), organic search, a referral, and so on.
Stage 2: Engage
With awareness efforts driving views and clicks, Engage focuses on earning a prospect’s attention and trust. Often this is accomplished through content marketing such as blog content, an FAQ, a relevant case study on your website, or posts on social channels such as YouTube, LinkedIn or Facebook.
Stage 3: Subscribe
By the time you reach the Subscribe stage the prospect has determined your content is relevant and is willing to hear more from you. You’ve earned some measure of trust. It’s time to ask the prospect for contact information (and permission to reach out via further marketing) in exchange for something of more value. This could be in the form of a blog subscription, a content download, a newsletter, or perhaps an on-demand webinar.
Stage 4: Convert
Here the prospect is making a commitment of time or money in exchange for a product or service. In a business-to-business scenario, this may be a commitment to attend an informational meeting, a consultation, or a product trial. Known as an entry point offer, the product or service can range greatly in value. The goal of the Convert stage is to set up an opportunity to Excite your prospect.
Stage 5: Excite
Excite is your opportunity to demonstrate to your prospect how your product or service changes from a nice-to-have to something highly desirable or essential. It’s the slide in the deck that prospects want to see again and again, the product demo function that they can’t bear to lose after 30 days, the ROI calculator they ask you to share with their executive team. These “Ah-Ha” moments are where the real breakthroughs happen on both sides of the relationship, so becoming purposeful about this stage of the journey is critical to marketing and sales success.
Stage 6: Ascend
Now that the value of your product or service has been affirmed, your customer will be eager to ensure your essential product or service are available to them. Often depicted as a ladder, the Ascend stage outlines your core or flagship offering along with additional relevant offers you deliver value after the initial sale. The goal of the Ascend stage is to grow customer value and satisfaction.
Stage 7: Advocate
Throughout the journey so far you’ve been building trust, delivering value, and nurturing long term customer satisfaction. If you’ve succeeded you should have a happy customer. And these happy customers likely know more potential happy customers and would be willing to vouch for you. The Advocate stage formalizes the process of building customer advocates willing to share their positive experience with others, increasing awareness, trust, and credibility with a larger audience.
Stage 8: Promote
The Promote stage focuses on building brand promoters who are actively marketing to their audience on your behalf. This may involve rewards, affiliate, or referral programs, or just making it easy for happy customers to toot your horn. Whether compensated or not, brand promoters generate referrals from a trusted source, often lowering your customer acquisition costs.
If you’re familiar with other customer or buyer’s journey frameworks such as the HubSpot FlyWheel, you’ve probably noted the difference in the number of stages. We appreciate and find value in this level of granularity. Why? It allows marketers to be more intentional and accountable throughout the journey. Aligning measurement at each of these stages using a Growth Scorecard gives your organization more actionable insights for predictable growth.
Drive customer success
The Customer Value Journey places particular emphasis on customer success, not just sales outcomes.
The unique Excite stage forces organizations to define and quantify the “Ah-Ha” moments where customers understand the value of your product or service. These moments transform your offering from a “want to have” to a “must have.” It’s not about convincing someone that you have what they need, it’s ensuring your offering meets their needs. This reflection often involves updating products or service offerings.
The Ascend stage focuses on the journey beyond the first sale, when customer value to your organization is multiplied. At face value, this might seem limited to increasing customer lifetime value (CLV). The funny thing about CLV is that a key ingredient to increasing and sustaining high-value customer relationships is to deliver more value to your customers.
Finally, including stages for building advocates and brand promoters makes these powerful trust-building activities first-class citizens of your growth marketing operation. That trust leads to increased awareness, engagement, and conversion through referrals, case studies, and testimonials.
Promote sales-marketing alignment
The Customer Value Journey also helps break down walls between sales and marketing and align these teams, and better alignment can lead to business growth. The process of creating an effective Customer Value Journey involves stakeholders from throughout your organization. Sales, marketing, product/delivery, and support are all essential constituents. This helps establish shared goals as well as buy-in on the process of attaining those goals. One of the outcomes of the process and the documentation is a shared vocabulary, which helps cross-functional teams avoid arguments about the definition of terms such as subscriber, lead, and conversion. You can further reinforce the relationship between teams in weekly Growth Scorecard meetings, where key performance metrics are reviewed.
Ultimately, the system of documenting, reporting, analyzing, and making decisions as a team using terms everyone understands empowers your team to perform better.
Create a marketing plan driven by your Customer Value Journey
The Customer Value Journey is one of the essential components to our marketing strategy framework. And likely the most important. If you would like to learn more about how creating a Customer Value Journey can benefit your organization, a good place to start is by taking our free Growth Audit. It will help you quickly identify gaps in your current marketing and provide guidance on which stage of the journey you should focus on first.
*As a trained and licensed DigitalMarketer Certified Partner, we use the DigitalMarketer framework, which includes the Customer Value Journey, Customer Avatar Canvas, the Growth Scorecard and other tools and resources.
One of the key factors to our client success is that we formalize the way we gather, review, analyze and act on information. And one of the ways we do this is a shared Growth Scorecard*.This scorecard shows:
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) for each stage of the customer journey
- Goals for each KPI
- Weekly results and status data
This information makes it easier to identify, at an organizational level, where in the Customer Value Journey* a company is doing well and where it is losing traction. Regular reviews across cross-functional teams helps us to spot trends and optimize campaign creative, budgets and tactics. The Growth Scorecard serves as a sales and marketing alignment tool, and also as a status and accountability report at an executive or leadership level.
What does a Growth Scorecard look like?
Below is an example of a Growth Scorecard. You’ll see that the format and output are simple, using the eight distinct stages of the Customer Value Journey as the foundation.
Each stage will have dedicated marketing KPIs or metrics, and each metric will be assigned a goal to measure success. Goals should be based on past data or industry standards and are not limited by platform. Here is an example of a scorecard showing KPIs by stage.
How do we decide on KPIs? Where do we get the data? Can this be automated?
We have three general rules when it comes to selecting KPIs for the scorecard.
- Use actionable metrics only – metrics you can track and take action on week over week. Vanity metrics won’t work. You are looking for data values or trends that will trigger a decision. If it takes longer than a weeks or months to spot trends, or if you only have access to data on a monthly or quarterly basis it’s not a good candidate for the scorecard.
- Limit yourself to three (3) KPIs per stage of the Customer Value Journey. The scorecard represents the distilled version of your metric universe, designed to support making decisions that will keep you and your teams on target week to week.
- Make sure your data is easy to access and report. If it takes days to produce or compile the data for a weekly scorecard, it runs the risk of being perceived as an undue burden and not getting done. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong on the scorecard. It just doesn’t belong there now.
One of the features of the Growth Scorecard is its relative simplicity. It can be created, tested, and adopted quickly without the need for large scale investments in resources and technology. As for automating the production of the Growth Scorecard, we advise testing before scaling.
Why should I have a Growth Scorecard? How is this better than what I have now?
Senior marketing and business leaders are inundated with data and reports. A 2019 study by Domo and Censuswide found that:
- The vast majority (80 percent) of enterprise marketers say that the industry is focusing on too many metrics.
- And a larger percent (86) say that long-term planning has become more difficult due to the number of data channels and sources.
By focusing on a handful of the most important, actionable metrics across the Customer Value Journey, the Growth Scorecard avoids the data blindness that comes with channel- and source-specific reporting. If it’s not directly and quantifiably contributing to the metrics driving growth then perhaps you shouldn’t be using it. If it is, then most likely the high level KPIs that are essential to the Growth Scorecard are readily available.
Even when succinct reporting data is available, it is often too infrequent and siloed to be actionable. Imagine you contract with vendors for paid media, paid search, and SEO, and utilize internal resources for lead and sales nurturing functions. At regular intervals you may receive reports and analysis from each describing their campaign-specific results. By themselves, the reports may provide insight into the performance and contribution of a particular vendor, discipline, and campaign. But the growth of the business requires that all are working in sync. The Growth Scorecard is designed to help avoid these pitfalls. Clearly defining actionable metrics across the full Customer Value Journey and reviewing them weekly with your cross-functional teams (including sales, support, vendors) aligns all parties towards the end goals and encourages an open discussion about overall growth versus individual success.
Interested in creating your Growth Scorecard?
Request a free consultation by completing the form below.
*As a trained and licensed DigitalMarketer Certified Partner, we use the DigitalMarketer framework, which includes the Customer Value Journey, Customer Avatar Canvas, the Growth Scorecard and other tools and resources.
As we look forward to 2021, we see a lot of possibilities for us and for you, our clients.
In the lifetime of the Risdall Agency, we have never experienced a year like 2020. Yet it has opened up the opportunities to continue to impact how companies do business online and see what can be accomplished virtually across marketing and sales. It has been exciting to see how businesses are thriving in this environment when they harness technology and tools and take the steps to increase their online footprint.
There are so many ways our clients have seen success online this year – focusing on moving their sales funnels online and improving digital marketing to support sales, going to a virtual sales cycle, and refining their web properties to better meet their audiences’ needs.
As we bring 2020 to a close, we are proud of the ideas, strategies, and marketing tools we have used have helped grow our client’s business. With the economy beginning to pick up in the 4th quarter, we anticipate additional momentum and we are excited about continuing to help clients thrive in 2021 and building some new relationships.
For us, 2021 will bring the launch of a new offering, the 90-Day Growth Marketing Accelerator, which can really strengthen the foundation for your digital marketing and help your sales to grow.
As always, our job as a digital marketing agency is to give our clients an unfair competitive advantage over their competition by focusing on a blend of creativity and technology and an unbridled passion for their business. Please ask us about what profitable ideas we can apply to your business.
Jennifer and Ted Risdall
As managers think long-term about how to continue growing their business, we often recommend that they start by evaluating their current and potential product offerings and markets. Each of these quadrants is comprised of different strategic activities that help businesses overcome growth challenges.
Increasing Product Sales within Current Markets
Companies can encourage growth in sales by increasing product usage within current customer markets. One way to do this is to show consumers new uses for their products. Scanning social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook, you can start to see some examples of this in full force. For example, “51 new uses for baking soda,” or “20 Miraculous Way to Use Vinegar around Your House.” Other companies, like A-1 Steak Sauce are trying to break the stigma that you can only use the product on steak. If you haven’t seen their video, it’s pretty cute, check it out:
Another option to grow sales is to encourage current customers to use more of a product or service or to replace it faster. We achieve this by encouraging more frequent use of products or encouraging customer loyalty. I can’t help but think of how prominent expiration dates are on anything and everything I buy nowadays. (I’m not saying they shouldn’t be there) but they do remind us that sometimes we need to replace what we have and go buy more! All of these tactics help companies increase market penetration with current customers.
Keeping Golf Courses Well Maintained
One of Risdall’s clients sells golf course accessories to golf course superintendents. One of the strategies we used was to help superintendents understand when it was time to refurbish or replace their products by showing old, worn-out products on the course and talking about the poor impression that it get give to golfers. Showing before and after shots can inspire people to replace things faster and again, to BUY MORE!
Selling New Products to Current Customers
Businesses can find success increasing sales by creating new products or services that are targeted toward existing customers. Since companies have an established reputation with loyal customers, it is easier to persuade customers to purchase a new product or service under that existing brand name.
Take Arm & Hammer for example. Arm & Hammer had a solid reputation for selling baking soda as an effective deodorizer. The company extended its baking soda product line with laundry detergent, carpet cleaner, toothpaste and more. Arm & Hammer increased sales by developing new products that were marketed to current customers under its existing brand name. A company’s reputation is invaluable to customer loyalty, which is why customers often trust new products by well-known brands.
Creating a Splash for Turck’s New Technology
Turck developed its field logic controllers and ARGEE technology to give customers a more flexible and cost-effective way to control automated environments. To build momentum for this new solution, Turck partnered with Risdall to create an ad campaign and comprehensive PR launch around this revolutionary product. Driven by smart content and Turck’s expertise, the campaign connected the company with major industry trades, resulting in widespread coverage of this new technology.
Introducing Current Products to New Markets
Companies typically have the greatest potential for growth when they choose to introduce their existing products or services to new markets. Oftentimes this requires a direct marketing campaign to a new audience that is most likely to use this product or service. Targeted communication in marketing campaigns can help potential customers see products in a different light if they are not typical users of a company’s product or service.
Companies can also choose to introduce their products or services to new geographic markets. This is another area in which direct marketing campaigns can generate sales. Marketing campaigns use strategic communications to help bring awareness to products and services that nontraditional users are unaware of. We see this a lot – especially in any type of Business-to-Business (B2B) sales – where a company has a great product that would be ideal for a specific industry, but it hasn’t yet sold to that industry. A few years ago, I worked on a campaign for Harley Davidson – trying to sell more apparel to women, versus men.
How Risdall Helped VISION EASE Sell to a New Market Segment
VISION EASE manufactures high quality lenses for eyeglasses. In 2015, VISION EASE chose to partner with the apparel company, O’Neill, to create a dual-branded sunglasses package with O’Neill frames and VISION EASE’s Coppertone Polarized Lenses. Partnering with a company like O’Neill opened up a new opportunity to target lenses to a new audience – consumers who fit the unique O’Neill lifestyle brand. Also, since VISION EASE and O’Neill are two well-known companies, fans of these brands place more trust in the products they create.
Creating New Products for New Markets
One of the riskiest business strategies to grow sales is creating a completely new product or service, and offering it to a new market. The reason this is risky is because companies often experience a learning curve when dealing with new operations and unfamiliar customer groups.
Although it is risky, it can be highly profitable when it is successful. Typically we see two types of product and market expansions: related diversification and unrelated diversification.
Related diversification is when companies expand internal processes or acquire businesses that are different from current products and customers. Although they are not the same product or customer base, related diversification happens when the expanded product or service shares commonalities with current products or services. For example, the two companies could share R&D know-how, marketing and distribution skills, production facilities or brand names. Since the companies have similar business experience, this type of business strategy is less risky than unrelated diversification.
Unrelated diversification happens when two businesses join, even though they have no commonalities in products, services, customers or areas of expertise. This is generally seen as the riskiest business strategy for financial outcomes because of a lack of knowledge with the new business. Unrelated diversification can be profitable when executed successfully. Oftentimes outside experts need to be included to ensure companies experience a profitable business strategy.
How Risdall Helped GoGirl Introduce a Completely New Product to a New Market
GoGirl originated as a medical supply company to help women with health issues like hip replacement surgery use the bathroom while standing up. Seeking to expand to a consumer market, GoGirl worked with Risdall to conduct thorough research on its target audience – active, adventurous females. The first step was creating a new name and logo that women could relate to. The GoGirl brand was created with the tagline “Don’t Take Life Sitting Down.” Through an integrated campaign, including public relations, social media, online advertising, website development, trade show support, advertising and more, GoGirl sold out in less than three months after its launch date.
When companies continually see a gap between expected and actual sales, it does not necessarily mean the end is near. Strategic growth experts have developed these four types of business strategies to help companies overcome their sales challenges. If your company is considering a new business strategy, it is important to evaluate which type of strategy will resonate with customers. Risdall’s strategic marketing experts can help your company every step of the way to ensure successful outcomes for your business strategy.
- Photo 1: Stockmonkeys.com
At Risdall, we work hard to provide our clients with the necessary expertise and stewardship that builds strong, successful partnerships and advances business goals. When we experience these amazing partnerships, we can’t help but shout it from the rooftops! Or at least write a blog about it.
Each month, we will feature one of our amazing partnerships to detail how they have experienced Growth. Powered by Risdall. Each client of the month post will cover who the client is, why we love them and how they have found success with Growth. Powered by Risdall.
For Risdall’s first client of the month, meet Beauterre Recovery Institute, a treatment center that employs unique solutions to heal addictions.
Who is Beauterre Recovery Institute?
Beauterre Recovery Institute is a brand-new residential addiction treatment and recovery program located in Owatonna, Minn. The institute opened its doors in late January 2015 with 61 available spots for men and women who experience all forms of substance abuse and co-occurring mental health issues.
Why We Love Beauterre Recovery Institute
What sets Beauterre apart from other recovery centers are the use of multiple treatment modalities and a strong focus on personalized care plans that the team of professionals creates for each patient. Staff at Beauterre recognizes that each person’s addiction is a personal issue, meaning a universal healing method is not appropriate for each person’s unique addiction.
Clients receive multiple assessments including neuropsychiatric evaluations upon arrival to pinpoint the cause of their addiction, which is often intertwined with mental health issues. Then doctors develop a personalized care plan that can include a combination of therapies, such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture and massage.
Risdall’s Partnership with Beauterre
To help Beauterre launch its residential addiction recovery program, Risdall conducted public relations outreach leading up to and after the institute opened.
In early January, Risdall Public Relations created and distributed a news release announcing the addition of Jack Bice and Fred Bettner to Beauterre Recovery Institute’s leadership team. We also developed a release announcing Dr. Sheila Specker as the medical director of Beauterre.
These two initial press releases were designed to introduce media outlets to Beauterre Recovery Institute and build buzz around the opening later that month.
Beauterre officially announced its opening in late January via a multimedia news release showing a beautiful photo of the institute.
All news releases were distributed to appropriate media contacts and posted on Business Wire, which set up Beauterre for maximum online search-ability. Through mid-February, Beauterre received steady coverage for its leadership team and grand opening from news outlets covering business in Minnesota, such as the Star Tribune and MinnPost.
In addition to public relations activities, several departments within Risdall collaborated to launch Beauterre Recovery Institute.
Our strategy and branding team was involved in the naming of the facility. Risdall’s web development team created a website that used drone video footage on the homepage, a first-ever tactic for Risdall and a growing web design trend for 2015. Risdall’s creative team designed two brochures announcing Beauterre as a new, all-encompassing option for healing substance abuse and mental health issues and created trade show materials such as a tablecloth and banners.
Beauterre Recovery Institute is the perfect example of several marketing tactics working together to grow a company from the ground up. After working with Risdall, Beauterre has a solid online presence with a modern website and searchable content, and it has a professional in-person presence with essential printed materials to introduce the company at trade shows.
Although Risdall’s relationship with Beauterre is only a year old, our partnership with its parent company, Meridian Behavioral Health dates back almost five years. Risdall has worked with Meridian Behavioral Health for ongoing digital marketing needs, website development, brochure creation, advertisement design and trade show material production.
Thank you to Beauterre Recovery Institute and Meridian Behavioral Health for continuing your partnerships with Risdall. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for your Growth. Powered by Risdall. this year!