Know Your People: How Client Avatars Transform Your Copywriting

Apr 5, 2021

I remember seeing a post a couple years ago that mentioned the word “avatar”. I didn’t know what it meant. Now, a lot of months and a new business later, it’s one of the most important things I use in my work as a copywriter. 

If you’re a creative, a small business owner, or a PR person for a non-profit, then you know exactly what I’m talking about when I talk about how hard it is to “even know what to say.”  How do we know what words to present to the people who will be clicking around on our website or stumbling upon our Instagram page or blog post? What will capture their attention and let them know that we have a service that could help their life?

A client avatar is where we need to start.

What is an avatar?

Here’s the premise: you aren’t going to know how to write if you have no idea who you are trying to talk to. If you were writing a letter to your aunt, would you say things a little differently than you would to your best friend? I know I would—not in a hypocritical way, but just because it is a  fact that different people understand different types of language. We need to address them at that level; words they’re familiar with and concepts they can understand.

The definition of avatar is “an embodiment of a person or an idea” and “an icon or figure representing a particular person in video games, Internet forums, etc.” according to the Google Dictionary.

How to develop a client avatar

There are simple questions you can ask to get a basic profile of the client you are trying to reach. Are you selling hair bows for little girls? Then most likely you will be trying to reach mamas who want something pretty to clip in their girlies’ hair. Zero in then on what the mom is most likely like. Do you sell vintage hair bows? Then speak directly to the mom that loves all things vintage. Say things exactly how you mean them, like “Hey vintage-loving moms, I have hair bows that you might love.”

Write down an imaginary person. Give them an age, an area they live in, where they shop at, what they love and dream about. Yes, your ideal clients may vary some, they won’t all be EXACTLY one type, but this sketch will help enormously when you try to write copy that they will notice and resonate with.

Are you selling coffee? What type of people love coffee? (Probably the tired ones, the traveling ones, the ones who are throwing parties).  What makes them pay attention?

Are you offering to take family photographs? Who might be wanting that service? (Probably someone who wants to document the changing seasons of life and hold on to and remember the weird and precious moments). What kinds of words would be appealing to them?

For me? Having a picture of who I would love to write copy for has been more helpful than I know how to say. (And if you’re a creative, small business owner, or non-profit who gets weary of feeling like you must add to all the noise in order to be seen, then I definitely had you in mind when I wrote this😉).

How avatars change your mindset

I can’t emphasize this point enough: You need to know who you are writing to. This frees you up to not have to sound exactly like everyone else, and to also write out of a place of honesty. I really hate trying to sound like someone I’m not. And often running a business can feel a little bit that way—like we positively have to do THESE THREE SPECIFIC THINGS to get people to pay attention to what we’re offering.

I really believe that marketing doesn’t have to come out of a sense of desperation—and one of the simplest ways I know how to get rid of the desperate feeling is to know who you are trying to reach.

So, for today—go grab a blank sheet of paper. Set your phone for five minutes, and jot down what comes to mind when you think of the people you would love to serve. Who are they? What do they care about? You can even (most definitely!) pick a specific person you know and zero in on little details about them!

Developing and maintaining a client avatar can (and, I think, WILL!) change the way you approach the words you write for your business. Having a specific person that you are writing to shifts your mindset around copy from dread and uncertainty to one of understanding and motivation.

Let’s know who our people are! It makes all the difference.

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