No doubt you’ve daydreamed about the clients you want to work with. You want to work with people who value the services you provide, people really see what you’re doing and feel seen by you. Even if you know who these dreamies are, you’ll get competing advice about how to reach them. Conventional business education tells you to create a client avatar, a highly detailed profile with likes, dislikes, jobs, hobbies, and on and on. While client avatars can be informative, they have their limitations, especially when it comes to including people with marginalized identities.
Client Avatars: The Traditional Approach
It’s common practice to develop client avatars in the early stages of developing a brand. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to figure out exactly it is to whom they’re marketing. This advice says to figure out your client avatar’s age, marital status, occupation, salary, hobbies, favorite drinks, and on and on. The reasoning behind this makes sense in some ways. It would be great to know exactly where your ideal clients are and what will resonate with them in those spaces.
What a Client Avatar Misses
A client avatar can give you an incredibly specific niche for marketing; however, it has one big limitation. Client avatars almost always leave out people with marginalized identities. They make up too small a fraction of the market for many brands to target them directly.
Let’s look at Lululemon as an example. As a fat trans non-binary person, Theo struggled to find pants that fit well and are affirming. Finally, they found a pair they like from Lululemon. You know Lululemon’s marketing department didn’t make a client avatar of a fat non-binary person.
In fact, Lululemon has been very open about their client avatars, whom they’ve named Ocean and Duke. Ocean, for whom Theo’s pants were designed, is a straight, thin, cis person who works out for an hour and a half every day after getting off from her six figure job. Lululemon did not imagine Theo among their potential customers, and yet Theo bought multiple pieces from them.
A New Foundation for Marketing
Does the idea of marketing without a client avatar leave you feeling a little lost? Try this as your starting point instead: Create a high quality product or service.
Try focusing on quality and a good customer experience over appealing to a specific type of client. You’ll be surprised by the variety of people who are drawn to your brand. It will free up space for people from all walks of life, including people with marginalized identities, to find their way to you.
For entrepreneurs interested in being allies, marketing without a client avatar also allows them to lead with their values. We’ve never made a client avatar for Brandcendent because we’ve found that so many kinds of people are excited by our trauma-informed business strategies for entrepreneurs of marginalized identities. A client avatar couldn’t possibly embody the diversity of the amazing clients we’ve worked with.
Ready to bring some nuance (and humanity) to your marketing strategy? Theo offers trauma-informed business coaching that honors entrepreneurs’ humanity and illuminates paths to income growth. Learn more about Theo’s one-on-one coaching and their group program, Disruptor.