I once went to a funeral of a great aunt.

As I sat on the cold pew I discovered that nobody in the family had offered to do the eulogy.

Not because she was massively unpopular (although she was a prickly character and a little bit… Victorian…) but because they thought the vicar would do a better job.


The speech was terrible. Fill in the blanks stuff. He quite clearly didn’t know my great aunt and hadn’t really harvested any accurate personal information.

He cobbled together her personality from some assumptions, using a few general phrases that could apply to anyone.

“She lived a happy life.” (Not exactly.)

“Caring…” (Um, borderline cruel, but in a funny way that was endearing.)

“Would have loved to see her family together.” (I could count at least five people that would have made her boil with rage.)

The congregation sat there, bored and bewildered at this generic and irrelevant fiction.

It was pointless.

It didn’t reflect a real person and didn’t connect with any of the attendees.

This is what a lot of business marketing is like.

“Dear General Public… whoever you are…”

So many blogs, emails and social media feeds sounds like a rolling broadcast of general statements and impersonal links.

So many marketing strategies attempt to plaster ads over every website, reach people who won’t be interested in the product and simply go for the numbers.

In an effort to please everyone, and be all things to everybody, you can end up with a turgid, bland online business that doesn’t really hit anyone’s emotional buttons.

What’s more, you won’t get a QUALIFIED prospect. That is, someone who is likely to buy from you because they believe in your ethos and has shown a genuine interest in your content.

The question is: Do you want to spend money and waste time trying to appeal to loads of people who won’t buy from you?

Or would you rather find some actual customers?

If so, then you need to follow the golden rule of persuasive communication.

You must sound like you’re speaking directly to the reader – and addressing their concerns, hopes, dreams and troubles.

They can’t feel like part of a crowd, like they’re nothing special, like they’re part of a herd waiting to be milked.

Something you say must chime with them.

“Yes, that’s me! That’s how I think!”

To achieve this you need to know what gets them riled, what gets their blood racing and what they really, truly, deeply want out of life… and yes, like the vicar with my poor deceased Great Aunt, you need to know their flaws, foibles, weaknesses and problems.

That’s when things get real and people start paying attention to you.

So if you want to tap into the emotional life of your customer, you need to find out everything about them, right down to what they read in the morning, what they wear to work and what they worry about at night.

This sounds an impossible – or at least very tricky – task. Which is why so many people skip it, to their cost.

See, for most new online businesses it’s easier to get a product, knock up a website and start paying for advertising, than it is to spend time finding out about their buyer’s true motivations.

Worse, they understand their customer is important, so they come up with what they THINK is their ideal customer based on assumptions, without looking at the hard evidence.

But it’s not as complicated as you think to get to know your customer.

You need to create customer profile, also known as also known as an avatar.

This is a three-dimensional picture of the person who’d be most interested in what you have to offer. Think of it this avatar as a real person, with a real backstory, dreams and fears, desires and dislikes, good and bad habits.

Once you have an avatar in mind you’ll know how best to…

• Build trust and credibility with that person.

• Talk your prospect’s language.

• Go to where they hang out online and connect with them.

• Write blog posts, articles or advertising copy that appeals to their emotions.

• Develop products that they’ll really want.

• Know where to advertise to catch their attention.

A quick start guide to creating an avatar

Before you can create an Avatar, you need to find out the following:

• What kind of person is most likely to buy from you?

• What problems, frustrations and worries do they have?

• What are their goals and desires?

• What’s their general world view or perspective on life?

• How will your product or service help them improve their lives?

• Where do they currently seek out information online?

• What products do they currently buy?

• What products do they like/dislike about the services and products they use currently?

• What will make them want to buy from you?

Here’s how you can find this information…

There are two methods, depending on how advanced your business is.

1. Existing business with customers

You will already have customers. So these should be your first stop. You can…

• Look at comments they leave on blog posts, Facebook and other forums. What makes them annoyed or happy? What gets them talking? What do they like to share?

• Do you know any customers personally? Then talk to them. There’s no harm in asking what you could do to improve your service or help them better solve their problems or achieve their goals.

• Send out surveys asking them to answer some questions (offer an inventive like a report, discount or prize draw).

• Email or phone customers to ask them about what it is they’re looking for, what they read, what they’d like most to see.

• Look at any statistics you gather, like age, sex, and location – but also look at bad and good feedback you’ve received through customer services.

• Go to exhibitions, conferences and demonstrations by rival or similar companies (or organise your own events and meet your customers there).

2. New business owner

If you’re not at the stage where you have customers, then you will need some online research tools.

• Google, to find out what information is available and what kind of websites, videos and products are out there.

• Keywords, to find out specifically what people are searching for.

• Social media, to see what people are sharing, discussing, watching and reading.

• Online product stores like Amazon, Clickbank and JV Zoo to find out what people are buying and to read product reviews.

• Your own knowledge. Are you also the sort of person who would buy your product? Or are there friends and family who fit the profile?

If you’re interested in finding out more about customer profiling to improve your marketing, then let me know and I’ll put together more details for the Digital Upstart subscription service.