Why Ideal Customer Avatars Aren’t Serving You (and a Cool Alternative)

by | Feb 3, 2016 | Strategy

If you’ve been around the online entrepreneurial world for any length of time, you’ve probably come across the infamous Ideal Customer Avatar exercise.

I get why this exercise continues to be so popular among the online marketing set. But to me, it falls short because it doesn’t really address the depth and breadth of knowledge needed to serve an audience.

Ideal Customer Avatars can be static, tend toward the superficial, and encourage you to make assumptions and generalizations about your target market that may not be true. They’re ethereal and unreachable. They focus on what your customer can do for you instead of what you can do for your customer.

The process of coming up with these avatars can also be a horribly frustrating experience as you feel like you’re grasping at nothing, are making shit up as you go along, and are trying to get into the head of a MAKE-BELIEVE PERSON. (How’s THAT supposed to help your bottom line?)

So what’s the alternative? (Don’t worry, I’d never leave you hangin’ like that.)

Enter, your Most Valued Customer (MVC).

Your Most Valued Customer is a real living-and-breathing person who:

  • You most love working with.
  • Is most ready to work with you.
  • Will most benefit from what you have to offer right now.
  • Has done the most good with the work you’ve done together.

I know you’re in front of your computer or another digital device right now, but this will just take a moment, I promise!


Pull out your favorite note-taking device and start thinking about your most dreamy clients or customers.

Mentally go through the folks you’ve served in the past 12 months of business and generate a shortlist of five potential MVCs. Then, go through that shortlist using the criteria in the bullet points above to narrow your list down to one.

Tip: If you’re changing the group of people you’d like to serve with your business or haven’t yet been working with the people you’d really like to be working with, think about people you know online who would be a great fit for your offerings. Do some internet stalking sleuthing to confirm whether they fit the criteria above. It’s still about using a real person, not a made-up avatar!

Your goal is to emerge with one person, your Most Valued Customer. Put a real person’s name, face, and experience in front of you.

You see, getting this in concrete terms allows you to get specific about your brand’s strategy. Your goal is to be able to craft a digital strategy that meets a real, live human being where she’s at.

For example: If you know your MVC wants to creatively inspire her community and start conversations through down-to-earth, behind-the-scenes imagery, you probably want to spend your relationship building and connection time on Instagram, not Twitter.

Figuring out who your MVC is allows you to pick and choose which social media platforms you spend your time on, or even if you spend your time on social media at all! Let’s say your dream client actually contracts a social media manager to handle all her social media marketing. Why waste time pinning when you could connect with her face-to-face at a trade show or workshop?

It’s all about creating those meaningful connections with your MVC. And every time you sit down to create a new product, service, or experience, you’ve got this person front and center in your mind, ensuring you’ll be creating for them, not for you.

When you know your MVC, you can start tailoring products and services for her, and she in turn will create the most value for your business.

Deciding on your MVC allows you to focus on understanding what needs she has in her own language, how her needs change over time, and how you can meet those needs with solid offers that anticipate where actually wants to be.

Starting with how to better understand your customer is where being a better business owner begins. Knowing your MVC allows you to take a proactive stance in your business development rather than a reactive one.

I totally get that finding your Most Valued Customer and learning how to make a meaningful connection with her through your offerings can feel like a daunting task! That’s why I offer Digital Strategy Intensives to support you with this process. Get more info here.

Why Ideal Customer Avatars aren't working and a cool alternative