An ICA is a comprehensive picture of the perfect customer that includes their age, occupation, problems, wants, and how they make purchases. It is essential for reaching and connecting with the target audience effectively. The ICA should represent the ideal customer, not necessarily the business owner.
In This Episode You'll Learn:
- How to build an Ideal Client Avatar (ICA)
- What is an Inclusive ICA and how does it differ from what you were taught?
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An Ideal Client Avatar is like a blueprint for your perfect customer. It's a comprehensive picture of who your ideal customer is including things like their age, occupation, what problems they have, what they want, and how they make purchases.
Knowing your ICA is really important for reaching and connecting with your target audience effectively. By understanding what your ICA needs and wants, you can adjust your products or services to fit those needs, which will make it more likely that they'll buy from you and become a loyal customer.
It might seem like a good idea to make your ICA like you, but that can be limiting and cause problems. So, it's important to keep in mind that your ICA should represent your ideal customer – not necessarily yourself.
You are not your ICA
Not taking the time to understand your target audience can result in an Ideal Client Avatar that just doesn't represent the people you actually want to reach.
If you're making your ICA like yourself, but from a few months or years ago like many teach, that's not always a good idea. By doing that you're assuming that your target audience has the same interests, problems, experiences, and desires as you do. That can lead to an ICA that is not inclusive and marketing strategies that don't connect with your target audience effectively.
In the end this could mean ineffective marketing and intentionally leaving segments of your ideal audience out of the conversation. So it's really important to take the time to research and understand the unique needs and wants of your target audience to make sure your ICA is truly representative of them.
Benefits of having an ICA
Doing the research and making a detailed profile of your Ideal Client Avatar really helps you get to know your target audience better. You learn what they need and want and that lets you adjust your products or services to fit those needs. With that understanding you can create marketing strategies that really connect with your target audience and resonate with them. In the end that leads to more leads, traffic, and sales.
The Just Marketing Approach
The Just Marketing approach to building an ICA focuses on creating 2 equally important ICAs: your Average ICA and your Inclusive ICA.
Creating your Average ICA
This is similar to what most people teach when it comes to developing your ICA. It’s where you will complete your market research of your existing audience, or an audience of people you know are your ideal people. When creating your Ideal Client Avatar (ICA), here are some key things to include:
- Demographics: This includes information such as age, gender, income, education level, location, and occupation.
- Pain Points: What problems or challenges does your ICA face that your products or services can help solve?
- Desires: What are the wants and needs of your ICA? What are they looking for in a product or service like yours?
- Buying Habits: How does your ICA typically make purchases? Do they prefer online shopping or in-person visits? Do they make decisions quickly or do they need time to research and compare options?
- Values and Beliefs: What values and beliefs does your ICA hold that are important to them?
- Interests: What hobbies and interests does your ICA have?
- Communication Style: How does your ICA prefer to receive information and communicate with businesses?
- Objections: What objections might your ICA have to your products or services?
- Sources of Information: Where does your ICA typically look for information about products and services like yours?
Incorporating all of these elements into your ICA will help you gain a better understanding of your target audience and create more effective marketing strategies.
Creating Your Inclusive ICA
It may seem paradoxical to have an ICA representing one person also be inclusive of a diverse group of people, but it can be done! For this step, it doesn't actually matter who is actually in your audience (if you already have an existing audience). Instead, you want to envision your ideal audience in all its beautiful and diverse glory.
Now, think about the many ways that people are marginalized – by age, gender, race, orientation, income, education level, location, occupation, etc. And begin to craft the most marginalized member of your ideal community.
This person is likely a female, queer/trans, person of color… and someone who is Deaf and/or blind.
You’re selecting the classifications that have been minoritized. The really cool thing is that if you always speak to this most marginalized member, you’ll be able to reach the greatest number of people.
For example, everyone benefits from captions on videos (hearing people benefit from this when they watch without sound) and alt-text on images (sighted people benefit from this when images don’t load due to slow internet). So speaking to your most marginalized member is always a good idea!
You still want to include all the same details that we outlined in the Average ICA – but now I want you to consider and research how this Inclusive ICA, built from the most marginalized characteristics, may differ from your Average ICA.
As a white person, I know that the experience of a person of color is different from mine – and without taking an Inclusive ICA into consideration, I would likely assume my existing audience is white like me, and my marketing would fail to resonate with a majority of non-white people.
And the same can be said for all the other demographic differences.
If during your market research you receive information from people who are similar to your Inclusive ICA you can leverage that feedback here.
Do your best. You’re going to return to this ICA creation process from time to time, as your audience grows, and you’ll be able to gather more data and strengthen your ICA.
What ICA do you use?
You’re going to use your Inclusive ICA when it comes to your messaging. Remember that you’ve pulled information from your Average ICA to create this avatar, but it specifically speaks to the most marginalized member. This in turn allows the greatest number of your ideal audience to feel seen, heard, and understood by your marketing messaging.
Market Research to Identify Problems
I want to encourage you to take a close look at the demographic information you gather from your existing audience in the market research phase. Is it diverse? Does it represent your Inclusive ICA?
If not, that’s okay – that’s what Just Marketing is here for. The harsh reality is that the marketing status quo does not help us build inclusive audiences… we have to unlearn what we were taught to do and relearn the ethical and inclusive methods.
Building out your Inclusive ICA will be a great first step – along with then continuing to follow along with Just Marketing as we explore more ways to make your marketing and messaging more Just – so that you can attract the Inclusive Audiences you want to serve.
- Using yourself as the basis for your ICA can lead to assumptions about your target audience, a limited understanding of their unique needs and wants, and an ICA that is not inclusive of your actual target market and/or the target audience you aspire to reach.
- By conducting research and creating a detailed profile of your Average ICA and then leveraging that information during the creation of your Inclusive ICA and then centering the most marginalized member of your audience, you’re setting yourself up to speak to a diverse and inclusive audience.
- As your business grows and you learn more about your target market, it's important to keep revisiting and updating your ICAs to make sure they’re always up to date and truly represent the people you want to reach.
By understanding the unique needs and wants of your target audience, you can create effective marketing strategies, increase the likelihood of making a sale and building a loyal customer base… all while making people feel seen, heard, and understood. While making the world a better place.