Using an Avatar to Build your Tribe Online

avatar_smAn avatar is the single-most important marketing and branding tool that you’re not using.

You may have heard coaches talk about your “target market,” which is another important element in building your tribe online.  But when working to build deep, lasting connections with online customers, an avatar is the more effective tool.

So what is an avatar, anyway?  Simply put, it’s an imaginary person created to represent your ideal customer.

Let’s take a look at my avatar for The Boomer Business Owner.  His name is Bob, he’s 52 years old, he’s married, has a kid and works full time.

Basic demographic information like this will help you begin to target certain customers over others – for example, you may choose to interact on certain social media platforms and not others based on your avatar’s age, marital status, or employment situation.

Basic facts like these will help you find your customers and hang out where they hang out online.

This is the point where most people stop.  They figure “I’m targeting divorced women in their mid-30s” and leave it at that.

This is the exact point, however, when more work needs to be done on your avatar in order to turn casual online acquaintances into paying customers and members of your tribe.

Bob’s not just 52, married, and gainfully employed.  He’s also exhausted from commuting 2 hours to work each day, fed up with his boss, jealous that his wife spends time working from home, and frustrated that everyone else seems to have an online business but him.

In short, Bob has an urgent problem that needs solving.  Bob is in pain, and he’s at the point where he’s ready – even desperate – to pay someone to take that pain away.

When creating your avatar, take a look at what makes them human.  Beyond the basics, ask yourself:

  • What terrifies my avatar?
  • What gets them excited?
  • If they were to die today, what would they regret the most?
  • What fills them with joy?
  • What do they believe is worth fighting for?

Now, all of these questions aren’t merely an exercise is pop psychology.  The answers to these questions hold the key to everything – absolutely everything – that you’re doing to promote your business online.

Pinpointing your avatar’s worst fear will unlock clues as to how you can help them.  For example, Bob is terrified of technology.  The truth is that sometimes he still gets confused using email, so how could he possibly start an online business?

Since I’ve tapped into Bob’s fear, I can now solve his problem every time I write a blog post, craft an email blast, or interview a guest on my podcast.  Each sentence I write and each question I ask my guests is presented in a way Bob will understand, and serves to ease Bob’s technological fears.




Imagine that you’re going to write a book for your target market. As you begin to think of the different needs and wants of your audience, you become so overwhelmed that you almost decide to quit the project altogether. After all, how are you supposed to cater to the needs of hundreds, thousands, even millions of people?

The secret is that you don’t have to please millions of people – you only have to please one. Instead of writing a book (or a blog post, or a tweet) for your entire target market, write a book for your avatar. Make every sentence a private conversation between you and your avatar alone.

When you create a specific avatar, you appeal to people on a human level.  You connect with their fears, their hopes, their innermost passions.  When you speak to the passions of a single avatar, you inevitably appeal to anyone and everyone who shares those same passions and fears.

The broader your target market, the harder you’ll have to work to connect with your tribe on a soul-level.  Use your imagination and create an avatar who desperately needs and wants what you have to offer.

From there, create everything for them – from the pictures you choose for your website to the fonts you use in your emails.  With every decision you make, ask yourself “What would Bob like?”, or “What does Alyson need?”

But won’t this technique limit you to only certain types of customers?

Yes. But only to the types of customers that are ready to get out their credit cards. You can spend a lifetime chasing after people who may or may not resonate with your brand.

Or, you can create an avatar, target a single person, and watch as your tribe magically emerges all around you.


This guest post was written by Charlie Poznek, The Boomer Business Owner.



  1. Really good article, makes me think! Never quite targeting my audience this way, but I love this approach. It helps me really focus in on who I am serving. Thanks for the insights!

  2. You can always improve your avatar. It’s so important to know who you are talking with your content. Great advice here.

    • So true, Alex. It’s easy to tick avatar off our to do list as a completed item, rather than taking the time to improve it.

    • Thanks Alex! I agree, I have found that my avatar “Bob” has changed a lot since I started The Boomer Business Owner. It’s a relationship that’s never finished, and is always evolving.

  3. Really like this article and the embedded, helpful Infographic, Such a great example used to show why and how important it is to dig down to the deeper levels for an avatar. Defining an avatar can be a constant struggle as it’s so easy to gravitate towards inclusion rather than exclusion. After all when starting a business it’s counter intuitive to exclude customers right? Charlie really nails why narrowing the avatar is vital for success. I’ll surely be leveraging his words of wisdom!

    • Dean, I agree, I still find it counter-intuitive to exclude customers, yet it is so important to niche down. I hope you find Charlie’s advice for narrowing down helpful.

    • Thanks Dean, I completely agree with you – it can be really hard to say “nope, my brand is not for x, y, and z type people.” – especially when first starting out! But having the confidence to differentiate yourself and the confidence to get specific is what will draw people to your brand.

  4. Maureen Murphy says:

    Great information here on targeting your avatar. It is do important to know who your audience is exactly .

  5. Justin Williams says:

    This made me think for a minute. You’re right one thing that people forget is how to use their avatar to their advantage. Great advice!

  6. WOW! So cool to see Charlie over here! This great post and I agree this is MISSION critical prior to wasting any time or money on marketing! I love how simply you put this…Charlie’s speciality. Certainly shareable. Nice find, Christine. 🙂

  7. Great article and info graphic! This is such a super important and often overlooked subject! It’s so important to get beyond the surface basics and this post certainly gives some great advice for doing just that.

    • Thank you Maritza! It is often overlooked, you’re so right. And if people do think of targeting one person, they’re usually thinking of surface info like income and marital status. But pain points are why people buy – targeting based on human emotions will always be more effective than targeting based on demographics alone.

  8. Charlie, really, really great post – thank you for this. So many people struggle with and/or don’t realize the importance of having an avatar defined when they start their business. Why wouldn’t you want a single person who you could turn to every single time you come to a fork in the road, or even an entire roadblock? Once you create them, they’ll become your #1 fan, and I can assure you, you’ll become their #1 fan as well. Don’t be scared to get down with that one person, because once you know who they are, you’ll realize that there are thousands more out there just like them.

    • Kate, I love your statement “Don’t be scared to get down with that one person, because once you know who they are, you’ll realize that there are thousands more out there just like them.” It is so true and so well put. So focussing in on one person enables us to focus in on a community in an effective manner!

  9. Kate, I love this comment, it’s so spot on! And what a great way to think of your avatar, not just as someone you’re serving but someone who helps you make decisions about your business. Great insight!!

  10. Great post Charlie! Narrowing down one’s Ideal Customer Avatar is so important to know how to find those individuals. I thought I had developed my Avatar fully and named her “Phoebe”…then after further evaluation of the analytics of my website I realized that my primary customer might be a man. I need to readjust, but at least I am failing forward. Thanks!

  11. Great article Charlie! I really like how you defined the avatar and asked some crucial questions about how to brainstorm your perfect avatar. I also enjoyed the infographic which really puts things into simple terms. I think defining your avatar is one of the most important things to do when you’re first starting your online business.

  12. Charlie – you make a good point about feeling like this is limiting. It is very scary. However, there is no shortage of people out there. People share a lot of core elements, feelings, etc. So, even though you might be thinking of just one person, there are elements of that person’s personality and values that will resonate with so many others and you won’t feel that shortage of customers.. Thanks for the great post.

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