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Firstly a marketer, I'm a digital strategist and content creator. I love engaging communities and building properties that inspire action.

I'm the co-founder at Just Media Design, I've worked for a Silicon Valley Incubator, I co-host the iTunes #1 podcast Living Outrageously, and Social Q&A. I'm the author of the Amazon best selling Outsource Your MVP and am a world record holder.

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Learning About The Customer Archetype
March 10, 2013 mattkelly.com.au Business

When working on new web projects, there is a specific exercise I use in almost all cases, and each time, it’s proved to be an incredibly powerful activity providing a sense of target market clarity (even if it’s assumed). This is in the development of a customer archetype (often referred to as avatar or persona, with some differences), and is most useful because when you attempt to build for everybody, you actually build for nobody. This exercise helps in identifying and getting clarity around exactly who your customer might be (early in a project), which in turn provides a strong foundation for decision making and acts as a foundation for future validation.

A customer archetype is a fleshed out, detailed, hypothetical profile of your absolute ideal customer, user, viewer, client, etc. It’s also sometimes referred to as ‘the average of your most common customers’, however I prefer to view this as a single customer, and follow this up with secondary or additional archetypes (when there are a number of clearly defined unique customer segments).

Once you’ve completed this exercise, you’ll have a much stronger clarity for who you’re designing, creating content, or building for. When you know explicitly whom you’re building for, it’s incredibly easy to ensure that your content adds huge value. Think about it this way, if you’re writing a blog article, your content is far more valuable to a key audience if it is specific and applicable rather than high level and generic. If I’m writing an article for a blog for ‘owners of large dogs’, I’d be adding far more value for a specific audience if my article was titled ‘how to remove fleas from highly energetic golden retrievers’ rather than publishing an article titled ‘what are fleas?’ Without having a clearly defined archetype, I can’t write my article in a way that resonates and adds maximum value.

The tactic here is to document every aspect of your ‘true’/’ideal’ customer. This doesn’t just mean considering their demographic ranges and listing these in a bound, point 8 font business plan, which gets filed. This means listing all of their personal characteristics and using this as the foundation when considering any/all new ‘interaction points’.

This is an example of a cut down customer archetype I’ve drawn up as the key reader of my book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Outsourcing With Confidence (I also have 2 secondary archetypes).

Name: John
Age: 27
Location: Austin, Texas, but plans to move to San Francisco, California in the next 18 months.
Current role: IT – Internal helpdesk operator for an online shoe retailer
Living arrangement: Shares a 2-bedroom apartment with a friend
Marital status: In a relationship (for just over 12 months)
Family: Mother and father, 2 younger siblings
Interests: Reading tech news, heavy user of social media, early adoption of new social and web products, loves lifehacker.com and productivity tools. In his spare time has a four-wheel drive that they take off road (rarely), and still enjoys buying the hard copy of wired magazine.
Aspirations: Has a vision to launch a web based start-up company in the next 2 years. Wishes to get married in 2-3 years to current partner.
Fears: Anxious about the ‘future’, unsure/insecure when it comes to his ‘business’ knowledge which is why he hasn’t yet started his company. Also concerned about money, as they currently are saving a minimal amount of money.

Just a side note, this is actually a cut-down version of my primary archetype, however this serves as a pretty good starting point. Often the customer archetype is hypothesized, however as your ongoing hypothesis are validated (correctly, or incorrectly), the archetype should be refined based on your findings. This will ensure that the archetype always remains an accurate representation of your ideal customer. (phase 2 is to document ‘a day in the life of’). Your archetypes should always be the result of your data driven findings.

Want to talk about your current customer archetypes? Get in touch.

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  • Name: Matt Kelly
  • E-mail: matt@mattkelly.com.au

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