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Defining & Nurturing Customer Avtar(s) - A CSM’s framework for Personalization

Recently I read two good quotes, one by Seth Godin, which said, “Everyone is NOT your customer.” The other one by someone anonymous said something along the lines of, “The advancement in technology we have today has made it possible to deliver personalized experiences to every customer.”

Two different quotes, but they seemed very sequential and relevant to me. And that one should follow the other.

For businesses to grow exponentially, it is critical to define your target customer - a.k.a., forming a Customer Avtar. The narrow focus is what drives adoption & growth.

In typical B2C marketing, a customer Avtar is defined by asking the following four broad questions:

  1. What are the customer’s goals and values

  2. What are the challenges and pain points

  3. What are their sources before buying?

  4. What are the objections to the purchase process?

Refer to the customer success Avtar canvas below.

However, a question arises for B2B business: Does the above chart accurately reflect the customer Avtar definition process? Or does it require a tweak?

When selling to B2B, Customer Avtar requires asking slightly different questions.

The four pillars of alignment that we need to find out are:

Business Value and Vision

Does the business value, long-term vision and approach to market capitalization align with your business?

Gaps in Strategy and Key-Value proposition

Does the business have white spaces to fill, where there is a place for your products or services to operate? Is there long-term stickiness? Are there incumbents that are already holding the market?

Competitive threat

Does the business have a threat from competition that your offering can help beat - with either time or money or any other value proposition?

Sponsors and Influencers

Are you connected and enjoy a good reputation with the sponsors and champions that influence critical purchase decisions? If the business is a well-established entity that leverages the services of integrators, supply chain forces, consulting services, OR has a dominative board, it is critical to evaluate the relative connectedness to these forces.

A positive fit in all four quadrants is essential to call a customer the right fit. Alignment with vision, ability to fill a critical gap, provide a competitive advantage over the competition, and influence key decision-makers. Any one of it failing, the customer is probably not a right fit.

With the right kind of customer Avtar identified, the next important step is personalizing marketing/communication. It is because, in a B2B scenario, there is a likelihood of a minimum 4 customer avtar’s emerging, as we will see below.

And remember the first rule: Not everyone is your customer NOR is every customer alike.

There are typically four types of customer avatars:

  1. Disruptors: Customers who are hot and trending will place your company on a rocket ship. They show momentum, 10x Scale. A vibrant community, investors clamoring, a new technology trend etc are good indicators.

  2. Leaders: Customers that are big and established, that are yielding a steady-state of income, reached a growth plateau.

  3. Entrants: Customers that demonstrate excellent potential to grow but are not there yet; could be hit or miss but you are engaged from the beginning.

  4. Slow-runners: Customers who need to be on autopilot because they have exhausted a time threshold on your watch to become Entrants or Disruptors

For each of these customer roles, personalization in message is key as not all of them are in the same curve. Enter your customer success organization. Personalization must be the job of customer success. Marketing and Customer success should work together in delivering personalization, but it should be a critical area of CS to provide inputs. When personalizing promotional activities, upsells cross-sells etc., the input for what to offer in those messages should come for marketing from customer success.

CSMs need to focus the most on (1), (2), and (3) but constantly review (4) time and again till they become one of the growth avtars.

Today, many businesses miss that opportunity to personalize with the marketing function acting as a silo.

For the four types of customers, here are the personalization options:

As can be observed from the above graph, the disruptors and the leaders, who hold much of the growth targets, receive the maximum communication while the disruptors receive the maximum personalization.

Personalization should factor into account, every input collected about the customer in defining the Avtar. The values, challenges, competition, USP, goals, influencers. Every data point collected should help personalize the communication. It should be tailor made for that specific customer, like speaking to your best friend.

Leaders that have hit the growth ceiling, might actually do away with too much personalization but still benefit from very frequent messaging.

Entrants that show a promise of growth, should be the target of high personalization but not so frequent as others, because, the verdict on their potential is still not out yet. They are always on the watch list, ready to move to any of the other two Avtar - Disruptors or slow runners.

Slow runners need to be treated as the rest of the mass campaigns, as they might fall off the radar anytime.

By adopting an approach of personalization combined with a customer avtar, customer success functions can deliver meaningful messages and campaigns. This, in turn, helps customers appreciate the relevance, value and offer more opportunities to grow.

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