So you know what an Ideal Client Avatar is (and if you don’t, no worries! I’ve got you covered here) and get the gist about why and how you should incorporate this strategy into your business.
Butttt you still haven’t gotten around to it.
I get it.
After a while, these typical business exercises can feel empty– like you’re just going through the motions.
And while I wholeheartedly know defining your ICA is crucial to the success of your creative business, I ALSO believe that how we approach tasks as creatives has to be different than the way an accountant or a law firm would tackle the same exercise.
Most business coaches don’t know how to bring these business exercises to life in a way that is approachable and meaningful to people who prefer to think outside of the box rather than fit themselves into a specific structure of how things quote-un-quote “should” be done.
But, I’m not just any business coach.
I’m a CREATIVE business coach, which means I get what inspires and motivates you because I’m just like you!
As a graphic designer, I am a very visual thinker. I like to put my own spin on things to feel true ownership over the tools I use.
And the majority of my clients approach tasks in the same way!
That’s why the goal of this blog is to spark your creativity as you approach the Ideal Client Avatar exercise with your unique flair! It’s time to free yourself from the conventional and finally create an engaging ideal client avatar that you will actually use!
The entire concept of using our creativity to optimize the ICA work we do in our businesses was inspired by one of my coaching clients, Lauren.
Lauren came to me with 10+ years of business experience under her belt. As the CEO of a successful graphic design business, she sought me out as a resource to help her gain clarity on her next steps and guidance in her efforts to scale. While things looked great on paper, she had lost her drive, focus, and mission. As a result, she was feeling disconnected from her work.
One of the first things we did?
We got clear on her ICA.
Now, I definitely caught the eye roll and the, “not this again” sigh over the Zoom camera when I proposed this plan.
But, I encouraged Lauren to stick with me because I was confident that this foundational work had the potential to be impactful as she course-corrected her business.
I knew she had probably completed dozens of ICA exercises over the span of her decade-plus career.
This wasn’t new to her.
So we talked about what hadn’t worked in the past so that we could optimize her efforts and make sure this exercise was genuinely beneficial and easy to implement this time around.
She was game.
Before we dug into this exercise, I felt it was important for us both to understand why ICA exercises had NOT worked in the past.
As Lauren and I dug into this very question, we were able to peel back the layers and understand why this ICA work felt so empty to her.
She shared that in almost every marketing-related course, workshop, or seminar she had ever attended, ICA work was involved.
While the goal of each of these opportunities was to get to know your client deeply and on a really genuine, authentic level, she consistently walked away from the experience feeling like she had nothing more than a blurry shadow of who that person was.
She knew the key demographic points, but nothing about what truly motivated this person…and more importantly WHY they were the right fit for her!
Instead of feeling connected, this “ICA” felt distant, vague (think about ALLLLL the people that fit into those big demographic buckets), and irrelevant to her work.
We identified two big issues that were keeping Lauren (and likely many other entrepreneurs) from tapping into the benefits of this ICA work:
Our tools can’t possibly help us if we don’t use them!
So, we decided to get curious and see how we could make sure the ICA persona was data-driven and specific. At the same time, we wanted to create a practical system to ensure Lauren would connect with her ICA often. We knew both of these pieces were essential because they would inform her marketing initiatives, sales, offer creation, and more.
Now that Lauren was invested in our ICA approach, I walked her through my methods.
This helped us identify not only an appropriate age, location, gender, and occupation for her ICA, but also allowed us to explore this persona’s values, fears, challenges, and hesitations so we could position her brand and offers strategically.
Quickly, this vague persona became a multi-dimensional human!
COO Tip: You can learn more about that process here so that you can effectively build out an ICA for your creative business!
Once we had the essential qualities of Lauren’s ICA mapped out, it was time to put a system in place that she would want to engage with regularly to keep this persona top of mind any time a client-facing decision needed to be made in her graphic design business.
This was naturally our next question in the process.
While I am a big fan of using spreadsheets as a tool to organize this kind of information in one place, spreadsheets were not comfortable territory for Lauren. I respected her hesitation, but I also knew this would likely be the best way for her to cohesively access the information.
Now, I hear you loud and clear if you’re like Lauren and spreadsheets aren’t exactly your best friend. But when designed intentionally, they can be a simple and powerful tool for your business.
She kept an open mind and together we created a spreadsheet for her ICA data that she would find approachable.
For Lauren, making her spreadsheets accessible (and dare I say, enjoyable), involved using her favorite fonts and colors while creating lots of white space to reduce overwhelm and improve ease of use.
Once her ICA information had a home base and a place to live, we decided to get creative about how Lauren could represent this info.
While every business is different, in Lauren’s case, she ended up having multiple ICAs for different aspects of her robust graphic design business, so we wanted to find a way to quickly capture their essence.
Lauren LOVES painting in watercolor.
So, we leaned into this and she actually painted her ICAs. To this day she has them hanging on her wall AND pasted into the spreadsheet that she uses as a dashboard for her business. These visual cues act as regular reminders of who she serves whether she’s in her home office or on the go with her laptop handy!
This visual representation of her ICA keeps her connected to WHY she does the work she does and helps her gain direction and clarity when making decisions for her business or brainstorming new ways to serve her audience.
All-in-all her watercolor ICA portraits inspire her to keep going and help her stay aligned as she works towards her goals.
In your business, allowing your creativity to be infused into your ICA work will help make your ICA feel more human so you can talk directly to them in your marketing rather than to broad groups of faceless masses. As a result, everything you create for that ONE ICA will resonate better with the audience you hope to reach.
Plus, you’ll never run out of inspiration for new offers, services, or products because your ICA will be your constant muse helping you create for them now and in the future.
As you get ready to bring your Ideal Client Avatar to life, you will probably represent this persona in a different medium or form than Lauren.
That’s the point!
This is all about tapping into YOUR creativity. After all, it’s in your nature– you’re a creative business owner for a reason.
When you tie your creative passions into this ICA work, you’ll be able to dive deeper into the process. Ultimately, the impact on your work and client interactions will be tremendous!
So, now it’s time for you to leverage your creativity to transform your ICA from a bullet list of notes into a fully fleshed-out, tangible persona!
Here are some ideas to inspire you and get the creative juices flowing:
The sky’s truly the limit and I encourage you to have FUN with this process!
Lastly, no matter which medium you choose, I highly recommend giving your ICA a name!
This further humanizes them and can change how you think about and relate to the persona.
For my client, Lauren, her ICA’s name was Vivian. She actually named her ICA after a real-life client she LOVED working with. She referred to her constantly in conversation whenever we talked about her business and marketing strategies during our coaching sessions, so it felt like a natural fit!
You can of course choose any name, whether it is a real person or a made-up name that represents this fictional persona.
Looking for more ICA inspiration and support? This blog is the last of a 3-part series all about defining your creative business’s ICA. We dig into what an ICA is, why it’s essential for every creative business, and how to gather the data you need to bring yours to life!
Check out the previous blogs below: