Your International Customer Avatar: Defining a Language-Based Avatar for Your Marketing Strategy

If you’re about to launch your international marketing strategy, you’ll most likely have done the following:

But one step that gets overlooked far too often is one of the most important: re-defining your customer avatar.

You probably already did this when you first created a marketing strategy, but avatars are people, and people are dynamic. When you’re moving across languages, you naturally move across cultures and their goals, pain points, and way of seeing things change.

What is a customer avatar?

A customer avatar is a picture of the person you’re selling to. It includes demographics (age, location, etc.), firmographics if you’re B2B (company size, industry, etc.), and, very importantly, psychographics (interests, attitudes, inspirations, opinions, and personality).

All of these things together will help you:

  • Understand why your customer buys from you
  • Know how to speak to them
  • Highlight things that matter to them
  • Build connections with them
  • Create content that they care about

However, the avatar is not necessarily translatable! 

Even if the product is the same, people’s motivations change across cultures. They may value different features of your product or service, or use it differently. Or they may learn about your industry differently.

It’s not just your value proposition that you may have to tweak—you also need to talk to them in a different tone of voice.

An avatar in a foreign market is unique

This isn’t just about translation errors, like when Braniff Airlines accidentally launched a “Fly Naked” campaign or when Coors unknowingly invited its Spanish-speaking consumers to get diarrhoea

No, you could get everything right in terms of the words translated and still not resonate with your foreign consumer. 

Let’s continue with our comparison of a German vs an American avatar.

Americans don’t mind a little boasting. They like things to be fast, flashy, and bold. Germans prefer to take their time to trust things. Safe and reliable are more attractive to them than other traits.

That’s why XING works so much better than LinkedIn in Germany: it’s simple and trustworthy and not so full of influencers.

How can you get it right?

You need to create a brand-new avatar. Luckily, a lot of pain points will probably overlap. But you need to know what is most important to them in their context.

Drafting out a new avatar based on a language or region is almost the same as creating a new avatar. 

If you’re B2B

The most accurate and comprehensive way to do this would be to contact a few key people from your target market to do an interview. You can get a translator to translate your research questions and then translate the answers back to your language to understand and apply the answers.

You’ll want to find out what their challenges are in the workplace, what they’ve already tried as solutions to the problem you solve, where they like to learn about things, and where they spend their time online.

You may find that your American avatar cares more about building their email list, while your German avatar cares more about maintaining data privacy.

If you’re B2C

If you’re B2C, then your avatar description will focus less on their job titles and business-related pain points, and more on what influencers they follow in your space (this will change based on the location!), where they spend time online, and how they normally interact with other brands like yours.

It’s very unlikely to get on a call and interview these kinds of customers. Since you’ll be targeting them more en masse, it’s a better idea to create focus groups or send surveys out. Since you haven’t expanded to this new market yet, you may not have an email list in that language yet either. 

You can find Facebook Groups or other online communities where your new targets hang out and try to build focus groups from there. Alternatively, you can offer incentives (a chance to win a $100 gift card to Amazon for filling out the survey).

You’ll be surprised to find the differences!

Leading your new Tone of Voice strategy

Your personality as a brand should remain consistent in every language, but your tone of voice may need to change. Brands are like people. Take you, for instance. 

Like most people, your personality probably remains relatively stable. However, your tone of voice will change depending on whether you’re speaking with your spouse, parents, kids, customer or a stranger. That’s what this is like.

You won’t get this information from focus groups, phone calls or surveys. You’ll need to work with a language professional who understands the target culture and how they like to receive marketing material.

Together, you can create a new TOV (tone of voice) guide for any translators or copywriters who will be writing to this audience.

Eager to launch your content into a foreign market but unsure where to start? Get in touch with us today!

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