Imagine if you will that your mom is an older adult.  She is starting to have a few health challenges, but she’s still spunky and energetic.  She’s in her late 60s, and she intends to continue to work past 70.  She’s living life on her terms, and she prides herself on her independence.


You live across the country.  Because of your work schedule, you don’t get time to talk on the phone with your mom very often, but you do keep in touch almost daily by email or text.


Your mom shares with you one day that her doctor recommended a new medication.  Your mom is resistant, and despite the (mostly positive) drug information the doctor shared with her, she doesn’t want to fill the prescription.

You read about the drug, and you agree with the doctor:  In your opinion, this drug has a good chance of improving the length and quality of your mom’s life.  You’re convinced: Someone should take on the task of convincing your mom to try the medication.


Who would be the best person to persuade your mom to fill her prescription?  Her doctor?  Her friends at work?  A pharmaceutical company sales rep?  Or, should it be you?

It likely goes without saying that those who know your mom best would be great candidates to talk to her about the prescription. So, the answer is you. 

Yes, you:  Even though the doctor knows the intricacies of your mom’s health status better than you.  Yes, you, even though the drug rep understands the action of the drug better than you.  

The best person to explain benefits and respond to objections is the person who knows mom best – the person who knows how mom thinks, what mom likes, and can predict how the conversation will proceed.  That person is you — it is up to you to email or text your mom and and sell your position.

You’ll have to strategize a little because you know your mom is stubborn.  You’ll need to carefully map out your plan of attack, thinking about what you’ll say to persuade her.  You don’t want to push her too much or make her feel backed into a corner.  You’ll want to equip her to see herself living her life more richly because of this medication.  

Because she’s your mother, you’ll naturally tailor the message to her unique preferences and thought processes.

And I bet, if you take the time to plan it, you’ll talk less the drug and more about your mom’s life, needs, and experiences.  

And in the end, you are driven by making your mom’s life better, not by selling the drug.

Putting mom first makes you the best marketer for the job.


Imagine if you knew your customer base the way you know your mom.  Wouldn’t it be easier to connect with them and to find ways to serve them better?

You bet.

There is no way anyone can have the kind of intimacy with their audience that an adult child shares with a parent, but the point is that intimacy with your target audience is the key.  

Drug facts in a pamphlet do not create intimacy.  Neither do pictures of a product.  Testimonials?  Nope.

Knowing your product and its features and benefits is a given.  
The question is, do you know you avatar as well as you know your product? 


The most common mistake marketers make at this point is the manufacture of feigned intimacy.    Feigned intimacy is the phenomenon of creating a false avatar in such detail that you believe there is intimacy where none exists in real life.
If your avatar is based on your imagination or educated guesses, then you have not yet established a level of intimacy that will make your marketing efficient and effective.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR MOM? In this fable, you were asked to imagine that you know your mom well.  There are two questions pertaining to your knowing your mom, and they are distinctly different:  

  1. How well do you know your mom?
  2. How do you know your mom well?

The answer to both is related to data.  Data is the antidote to feigned intimacy; a multitude of data points creates intimacy.


Data reveals patterns.  Consider:  

  • We know how our significant others will react if we suggest Mexican for dinner.
  • We know what our moms would say if we announced we got a new tattoo.
  • We know what happens when our toddler goes to bed a half hour later than normal.

Note that all of our answers would be different, which illustrates the magic of a proper avatar.  Many data points that create a rich constellation begin to tell a story about your target audience.  

Because you have such a massive collection of data points (experiences) about your mom, you know her avatar almost perfectly.  You would not have to ask, “If I were my mom, what would convince ME to try the medication?”  

Instead, you could ask the more direct question, “What would convince my mom to try the meds?”


Avatar development is always a work in progress because (a) people change; so (b) there is always data to be collected and analyzed.  

On the second point, you’ll never know your avatar the way you know a close family member.  Don’t let that discourage you.  Constantly collecting data will give you all a spectrum of insights to help you serve your clients.  
You don’t need feigned intimacy … and you don’t need familial intimacy, either.

Authentic intimacy hinges on data.  So …


Always Be Collecting Data. 

To get to know your avatar, collect data on their demographics, psychographics, and behavior.  The more you know, the more intimately you will know your avatar.  Smart marketers are never satisfied with their level of insights. Your ability to make and price offers stems from your ability to connect with your audience with a level of intimacy that you can’t get without consistent, smart avatar work.  

This is why serious avatar development is the bedrock of authentic, customer-centered marketing.