Dramatic changes in content delivery are creating tremendous opportunities for marketers because of the ability to target very specific audiences. However, before we dive straight in to a detailed discussion of targeting, we must step back and look at who we are targeting, and the best way to do that is via customer (or buyer)personas.

We all assume we know our target market(s). We have an idea in our head of who we want to sell to. And that’s the problem. By keeping the process in our head and not going through the steps to craft different customer personas and defining how each one interacts with the product or service, we create a client-service detachment. This approach is invariably too generic and too filled with our own biases. The result is a marketing effort with very little focus and in all likelihood, a lot of wasted time and money.

John Boitnott described this perfectly in his recent Inc. article “Why Buyer Personas Can Skyrocket New Customers,” when he said:

“Whereas customer profiles break your potential customers into groups in broad, traditional segments, customer personas put a name, a face, a life, and a personality to people in customer groups.”

In the same article, John talks about visiting a business that had its customer personas framed and hanging in the cafeteria. What better way to “get to know” your customers than to have a visual reminder of them throughout the office? By making them “real,” you think about more than an age range, socio-economic status, and general job description. Instead of targeting a 30-45 year-old, upper-middle-class salesperson, you market to “Sally the sophisticated sales exec.”

Again, from the article:

“When you intimately know your player personas and communicate to them in a personal way,” explains Hatchbuck Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Jonathan Herrick, “you skyrocket your chances of turning them from just a contact in your database into a lifelong customer.” 

Isn’t that the goal? Do we not all want lifelong customers? Isn’t that what branding is all about? Which of the two images below, if placed on your desk to remind you of the customer persona you’re targeting, is likely to bring out your best work?

Nobody likes to be thought of as a number. Why then would we create marketing campaigns based on people as numbers? We should create communication based on people as, well, people. Once we’ve done that, we can use numbers to best reach our market, and we’ll look at that in future blog posts.

I challenge you to create three customer personas today for your business. You’d be surprised how much it reveals about your product, your company, and your approach to reaching your target markets.