To take your marketing to the next level, consider creating buyer personas. 

It may be contradictory to this politically correct world, but personas are a form of stereotyping. Think of personas as hyper-segmentation.

With personas, you’re creating a profile of a person or couple that epitomize your target audience. Not just their demographics, but also their interests, dreams, priorities, personalities, hobbies, favorite websites, challenges and reasons for purchasing your products.

Rather than marketing to “Millennials,” which is far too broad, with personas, you can market to Ashley:

A recent college grad who is in the first 5 years of her first career. She is balancing credit card and student loan debt accumulated in school and her first serious paychecks. She is looking for her first “grown-up” vehicle and weighing the advantages of renting versus investing in a starter home. She knows that she should be putting money aside for retirement, but decides that she has some time and will think about that in a few years. She would like to one day settle down with the right person and have kids, but today’s priority is her career and learning who she is. She often stays late at work, so her social life is limited and precious to her. She spends most free time either alone at home, with a good book and streaming music, or with a few close friends.

From a financial institution, she is looking for someone she trusts. Not in the security of her money, but for advice. She received very little financial education at home or in school, so she’s looking for someone to provide the tips they she may not get from YouTube or from friends.  She also needs access. Since she works long hours, she needs 24/7 access. And since her phone is her most vital, go-to tool, the institution with the slickest mobile app has a huge advantage.

Can You See How Marketing to Ashley Helps?

Example Persona in DetailPersonas allow you to laser-focus your media spends. Particularly as you get more into digital media, with tools that allow for insanely targeted criteria options. Reaching only those who live in certain neighborhoods or who have a propensity to search certain sites or who have particular interests.

Once you find them, personas allow you to create highly focused, more impactful messaging. It is easier to write content and advertising to one person than to faceless masses.

How Many Personas Should You Create?

It depends. The more relevant questions are how many target segments do we cater to? How do they align with our markets? Does each market require different segments? How many segments can you afford to target?

If you are new to personas, start out with the 3-5 of the most impactful, most profitable or largest target segments.

Also consider creating a negative persona: The exact opposite of who you expect to do business with.

For example, if you invest heavily in training and have out of this world service and the smartest team in the market, or if you invest heavily in technology and have the smoothest, easiest, fastest, slickest access and processes anywhere … In short, if you are able to provide value that no one else can, you can charge higher prices. That said, rate-hunters, cherry-pickers and 0% interest chasers are not your audience. It’s good to identify who not to spend marketing money on.

How Do You Do It?

Before you can get all Sigmund Freud and get in the heads of your audience, you need to do your homework. Analysis is key.

There are countless online tools that can help. Claritas P$YCLE is a great tool, but you can also use social media analytics to determine the sex, age and interests of your current followers. You may want to start with Facebook Insights.

Also consider going ol’ school with customer surveys. Talk to your current customers to learn who they are and what is happening in their life – milestones, pains, celebrations, and how it affects your business.

What do you need to know?
To start, play around on the digital tools that you plan to use. Identify the available targeting criteria. Also consider the psychology. You want your marketing to be as close to one-on-one as possible. Ideally, your target audience will feel like you are writing to them as individuals. Determine what information you’ll need to accomplish that, then go get it.

Don’t Carve Your Persona’s in Stone.

We all know that the only constant is change. New products will emerge. Your targets will mature. Your markets will evolve.

You should continually be re-evaluating your personas. Are they still relevant? Have you learned new information about them? What successes or failures have you had with the target?

Consider your personas as living, breathing people. Nurture them, improve them and your marketing will advance with them.

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