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Use Buyer Personas to Hit Your Marketing Bull's-Eye

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Are you familiar with buyer personas? If not, you should make it a priority to educate yourself, and quickly. It's the concept behind one of the more effective ways to ensure that your marketing efforts reach their target audience.

Defining buyer personas
 
Simply put, buyer personas are archetypes of the different segments of your customer base. For example, if you own a restaurant, your personas could be: (1) working parents with families, (2) single and dating adults and (3) sports fans who want to watch the big game. Your first step is to identify and define your personas. Some companies even create a name and a "face" for them. This helps take them from an abstract concept and make them more relatable.

Reaching your target audience
 
Once this is done, you can use your personas to tailor your marketing activities to appeal to the characteristics you've uncovered. Media advertising is a tried-and-true part of many campaigns, and one of the best recent examples of using personas is Kia's hip-hop hamsters. The automaker created a persona based on their desire to reach younger buyers. Based on that profile, they used current music and a video-game-worthy set to create a memorable ad that went viral, crossing the campaign over to the powerful social media marketing arena.
 
Speaking of social media marketing, its value is often untapped because it seems just so overwhelming. But buyer personas can take the guesswork out of it, showing you exactly which platforms you should use to reach your buyers. Blogs? SEO strategy? Twitter, Facebook, or both? Answers to these and other questions will become clear when you have well-defined personas.

Buyer personas lead to more effective campaigns
 
You may find that you're not looking to just tweak a demographic, but rather reach an entirely new buyer segment. When Apple, a long-time leader in the consumer market, decided to expand their base, they created a business professional buyer persona to help refocus their efforts. The linchpin has been their iPad and its business-friendly applications. The result? Today's on-the-go professionals have been embracing the iPad as a mobile office.
 
It may seem counterintuitive to create advertising without even featuring your product or service. Using personas may show you that the best approach may be creating a connection with your target customer. Proctor & Gamble's "Raising an Olympian" campaign, featuring American sweetheart Gabby Douglas and her mother, established a rapport between P&G and the moms who buy the majority of their products.
 
If your company is B2B, buyer personas are an important tool for you as well. Are you selling to CFOs or CIOs? To established businesses or start-ups? To publicly or privately owned companies? These all involve a different set of needs and priorities. Creating personas for your target buyers will ensure that you tailor your approach to how you can best solve their particular problems.
 
"Know your customer" has always been a prime tenet of marketing. Using buyer personas can help you refine that concept and learn more than ever about your target audience, leading to smarter and more effective campaigns.

Don Dodds, Managing Partner and Chief Strategist of M16 Marketing, is a responsive web design and SEO marketing consultant. He is passionate about building brands, enhancing the user experience and helping small businesses generate more traffic, leads and conversions.