Data and marketing tools allow us to be more precise than ever when targeting consumer audiences. Take advantage.

We have always relied on demographics, geographics and psychographics to shape the profile of consumers. Those are still in place, but an approach that is gaining in popularity and usage is the method of building personas.

Personas are a way to symbolically describe target consumer segments. They are like demographics, geographics and psychographics to the nth degree.

Personas embody what goals drive the target audience’s behavior, how they think, how they buy and why they make certain buying decisions. Personas give us insight into how a specific audience may view or feel about a product or service.

Creating personas is a social science that captures the thoughts, attitudes, opinions, goals and motivations of a target audience. It is an effective tool in any marketing strategy and can shape the messaging, creative design and delivery vehicles of a campaign.

How effective are the use of personas? A study released by the Network Advertising Initiative showed behaviorally-targeted online advertising secured an average of 2.68 times as much revenue per ad as non-targeted advertising.

Market data allows us to do more than make educated guesses about who to target and how. It gives us the ability to target specifically. Powerful data collection tools allow us to connect directly with customers and personas let us to turn the insights from that research into something identifiable. That turns into increased ROI.

Building a detailed persona is a way to keep focused on who we want to reach. Giving that persona a name or creating a cardboard cutout for the persona constantly reminds us of who we want to connect with.

For example, if you are selling golf equipment in New Hampshire, you would probably want business owners in your target audience, right? Well, what does a small business owner in New Hampshire look like?

Here’s a sample persona of a small business owner we created through our research. We call him Rich.

  • Male
  • 50+
golfer persona

Rich – Our persona

  • Owner/partner/president
  • Bachelors+
  • Too much on plate – staff helps
  • It’s all about ROI
  • Willing to take calculated risks
  • Decisive
  • Gut check credibility important in selecting products
  • Has one main outlet (sailing, golfing, biking, the lakes or beach)
  • Willing to spend money on that outlet if justified
  • Works hard so he can he can spend time on his favorite outlet
  • Influenced by trends
  • Relationships based on trust/consistency
  • Influenced by peers
  • Has an ego
  • Protective of business, status & staff
  • Concerned about appearances
  • Has subjective opinions
  • Bread winner
  • Dresses well, tailored
  • Nice car
  • Family is #1
  • Active in the community
  • Reads the newspaper
  • Likes to schmooze

Creating the right campaign for your product or service and finding the best avenues for marketing will go a long way toward determining your success, but you obviously have to start by knowing who you are marketing to. Enhance that process with personas.