Are You Using Marketing Personas?

If you are a marketer or small business owner, you likely have a sense of who is buying what you’re selling. If you don’t, you have bigger problems.

In the past, we have referred to this group of people as your target market. They are the consumers most likely to shop with you, the ones that you “target” with your advertising and marketing efforts.

For a local bakery, this might be adults and families in a 10 mile radius. For an online college, this may be adult learners who wish to go back to school and get their degree.

But as you can see from both examples above, the target market likely includes a wide variety of different people. That’s where marketing (or buyer) personas come in.

The marketing community realized that generalizing about their target market, trying to create strategies that apply equally to the broadest swath of people, wasn’t the right approach. A better one would be dividing that group up into sub-groups, based on different demographic or psychographic qualities that they share.

Using our examples above, the bakery might divide their market up by age and gender, or cake buyers and bread buyers. The online college might divider their market up by physical location, degree or job type.

Doing this allows the company to develop marketing strategies that are more directly targeted at individuals within the larger group.

Then, to make these groups feel more real, we assign names to them. We create a “persona”, a profile of a customer that most accurately represents the real people in that group.

So instead of your bakery marketing to “young moms”, you market to Jennifer. And instead of your college marketing to “technical careers in California”, you market to Dave.

These personas are representations of customers that help your team develop strategies that relate to them as real people, and not just some vague group of consumers in your target market.

Are you using marketing personas? If not, you should be.

Marketing Skills to Learn

Just like any other professional, it is vital for marketers to continue to learn new skills as they proceed in their careers. The dynamics of the world around us are changing so fast, that if we don’t continue to grow, and learn, and adapt, we will be left behind.

But with so many options available to you, it can be hard to figure out where to start. What should you learn?

Step 1 = What are you passionate about?

Figure out what you want to learn. Start by making a list of all the areas you are interested in. Ignore for now whether or not these subjects have anything to do with your current job. Just brainstorm as many different things as possible.

Step 2 = Where will your career take you?

This can be tough for many of us, but take a moment to picture the future. Where do you see yourself in 3, 5, 10 years? What kind of career progression are you looking for? Do you want to stay with one company, or move on to something bigger? Do you want to stay in your current field, or do you want to jump to a new industry? Answering these questions will give you a sense of what skills from your list are most applicable to your growth prospects.

Step 3 = Search

Taking your list from step 1, and analyzing it through the lens of step 2, certain subjects will rise to the top. These are the things you are personally interested in, which are most likely to help your career. Now it’s time to figure out how to learn them.

Online courses from Coursera, Udemy, or Lynda are a great start. In person classes like those offered by General Assembly or your local Community College are another great option. Books, articles, and blogs may exist on those subjects as well.

Some topics today’s marketers may want to learn more about:

  • Statistics and data analysis
  • Public speaking
  • Leadership and management
  • Strategy and strategic planning
  • Accounting/Financial management

Underrated Series – Part 9

Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, The Underrated Series. Each week, we will highlight an important, often underrated component of marketing success.

Last week’s underrated topic was pricing.

What are we underrating this week? Competitors.

As marketers, the time we spend paying attention to our competitors varies. For some, working in more competitive industries, we’re constantly watching what they do. For others, where direct competition is not as fierce, we might ignore them completely.

But competitive analysis doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves in the marketing community.

Why? Because good competitive analysis is hard. And we tend to focus on things that come easier.

But, good competitive analysis also has benefits that many marketers are not aware of.

Think about the competitive landscape from the viewpoint of your potential customers. They have a want or a need that you can solve. But in addition to you, there might be 2, 5, or 10 other companies that can also solve their problem. So they have a choice to make. What company to purchase from?

Only by knowing, truly knowing, what your competitors are offering and how they’re offering it, can you determine what it is that makes you different, and why consumers should choose you over them. That is the very basis of your marketing efforts. Everything you do should be based on what unique value that your company offers.

And you can’t just do it once and forget about it. Because your competitors change. They change their pricing and offers. They change their products. They change their messaging. And even your competitors themselves change, some companies go out of business or change strategies, and new companies come into the marketplace.

So regular competitive analysis is a crucial component of marketing success.

Have something you think deserves more attention? Send us your suggestions for the Underrated Series using the comments below or submit them here.

Zach Heller Marketing Week in Review

I have a question that I have not been able to find an answer to. Taking as fact that ads are more effective when they relate to us directly, and that ads catered to and targeted at an individual are more effective than ads for the masses, does it matter whether the person who is being marketed to knows that or not? In other words, would I be more or less likely to take action on an ad if I knew it was made for me individually? We are able to target ads at the individual level, but we don’t go out of our way to make it known to the audience. And I’m wondering if that’s a mistake or it’s done on purpose.

That said, here are the links to last week’s posts:

  1. Underrated Series – Part 8
  2. Find the Right Movie to Fit Your Mood –
  3. Why Marketers Should Care About Diversity

Happy Saturday!

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Why Marketers Should Care About Diversity

It’s easy to say that everyone should care about diversity. Of course everyone should care about diversity. But this is a blog for marketers, and marketers should care about diversity for a very specific reason.

Diverse teams are happier, more innovative, more productive, and get better results than teams that are less diverse.

Study after study have shown, and numerous publications have noted, that diverse companies are more successful companies. As a marketer, your job is to improve the performance of your company. And a more diverse team seems like a good place to start.


  • Diverse teams bring together people from different backgrounds, which helps the creative problem solving process. We look at things and approach solutions in different ways. This is where productivity and innovation are boosted.
  • Diverse teams know how to create and market products to diverse consumer groups. When your team more closely matches the consumers you are marketing to, you would expect your marketing to be more effective.