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Michelle PW : How "On Target" is Your Marketing?

How ‘On Target’ is Your Marketing?

By Michele Pariza Wacek

Now that you've gathered information about your customers and potential customers, it's time to create a "customer profile."

A customer profile is an in-depth description of one person in your target market. Take all the information you've collected about your target market and create a single potential customer using that information. You might even call it a character study. Here's an example.

Let's say your target market is composed of married women in their thirties with small children and a full-time job. So, from that, you create a typical customer profile — a 35-year-old woman with two small children who works as a loan officer at Wells Fargo and her name is Marci (giving your character a name is very important). She also has a dog, a husband named Larry who works as computer programmer and a house in the suburbs.

It doesn't matter if any of this is true or not, the point is to make this "customer composite character" as real as possible.

Have several target markets you're focusing on? Do a composite character for all of them.

Why do you want to do this? To start thinking in details. The more details the better. Our minds aren't designed to think in generalities — we think in specifics.

For instance, take a moment to think of famous characters in great literature. Like Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman." He's the everyman — every salesperson. But he isn't every person — he has his own quirks, his own personality. By focusing on one individual character, playwright Arthur Miller has turned Willy Loman into the quintessential salesman, representing every salesman everywhere.

Once you have your customer profile created, then it's time to make your marketing explode.

It's time to get creative and role-play.

Role-playing has been around for just about forever. (In fact, I bet even a baby brontosaurus used to pretend he was a tyrannosaurus rex.) Although used widely by actors and fiction writers, anyone can benefit from living in someone else's skin for awhile (if nothing else, it can help free your inhibitions and get your creativity soaring).

I myself have benefited frequently from the power of role-playing. For instance, the main character in my second novel has cystic fibrosis — a fatal disease where most sufferers don't live past forty. I spent so much time in her skin that I started to think things like "Oh, I'll never live that long" or "Too bad I won't see retirement." As though I was the one with cystic fibrosis.

To be honest, it was a bit unsettling, but boy could I slip into her personality quickly. It made writing that book very easy.

Anyway, back to the power of role-playing. Talking to your customers and sending out surveys are very helpful. But by living in your customers' skin for even an hour, you can take that understanding one step further and actually connect emotionally with your target market.

Here's how this works:

1. Read your composite character again. And read all your supporting materials and information.

2. Now pretend to be Marci. Actually live in her skin. Think to yourself: What would Marci do in this situation? What would she eat for breakfast? What would she think? How would she act? Really try to get inside her skin.

Don't get discouraged if this doesn't come naturally. It takes awhile to get the knack of it. Try this exercise for a few minutes over a few days — it should get easier each time you try it.

3. Once you start to feel comfortable with this exercise, then you can ask your "target market character" questions. What do you really want from our products? What needs do you want fulfilled? What are you looking for? Ask yourself while you're ³in character" and see what answers bubble up. It may help to write down your questions and answers.

You can also do this as a group exercise, with people "acting" different target market characters.

By really getting to know your target market, you can discover what matters to them and how you can meet their needs. Connecting emotionally with your target audience is a powerful tool. It will give you a huge edge over your competition.

And if you want to learn how to sell to them, then check out Connect More, Sell More, Part 4 — Talk the Talk (and Boost your Sales).

Copyright 2004 Michele Pariza Wacek. All rights reserved.

Michele Pariza Wacek Michele Pariza Wacek owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting, a writing, marketing and creativity agency. More »

Updated 1/5/14