Is There A Big Difference Between a Target Market and a Buyer Persona?
Ryker Taylor
June 18, 2020

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A target market and a buyer persona may seem similar upon reading about them. They seem to address the same thing, but is there a difference between a target market and a buyer persona?

What is a Target Market?

By definition, a target market is a particular group of consumers at which a product or service is aimed at. Every business has its target market for the types of products and/or services they are selling. Being able to effectively define your target market is critical because not every business can target everyone. A target market, otherwise known as a target audience, tend to mainly focus on different demographic information, including geography, gender, age, marital status, and additional details on consumer lifestyles. All of these factors relate to the target audience’s purchasing behaviors. 

To summarize, developing a target market allows a business to solely focus on its brand message for a specific market that is more likely to purchase from them than others. Having an assigned and determined target market makes it more affordable, efficient, and successful for businesses to reach their ideal customers and generate more business in the long term.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona represents a representation of a business’s ideal customer based on different market research and real data about existing customers. A buyer persona is a representation of a semi-fictional character with characteristics, goals, desires, and frustrations.

Fortunately, establishing a buyer persona allows you to better understand and relate to a specific audience that is being targeted for your products and/or services. 

A target market and a buyer persona may seem similar, they do have their differences.

How Do You Build a Target Market vs. a Buyer Persona?

Although a target market and buyer persona may be similar in a lot of ways, their subtle differences allow the ability for significant successes. Understanding the difference between a target market and a buyer persona can be quite the advantage for your business.

How to Build a Target Market

Separate from a buyer persona, which is more specific, a target market is a broader description of a business’s ideal customer. In other words, you have to look at what makes the customer choose to work with you based on what is important to them, which means paying more attention to your target market and a buyer persona. 

Ask the Right Questions

A large piece to the puzzle is utilizing customer reviews on your product or service to gain an understanding of their specific attitude. Customer reviews are pieces of data that can be used to collect on your current customer base. Some questions to also ask to learn more about your customers’ attitude are:

  • What made them choose your product over the competition?
  • Is your product easy to understand or do your customers require coaching?
  • Are the features of the product itself more important?
Research Your Customers’ Demographics

After asking the right questions about your ideal audience, sometimes further details are needed, such as demographics, to help your team better understand your customer base. Some of those questions include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Family Status

Even though these questions seem basic, they will help your team better understand your target audience, who they are, and their motivations for the products they choose.

Identify Your Customers’ Needs and Problems

After asking the right questions and collecting demographic data, you will have generated a solid understanding of your target audience. Next, is identifying their different pain points and needs. How do you do that? By putting yourself in their shoes. Being able to relate to the customer and understanding their needs and pain points will help your business stand out from the rest of the competition.

On top of that, figuring out what makes your customers ‘tick’ will help you properly present your product to them in the most effective way, so that they know your product is the right one for them.

How to Build a Buyer Persona

As stated previously, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a business’s ideal customer. However, the buyer persona needs to be based on real-world information rather than an imagination or gut instinct. 

Doing Thorough Research

You cannot only base information on what your gut is telling you. Instead, ask yourself different questions about the product or service you are offering, and who would be interested in what you have to offer. The more details you are able to collect, the better the outcome will be. 

What is the data showing you? Analyzing your website and social analytics will provide a significant amount of information about the type of visitors who are interacting with your brand, even if they have not yet transitioned into customers.

Finally, check out the competition. It is important to see what they are up to, so you are able to stay a few steps ahead. What can you learn from their efforts that can assist in differentiating your brand?

Identify Different Customer Pain Points and Goals

No matter how many times companies continue to evolve to enhance the customer experience, there will always be problems or hassles that customers try to solve. Whether these pain points are personal or professional, goals, or aspirations, they are pieces that they specifically want to achieve.

Engaging in social listening will allow your business to collect information about your consumers’ pain points and goals and then develop a more robust persona later on. After gathering information about the different pain points and goals from a wide variety of individuals and data, your team will be able to present your products and/or services to potential customers. This allows them to gain a deep understanding of what it will be like to use the product or service.

Turning the Research into Actual Personas

For your buyer persona, this is when the semi-fictional aspect comes into play. On top of all of the in-depth research that is conducted to better understand your audience and customer, it is important to generate a list of characteristics that make up your ideal customer.

Use these four sections to define your buyer persona:

  • Summary
    • Things they care about
    • Social class
    • Age group
    • World views
  • Direction
    • Goals
    • Desires
  • Pains
    • Frustrations
    • What they want to change
  • Communication
    • How to portray information

Although the difference between a target market and a buyer persona is subtle, it can impact how your business markets towards an audience. Need help? Then just view the different ways we can help you here.

How Does Defining a Buyer Persona Help Your Business?

For every marketing strategy, one of the most important aspects is implementing the buyer persona(s). Most importantly, a buyer persona allows a business to understand what they should be doing to reach and communicate with potential customers.

Taking the time to develop your buyer persona(s) may accelerate your marketing, sales, and product development efforts. Contributing the time now will allow your business to see significant growth over time. Now that you understand the difference between a target market and a buyer persona, you should take that and apply it to your business’s marketing strategy.

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