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When it comes to advertising, where do you start? Today’s options are more diverse than ever and bring a larger audience to your doorstep than yesterday’s newspapers, magazines or local radio stations.  

Advertising has taken a turn from the “buy me on sale now” to a more personal approach of “I understand your needs and my business can assist you with your problem.” The Internet has allowed companies big and small to do far more with much less in the way of resources. No longer do businesses need to hire a large agency and pay tens of thousands of dollars to reach their audience. At the same time, the days of handmade- or in-house-produced fliers and handouts have gone away.  

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with David Meerman Scott, bestselling author of the “New Rules of Marketing and PR” and the hit new book “World Wide Rave.” In this latest book David brings examples of how businesses can leverage the power of the Internet and includes several tips for creating your own “World Wide Rave.”  

As it relates to Channel Insider readers, I asked Scott when it comes to getting the right message out to the right audience, what is the single most important challenge to small businesses? Scott shared the following:
“The single biggest challenge for small business is understanding what I call ‘buyer persona.’ A buyer persona represents a distinct group of potential customers, an archetypal person whom you want your marketing to reach. Targeting your work to buyer persona prevents you from sitting on your butt in your comfortable office just making stuff up about your products, which is the cause of most ineffective marketing.”
“Incidentally, my use of the word ‘buyer’ applies to any organization’s target customers,” Scott continues. “A politician’s buyer personas include voters, supporters and contributors; universities’ buyer personas include prospective students and their parents; a tennis club’s buyer personas include potential members; and nonprofits’ buyer personas include corporate and individual donors. Go ahead and substitute however you refer to your potential customers in the phrase ‘buyer persona,’ but do keep your focus on the concept. It is critical for success online.”
“By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, ego-centric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization,” Scott concluded.

Scott’s words couldn’t be truer. By understanding your target market and your target customer, you can focus your energy and effort into delivering products and services that they value most. By focusing in this manner, you will also differentiate yourself in the marketplace from the competition. In a down economy where everyone is competing for precious few dollars, the last thing you want to be known as is a “me too” organization.

Once you figure out who your customer is and what they need most from you, you can then hone your messaging and develop greater marketplace awareness. From there, success will follow.

Speaking of success, Channel Insider wants to know what’s making your business successful. We’re seeking your Success Stories for our new series of first-person reports from the front lines of the IT marketplace on the technologies, services and engagements that are unique, innovative and, most of all, making your company successful. Share your success with the Channel Insider community today – click here to get started:

Kathleen A. Martin is special projects coordinator for Channel Insider.