During my workshop at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, I spoke about creating personas to better target your markets. This is a fun exercise and I encourage you to do it. Break down your customers or guests into three or four categories. Then create a fictitious person or couple to represent each customer group.

For example, if you own a seaside resort in Maine, you might have the following personas:

Eleanor and Harry1. Eleanor and Harry: They come from Marblehead, Massachusetts and they used to own a Hinckley Yacht. They now live in a retirement community for active adults. Since they can’t manage it on their own anymore, they sold it, but they still like to look at sailboats as they cruise by the lawn of your resort. They drive a Mercedes Benz and they are enjoying a comfortable retirement. Harry worked as a physician and Eleanor was a stay-at-home mom who took care of their four children who are all married now and have two children each of their own. They read Smithsonian magazine and listen to National Public Radio.

Jamie and Phil2. Jamie and Phil: They are a young couple with no children who have been married for only a year. They travel on a tight budget but they value their time together since they both work a lot of hours in their jobs at start-up internet companies in Portland. They have a yellow lab that they bring on vacation with them and they enjoy sea kayaking, hiking and biking. They drive a Toyota Rav 4 with a Thule rack that carries their bikes and their kayaks. They love to go to L.L. Bean and they carry an L.L. Bean Visa Card which they use to get coupons. Everything they read is online. They do not like to buy newspapers or magazines because they create clutter.

Rita3. Rita: She is a widow in her 50s who lost her husband to cancer. Rita works as a librarian in Greenwich, Connecticut and is an avid reader and bird watcher. She has no children but she brings one of her nieces or nephews on vacation with her each year. She drives a Volvo Wagon and is very interested in healthy eating, healthy living and preserving the environment. She shops at Whole Foods and buys most of her clothes at Talbots. She enjoys vacations where she can learn new things and go on outings with other people. She reads Downeast and Yankee Magazine, and gets her news from The New York Times, which she reads cover to cover, particularly on Sundays.

Can you see how having these personas can help you visualize how to target your customer groups?You know their media habits, their buying habits and how they like to spend their time. I recommend you create these personas for your own business and hang them up in your office so you can keep them in mind with everything you do. It will help you decide where to spend your ad dollars, and what types of messaging you use. Since ‘birds of a feather flock together,” your strategy should be to get more customers like them, and by targeting these three personas you will get more customers who fit your target profile. If you use Facebook advertising you can target these people very precisely and have your ad pop up alongside their Facebook wall. It is truly a marketer’s dream how well you can now target people through Facebook by knowing their interests and preferences.