What’s the difference? They seem like generally the same thing, and many people (who don’t know any better) use them interchangeably. So what’s the big deal?
Let’s start with some technical definitions.
- A particular market segment at which a marketing campaign is focused. (Business Dictionary)
- The consumers a company wants to sell its products and services to, and to whom it directs its marketing efforts. (Investopedia)
- Market segmentation is the science of dividing an overall market into customer subsets or segments, whose in segment sharing similar characteristics and needs. (Inc.)
- A marketing term referring to the aggregating of prospective buyers into groups (segments) that have common needs and will respond similarly to a marketing action. (Investopedia)
- A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. (HubSpot)
- Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions. (Tony Zambito)
The first thing you’ll notice is that the terms get more detailed as we move downward. Target markets are very general, simply: the people you’re selling to. Ok, cool. That tells us absolutely nothing.
Market segmentation gives us a little more purpose. They’re your target markets, specifically divided into groups based on their needs and characteristics. Market segmentation hits a little closer to the target.
Buyer personas are a little different. Instead of throwing individual buyers into groups, personas take groups of your best buyers and consolidate them into one archetypal model. Like market segmentation, personas focus on behaviors and needs, but give you a clearer bulls-eye for your marketing efforts.
We might be a little biased - we’re on Team Buyer Persona. The sheer targeting power of the persona is unmatched by any other tactic we’ve tried. And believe us, we’ve tried lots.
If you want proof that buyer personas are awesome, check out this list of 11 Stats that Prove Buyer Personas Are Awesome.
If you want to learn more about using personas for your business, you can download our Ultimate Guide to Buyer Personas here.