Portent Staff // Feb 27 2008
All soccer moms are not created equal. Copyblogger makes this point in a recent post, and I totally agree. Until we go beyond perfunctory profiling and start creating vivid, charismatic, three-dimensional characters, personas will be of no use except to perpetuate stereotypes. Marketers need to go further in their persona development if they are actually going to enrich our ad campaigns.
Let’s consider the difference between the two persona possibilities. Here’s an example:
Exhibit A: Target Audience: 48-year-old Man, Drives Chevy, Some College.
Exhibit B: Lila, the energetic Sarah Lawrence Undergrad who plays field hockey, loves her Border Collie Oliver, and has a guilty pleasure for spaghetti-o’s on toast and buying things off infomercials after midnight.
As you can see, the second persona is not only more interesting, it provides much more relevant insight into how to market to this person. But how to go from Exhibit A to Exhibit B? To answer this, I look no further than every marketer’s true muse, Match.com.
Why? Not only is this personal ad approach to personas significantly more fun, the formula of Match.com profile-writing and persona-writing are eerily similar. Watch and learn!
1) Collect Intricate Details. The charm of personal ads is they go beyond the typical height and weight stats to include fetishes, phobias, high school crushes, secret cravings and favorite superheroes. Your personas should include similar exhaustive detailing in the initial stages, so you have plenty of material to work with as you craft your message.
2) Unique Selling Proposition. This is an annoying but applicable phrase marketers hear all the time. As applied to Match ads and marketing personas, the Unique Selling Proposition means answering the question: “What is this person’s passion?” At first glance it may appear there are many possible answers, but you must apply your shrewd marketing acumen to find the single gleaming quality that supersedes (or unites) all others. Once you know what makes your subject tick, you know how to market them, or market to them.
3) Make it pretty. Now that you have your unique selling proposition and your pertinent supplementary details, you have to make it sound good! Use your natural marketing gifts of language and psychology to really make the person’s personality jump off the page. Remember, a good Match.com ad, like a good marketing persona, is driven by the idea that the person in question is like the reader, only slightly better, and that by taking a certain action (buying them dinner, buying the same face wash as them) the reader can get on the persona’s level.
Bottom line? Without fleshed-out, vivid, likable characters no one would read your ads. With them, no one even notices they are reading ads. Nice!
Note: Our president, Ian Lurie, just spoke about personas at SMX West. You can read about it, and see his presentation, here.