Making Personas Sparkle Like Diamonds, Part 2

  |  February 4, 2005   |  Comments

Tools for creating your own customer personas. Part two of a two-part series.

Early in our company's life, persona development was largely an intuitive process. We wanted to develop a process we could use to train clients and partners in the persona development process. To do so, we delved into literature and film to understand character development.

Last week, we discussed what we learned from David Freeman's character diamonds and masks. This week, we study these, and their applications, in more depth. Here's more from David Freeman.

Address a Buyer's Mask When Selling to Him

BMW pushes its "Ultimate Driving Machine" to men who usually end up driving 40 mph in rush-hour traffic. Yet these men view themselves as mighty conquerors of a limitless asphalt horizon, roaring full throttle through life and leaving testosterone in their wake. BMW sells to these men's masks.

The full picture is actually a little more complicated. This persona's character diamond breaks out accordingly:

  • Views himself as powerful, a leader. He wants his car to reflect this. (He doesn't have to be a powerful leader, just see himself as one.)

  • Likes recognition for being rich and important. On some level, he feels he needs more recognition.

  • Likes to go his own way in the world -- not a follower.

  • Is intelligent.

Just as Ricky Fitts' mask is part true, part phony, so too are some BMW drivers' masks. Some drivers really are conquerors -- but not on the road.

The problem of being a world conqueror as you sit behind a desk and wield a mighty keyboard is no one knows you are one. Though you're not allowed set land speed records with your BMW, it still symbolizes you have the power to lay the opposition to waste.

Smoking out these complex persona aspects requires proper discovery. The character diamond is a key persona component. When you design a Web site or an ad campaign, you must address the character diamond of each persona you want to reach.

Some personas emphasize one character trait; others are more balanced. If the persona has a mask that is a critical portion of his identity, the mask must be addressed in the site or ad campaign.

Assume careful discovery reveals the above persona is one of BMW's main consumers. The persona remains more or less a cliché.

If you were to assign this persona to a copywriter, she could easily end up writing pretty trite copy. The copy would turn off even those consumers who embody this persona. What's the solution? To find out, we must clarify the masks.

Essentially, a mask is a form of phoniness. But for some, it's only partly phony. For our persona, one corner of the character diamond sees himself as powerful. That could be wholly or partly phony.

On closer inspection, we see various possible masks at work:

  • A person who truly is powerful. For him, the BMW isn't a mask. Yet it still may involve some interesting psychological issues.

  • A person who is powerful but doesn't feel powerful. The BMW symbol of power is a reminder.

  • A person who isn't powerful but works hard to be. The BMW symbolizes his professional ambition and may symbolize how he'd like to remold his personality.

  • A person who will likely never be powerful. The BMW helps him see himself as powerful.

Masks assume numerous forms. How do these variations dictate varying approaches in Web design or an ad campaign?

It's easy to imagine a copywriter not feeling empathy for this particular persona. Yet the copy must embody enough warmth to sell to the persona. What's the solution?

We must gain a better understanding of the persona's emotional problems, defense mechanisms, psychological compensation mechanisms, and his role in the selling process. Look at the persona's second trait: wanting recognition.

What kind of trait is this? What kind of recognition? Why does he want it?

This kind of trait is more robust than the simplistic attributes, such as happy, athletic, rational, or playful. It refers to a psychological or emotional "fear, limitation, block, or wound" (FLBW). The persona may be motivated by a fear of failure, perhaps he has physical limitations, and so forth.

Starting here gives you a more human, believable persona. That's much more useful than an average or primary persona.

Meet Bryan at Search Engine Strategies in New York City, February 28-March 3.

ClickZ Live San Francisco August 10-12: Revolutionize your digital marketing campaigns at ClickZ Live San Francisco! Educating marketers for over 15 years, our action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covers every aspect of digital marketing. Early Bird rates available through Friday, July 17 - save up to $300! Register today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

US Consumer Device Preference Report

US Consumer Device Preference Report
Traditionally desktops have shown to convert better than mobile devices however, 2015 might be a tipping point for mobile conversions! Download this report to find why mobile users are more important then ever.

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle
Have you ever wondered what factors influence online spending or why shoppers abandon their cart? This data-rich infogram offers actionable insight into creating a more seamless online shopping experience across the multiple devices consumers are using.

WEBINARS

Jobs

  • Sr. Marketing Specialist, PPC
    Sr. Marketing Specialist, PPC (Charter Communications) - StamfordSr. Marketing Specialist, PPC– Digital Marketing Charter Communications...
  • Online Marketing Analyst
    Online Marketing Analyst (FULLBEAUTY Brands ) - New YorkINTRODUCTION: Are you interested in a unique career opportunity where you can represent...
  • Copy Editor
    Copy Editor (ClickZ / Search Engine Watch) - New YorkROLE OVERVIEW The role of the copy editor for ClickZ has many demands. Ultimately, the copy...