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Giving Personality to Your Personas

CrowdEver since reading Call to Action I’ve been in love with the whole idea of personas. We’ve been doing a lot of reading on the topic lately and learning how to create strong personas for each website we work with.

One of the things we’ve been trying to wrap our head around is the concept of writing content for both personas and the personality of site visitors. We battled with this for several days, trying to distinguish properly between a persona and a personality. I was finally able to boil each down into a few words that made it easy for us to see the difference:

Persona = motivation (what the visitor needs, why they are on your site)
Personality = temperament (how they navigate, what they need to see or read to find what they want)

This is just my own interpretation and subject to modification, but for now it does its part in providing easy clarification between the two.

Personas

We’re still trying to understand the process of fleshing out personas. What gets included, what gets left out, etc. But what we do understand is that a persona must be developed to meet any particular need that certain users might have before coming to your website. To do this you need to do your research and know your target audience. For some sites this can mean developing a lot of personas to fill a lot of needs, and for others it means a few personas for only a few needs. But regardless of how many user “needs” you need to fulfill your best bet is to boil them all down into no more than a handful of personas.

Here are a few common personas that we’ve developed:

The “how-to” Persona
This person is an information seeker. They are not necessarily looking to buy a product or service, but want to do it themselves. They may be willing to pay for the information they want.

Example: Person goes to a baby products site looking how to properly install a car seat. They may or may not be looking to buy a car seat, but if they find the information they want they could return frequently and become a customer in the future.

The “I care” Persona
These people are usually thoughtful about what it is they are looking for. They are passionate about the topic and want to know more about how your product or service is going to meet their needs.

Example: Person goes to a baby products site looking for a car seat that is safe and reliable. They’ve been reading about the importance of car seats, how to install them properly and want to make sure that the seat they buy for their child will be top quality.

The “Just get it to me” Persona
These people don’t really know what they want. They have a need but are unsure on how best to fill that need. They just want a product or service that gives them the desire result.

Example: Person needs a car seat. To them, all car seats are the same and don’t understand why one is more expensive than the other. They are just looking to get a seat and get it installed so they usually pick the least expensive one. They can be convinced to upgrade, given the right information.

These are just a few that have been rattling around in my brain for a bit and are by no means “perfect” representations of personas. Just part of our ever-evolving persona development guidelines. Take them with a grain of salt.

Personalities

Personas are not the only thing you need to address in your content. Every persona has a personality and that personality will determine how they find the information that interests them. Each personality will ultimately navigate the site differently. Some require reassurances, some need stats and figures and some just want to find it quickly so they can close the deal and move on.

According to the good folks at Future Now, there are four basic Personality types:

  • Competitive
  • Spontaneous
  • Humanistic
  • Methodical

Using information we have read from them and others we have developed the following guides for reaching these temperaments. Note that the information below is not our original product, has been pulled from other sources, sometimes reworded and occasionally some of our own additional insight has been thrown in.

Competitive
The Competitive visitor wants to see all their options. He is motivated by curiosity and wants to know all of the possibilities that your product or service offers. A Competitive likes challenges and is very self-driven. He is goal oriented and measures his self worth by determining future success. He wants to win. A Competitive quickly gets irritated with inefficiency and wants effective products that help him achieve his goals. He is also the hardest to sell of all the temperaments.

Pros:

  • Spontaneous buyer
  • Curiosity driven
  • Goal oriented
  • Appreciates honesty
  • Loyal customer

Cons:

  • Hardest to sell
  • Dislikes inefficiency and disorganization
  • Impatient
  • Abandons page and sale easily

How to reach a Competitive: Provide him with upfront, honest information. Establish credibility by offering obvious information that tends to be left unsaid. Never make obtuse claims. Demonstrate your product’s value and quality to win a Competitive’s trust. A Competitive is impatient and will not dig very deep for the information so he needs links to credible information and your calls to action must be obvious.

Spontaneous
The Spontaneous visitor is a follower of trends. She needs to see that others value your products as well, which provides her assurance in her buying decision. She places a high value on others opinions and fears missing out on a good thing. She also wants new and exciting things. She is motivated by immediate gratification, so it is important to demonstrate excellent customer service even after a sale.

Pros:

  • Follows trends
  • Feeds on positive opinion
  • Opinion based buying
  • Sold by word of mouth

Cons:

  • Turned away by negative opinions
  • May suffer from buyer’s remorse

How to reach a Spontaneous: A personalized touch to your site will captivate a Spontaneous. She wants to get as much information as they can, but not necessarily by reading but by skimming each page. Providing your UVP here will draw her into giving more focused attention on your words that will solicit the sell. A Spontaneous likes to see—or follow links to—customer testimonials.

Humanistic
The Humanistic visitor also wants to see your testimonials, but for a different reason. She wants to know who you are and how you can meet her needs, which is most aptly illustrated in how you have helped others. She is interested in the big picture and often puts others needs before herself. A Humanistic fears separation and want to be accepted; therefore, she does not want to choose something that is not supported by a community. Freedom is very important and they do not want to feel “locked in”.

Pros:

  • Motivated by guarantees and security policies
  • Repeat buyer

Cons:

  • Scared of commitment
  • Needs constant reassurance
  • Relies too heavily on others’ opinions

How to reach a Humanistic: Provide links to testimonials and your “about us” page. Reassure her with money back guarantees, links to return policies and assurances of security. A personal tone often resonates best with a Humanistic.

Methodical
The Methodical visitor is the one who read everything on a page. He will simply soak up as much information as possible in order to make an informed decision. A Methodical is an extremely detail oriented, logical thinker. He is a problem solver and fears irresponsible decision making.

Pros:

  • Feature, not benefit, oriented
  • Does not like fluff
  • Factual based buyer
  • Engaged in content

Cons:

  • Skeptical
  • Needs specific, detailed information
  • Needs sots of information

How to reach a Methodical: A Methodical needs hard evidence in an organized fashion. He doesn’t care about a personal touch, but rather wants an authoritative voice. The use of graphs and tables impress a Methodical. State simple facts, with very little fluff, as he is already skeptical of any claims that seem too good to be true.

All of the above is still a work in progress for us and I’m certain we’ll be making modifications as we learn more about this process. But this information does provide us with a solid guideline for addressing the needs of our user’s motivations and temperaments. Addressing the right persona with the right temperament in the right place can be tricky. This is especially true on pages with only little content. But these considerations are an important part of creating a document that will drive the most conversions possible.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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