Buyer Persona vs. Buyer Personality: What's the Difference?

One of the initial steps in setting up any marketing campaign online is to construct the "persona" of the target. Marketing teams, web designers and email campaign staff will all want to know "just who is this written/built for?" It is important to define 2-4 personas for your target audience and in today's world of inbound marketing, big data is one way of defining those audiences.

What Is in a Persona?

According to HubSpot, a persona is a "semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer." It is essentially a description of the typical person at which your marketing is aimed.

A fairly standard persona would include the age, gender, ethnicity, location, social class, income bracket and educational attainment of your customer. It gives you a snapshot of the kind of person at which your marketing is aimed. You might, for instance, have a service that is typically purchased by women professionals in their 40-50s based in the Midwest. Knowing this information helps you understand how to write your messaging and their pain points and typical day.

However, you can add more details to personas such as firmographic information, such as the business software they use. Using "big marketing data" like use of business software, a marketer can target their messaging even further. As a result they can give marketers a very clear description of the needs their audience has. It helps distinguish from other personas, thereby enabling the creation of specific material for each persona.

Big Marketing Data Helps Build Personas

One of the benefits of the growth in data these days is the way in which such information can be applied to marketing. You can find a considerable amount about customer journeys, what website visitors want and the kind of online activity in which each kind of person engages. According to Adele Revella from the Buyer Persona Institute and the author of the book Buyer Personas, there is such an increase in marketing data now that it is possible to even tell the emotional state of potential customers at the point of purchase. Vast amounts of online data mean that businesses now have the ability to build highly detailed personas.

Personas Alone Are Not Enough

Personas are not the only aspect of your buyers that you need to know, however. Knowing, for instance, that you were aiming a product at "decision makers in the banking industry" tells you only part of the story. Even if your marketing data tells you a great deal of information about such personas, there are a lot of people who fit that description, and they are all different. They vary because each has a unique personality.

Personality is highly important in marketing these days, especially online. For instance, some people will be more extroverted than others, even if they have the same persona. Extroverts need lots of stimulation, and so they respond well to busy websites with plenty of things to do. However, an introverted person finds such websites distracting. Even though the web page may target their persona, it isn't suited to their personality if the page is full of things to look at and actions to take.

Similarly, there are some people with a personality type that has a high degree of curiosity, interested in exploring. The kind of web page that appeals to them is not the same as the type of page that would appeal to a personality type dominated by sequential thinking, taking things step by step. Such different personality types could still have the same personas.

Given that people do not stay on a website for very long before deciding to click away, it is clear that the web page they have landed on has to appeal to their persona, as well as their personality. To ensure that your marketing benefits from the data you use to build the persona, you also need to take into account personalities of your buyers if you want to truly engage with them.

Graham Jones is a writer and consultant on Internet Psychology.



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