Recently, a marketer’s tweet made a bold statement.
He said he’s becoming more and more skeptical of the advice to sell benefits over features. Granted, he makes a couple of great points as to why this is: benefits lengthen copy unnecessarily, make it harder for the information to parse, and is more abstract.
One copywriter agreed, “Don’t be an obtuse dill-hole writing a bunch of navel-gazing clever copy for literary high-fives.”
I agree to that, too, but let’s keep this in mind. The original tweet was from a SaaS founder and software marketer. He may be more of a driver or analytical type. In fact, in some of his replies, it’s quite apparent that he is a driver, a bottom-line, get-to-the-point type of person.
A driver is one of the four personality types: drivers, analyticals, expressives, and amiables. If he’s a driver, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want benefits. He’s looking driver-centric benefits. Benefits presented in a different way.
The issue was that the message didn’t match the market.
For example, the benefit of sports car for, say, an expressive may be to flaunt her success or for the prestige of ownership. But to a driver, it may be how it can be a good investment or resell is easier than most used cars.
Show the benefits for an expressive to a driver, and you’ll bore her to tears, drive her away (pun intended), or create undue hostility toward the copy/product.
It’s even worse when you show all the benefits to all personality types. You’re trying to cover all the bases. As the saying goes, “When you try to be all things to all people, you won’t appeal to anyone.”
It’s important to create buyer avatars or personas before writing your content or sales copy. You want to know who, exactly, you are writing to. Why is that important? Because we all have different personalities. Our personality style infuses everything we do, hear, say, and think.
- The way we communicate with others reflects a predominant style.
- We tend to manage and work with others using a predominant style.
- How we make purchasing decisions is based on a personality style.
What interests me most as an SEO consultant (as it should you) is that your marketing approach should appeal to the market you’re targeting and their predominant personality style. Whether it’s the keywords you target, or the content (or copy) you write.
Understanding our market’s main personality type — and learning how to market to, communicate with, and sell to our market in a way that appeals to their personality type — can dramatically improve your chances of success.
As a driver, the software-business owner mentioned earlier has an impatient, bottomline-driven type of personality. Thus, emotional, benefit-laden copy is seemingly long, distracting, and irrelevant to him.
“Irrelevant” is the keyword, here.
Since drivers are only interested in results, he wants and will respond more favorably to results-driven benefits. Things like speed, key functions, ROI, etc. He also prefers a marketing approach that caters to his personality style. Long copy may not be his thing.
If he was an expressive, though, he’d be more interested in awards, case studies, reviews, etc. If he was an analytical, he’d be looking for facts, figures, statistics, etc. If he was an amiable, he’d care more for anecdotes, trust markers, social proof, etc.
I think you get the picture.
Ultimately, padding your copy with unnecessary drivel — or so it would seem to a mismatched personality style — will work against you.
So how do you market to a predominant personality style?
You are not your market. You might think you know your market but often make erroneous assumptions about them. You may even conduct your own research, but your findings are often skewed because of an unconscious or implicit bias.
Determine what are their demographics (i.e., age, income, job title, family size, etc) and psychographics (i.e., their interests, hobbies, and behavioral traits). Your particular industry will cater mostly to a certain style — or better still, the industry of your market will consist of one style more than another.
Not the problems you help alleviate but how they talk about their problems. Each style discusses them in a different way. Lurk in forums or on social media. Join discussion groups frequented by your target market. Ask questions and see how they respond.
A buyer persona or avatar a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer. That persona should drive everything you do. Tailor all your communications based on that customer. You should even package and productize your services according to that persona, too.
Focus on that core market. Create an entire marketing strategy that revolves around and appeals to that core buyer. If you’ve done your research, you will likely uncover through which marketing channels your efforts will be most productive. And profitable.
If your market falls into more than one personality type, stick with the largest or most productive one (i.e., the lowest hanging fruit, the easiest one to reach and attract). But if you must, create distinct funnels with separate landing pages and content (or copy) targeting each style. Most verticals tend to cater to specific personalities more than others.
There’s tremendous power in niching down.
There’s a saying by sales management expert Ken Blanchard who said: “Before I walk a mile in your shoes, I must first take off my own.” To understand what that means, let’s look at the term “schema.” It’s used in both digital marketing (SEO) and marketing psychology. I love it because they have similar applications.
In the digital space, schema is a type of microdata applied to a web page to help search engines parse and interpret its content. It’s like giving Google an idea of what the page is about, what it means, and how it should be treated.
Search engines, in turn, use schema data in search results to its users, which is helpful for SEO purposes. By adding schema markup to a web page, we are giving the search engines context and not just content.
In psychology, schema is very similar.
Much like a search engine does, schema is a cognitive framework that helps human beings organize and interpret information. It’s our own set of biases, experiences, prejudices, and viewpoints that influence the information we human beings encounter.
Just like its digital counterpart, psychological schema comes in various types, such as object schema, person schema, event schema, etc. They help us understand the world around us. For example, they help us understand:
- Inanimate objects and how they work.
- People by the way they look, act, talk, etc.
- Expected actions and behaviors during events.
And there are plenty more.
While schema can be useful, it can also be hurtful.
These mental frameworks may cause us to focus only on things that confirm our pre-existing beliefs and ideas, and exclude pertinent information that may change our interpretation. As one psychiatric article noted:
“Schemas can contribute to stereotypes and make it difficult to retain new information that does not conform to our established ideas about the world.”— Kendra Cherry and Steven Gans, MD
While schemas help interpret the information we come across, it also affects the information we choose to give others. Problem is, it may be the wrong information, or it may be the right information but presented in the wrong way.
It can even affect your market research.
It’s one of many reasons why hiring an external SEO consultant helps. You may think you know your market well, but that knowledge, no matter how sophisticated it might be, is almost always unconsciously influenced by your own biases and limited by your personal schema. You are not your market.
Whether it’s the data you put behind the page or in front of it, it may not be the data your users want, prefer, or will engage with. Much less buy from.
Here’s the final point.
Catering to a predominant personality style will not only sell more clients. You will also create better clients. More loyal, higher value clients, too. You will also naturally generate more word-of-mouth, too, because we all like to keep company with and brag about our experiences to likeminded people.
People who will likely share the same personality traits as us.