Saturday, July 30, 2005

Marketing to "Personality Clusters"
Sharpens Impact of Each Campaign

Learning at the Hands of an Expert

Back in the early 70’s I worked for a brilliant promotion marketer, Mark Wiederschein. I was a young copywriter who could craft sentences well, but didn’t know how to drive a marketing strategy forward and didn’t yet realize the importance of writing to specific clusters of customer behavior.

Mark spent about a year patiently re-writing everything I submitted. Finally, the light went on. I saw clearly what he was teaching. Almost instantly the quality of my work got better. I wrote to the emotions and behaviors of specific clusters of people rather than to my concept of what the mass of customers wanted.

We created a fictional advisor for one of our clients. She talked to customer clusters like she really knew them because in a way she really did know them. The insights came from a series of one hour interviews with customers who met certain demographics, and we dug deeper below the demo’s into the needs, wants and expectations.

It was my first foray into one-to-one marketing; not at an individual level, but at a personality cluster level. The program had a tremendous impact on our client’s sales.

Taking the Lessons to Heart: Personality Marketing

Regrettably, three-months later Mark had a massive heart attack and passed from us. Six years later, after two stints directing marketing for a scientific chemical company and a home products company, I started my own agency. From the get-go, we installed Mark’s method for creating campaigns that targeted specific subsets of prospects, based on behavioral traits that we discovered in hour-long interviews.

The Rule of Ten

That’s when we put together another basic rule of Personality Marketing … The Rule of Ten. We discovered that as soon as we found a pattern within 10 targeted individuals, we could build a personality profile that would generally stand up well against much larger samples. We could call off the research phase when we could predict how various clusters would respond to our offers, based on behavioral insights.

Internalizing the Customer Behavior Clusters

We would take photos of people that were typical for each cluster and hang poster-sized reproductions on the walls throughout the conference rooms at our agency. These people starring down from the walls to us kept us aware of who we were marketing to. Our clients got similar posters. Our AEs would then send handwritten messages from people in each Personality Cluster to our clients … just to keep fresh in their heads how each cluster would act and how they would make decisions.

Years later, I began reading articles in the trade press describing what other marketers were describing as Persona Marketing. Like iron sharpening iron, personality marketing will improve the effectiveness of your marketing messages.

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