Write Content For the Four Buying Personalities

In my previous article I talked about four main goals or “personas” you should keep in mind when writing content for your website. Your visitors display a lot more variety than that, though. Four different visitors could have the same goal, but approach it in completely different ways. If you want to sell to all of them, you need to write with their buying personalities in mind.

Once again, I owe a hat tip to Stoney deGeyter for discussing this point. In his article, though, he draws indirectly on a philosophy dating back to Hippocrates. Back in those days, and for a long time afterwards, doctors believed that both illness and one’s personality stemmed from four “humors,” and treatment aimed to balance these humors. While science discredited the medical part of this theory, it turns out the idea of four different basic personalities has some merit.

To be honest, we’re all a little too complicated to be easily broken down into one of four categories. But in trying to build content to encourage a very specific behavior, you can afford to simplify a little. The real challenge comes in creating content that appeals to each buying personality, and is easy for them to find. As you’ll see, they all care about somewhat different things, and something that will turn one personality off will actually help to convince another one to convert.

Let’s start with the first personality. Hippocrates labeled this one choleric. Another term you might use is competitive or goal-oriented. This visitor will want to see all his options before he buys. He does not like inefficiency, and gets annoyed if he can’t bag the “perfect” solution. He will look at your site with one question in mind: will what you have to offer help him achieve his goals?

You may have also heard the term “Type A” used to describe this personality. They’re impatient; they don’t have time to shop around, and they don’t have time for the “BS” of marketing language or other fluff. Quite the opposite, in fact; if you want to earn this buyer’s respect, be honest about any negative aspects of your product or service. In turn, you should respect their time by making your website easy to navigate; they won’t stay for long on a complicated, difficult-to-use website. Why should they? If they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’re quite willing to go elsewhere.

The down side of selling to a Type A person, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is he’s not an easy sell. The up side, though, is that once you’ve sold to him, he’s a loyal customer. So put your most trustworthy foot forward, and “demonstrate the true value of your product without over-hyping it,” deGeyter recommends. Make sure your visitor can find all the information they need quickly and easily. Get them to take the next step toward conversion with links and calls to action.

{mospagebreak title=Three Other Buying Personalities} 

Hippocrates also noted a personality type he called “phlegmatic.” We might use the term “spontaneous.” This kind of buyer cares very much about the latest trends and other people’s opinions. He’ll check with his friends via social media and look up online reviews to make sure he’s making the right choice.

He wants quick gratification, and doesn’t want to miss out on a good thing. Notice that this need to check other people’s opinions and the need for instant gratification can strongly conflict with each other. You can help balance them out by providing great customer service at every point in the sales process – including after the sale, to help deal with potential buyer’s remorse.

You must reach this kind of customer on an emotional level. Never mind the “bland corporate mumbo jumbo,” as deGeyter puts it; write content that will captivate this visitor, with your products’ unique value proposition right up front. Calls to action may help this visitor convert, but positive testimonials will really push him into purchasing. Unlike the competitive customer, you’ll need to keep negatives under wraps; this purchaser is especially turned off by negative reviews.

The personality Hippocrates called “sanguine,” we might call “humanistic.” Like a spontaneous buyer, he’ll look at your reviews, but with a much more critical eye. Will you meet his needs, or let him down? He has his eyes on the bigger picture, which makes him extra cautious, as his own needs may not be the most important ones he’s considering in this purchase. He almost expects to be disappointed, and wants to protect against it by not being “locked in.” Make sure you put your guarantees and easy return policies right out front to reassure this buyer.

The good news is that once you make a humanistic buyer comfortable, he’ll keep coming back. The bad news is that he’ll need at least as much reassurance as a spontaneous buyer, if not more. Make sure to provide plenty of positive reviews and testimonials for him to read. Expect this buyer to visit your “About Us” page to get a better understanding of who you are and how you think. This buyer, even more than any of the other kinds of buyers, needs to know that he can trust you, so give him every reason to do that.

Finally, we come to Hippocrates’ “melancholy” personality, which we might characterize as “methodical.” This detail-oriented buyer just might read every page on your site, reviewing and weighing all the evidence in making his decision.  The more information you can give him, the better – but note, I said “information,” not “fluff.” As with a competitive or goal-oriented customer, a methodical buyer wants all the facts, and nothing fancy. This buyer boasts a natural skeptical streak that you risk annoying with too much hype. If you make any claims, make sure you can back them up.

To woo this kind of buyer, dress yourself in authority. According to deGeyter, a methodical buyer “likes graphs and tables, specs and other detailed ‘proof’ you can provide…Don’t say anything that sound too good to be true, because it likely is” and that will only cause a methodical buyer to walk away.

Finding the right way to address each of these personalities can help you win more conversions. It’s a tricky balance and a fine line to walk in some cases, but it can be done. Good luck!

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