Are personas and stereotypes the same?
Rationally you may know that not all women love to shop, not all kids thrill at video games and not all men love a cold beer. But these stereotypes are powerful, particularly when it comes to marketing efforts. Creating personas that help you profile your marketing efforts can be effective, but they can’t be as shallow or impersonal as these. Getting to know and understand your consumer allows you to craft marketing and advertising messages that not only appeal to them, but also address their specific needs.
Create real personas
Not all millennials are lazy and addicted to their phones. But all too often that stereotype prevails in the minds of marketers. Going deeper to determine a real persona behind your targeted demographic will allow your team to think like the group in question. It also opens up your ability to empathize with the demographic and their issues so you can create solutions that work for them.
Look beyond stereotypes
In the beginning stereotypes can actually help you, by giving you a direction to start crafting a persona. The key is using a stereotype as a jumping off point, not as the end of the journey. Many of your consumers may fall within a stereotypical category, but there will always be outliers. The idea is to craft messaging that acknowledges the exceptions and still sends a call to action that matters.
Personas should give insight
Laziness can lead many marketers to fall back on personas in a way that makes them seem like stereotypes. Personas should be about giving you insight into your messaging. They should not be your entire supporting argument for that message.
Some today might worry that creating personas is bad because it stereotypes certain groups, such as minorities. Advertising is about creating messages that appeal to targeted groups. For ads to work, they must understand the form of media that a group uses the most and what things the group values. Positioning messages that fall within those confines is going to mean creating a narrowly defined group.
Recognize that the audience is made up of real people with a variety of interests and needs. Consumers are complicated, while the use of some preconceived notions about different audiences can be helpful, they shouldn’t be your sole basis for any marketing efforts.