The Four “Productivity” Personality Types and How to Write for Each One

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If you’re a diligent researcher, you might think you know everything there is to possibly know about your prospect.

Deepest fears, pain points, income, business, marital status, family status. You might even know their hair and eye color.

If you’re writing to that person (and you really have those details correct), your copy will likely convert well.

What you might not know about is a secret weapon you can add into the mix that, if used correctly, can skyrocket your conversions through the roof.

Do you know your prospect’s productivity personality? No? That’s all right, not many do. And that’s precisely why this knowledge can give you an unfair advantage as a marketer.

There are four basic personality types that profoundly affect human preferences regarding organization, time management, and productivity strategies.

If you know the personality type of your ideal customer, you can make your copy speak to them on every possible level, from the problems you’ll solve to how you’ll go about solving them.

Let’s take a look at all four, and how to write for each of them …

1. The Fantastical type

The Fantastical personality type is energized by wrestling with problems and coming up with creative solutions.

They learn best by doing, and they have a tendency to lose track of time when they’re caught up in an interesting project.

The most distinctive mark of a Fantastical, though, is that they need to have all the pieces of a project in front of them, otherwise they’ll forget it exists.

My Fantastical business partner goes so far as to refuse to use the produce drawers in her refrigerator because otherwise she’ll forget she bought the fruits and vegetables!

Fantasticals want more than just a plug and play product.

When writing to Fantasticals, make sure you assure them that they’ll get full explanations of all the actions suggested in your product, and then tell them how they’ll solve their problems and learn by doing.

Once you’ve closed the sale, keep up the Fantastical copy by making sure your product dishes out the background theory and information, because your Fantastical customers will want to know all the details.

2. The Structural type

Structural types are natural organizers (and, not coincidentally, are the authors of 99% of the productivity books on the market).

A Structural thrives in a calm, structured environment and doesn’t do well with uncertainty or surprise.

The Structural is the one everyone turns to when there’s an event to be planned, a schedule to be created or a pile of files to be organized.

They can typically pull off feats of organization that amaze lesser mortals, but take away their planner and to-do list and they’re lost.

Therefore, your copy needs to tell a Structural prospect exactly what to expect and what format you’ll be presenting it in.

You also need to explain why your product is better to solve their problem than any other product out there.

And don’t forget to provide testimonials, because a Structural will be reluctant to try it without some evidence that it actually works.

Including clear steps and checklists in your product (and your pre-launch content) will help Structurals to implement your ideas, and trust your word.

3. The Environmental type

Environmentals are all about connections and people.

They care that everyone around them is happy, healthy, comfortable and has what they need.

The Environmental type thrives on human interaction, and has been known to miss meetings and appointments because they were deep in conversation with a friend or coworker who needed a hand.

A strong Environmental type will even go so far as to save anything that might be of use to someone someday — like my grandmother, who ran the string that bound the Thanksgiving turkey through the dishwasher each year and tucked it safely away into a drawer (we did actually find a use for them one year, thus vindicating Oma for everything she’d ever saved).

So, in your copy, make sure you emphasize the personal attention Environmentals will receive as they go through your product.

If you’ve included forums, tell them all about the great interaction you’re expecting and the support networks of peers that they’ll have a chance to contribute to.

The icing on the cake would be to mention all the people the Environmental customer would be able to help after they finish your product — thereby selling the outcome rather than the tool.

4. The Analytical type

Analyticals are success-driven, goal-oriented individuals.

They work well with summaries and numbers, and they don’t have patience for anything that appears unnecessarily elaborate or potentially ineffective.

An Analytical is gifted with the ability to see the big picture and plan accordingly, but their ability to track the smaller details isn’t particularly strong.

It’s not that they aren’t capable of doing so. They just don’t view the financial paperwork or files to be essential to the big picture in their head.

Copy for Analyticals needs to be precise.

Don’t beat around the bush; condense your benefits into concise points and tell your prospect exactly what you’re solving and how you’ll go about doing it.

Extra bonus points if you can fit it into a chart or graph that can be understood in seconds — Analyticals are all about understanding valuable information quickly and effectively.

Many Analyticals have assistants or informal helpers, so structure your product with the understanding that your Analytical customer may not be the one handling the minor aspects.

If you can communicate all this succinctly in your sales copy, you’ll have a great shot at winning the business of your Analytical customer.

Why write for personality types?

By writing to your prospect’s personality, you can connect with them on a level that everyone in the marketplace ignores.

You can also structure your product offering to suit the style of the primary type in your audience, thus increasing the chances that they’ll be able to implement it effectively.

Writing to your audience’s personality allows you to accurately cater to them from pitch to result, giving you more money in your pocket and a cadre of fans raving about how awesome your product is.

There’s no marketing strategy that’s more effective than that!

About the Author: Kirsten Simmons is an author, a coach, and the creator of the Personalized Productivity program that uses your personality to create your ideal productivity system. She’s a Fantastical (in case you were wondering), and she’s also a full time grad student studying mathematical models of epidemics. Come take the personality quiz to discover your type, or connect on twitter @kirstenasimmons.

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  1. Kristen – What an interesting way to look at productivity :) I am soooooo the fantastical type, but it’s interesting to keep in mind that maybe my prospects don’t respond the same way I do.

    Definitely some good food for thought!

    • I suspect a lot of creative entrepreneurs are Fantasticals – I know I am!

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

      • That’s funny — I totally identified with the Fantasticals. I’ve had that problem with hiding things in bins in the refrigerator. Last week I just had to move the cherries my Mother gave me or I would have forgotten to eat them.

        I like the idea of writing for personality types. It also forces you to think a little harder before you start writing to figure out what personality type your target is likely to be.

      • I am “The Fantastical personality type” and you have the” type” down right.
        But your solution is Waaay OFFf base. We DO NOT want or need assurances. It is all about experiencing DISCOVERY. You would want to tell, (actually they don’t respond to tell). them how many people have discovered so many properties and uses, for the product or service, that having it is an experience in itself. Ask their assistance (in future) to help others get the most from the product.

  2. You have to got to understand who you are writing for! Breaking it down by personality is a great idea. You can fine tune the same message to resonate with different people.

  3. I am soooooo the fantastical type

  4. Knowing who your target audience is is extremely important if you hope to even make a strong connection with them. This was a great example of different group audience.

    Me personally, I think I’m an enviromental and analytical hybrid. I like to cut to the chase and get to the big idea. I’m also a conversationalist so I enjoy in depth discussions with others as well.

    • I didn’t have space to go into it here, but we all have secondary types that reflect our strongest influences growing up. Based on your comment, I’d guess that you’re a primary Analytical with a secondary Environmental. :)

      • That sounds very accurate. I often times refer to myself as an extroverted introvert. I like to get to the “meat & potatoes” of it, the important stuff first, the minor details come later as you go alaong. While I do enjoy great conversation, I prefer to sit in the corner and create and crank out projects.

  5. So easy to forget that other people are different to us! As for me, I just can’t live with systems that are too restrictive, well even just a small bit restrictive! Give me the outline and then I’ll make up my own system ;)

    Cathy

    • I’m exactly the same way! If you want me to heed restrictions, you’d better give me a darn good reason for them, otherwise they’re going out the window! :D

  6. Kirsten,

    In your research, have you found the productivity personality types to be so distinct? In other words, how common is it for people to have varying degrees of multiple types?

    • Excellent question – I’ve found that everyone has one primary type that they take to naturally, and in about half of people that’s the strongest driver by far. In the other half, childhood influences have caused them to develop strengths, usually in one other type. I fall into that category myself – primary Fantastical, secondary Analytical. These people will still respond best to their primary type, and the secondary comes in to play depending on the situation. And all people exhibit certain traits that society has engrained – the vast majority of people will leave their toothbrush in the bathroom after they use it, which is a classic Structural thing.

      So, short answer, yes, everyone has a mix but everyone also has only one natural type that they feel most comfortable with.

      Does that answer your question?

      • It does, thanks.

        The other insight for me is to be aware not to write to our own primary type, rather than the primary type of our ideal customer.

  7. Great advice! I think I’m a mostly Fantastical, part Environmental with just a dash of Analytical.

  8. I have to reflect and made a brief pause to check myself. I think I am a back and forth analytical – fantastical person. A fantastical from a creative standpoint, learning by doing – the distinct mark.

    I wonder how this counteract with the personality colors, the red/yellow/blue/green types?

    • You’re similar to me – I have a strong secondary Analytical type, I think because my father is a strong Analytical and he was very involved with our activities growing up.

      That’s a really interesting question with the personality colors… I don’t know off the top of my head, but I’ll definitely take a look!

    • It does seem to correspond reasonably well with the personality colors of the Herman Brain Dominance Indicator (HBDI) model. Yellow for creative, blue for process, green for analytical and red for people. Or yellow for fantastical, red for environmentalist, green for analyticals and blue for structurals. it is a pretty exact match.

  9. This is such a fun topic! I’ve written about these personality types (with different names) on my blog and people love to learn about it. We all have each personality type in us to different degrees. One personality type, usually is more dominant than the others. I laughed when I read your Structural type. It’s so much like my sister. She makes lists about everything and then organizes her lists. A shopping trip is with her is always planned out to each stop and item. I drive her crazy because I’m a Fantastical/Environmental equal blend. I’m on the fly and spontaneous with a strong dose of talking to everyone I come in contact with. Knowing more about different personality types helps us, not only write copy to interest others, but to get along with others better. Knowing how to recognize each personality and how to reach them is also a very important arrow for a sales person to have in their quiver. I enjoyed your article. Thanks for posting it!

  10. Hi Kirsten,

    I think your idea of distinct personality bents for written communication is a lot like it is for giving oral presentations, which is more written about. However, in today’s social media crazed world, we are judged and communicate far more in writing. A cooperative communicator keeps in mind the way that a prospect likes to be communicated with whether in writing or orally.

    My question is: when you are writing a book which is to be read by all 4 of these types, what’s the best way to capture them? I am writing a business book, and struggle with the very point you bring up: we all have our preference for written communication.

    Thanks for your post,

    Ellen

    • Great question, Ellen – I’ve never specifically done this, but I would approach it by planning your book to include sections for all four types. If you make a point in the text, try to incorporate it into a figure for the Analyticals. Bullet point chapter summaries can also work for that, and you can bring in the Structurals there by using the section to explain the benefits of reading that particular chapter. For Fantasticals, having little pull-out sections that go further into the theory behind an idea might be appropriate, and Environmentals will want to know the social impacts of your topic.

      Does that make sense?

      • Yes it does and it also explains the structure of many of the business books I have read. The better ones have figures throughout, a good introduction, a chapter summary. Perhaps the least addressed group is the Environmentalists in most business books.

        Thanks,

        Ellen

  11. Thanks for posting this! This is also a great way to potentially segment a market, since companies likely have more than one personality type in their target market. Some questions that provide insight into type would be useful to include in primary market research studies, so that appropriate copy can be developed when talking to various segments within the same market.

  12. Brilliant! I am an environmental married to a structural – this is superb and fascinating. One to save – thank you.

  13. Hit all four types by wrapping your words into audio and video. All four types grew up with audio and video, and all four types are busy these days. Ugly Duckling Video Technique FTW.

    • Be careful not to condense too much – Analyticals want their info delivered faster than audio or video, and Structurals typically prefer to skim writing.

      • I should mention I believe the audio/video option should accompany whichever textual technique you use. (Ex. page layout: Video. Under that, audio mp3 plugin. Under that, your text.)

  14. Hi Kirsten,
    Thanks for this very interesting article. I wonder whether our personality type evolves with age and experience? So, for example if my customers are middle aged women, could I assume a certain predominant personality type?

    • Your natural type will never change, but you can gain proficiency in a secondary type, or even multiple secondary types. Lots of people who grow up in an environment contrary to their primary type have very strong secondary types, but your primary type will always feel the most natural and take the least energy to operate from. Your customers may have a predominant personality type, but it wouldn’t be because they’re middle aged women, it would be because your type of business attracts a certain type of woman. Looking at your site, I think you can rule out the Fantasticals, but it’s hard to differentiate further. Why do your clients come to you? Are they looking to gain skills that support their bigger picture, gain skills that support their support of others, or gain skills that are expected in their fields?

  15. Tea silvestre :

    Fabulous bit…I’m wondering if there is a reference for figuring out what personality types fit which types of careers? That way I can look up a specific target (like chefs) and find out what they are predominantly.

    • I haven’t worked specifically with careers, but there’s a bit of information in one of my reference texts – Thriving in Mind by Katherine Benziger. You’d be better off interacting with your audience, though, to figure out their primary type. My guess for chefs would be Fantastical, but ask them what their motivations for choosing their career are, and that will tell you a lot about what type they might be. :)

  16. Does saving every download, document and file to my desktop make me a fantastical? :-)

    • If you’re doing it to make sure it stays in front of you – yep, that’s classic! I do the same thing, and I’ll keep the file there until I’ve taken whatever action I was supposed to take on it. :)

  17. Having worked with Kirsten, I discovered that I’m an even split between Fantastical and Structural – which as you can imagine, is a bit like being the productivity go-between of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde :) My prospects tend to have the same personality type as I do, with a dash of Analytical thrown in for good measure – so I make sure that my copy addresses all those points as well as it can.

    Great article!!

  18. Does any one style predominate? It would be interesting to see a percentage breakdown of the four types. Thanks for an interesting read!

    • I haven’t seen a percentage breakdown in any of the references I used to create this theory, but the authors seem to be assuming it’s an even, four way split. Personally, I’ve seen more Fantasticals in my work, but I suspect that’s because of the market I’m in and the way I write my copy.

      Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Do some reading about the Herman Brain Dominance Indicator (HBDI), it is about four colors that correspond identically with the ones listed here. the breakdowns are interesting. I did a weeks course last year and was blown away. You can address all four in one presentation or article, etc.

  19. This is a great twist on the personality types, and especially on how to write to them.
    Thanks for sharing,
    AJ

  20. excellent post with excellent tips. these are things that although in my subconscious many times, haven’t really been consciously focused on. i tend to write for an audience who shares a similar background to me – but i guess i am targeting a particular type subconsciously nonetheless

  21. How to respond to a specific Personality Type has been mentioned but it would very difficult to identify the Personality type until & unless we get along with them for couple of time. Personalities cannot be judged instantly!

  22. Kirsten, This is a very interesting article. I find it very new yet a little bit confusing in terms of how would I find my personality to define the type of writer I am. I am sure if I even get the point your are making here. I guess I will need to print it out and get back again with questions.

  23. The key insight that I got from this post is that, regardless of our “resting” personality type, we are different when doing different activities.

    My Myers-Briggs type pegs me as generally an “Environmental” type. However, when I’m researching, I’m generally “Fantastical” (and I’m not just complimenting myself). When I’m writing I’m getting my “Structural” on.

    In short, we can’t treat people as one personality type. We change from channel to channel.

    What are the four personality types when people are solving the problems your business solves?

  24. The Four “Productivity” Personality Types highlights the critical need to meet your audience wherever they are at emotionally and mentally. Good job!

  25. A very interesting way to approach copywriting and not something I have thought about before. Thanks for the tip I am going to have a go at applying it!

  26. The fantastical V’s their nemesis, the Analytical.
    Interesting way of looking at the different types out there.

  27. Great stuff, knowing what your audience wants is just one aspect of writing to capture the market, but it is a great start, so many writers and webmasters do not understand the need for more of this type of subjective analysis, great post looking forward to more.

  28. This is actually an incredible post–you are definitely correct in the importance of knowing your audience. It seems like a lot of people just write without taking into consideration who they are writing for and the information they truly need to relay. Great post! I am looking forward to more like this in the future.

  29. Kirsten,

    Thank you for this article, but I strongly disagree with you on some points.

    I studied personality types theory 20 years ago, and since then I observe people and apply this theory in my life.

    So here are my remarks:

    1. There are not 4, but 16 personality types. Each type is further divided into subtypes, so in the end there is an unlimited number of personality types.

    2. The theory of personality types in not scientifically proven.

    3. According to the theory, the personality type does not change during one life span. This is not true. I saw people changing their personality type with time because of the circumstances and life experience.

    4. It is true that you should write to your ideal customer. It makes your writing more personal. It helps you connect with people. But you do not choose your ideal customer according to their personality type. Your ideal customer is the person who is genuinely interested in your product and who has money to buy it.

    Actually, your ideal customer could be any type. By writing to a specific personality type you limit the number of your potential customers.

    I actually think that your writing naturally reveals your personalty type and attracts similar people. Your personality shines through your writing. You do not adjust your writing to other people’s personalty type.

    • Svetlana, Imagine a woman who naturally has a very Environmental personality preference who wants to find a plumber because she is remodeling her bathroom. She will likely come to plumbing Web sites in a very Structural way, needing details because this is a big expenditure.

      However, when this same woman has a leak under her sink and it is ruining her wood floors, she is going to be Analytical: She’s looking for a Web site with “Emergency Plumbing Service” and a phone number. And no more.

      Regardless of our personality preference, we behave differently in different contexts. Writers must understand the things that bring people to their writing and address the proper issues in the proper way.

      These are what Tim Ash would call a “cognitive style” and the Eisenberg brothers call “Modes of Persuasion.”

  30. Svetlana, Imagine a woman who naturally has a very Environmental personality preference who wants to find a plumber because she is remodeling her bathroom. She will likely come to plumbing Web sites in a very Structural way, needing details because this is a big expenditure.

    However, when this same woman has a leak under her sink and it is ruining her wood floors, she is going to be Analytical: She’s looking for a Web site with “Emergency Plumbing Service” and a phone number. And no more.

    Regardless of our personality preference, we behave differently in different contexts. Writers must understand the things that bring people to their writing and address the proper issues in the proper way.

    These are what Tim Ash wou

  31. Nice post but for me there is actually no firm division like that, that there is a mixture of a few dominant trait

  32. Kirsten,

    I never knew about productivity personality types, but now I know – I definitely belong to group #2 :)

    I can now understand, why you need to write differently for different types – thanks for teaching us that!

    Cheers,
    Timo

  33. Thank you for this post! I agree that it is absolutely vital that you have an understanding of who your audience is.

  34. Before i started to read this page in full i really wanted to get to the point to find out what it was about, how helpful and how effective it would be for me to read!! haha take it that means im an analytical type. Knowing what type i am is one thing but also understanding that other people require different information in different ways is also a great help, thanks!

  35. Thanks, Kirsten, for a great detailed post.

    Psychologists and other mental health professionals often say that people with personality disorders are hardest to treat and change. They say that a person’s personality is so ingrained into the fibers of our beings that we essentially become our personalities.

    This speaks to the premise that writing, or speaking, to a person’s personality is perhaps the most direct way to reach them. Instead of dancing around the periphery, you summed up how to reach for the core.

    Thanks,
    Mendel
    Let Your Child Fail

  36. Kirsten,

    Thank you for this article. I agree with you there are four types of basic features that profoundly affect human preferences regarding the organization and time management, and productivity strategies.

  37. Thanks for a great post Kirsten. It always helps to know your prospects and customers and twist the ball based on the person.

  38. This is a fantastic post! From the comments many people are looking to identify their own personality, but we need to specifically figure out our target’s personality which might be quite different from our own. Therein lies the real challenge and where the hard work truly kicks in.

  39. Finding that fine line between what you know and what your target audience knows now that is a goal worth achieving, when you can write for those that read and not just to try and supply your own thoughts and ideas but generate true artistic ingenuity, then you will have perfected the art of writing.