This post is by Holly Buchanan.
How many times have you sat down to write a piece of copy and the ideas simply did not flow? It used to happen to me a lot, until I started working with personas. Personas are a copywriter’s best friend for so many reasons, but two of the best ones are:
- They are wonderful idea starters
- They keep you from stereotyping your customers
I’ve been researching marketing to women for 3 years now, and one of the biggest problems I see is stereotyping. It seems almost any time I work with a marketer who is targeting women, they call them “Soccer Moms.”
So how do you break away from stereotypes?
By using personas. Here’s an example.
Let’s say you’re writing copy to promote a cruise for women – the theme is “Escape” – and here’s the audience information you receive:
Women – 35-49, household income $100-$150,000, works outside the house, lives in the suburbs, drives an SUV.
OK – ready, set, go – start writing copy. No problem, right? “Escape” means the same thing to all women 35-49. Right? They sound like a bunch of Soccer Moms. You might come up with copy like this:
After all you do for the kids, driving them to practice, keeping the house clean, being your home’s Chief Purchasing Officer – it’s time to finally do something just for you. Pamper yourself on a 7 day cruise of the Mediterranean from XYZ Cruises.
Now, that’s extraordinarily bad copy, and I’m sure you could do better. But it’s always hard as a copywriter when you get limited information like this. It’s all too easy to write to stereotypes like “Soccer Moms.” But not all women think alike. Instead of always focusing on their similarities why not look at their differences? Because first looks can be deceiving.
Let’s look at four different women:
- Mary – Married, 2 children, works outside the house, lives in the suburbs, drives an SUV
- Helen – Married, 2 children, works outside the house, lives in the suburbs, drives an SUV
- Connie – Married, 2 children, works outside the house, lives in the suburbs, drives an SUV
- Susan – Married, 2 children, works outside the house, lives in the suburbs, drives an SUV
They look exactly the same on paper, but do they all think the same way? Want the same things? Let’s take a look:
- Fitness nut
- Type A personality
- Wants to experience/learn new things
- Wants cruise line with best reputation
- Wants to see cabin amenities
- Wants to see activities on board and at ports of call
- Wants to know about any VIP services
- Internet access on board?
- Escape means having new life experiences
- Detail oriented
- Will book way in advance
- Wants best value
- Wants full itinerary
- Wants to know what to pack
- Wants to know all documentation necessary
- Is there a medical facility on board?
- Escape means curling up in a lounge chair with a glass if Iced Tea and a pile of mystery books
- Cares about relationships/friends/family
- Want lots of social activities
- Wants testimonials
- Responds to pictures of people laughing and interacting
- Who else will be on board?
- Wants to make sure her family can contact her when she is at sea
- Escape means spending time with people you love and making new friends
- Loves to shop and enjoys exciting activities like gambling
- Impatient, quick to make a decision
- Wants dates, destinations, shopping possibilities
- Wants to know all about on board spa services
- Wants a way to book quickly and easily
- Will respond to last minute specials
- Escape means non-stop fun with no time schedule
NOTE – these are not full blown personas, but rather what we call “profiles.” But even this limited information can make a big difference.
If you were going to write copy to promote a cruise for women, do you think you could come up with more and better ideas with this kind of insight into who these women really are?
Connie: It’s only half way through the trip and you’ve ordered gourmet meals and a fabulous bottle of wine in 4 different languages. When you went to bed last night you were in Greece. This morning, you woke up in Italy. 7 days, 5 destinations, 4 cultures, 3 on-board seminars, 2 VIP receptions including lunch with the captain, one life changing experience – Escape with award-winning XYZ Cruises.
Mary: Dinner reservations planned for every night – check. A complete daily itinerary slid under your door every morning.– check. Ground transportation and excursion activities pre-arranged and confirmed– check. XYZ Cruises has it all covered. Attention to detail is our specialty. All you have to do is relax. The only unpleasant surprise is who killed the butler in your whodunit. Escape with XYZ Cruises – we’ve thought of everything. Really.
Helen: “Sarah and I met on a cruise last year. We were sitting in a thatched roof bar on the beach. We got to telling stories and laughing so hard the locals almost had us committed. We’ve been great friends ever since.” You never know where you’re going to meet your next life-long friend. Is life so busy you’ve forgotten to take time to enjoy what matters most? Our cruise is about memorable ports, memorable meals, memorable entertainment, and memorable people. You’ll come home with a suitcase full of stories you’ll never get tired sharing. Check out our online discussion boards and meet your future friends before you set sail. Reconnect. Escape with XYZ Cruise and have the time of your life.
Susan: Black Jack in the casino, karaoke on the Captain’s lounge; spit-out-your- Margarita -funny comedians in the Vista Theatre; shaking what your mama gave you in the starlight disco. The only thing more exciting than the nights are the days. 5 different ports, water sports and shopping til your credit cards are exhausted. Can you say hot stone massage? Our world-class entertainment, spa and the adventures of the Mediterranean are at your beck and call. Escape with XYZ Cruises – sleeping optional.
Ok, none of these are masterpieces, but with the profiles above, the ideas flowed effortlessly. And I guarantee you – each of these ads is speaking to each of these women. And there wasn’t one mention of Soccer Moms.
Just say no to stereotypes. Dig deeper to really understand who your customers are and how to speak to them in their own language.
Holly Buchanan is the author of The Soccer Mom Myth – Today’s Female Consumer: Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys and GrokDotCom’s marketing to women blog.
[Editor’s Note: Copyblogger readers can save $50 on Persuasive Online Copwriting Seminar March 28th in San Francisco taught by Holly and Jeff Sexton. If you can swing two days, come out March 27th for Call to Action with Future Now Inc. co-founder Bryan Eisenberg.
Be sure to take advantage of Copyblogger’s exclusive discount: $50 off for one course, enter promotion code: copyblogger50, or for $100 off both, enter promotion code copyblogger100.]