While reading an amusing article on The Ad Contrarian blog called This Just In: Advertisers Still Idiots, it didn’t take a giant leap of imagination to see that we can learn from this in industrial marketing. While no individual ‘persona’ can apply to all of your customers, or even a majority of them, I’d bet that most of us could identify a trait which many of them have in common. That’s something we could see if we can exploit in our marketing.
Demographics can play a part. I remember once seeing an engineering magazine advert feature a very specific 1970s reference, which meant that it would primarily appeal to the over-40s. Having the chance to speak to the company which ran the ad, I was intrigued to know why they were targeting older prospects; my initial reaction was that this was odd, as the product being advertised was a fairly innovative control system, which I suspected might appeal more to younger and less conservative engineers. I’d jumped to a conclusion which was probably wrong. The company realised early on that implementing such a system was a massive upheaval in manufacturing which would only be of interest to the most senior engineering management, who they reckoned were mainly in the second half of their careers. They may well have been right.
Similarly, if you’re only advertising in the UK (and certain other countries), you can employ humour quite successfully, something which doesn’t seem to be effective in some other parts of Europe. You only need to look at the po-faced, by-the-stylebook advertising which comes out of Germany (and which many UK subsidiaries are forced to use) to see how different effective advertising looks in other countries.