You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator. Developed back in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers (based on the theories of Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung) this “personality inventory” is still widely used today in areas like career counseling.
The Myers-Briggs indicator consists of a questionnaire. Based on how a person answers the questions, they are placed into one of 16 distinctive personality types. The types are based on four dichotomies: (1) Introversion or Extroversion, (2) Sensing or Intuitional, (3) Thinking or Feeling, and (4) Judging or Perception.
So a person can be ISTJ (Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) or ENTP (Extroversion, Intuitional, Thinking, Perception), for example. The idea of this tool isn’t to completely define an individual’s personality, but simply to group them against the larger whole. Based on these categories, you know a lot more about a person than you did before.
Guess what? You can do the same thing in your marketing. By using data to group and cluster people based on personality types, you can customize messages that better speak to personal wants, needs and preferences.
Getting to Know the Personalities of Your Donors/Customers
Recently, eleventy VP of strategy and development Angie Moore presented at the 2014 DMA Nonprofit Conference. The session titled “Do you REALLY know your donors? Will the REAL donor please stand up!!” also included representatives from two of eleventy’s amazing clients, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and Best Friends Animal Society.
In the session, the group discussed the need for organizations today to truly understand their constituents by looking at all the data available—not just past behaviors. That includes all of a person’s engagements with your brand, along with their buying behaviors, and demographic and psychographic information.
After the session, Angie published a post on her FundRaising Success blog recapping some of the discussion and explaining how marrying internal and external data enables organizations to craft personality profiles. Essentially, just like the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator, you can use the data you have about people to group and cluster them so you have a better understanding of who they are.
In her blog post (which you can read in full here), Angie provides eight different examples of customer/donor personalities. Here’s a quick sampling of three of those profiles to give you a better idea what we’re talking about:
Alive & Intense: Bold, fashionable, individualistic, style-conscious, contemporary, young. Egocentric. Open to Internet, catalogs, magazines, specialty shops. Values friends’ opinions.
Renaissance: Sees self as intelligent and creative, intuitive and perceptive, very expressive and self-confident. Finds personal identity in work, but enjoys culture, personal growth, travel, cooking. Very assertive and knowledgeable when shopping. Has high expectations and demands quality, service, convenience.
Traditional: Traditional, orderly, content, spiritual. Low-tech or no-tech, avoids new or untried products. Family is key, loves the nest. Marketing-averse, typically not a good candidate for direct mail, although can be persuaded by good ideas.
How Can Personality Profiles Help You Better Reach People?
So once you analyze the data and use it to sculpt profiles of the personalities within your target audience, how can use that knowledge to influence your marketing? Here are a few ways:
For the people already on board with supporting your brand, you can get a better sense of what they want based on personality type. This will help you customize messages to more effectively drive action. For example, your Alive & Intense appeal could focus on the trendiness of an offer; while your Traditional appeal could focus more on family.
For people you have in your sights but haven’t quite been able to bring on board yet, you can find out how their personalities are similar or different from your existing customers/donors. Maybe you assumed they were Alive & Intense (and crafted your message accordingly), but they are actually more Renaissance. You could adjust your appeals to focus less on high-end features and more on quality and convenience benefits.
Knowing the top personalities who make up your existing customer or donor universe can also help you identify new people to target. So, say you do a deep data analysis and realize 75% of your existing donors are Traditionals. Then you can ask yourself, where can we target our marketing efforts to recruit more Traditionals? We already have the messaging in place, how can we get it out to this audience we know responds to it?
Data as a Window Into the Personalities of Your Audience
While data can be daunting and intimidating to think about, at the end of the day it really comes down to something as simple as personality. Think about it: How much easier it to buy someone a gift when you have an idea what they value and how they approach the world around them? When you have some insight into who they are?
That’s all data really is: Nuggets of information about who people are. And the more you know the people who connect with your product or cause, the easier it is to connect with others like them.