Escape Flat Land Perspectives with Personas


Do you want to resonate with your clients?   Are there ways to amplify your connection to your audience?  This blog post suggests that most companies suffer from a common blind spot when it comes to communicating with their target audience – and how you might address it.  We call that blind spot “Flat Land”.

We are coming out of yet another divisive political cycle.   Looking at political commercials, debates and interviews it seems that accusing, shouting and chest-beating are the best ways to promote your perspective.   Why so divisive?

Part of the reason has to do with human nature and developmental psychology.   We live in a Flat Land world – where we expect everyone to see things the way we see them.   Psychologists can demonstrate how limited a young child’s perspective is – as is the stubborn, I-know-whats-good-for-me world view of adolescents.   Even most adults suffer from seeing the world through their own specific lens.    Here are some things I’ve heard from clients over the years:

  • “Nobody wants to read all that text.  Lets just make our point with images”
  • “People don’t click on those Ads from Google.  I know I never do”
  •  “Why would anyone read someone else’s blog?”

Yet, most companies work closely with their web designer to convey THEIR vision of what the Website needs to look like.

spiritual_collageTo illustrate this point, take a look at this collage of Websites geared towards spiritual awakening.   All of these Websites promote a soft, airy aesthetic that invokes elements of mysticism and a deep, meaningful back-story.  I can just see the owners of these sites … warm, effusive souls who offer me a cup of tea and invite me to sit and hear about their journey.  Beautiful.

Yet I know that some of these sites are trying to reach a different audience, to which these aesthetics will not appeal.   Retiring Baby Boomers are entering the “awakened consciousness” space at a rapid pace.   I don’t have stats, but I’ve witnessed it first-hand.   They want clarity, action plans, results and conversation.   A Website or marketing campaign designed to resonate with them would have a very different style and message.

Consider a couple of other collages of Websites.  First, a group of accounting sites.  As you look at these sites, can you hear the jazz in the background or taste the well aerated Cabernet?    Is that the best way to attract the COO of a Construction firm?  I wonder?



Or how about this group of Baking Equipment manufacturers?   We can see that these products are definitely BUILT by engineers.  Is that the attitude to resonate with?   Are engineers buying these products?    Sometimes, the buyer and the seller ARE cut from the same cloth.  Resonance happens naturally.


Consider these two baking equipment home pages.

Which one will resonate more with the bakery-equipment buying audience?


There are a huge number of cues from our digital marketing that will either add to or detract from resonance with the buying audience.   The message, the copy (or absence of it), the colors, imagery, calls to action and the offer all impact, to varying degrees, whether someone stays on our site, explores and, eventually, takes an action.

What can you do about it?

First, involve actual clients in the design of your Website.   Getting their feedback is critical to success.  Some User Experience and Web Design companies employ Design Personas to model “typical users”.

Second, create a Resonance Persona(TM) for your target audiences.   Similar to a Design Persona, a Resonance Persona seeks to capture a typical audience member.   To create something that resonates, you need to capture things like preferred Interaction Styles (Berens), buying stage of a typical visitor/campaign-recipient and typical educational background.   At Philly Marketing Labs, we have developed a proprietary process for capturing the essence of an offer and mapping it to the buying and communication needs of a given audience.   You can learn more about Personas here.

Third, test, test, test.   Resonance Personas will grow and migrate as you gain feedback from your actual visitors.   You should be constantly running tests to ask:

Which headlines work best?

Which imagery and colors lead to the best results?

Which calls to action lead to the most conversions?

How should copy be structured?

Let us know how Personas have helped or hindered your marketing efforts.  Share your stories in our comments.

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