Does Your Copy Have Personality?

    February 24, 2004

Some people like hypey copy, while others prefer cold copy. Some people like short copy, while others prefer long. Some people drama, stories and testimonials. Others data, statistics and facts.

Does it all matter? Absolutely.

What makes one style of copy more favorable than another? Why does one person buy from one type of copy and not from another?

The style you choose will not appeal to everyone. It never will. Even some of the best ads miss the mark with at least half of their target audience.

You may have heard me say this before. Trying to be all things to all people is a death knell for most businesses. By trying to be all things to all people, you must paint your copy with broad brushstrokes in order to appeal to everyone.

Similarly, ads crafted so as not to offend anyone will be counterproductive. It may even backfire. Why? Because the more you try not to offend anyone, the more generic you become with your copy. And the more generic you are, the the more your copy will be disconnected from your audience.

In other words, to your prospect, you appear as if you DON’T understand them, and that your copy DOESN’T cater to their specific, individual needs, goals, concerns, budget and unique set of circumstances.

Thus, you alienate most of your market that way.

Sure, you may avoid offending a minority. But now you inadvertently offend the majority — perhaps in a subtle, indirect or unconscious way — because you appear as if you simply don’t care.

You see, ads are distinctive. They’re alive. They like pieces of art.

Each one has a certain personality. And no matter what you do, that personality may attract some people and repulse others at the same time.

Instead, appeal to the majority, even to the detriment of the minority. It’s not just because they’re conducive to the greatest results but also because they offer more than just information. They also present that information in a way that is favored by the majority of your target audience.

Instead, it’s best to cater to one predominant market, i.e., one predominant buyer personality. That way, your information is presented in a way that the market feels the copy is centered on them. And them alone.

Different People Prefer Different Things.
Over the years, many psychologists and behavioral scientists have categorized personality styles. They may have labeled them differently, but the methodology is essentially the same.

A personality style is defined by a person’s assertiveness and responsiveness level. One of the more popular models — and perhaps the best one for copywriting purposes — lists 4 such styles:

1. High assertive, low responsive
2. High assertive, high responsive
3. Low assertive, low responsive
4. Low assertive, high responsive

Is this some kind of new science? Not at all.

Around 400 BC, Hippocrates, in his book “Air, Water And Places,” dubbed these 4 personality types Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Choleric and Melancholic. In more recent years, behavioral scientist and sales psychologist Dr. Tony Alessandra labels them Directors, Socializers, Relaters and Thinkers.

But the most common labels given to them are: Driver, Expressive, Analytical and Amiable. Here’s a chart of how this looks like in the form of a quadrant:

(Screenshot from a DVD video at

Your Market Will Predominantly Fall Into 1 Or 2 Personality Styles.

Of course, with all things being equal.

Your audience may not necessarily and precisely fit into a single, neat personality category, and your entire market may not fit one specific style. Keep in mind that the keyword here is “predominant.”

But depending on your product, your industry, and both demographics and psychographics of your target audience, it is safe to say that the majority of them will likely demonstrate one particular style more than any other.

To give you an idea, here’s a brief look at them:

Drivers are concerned with RESULTS.

They are practical, impatient and time-sensitive. A Driver is a person who usually is more concerned with the bottom-line. For example, they want to know how long will it take to get your product, what kind of results they can expect and, of course, how much does it cost.

Bankers, sales managers, purchasing agents, businesspeople, corporate executives and so on are typically Drivers. They don’t care how to get from point “A” to point “B.” They just want to know if you can get to point “B.”

Everything else is irrelevant. So give them the bottom line.

Analyticals are preoccupied with DETAILS.

They don’t care much about results. They’re far more interested in the facts of your product. They might want to know what is its exact size, where and of what is it made, what are the ingredients, what are the features, what kind of guarantees do you offer with it, and what, precisely, makes it work.

Scientists, developers, mathematicians, engineers, computer programmers, doctors and so on are mainly Analyticals. They want specifications. They want facts. They want statistics. They want data. The more, the merrier.

They prefer cold, hard information rather than hyperbole and stories.

Expressives care most about PERCEPTIONS.

Status and approval are important to Expressives. How they perceive things and how other people perceive them take precedence. They are mostly impulsive, colorful, ego-centric, undisciplined and spontaneous.

Actors, teachers, musicians, artists, art lovers, graphic designers, directors, comedians, etc fall in the Expressive category. As an example, they’re the ones who buy mostly for the sake of prestige of ownership, or to boost their standing in their communities, their organizations or their peer groups.

(For instance, Expressives are the types who intentionally park their brand new luxury car on the street so that the neighbors can see them.)

Ultimately, tell them how your product will make them look good.

Amiables are interested in FEELINGS.

They are emotional, caring and humanistic. They are normally those who deal with the public and care deeply about the relationships they hold. How your product will help others and strengthen the relationships they maintain with them will be of utmost importance to Amiables.

It’s not uncommon for Amiables to hold careers as salespeople, home-based business owners, entrepreneurs, social workers, human resource personnel and so on. If your product can solve a problem, that’s good. But if it can help your prospect to solve a problem they have with others, that’s even better.

With Amiables, use testimonials, stories and analogies. A lot.

How Do You Appeal to Your Buyer’s Personality?

For instance, avoid lacing your copy with feelings and emotions when your audience, comprised mostly of Analyticals, wants specifics. Be objective and factual, and refrain from hyperbole or drama.

While an Analytical will never have enough information, don’t drown your visitors with needless details when they consist of Drivers. Be quick, pithy and straight to the point when dealing with these practical buyers.

However, be sensitive and friendly when pitching to Amiables. Use stories, case studies and testimonials. Use hyperbole and focus on feelings. Take your time with them. Be warm and interactive.

For Expressives, talk about how the product will get others to compliment them. Or focus on how the product will make others around them cringe in horror, turn green with envy or even be humiliated.

Here’s a real-life scenario.

A patient visits a dentist for an initial consultation.

During the meeting, the Analytical will be preoccupied mostly with the details of dental work. Knowing precisely how much freezing will be applied, which specific teeth (and parts thereof) will be repaired and what kind of filling will be used are of enormous interest to him.

On the other hand, a Driver will want to know how long the procedure takes, how fast can he return to work after the procedure and how much it costs.

But for the Amiable, they are mostly concerned with pain that such a procedure might incur, their happiness with their new look, and their ability to please their spouse, friends or boss with their improved appearance.

The Expressive, however, will be mostly interested with how good do their new teeth look, how their teeth changes their appearance, how natural are they going to be and how attractive the procedure is going to make them.

But What If My Market Consists Of More Than One?

Your market will fit into one predominant category, and one more than any other. And depending on your type of industry and product, the style of your message should chiefly appeal to that one specific style.

But what if your market consists of strong, identifiably different groups? In other words, what if you have more than one predominant personality type in your target audience? If so, I submit that you can have a different ad or salesletter directed at each different market.

It’s market segmentation, pure and simple. Even if it’s the same product.

For instance, a clever entrepreneur can take a product, package it, price it and sell it in 2 different ways to 2 different audiences on 2 different websites – and thus maximize sales from all potential market segments. Oftentimes, even creating their own competition.

(Take, for instance, versus

Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of his book, “The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning,” when you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, “The Profit Pill.” See now!