In a world where everyone is considered a unique individual, why do stereotypes exist?
Perhaps because of convenience. Stereotyping allows us to neatly categorise people, putting them into relevant boxes. The boxes may not be an exact fit, but they do allow us to quickly make a number of assumptions.
Every year billions of pounds are invested into marketing campaigns based on these assumptions. From (the rather patronising) cute cuddly kittens hoping to grab the attention of womankind through to high octane adventure sports designed to pique the interest of men, big money is invested every year into reaching out to YOU.
TV advertising in particular uses pretty broad brush strokes that often fall wide of the mark. But what if things got a little smarter?
Imagine you knew your audience a little better. Not just their gender or age, but perhaps their attention span. Whether they are a ‘big picture’ person or acutely aware of the importance of detail. Whether they are creative and hate to be constrained or practical and concerned only with reality. Black and white or every shade of grey …
Knowing the answer to these questions opens a Pandora’s Box of possibilities. For example, if you know that likely attention span is short, high impact bold marketing designed to rapidly convey key information is likely to appeal.
A short attention span often (but not always) indicates an impulsive nature. Targeting the emotional layer of that ‘type’ of person has the power to create an instinctive positive response that prevents tired old logic from getting in the way of an exciting purchase. This is particularly powerful when used in conjunction with a time sensitive or otherwise limited deal, as the threat of missing out adds a frisson of extra emotional.
Those with a short attention span are the least likely to read the fine print and often rely instead on gut feel to make a decision. This is where ‘emotive marketing’ can play its part well.
Their opposite numbers, those who hunt facts and detail like a fox after a rabbit, are in contrast likely to be switched off (even feeling that their intelligence has been insulted) by a ‘wham bam’ style marketing campaign. They like to carefully weigh information and arrive at a logical decision. They can be naturally distrustful of headlines, and so savvy marketers instead appeal to their ability to follow a scent. This means putting information where they will look for it (e.g. review sites, on-line articles and whitepapers), rather than just relying on bill board style advertising.
So how do you construct a website to appeal to audiences of both, or even ‘mixed’ personality types?
First of all, ask yourself if you need to. What are you selling? Does your product or service lend itself to be targeted at one type or another, if so optimise your website accordingly and look for this during your user experience analysis and design.
If not, then as ever content is king. Keep your key pages clutter free and high impact for the big picture types. For them is often reassuring enough to simply know that information is there, they don’t need to read it.
Detail conscious types will rapidly digest ‘throwaway’ headlines, so make sure you leave them hungry for more, perhaps by adding tantalising quotes from whitepapers, facts and statistics, or customer reviews on your homepage which will tempt them to click further into your site.
A site that is rich in well architected information has an instant air of credibility that will appeal to both types and satisfy both sets of needs. Commitment-phobes get instant gratification and those in hot pursuit of detail find all that they could wish for.
Perhaps the most interesting fact of all is that each type will filter out the information that is not of immediate interest or benefit to them. Even attention grabbing headlines can be lost on people who are conditioned to have a cynical response to marketing. So ‘attentional marketing’ is really the act of supplying information that will garner the attention of a wide variety of personality types.
No matter how many stereotypes you are attempting to cater for, a clever website design can appeal to most.