Are Personas Just a Nicer Word for Stereotypes?

By Ann Gynn

personas-stereotypes

We have soccer moms – married women who live in the suburbs and are best known for transporting their children to and from sports practices and other activities.

We have NASCAR dads – blue-collar, middle-aged Caucasian men who graduated from high school and like watching stock car racing.

And don’t forget the millennials – young adults who are entitled and lazy, live on their phones, and were raised by helicopter parents.

Are those stereotypes or personas?

The soccer mom designation, which came of age in the 1996 U.S. presidential election, and NASCAR dads, which became a target audience in the 2004 elections, are closer to personas, though too thinly described. And millennials? Well, those are more likely stereotypes that have been around for most of this century.

“A poorly constructed persona can seem a lot like a stereotype, such as all millennials want information delivered via mobile devices,” says Kevin Smith of Kevin W. Smith Consulting, which advises financial services firms. “The key to powerful buyer persona development comes down to three important factors: grounded in fact, functional, and more than demographic data.”

We posed the stereotype-or-persona question to marketers and got their input on preferred ways to develop useful audience profiles. And, in some cases, they share why – stereotype or not – personas aren’t a good fit for their marketing.

Go deeper than a stock photo

Elliott Brown, marketing consultant and publisher, Back Office Basics, says:

A small business owner is not some guy in a striped apron who smiles with pride as he turns around the “open” sign and picks up a broom to sweep up his shop. That’s the stock photo of a small business owner.

A small business owner persona needs to have a name. Let’s say it’s Mike. And Mike needs to wake …read more

Source:: content marketing

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