Creating Meaningful Personas for Storytelling Audience Development


With the ever growing attention on brand storytelling, we may want to take a deep breath in tackling step one: defining your audience personas. Experienced practitioners and academics know this step will make or break your entire brand story. But the process is not as simple as framing clients with monikers like ”Debbie Downer” and “Soccer Mom.” 

Start with Spending Motivations

The type of storytelling that  truly distinguishes your content with an emotional connection requires a deeper insight into the psycho-graphic dimensions of your targeted audiences.  If you are not convinced, ask yourself if these football audiences below have the same spending motivations for attending a football game. 


Super Bowl Spending Motivations

Now consider whether the ‘bonding’ segment (upper right) should be treated as a single persona. Would a sports fanatic have the same needs as a ballparker? If not, your brand storytelling is likely to get lost.

Refine with Psycho-graphic Dimensions

By delving deeper into the psycho-graphic personas that make-up each spending motivation, you will also get a better idea of where your audiences like to hang out. For example, the cosmetic dentistry arguably targets four spending motivations: 

  1. Those attempting to Attract the Best
  2. Those attempting to Feel Their Best
  3. Those attempting to Look Their Professional Best
  4. Those attempting to Remember the Best

But notice from the four distinct “Attract the Best” personas shown below how the needs and targeted communities differ widely across each persona. Only by recognizing the deeper sense of values, attitudes and lifestyles shared by persona subsets of a spending motivation segment will you understand the relevant elements of a story. Moreover, this richer understanding will determine where you encounter these folks as well. 


Cosmetic Dentist Personas within the “Attract the Best” Audience

Combine Motivation and Personality

When you combine both spending motivation and psycho-graphic personality sets into the same audience persona analysis, you benefit from a more pinpointed brand story that encounters your target audience in the right community and with the right value.

Our FREE complimentary eBook on this subject shows how this was done for four small business markets. The custom tailoring business, for example, led us to recognize 14 different personas. Although this seems like an overkill, your scan of the personas below should convince you that these guys don’t hang-out in the same circles; nor do they expect the same image from their custom tailored suits.


14 Custom Tailors Personas Derived from Spending Motivation & Psycho-graphics

So what is your take on this process? Do you find you connect better by slicing your markets by spending motivation AND personality? Or do you take a different approach towards identifying your audiences?

Enjoy the eBook. 


15 thoughts on “Creating Meaningful Personas for Storytelling Audience Development

  1. This design is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!|

  2. I think spending motivations are more appreciate to human behavior. In fact, spending motivation target a broad consumer audience who buy products for different raisons. Some of them buy for beauty appearance, others for self-actualization. Psychographics seek to individual its approach to target specific type of consumers. On the other hands, personalities, elaborate things that consumers purchase as preference. Thus, different personalities imply different approach. I definitely connect better by the spending motivation and personality. Consumers that buy expensive cologne feel comfortable. I’m the same way I like to buy expensive cologne we are pleases with our purchase.

  3. I feel that segmenting the target audience by spending motivation is better than segmenting them based on psychographics because people tend to spend money on things they feel they really want, not necessarily on different psychographics. On the other hand, segmenting your target audience by psychographics (people’s feeling their best, looking their best) can be more effective than segmenting people based on their spending motivations. Overall, I feel it can be effective to segment a target audience on both their spending motivation and based on psychographics (this will target the exact people; fans at a game, students interested in a club at school, etc).

  4. I think that spending is done based on more wants than need. For example, if someone needed cream for example acne cream, they would want to buy proactive as a solution. If you were to use a product based on need rather than want, it would benefit you more. Now most people want to buy more on want than need and that is why many products are being overlooked. I would recommend to want to buy based on spending motivations. When you use spending motivations in order to sell your products, many products which are actually helpful get overlooked which creates many problems. The market is used in order to sell products which provide a need to the paying customer and in order to satisfy this need, the customer needs to have the right product for his and her need. Market segmentation only works for wanting to sell a product when it is released, while psychographics helps to move products based on personalities, cultures, etc. This helps to give the customer what they need and helps to determine the need rather than the want.

  5. Segmenting your target audience based on spending motivation and psychographics can be both good and bad, however neither makes a perfect marketing plan alone. If a company were to segmentate their audience with psychographics alone, it would not only shed a negative light on the company for ‘stereotyping’ individuals but it would also cause the company to market it’s items to people who don’t necessarily have any sort of motivation to spend financially in order to buy that product. On the other hand, if a company were to market the item based on spending motivation alone, it would be so targeted, that they would only be marketing to a small number of people compared to how many the company’s marketing plan has the possibility for reaching.
    Overall, I think that a good marketing plans consists of both psychographics and spending motivation. It will allow the company to cater it’s marketing plan to people who would actually be willing to spend on their product along with target wide variety of audience. The company would be able to reach a larger scope and therefore make a better profit.

  6. Spending motivations target a broad consumer audience who purchase a product or service for different reasons. It has the potential to reach a larger consumer audience without the fear of classifying who the consumer best suited for the product is. The limitations arise when the marketer fails to connect with the intended consumer with a message that doesn’t explain what the benefits are to the individual consumer and why they need to purchase the presented product or service.
    Psychographics seeks to individualize its approach to target a specific type of consumer and what motivates them to buy. Personalities dictate a lot of things that consumers purchase. The down side to this approach limits the consumer pool to just the segment that the marketer wanted to appeal to. If the consumer doesn’t identify with the marketing message they may not be compelled to purchase.
    Segmentating based on spending motivations or psychographics individually limits the consumer pool the marketer seeks to target. Collectively it helps to give a story to the intended market that is relatable and affords more opportunities for the consumer to make the purchase.

  7. Spending motivation is going to be a better segmentation than segmenting them based on psychographics because, spending motivation is able to go a step further and get a response from an individual, not just a group. Looking back at the 4 examples that show spending motivation, all of the examples show a different type, and a different need that they want satisfied.

    Psychographic segmentation is a better segmentation than spending motivation because they are able to go and look why the person chose that reason, and also look at their different reasons behind. Although many people may chose the same product, there reasoning for it may be different because of the different ways individuals look at things.

  8. I believe segmenting your target audience through spending motivation is better than targeting specific groups of personalities because you can get a much broader spectrum and thus sell more of the product or service. While stereotypes can be used to infer about personalities of your target audience, it is better to simply try to coax them to want to try your product through sheer spending motivation. Through proper spending motivation you can appeal to the consumer at a more personal and individual level rather than having to please an entire stereotyped group you can please your actual supporters/consumers with your undivided marketing attention. Also, you cannot group people into what they buy or expect certain social classes to buy what you are campaigning for because people are all different and might have different consumer needs or preferences than other people for a specific product or service. Ultimately, I believe marketing through spending motivation is a better way to reach your target audience without necessarily having to point out your audience and discriminate.

  9. If i was going to choose which one i would be in favor of, it would be spending motivation. I feel that spending motivation would target a way bigger audience because you are focusing on the needs of the person, instead of how to attract the best, fitting into a specific services. A person that has bad acne would be looking for something that is going to focus on whats causing them to break out and fix it, instead of a quick solution like makeup that would just cover it up for the moment. Another situation would be someone that is over weight would much rather work on loosing there weight and getting healthy, than putting on a slimming outfit for one night to impress others. So in my eyes i think the best way to market someone is in a spending motivation way i feel that focusing on the persons needs is a way more effective way to attract someone.

  10. I would chose to segment my target audience by spending motivations rather than segmenting them based on psychographics. Each individual is different and spends their money different than their neighbor. The wants and needs of these individuals need to be looked at closely. Why do two different people by the same pair of shoes? One may be because they have a narrow foot bed, while the other purchased them because they matched their team colors. The audience is always changing, but it is important to suit everyone’s wants for various reasons.

  11. I don’t think there is a ‘silver bullet’ for targeting market segments, so I would not choose a strategy that doesn’t involve targeting audiences from both a spending motivation perspective as well as psychographic segmentation.

    However, I do tend to lean more in favor of spending motivation, because I feel that this approach would target a wider audience and would seem to cast a wider net for potential consumers. Psychographic segmentation would seem to work best for products or services that fit into a specific niche that may not have a wide appeal. Knowing your product or service well would seem key in recognizing the best approach.

    In my view, the best marketing considers appealing to as many markets segments as possible, while staying in-tune to with the segments that are responding most favorably to marketing efforts. A strategy that changes to be more effective as learnings increase would be the best approach.

  12. If I had to choose only one, segmentating your target audiences by spending motivations is in my personal is better than targeting the audience by psychographics because you focus on the needs of the individuals in a group. Everyone has reasons for choosing what they purchase. These reasons can be traced back towards needs, and this focus method is easier. Some people have cosmetic blemishes for example. They want a product for that reason alone. Others may not have any cosmetic blemishes, but still be concerned with looking good in a high society setting of beautiful people. In both examples, they each may be motivated to buy the same product, but their driving force may be different. That is why I think adding phychographics into the equation only helps you dive deeper into understanding the target audience. You not only take needs and wants for a purchase decision into consideration, but you also take social status, attitudes and the things that truly make people what they are. I don’t think you can define people solely on what they buy. It’s like looking into the shopping cart of the person in the checkout line ahead of you at the grocery store. Although you may be able to quickly form an opinion of the person by the different items they have, you really don’t know why they picked out what they did unless you get to know them a little better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>