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Customer personas in the Mad Men era

You all know Playboy right?

That little obscure magazine who’s founder was a millionaire hanging out with hot chicks in a mansion wearing a robe all day?

Yes that’s it.

We all know the fleshy side, the parties, the celebrities, the sexy girls.

But my bet is not many know the business side of the Playboy enterprise.

And Mr. Hefner was a genius at it.

I’ve just stumbled on some ads from the 60s and oh, my god…

…it’s some serious gold.

These ads are a masterclass in customer segmentation and persona profiling.

If you’re not familiar, that means getting data on different types of customers and creating separate “buckets’, each bucket representing a distinct type of buyer.

There are a lot of characteristics making up each persona or segment.

From the basics of demographics like gender, age, occupation, location etc…

To the more nuanced traits speaking to their decision making style, behavior and psychology.

Anyway, back to the story…

…what Playboy did from 1958 and 1974 was to run ad campaigns with the purpose of expanding their audience.

They called them “What sort of a man reads Playboy?”.

They not only narrowed down to a few types of people, they “came up” with new types to entice them and start reading their magazine.

A few examples of what you get:

– A guy who pays attention to his personal appearance

– A young man who always buys new tech gadgets

– A man always on the move, using credit cards

– A young man sailing through life, having fun and being adventurous

– A young executive with a full calendar

– A city-bred guy on the go who enjoys leisurely activities

– A man always buying the new car, getting the new girlfriend…

– An insider, a guy who knows where to find information

And on and on (there are probably more than 50 of these ads online, each worthy of study).

Anyway, point here is twofold.

You want to have a clear idea of who your main target customer is.

But you also want to think in terms of the potential customer you could attract, if you found the right angle.

Most importantly though, always remember the first rule of copywriting and sales in print…

…you can’t create desire, you can only channel it.

So use this at your own risk.

If you want to see how I study my clients’ market and their audience, let’s talk.

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