By Karon Thackston © 2009, All Rights Reserved
One of the most popular shows on TV today is NCIS. The top agent on the show, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, is hard-headed, stubborn, smart as a whip, the best at what he does and extremely technologically challenged. So what if Gibbs (as he likes to be called) decided to shop for a computer?
Knowing that this particular person wanted to purchase your brand of PC or Mac, would you write your copy differently than if Joe Public was buying? Of course you would. Problem is most copywriters don’t get that detailed. They don’t think about the different personalities that their prospects have. They don’t create profiles (also called personas) of these potential customers. If you’ve watched NCIS, you’re already shaking your head and rolling your eyes over the challenge of selling a computer to Gibbs.
So, what if Ziva David needed to buy a laptop? How about Tony DiNozzo? Ducky? McGee? Oh what visions you have floating through your head right now. Each one has a distinctive personality. Each one has different needs for the use of a computer and also has a different level of skills and varying capacities to understand and make use of the features a computer might offer.
Let’s take a quick peek at a few of these characters and what would need to be considered about them individually before writing copy.
Forget naming features. This is the guy who refers to thumb drives as “do das” and glazes over every time McGee and Abby start talking tech speak. You can ditch the benefits, too. While benefits would have more of an influence than features, with Gibbs’ impatience for technobabble neither would have much impact. What you need to communicate with Gibbs are quick, to-the-point bursts that explain the end results. “X will find criminals’ records online faster, Y will help you complete paperwork in 1/2 the time and Z will let you send files to anybody – very easily – with the touch of one button.” No technical knowhow needed.
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Tony has average computer skills. No matter what it does or how it does it, Tony’s computer will have to look cool! And regardless of what he’s going to be using it for, he will demand that it go faster than any processor has a right to. (For bragging rights, of course.) He’ll ask for a brief overview of the most important features and want to know how they will help him. Much like a Mercedes or Ferrari owner, he won’t use the majority of what he’s paying for, but he really digs the thrill of telling everybody else what he bought.
Super nerd, McGee, is all about the business of computers. With his MIT degree and vast cybercrimes experience, talking anything other than high-level geek speak to McGee will have him thinking you’re selling kiddie computers. The complete opposite of Gibbs, using too many benefits with McGee may actually backfire. He would likely be insulted at the thought that you think he requires explanations of each feature. A very detail-oriented person, you’d need to outline everything included so he’d know precisely what he’s getting… the warranty, the cost, etc.
As you can see, selling a computer is far from a one-size-fits-all event, as is true with most sales. When you take into consideration the diversity of your target audience segments, you will quickly get a more in-depth look at who you’re actually dealing with. Then, and only then, can you write copy that will motivate each buyer to take action.