A Myers-Briggs Approach to Persona Development

5 minute read

Upland Admin

Let me introduce myself: I’m an INFJ. In Myers-Briggs terms, that’s an Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judger.

You’ve probably heard of Myers Briggs, but how is it relevant for you, a contemporary marketing professional? Well, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can be useful in marketing, especially for several aspects of buyer persona development.

What Is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Anyway?

The MBTI is personality typing based on Carl Jung’s psychological research: 16 distinct archetypes based on four dimensions of an individual’s personality. The MBTI was created in the 1920s and gained popularity in the latter 20th century, focused on helping individuals understand themselves for career choices and personal growth.

Since the 1980s, much has been discussed about MBTI’s validity in marketing, specifically in segmenting audiences. There hasn’t been an overriding consensus on the tool’s value, and it’s still a debated topic.

How Does It Apply to Marketing?

Historically, marketing has been focused on mass-market appeal, targeting the largest sector of individuals in order to achieve economies of scale and mass production. There was no conceivable intersection between mass marketing and the individual personality.

Through the advent of advanced marketing technologies, however, there’s been a shift in the past decade that allows for segmenting customers into much smaller, targeted groups, and most recently, 1:1 personalization marketing.

Personality typing allows for clustering customers into highly targeted groups in the same way segmentation allows for clustering. With big data now in the picture, assumptions about individual behavior and needs are possible. Amazon is a great example of clustering and 1:1 marketing.

4 Ways to Use Myers Briggs in Digital User, B2C, Content, and B2B Personas

Temperament Clustering and B2C Persona Development

Clustering based on the MBTI can lead to persona development. Consider the two middle letters for each type: ST, SF, NF, NT (descriptions below). These refer to “temperament clustering.”

For example, NF types are concerned with future possibilities/abstraction and they make decisions by feelings. An online marketing campaign with targeted messaging that appeals to someone’s emotions (fear, anger, joy) and gives them future possibilities would achieve a higher outcome of purchase and engagement with this cluster of customers.

On the other hand, ST types are focused on the details of here and now, making decisions by hard facts/data. This group requires facts and the WIIFT (What’s in It for Them) element, now. The more data you have to offer this cluster, the better the acquisition and engagement outcome.

One can create new (or refine existing) personas around these different directional responses. Develop ad campaigns (with precise messaging) to re-target users based upon their MBTI information.

The Organizing Dimension and Digital User Personas

Let’s consider the organizing dimensions of P or J types.

P (Perceivers) are less linear than J’s (Judgers). They like to multitask (they’re not linear thinkers), can receive multiple directions of stimulation, and can move toward multiple goals at the same time. These are users on a website who prefer a more wandering approach to navigation.

J’s, on the other hand, like to get from point A to point C in a straight line: just get them through the site in a straightforward way.

The Energizing Dimension and Digital User Personas

A smart application is working with introvert and extrovert qualities. People generally fall somewhere along the spectrum, from extreme introvert to extreme extrovert. Introverted people get much of their energy from being alone, so a good time for a marketer to reach them is in the very early and the very late parts of the day, when they are most likely to be by themselves.

Working backward to target this cluster, a marketer can look at data—specifically the time of day in which someone has engaged with a website—to see if this is the time of day that’s most likely to be alone time.

If it’s the peak time of day when people are most likely to be engaged in group activities, i.e. work, school, or group sports, you’re better off targeting the extroverted personality types.

The Energizing Dimension and Content-Focused Personas

Use the energizing dimension in content. You’ll notice that introverts tend to want to engage in content where they are reading and learning on their own time. Extroverts, however, like to engage with others.

Consider developing content-channel personas that use the tools that best engage an introvert or extrovert—i.e., more content through blogs, videos, and online communities for introverts, and online work groups (webinars), and micro-events for extroverts.

B2B and Personas

The MBTI is useful in developing B2B personas when you consider the decision-making styles of the primary purchaser and influencer.

First, capitalize on the energizing dimension (introvert vs extrovert): what type of content should you deliver? (Remember: blogs and videos for introverts; online webinars and micro-events to engage extroverts.)

Next, overlay your buyer persona with the organizing dimensions (Perceiver vs. Judger). Judgers like to receive information in a more linear format, while Perceivers prefer a flexible, choice-driven format.

Have some tips on developing personas? Wondering how to use the MBTI in your organization? Let us know in the comments!

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