Customer Personas 101: The Competitive Persona

Customer Personas 101: The Competitive Persona


In his landmark book How To Win Friends And Influence People, published in 1936, Dale Carnegie used fishing as a metaphor for persuading people to take the action you want them to. He mentioned that he loved strawberries and cream, but that fish prefer worms.

He didn't try to catch fish with strawberries and cream, he didn't call the fish stupid because they preferred worms, he simply used worms when he went fishing.

When you and I are trying to “catch” customers, if we are going to be successful, we won't try to lure them with what we want, we'll attract them with the “bait” they want, that they find appealing. What appeals to us in this situation is irrelevant.

Accurately developed customer personas will help you “lure” more prospects into buying your product, if you use them properly in your marketing. By tailoring your message specifically to the persona, you can powerfully use one of the most effective copywriting techniques available - writing to “an audience of one”.

Indeed, you need to target your copy and content, including the words on your vitally important landing pages, to a specific persona.

When you market specifically to a well-defined persona, instead of a large, nebulous crowd, you can dramatically increase your sales and your ROI.

In this series, we'll talk about how you can leverage the power of customer personas to increase your conversion rates.

The customer persona has been described as “the ideal profile of a potential buyer or user”. This article talks about personas in detail. So in this series, we won't go into great depth talking about what a customer persona is. But there are four different persona types we will talk about:

  1. Competitive
  2. Spontaneous
  3. Methodical
  4. Humanistic


Today, we'll talk about the competitive persona and how you can market to prospects in this group effectively.

The Competitive Persona 

The Competitive Persona

As the name implies, the competitive persona is well...competitive! He wants things done his way. He craves a feeling of control. He wants a “leg up”. He wants an advantage over his competitors. So it's very important that you show him how your product or service can give this advantage to him, if it can.

Typically, the competitive persona is looking for ways to improve his skills and abilities. By all means, tell him exactly how you can help him do that.

Tell him specifically how he will benefit when he invests in your offering. Of course, you want to tell all of your readers how they will benefit from doing business with you, regardless of which persona they fit into, but this talk of benefits will resonate especially well with the competitive persona.

When you are marketing to this persona, avoid copy and content that focuses on you and your company (with an exception we'll discuss in a moment). Focus your message on him.

In How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie talked about how people have a very strong desire to feel important.

Although the concept of personas wasn't coined until many years later, he could well have been talking about the competitive persona. So work extra hard in your marketing efforts to make competitive types feel important.

“Are You Qualified?”

The competitive persona sees himself as being highly competent and wants to do business with qualified vendors. He requires a high degree of convincing before he'll buy from you. He demands proof that you are qualified to give him what he wants. So you'll want to show him as much proof as you can that you are indeed qualified.

Use reams of testimonials in your marketing – not vague ones, but detailed, very specific testimonials with numbers and statistics about how your product has performed for others.

And (here's the exception from a moment ago) although you still want your message to focus primarily on him and how you can help him, you need to spend some time talking about yourself and your qualifications and why he would want to choose you over another vendor.

Members of this group want the best option. Explain to him the ways your product is the best.

The competitive persona tends to have a high website bounce rate. He likes to get to the point and typically won't respond to messaging that is long and drawn out. Make your copy and content aimed at this group brief and succinct.

“Give Me The Bottom Line!”

The Competitive Persona

When they buy, they tend to be in a hurry and want to get quickly to the bottom line, not just in terms of the price, but also how your product will help him accomplish his goals. Competitive persona types hate inefficient processes, so make your online buying procedure as quick and streamlined as possible for them.

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion” Dale Carnegie

Members of this group are usually quick decision makers and tend to be more logical in their decision making process than the spontaneous or humanistic personality types. But remember this: even though many competitive types would probably not admit to it, their buying decisions are influenced by emotion. People, including those who tend to be more logical, make buying decisions based on emotion, to one degree or another.

 The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions” Donald Caine

So, in your marketing messages to the competitive persona, weave in the emotions that will resonate with him, that will make him anxious to take action. What are some of the emotional motivators this personality type feel when making a buying decision? I think we can all agree they crave a feeling of importance. And this feeling is loaded with emotion.

They are goal-oriented and relish a feeling of accomplishment. Their emotional motivators include pride, longing and fear. Think about it; if he's competitive and goal-oriented, and he's looking to you to help him reach his goals and get ahead of his competitors, he fears (on some level) losing.

He'll feel a sense of pride when he accomplishes his challenging goal. And he'll feel longing for what he wants but doesn't yet have.

So target him with copy that will address his fears and then ease them by showing how you can help him win. Talk in glowing terms about the pride he will feel after he invests in your product, and it helps him reach his goal. And tell him how your product can help him get things he wants.

The competitive personality type likes and welcomes challenges, so feel free to issue a challenge to him in your messaging. One of the most successful sales letters in marketing history was deployed by American Express to sell readers on applying for Card membership. It began by issuing a challenge:

Dear Mr. Smith,

Quite frankly, the American Express Card is not for everyone. And not everyone who applies for Card membership is approved...

This challenge worked as a marketing tactic. American Express used this letter from 1976-1988. It's believed – based on projections of the amount of charges made to AMEX cards that readers of the letter signed up for – to be responsible for over $1 billion of revenue.

Don't be afraid to issue a challenge to the competitive personality type. It just might help your marketing campaign be very successful.

Even though he probably sees himself as being logical, you can use strong emotions in your copy to motivate him to buy your product.

Remember what we said earlier about “fishing” with the right “bait”. You need to tailor your message to the persona you are trying to reach. The competitive persona is no exception to this rule.

When you are trying to reach this type, you need to market specifically to him regardless of which marketing tools you use; this includes your landing pages. The copywriting and content marketing rules you would follow when trying to convert the competitive persona from a reader to a customer need to be followed here.

Are You Using Landing Pages, And Using Them Correctly?

Landing Pages for The Competitive Persona

This type wants to make a quick decision and doesn't require a lot of information to help him make it. Choose a landing page template that is uncluttered. Avoid any irrelevant or unnecessary graphics or images. Keep your landing page content brief and on point.

Talk about how you will help him solve a problem, reach a goal, improve his performance at his job, etc. Show him why you are the best option for his needs and why he should choose you over other vendors.

And remember this: even though he tends to be more logical than some other personality types, he's still human. His buying decisions are influenced by his emotions. His emotional motivators include fear, pride and longing. Sell to him with copy that addresses the emotions he's feeling.

And when you are choosing which landing page template to use in marketing to him or any of the  other three customer personas, choose one designed and engineered to maximize your conversion rate. Choose one that's a snap for you to set up. Choose one that offers a host of valuable options like advanced A/B testing. Choose Lander!

Happy Marketing!