Why comparing Prince Charles and Ozzy Osborne illustrates our need for personas

Stefanie Soehnchen

Currently, the well-known comparison of some character traits of the British heir to the throne Prince Charles and the musician Ozzy Osborne is circulating through the social media. In some cases, this comparison and the accompanying text suggest that creating personas as a method for targeted communication is worthless, because then the two people, who seem very different, would be the same persona. In fact, this is not true – rather, the comparison is a striking plea for personas.

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Let’s take a closer look at how they are compared: We look at the age of the two men, their gender, their living situation, their relationship status, and the number of children they have.

These are all initially characteristics of a target group definition – a rather broad group – and not necessarily those of personas.

Prince Charles and Mr. Osborne are therefore initially already part of the same target group, which can be described as follows, for example: rich, famous, older white men.

However, a persona definition usually goes far beyond these specifications.

Depending on the method, for example, media usage behavior, hobbies, fears, desires, definition of success, direct personal environment or even musical and artistic tastes play a role.

All of this information is intended to make it particularly tangible how individual target group representatives are to be viewed concretely as possible individuals in communication.

Persona definitions bundle a lot of different data

The compilation of such data can be based on concrete customer experiences (the sales department usually knows its customers very well) or on data such as statistics or surveys.

In most cases, the members of a target group definitely represent a certain spectrum of people, so that very often more than one persona per target group is and must be created.

If, in the case of His Royal Highness and the “Prince of Darkness”, it then turns out in the concrete persona development that they share even more attributes, this can simply mean that they could be more similar than we assume at first glance.

All those who, despite these factors, think “I knew it, personas are nonsense – Prince Charles and Ozzy Osborne have some characteristics in common” as a result of the comparison, have to face the question:

“What’s the alternative?”

In marketing and PR, it is clear that communication geared to concrete target groups places the more relevant messages.

Personas represent a refinement that can increase the accuracy by means of experience, empathy and data through the concrete identification of individual, stereotypical representatives of the target group as a whole.

Whoever now rejects this, because perhaps particularly extreme representatives of a target group are so different that a message cannot be equally and simultaneously relevant for both – how can a message then be designed at all?

The fact that there is a scatter effect, for example, in the definition of ad targeting, is nothing new – but should we therefore reject targeting per se?

Of course not.

That’s why the comparison should also be understood as an illustration that pure target group definitions are not sufficient. Only a refinement in personas can ensure a real targeting accuracy of messages.

Anyone who now notices that personas have been missing from their own communication strategy so far can close the gap: with the free persona profile developed by FleishmanHillard Germany.


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