The most valuable behavioral science research you're not using

Growing up, I was jealous of my buddy Kevin. 

He was fearless. You could throw him out of the car in any part of town, and he'd walk up to the first person he saw and start a conversation. Within minutes, he'd have a new friend, and within an hour or so he'd be able to problem-solve his way out of the situation.

I, on the other hand, was a sheepish, fearful guy.

Some of my earliest memories consist of me clutching to my dad's leg as he attempted to drop me off at pre-school.

Kevin's personality couldn't have been more different than mine.

He was a bold extrovert. I was a timid introvert. 

Unsurprisingly, he reveled in doing risky things. He would doorbell ditch people's houses or ride his bike down large hills and off of huge jumps. He would sneak onto the golf course near our house and practice his shot.

I wouldn't be caught dead doing these things. Drawing (or reading a book) was more my style, and I preferred riding my bike down well-manicured trails.

So let me ask you a question: If you were a car manufacturer, and you were tasked with designing cars for Kevin and me, would you create the same car for both of us? Or would you create two different cars?

Two different cars.

Why? Because Kevin and I have *very* different personalities. He would be more attracted by speed, flashy paint, and performance, while I would be more attracted by safety and reliability. 

The aesthetic and feature choices you'd make would be much different for Kevin's car... same thing with the language and imagery you'd use in your advertising campaigns.

The fact of the matter is that *personality matters*. Unfortunately, almost no one in the business, technology, or marketing worlds uses legitimate personality science to inform their decisions. 

Instead, companies rely on superficial and shoddy "customer profiles" that consist of broad demographic information (age, sex, income, etc.) or fuzzy (and usually inaccurate) qualitative observations--your typical "customer personas." 

But neither of these types of customer profiles are very useful. Kevin and I fall into the *exact* same demographic categories, but we couldn't be more different.

If you followed the superficial demographic information, you'd create the same ride for each of us--even though the type of car that Kevin would purchase (and drive) would be wildly different than the type of car that would attract me...

In short: you'd end up creating the same car for both of us, even though it would appeal to neither of us.

So this is a plea: stop basing your marketing decisions on surface-level customer profiles. Dig deep. Understand the unique personalities of your customers. Build something that speaks to their unique, and complex, psyches. 

Your bottom line will thank you.

I'll talk about the specific personality models & research that you should be looking at in future articles. Stay tuned.