Iterative Marketing Podcast Episode 50: Diversity in Personas

When you’re brainstorming and determining personas for your marketing strategy, how detailed do you need to be? In this episode, Elizabeth and Steve discuss the risks and benefits of adding Diversity to your Personas.

In this episode, we discuss…

Should personas be diverse?

  • Standard line until recently: Persona should match the gender and ethnicity of the majority of the audience
    Too much diversity creates cognitive dissonance – we want to focus on personas with our basic “animal” brain. When we have too much detail and start thinking too hard you lose sight of the majority and the necessary details
  • Start to focus on how that minority personality is so special, rather than how the general persona needs to be addressed

But do we actually need that?

  • Sometimes the extra level of detail and personality is good
  • Steve’s anonymous client example: membership-based group striving to build diversity
    They needed to address all different personas
  • Consider the shared frustrations and aspirations of the whole
  • So in that instance, a lack of diversity in personas could lead to inadvertently making marketing materials that kept the status quo. That made minorities feel uncomfortable, even as they made the majority feel comfortable.
  • But to make the personas minorities would bring along a lot of extra baggage. A lot of unsaid struggle or discrimination.
  • They would make them into something the majority of the audience was not.

The solution

  • A second set of personas may be necessary
  • Consider the goals of the organization
  • When diversity is a goal, a second set is appropriate
  • Build for the majority and put that persona first, then consider the minority and build for that
  • Implement a second set of collateral if you feel it’s necessary instead of revising the original
  • Don’t push the diversity goal away from the majority

Where is this applicable?

  • Membership organizations
  • Recruitment marketing – HR depts for example
  • Employer branding marketing to the employee base

How are these minority personas different?

  • Psychographics are the big area of difference (fears & aspirations, desires, needs)
  • Day in the life and background should be similar


  • Are you talking about a minority? Use these resources
  • If your goals are membership or any diversity growth, definitely build your majority first, then double check against your minority personality. If applicable, also address the minority.
  • If you do have both majority and minority, every marketing piece should be built with the majority audience in mind, and then carefully examined through the eyes of the minority persona to make sure it has the same desired effect.

For more information on the charity in this episode, please visit

The Iterative Marketing Podcast,  a production of Brilliant Metrics, ran from February 2016 to September 2017. Music by SeaStock Audio.

Learn more about Iterative Marketing and listen to other episodes on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play.

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