Subscribe for Letters From The Interior & discover YOUR brand's Voice Values with our complimentary self-assessment.

What Type of Buyer is YOUR Brand’s Right Person?

by Abby Kerr

in Voice Values How-To

About this column

Your Right Person is listening. Learning to use your Voice Values ensures you’re speaking the same language. Create. Connect. Converse. (Convert.)

This article was written in collaboration with The Voice Bureau former collaborative partner (and current friend!), Tami Smith.

Right People (AKA ideal clients or site visitors). Every brand has them.

This is true whether you’ve launched a product yet, have revenues of $500/month or $10,000/month, and despite whether you blog 2x a week likeyouknowwe’reallsupposedto or not.

4 Buyer TypesIt’s easy, in a frustrated state, to feel that your Right Person — the person most inclined to hire you, to buy your products and services, to read your articles and social media posts, and to become a brand advocate for you — is a needle in a haystack. Where, in the big bad internet, is this elusive one-in-a-million (billion?) individual, who is supposedly “hanging out” somewhere online with scores of other People Just Like Them who are waiting, wallets poised, to snatch up your latest creation, because you, to them, are like the entrepreneurial Second Coming?

This, as I’m sure you’ve gleaned from my sarcasm, is not exactly the way getting better qualified site traffic and better conversions (i.e. more opt-ins or sales) works.

There’s no secret place on the internet where all of your Right People are hanging out hoping to meet someone just like you.

But Right People? They’re real. Ideal clients? Not a myth. (Although there are many myths about how to size them up.) [link]

How do we know? Let’s take a look.

In the whole world over, there are a finite number of ‘types’ of people.

While we’re all individuals and our needs and desires vary from person to person, if you study universal human nature (and psychological-behavioral patterns), you’ll find that people tend to fall into 4 basic types: we call these types Humanistic, Spontaneous, Competitive, and Methodical.

  • HUMANISTIC TYPES are attuned to the interconnectedess of all people and things. They’re wired to be helpful. They dislike conflict and prefer to focus on beauty, harmony, and solitude. They seek unity.

  • SPONTANEOUS TYPES are attuned to freedom, flexibliity, and possibilities. They’re wired to be enthusiastic. They dislike rules and restrictions, and they’re turned on by big vision, adventure, and a sense of community. They seek approval from others.

  • COMPETITIVE TYPES are attuned to winning and achieving. They’re wired to be powerful. They dislike weakness, inefficiency, and people who slow down action by getting mired in feelings or wishy-washy deliberations. They love order and strength, and they desire to be the best — sometimes their personal best, sometimes best in class. They seek control.

  • METHODICAL TYPES are attuned to the search for pure, irrefutable truth. They’re wired to be deep. They dislike brashness, things that can’t be proven, and sloppiness. They’re attuned to details, measurements, and proof. They seek certainty.

While the Four Buyer Types are a well-known, well-documented marketing framework — a part of the methodology we employ at The Voice Bureau to guide our copywriting client projects and more — this perspective doesn’t apply to business alone.

Four different types run through our world in many ways.

There are The Four Seasons. The Four Temperaments. The 12 Signs of the Zodiac, which can be grouped into 4 Elements (Earth, Air, Water, Fire). The Four Blood Groups (A, B, AB, O).

Of course, there are blends, too: there are Spontaneous buyers with a Competitive edge, and Methodical buyers with a Humanistic edge. In terms of Blood Types, you can be O+ or O-, etc. All of us have access to all four types (we human beings have great range), and sometimes we switch from one type to another based on context, or our needs in the moment. But essentially, we’re wired to be motivated like ONE primary type, consistently over time.

The bigger the brand and the larger their marketing budget, the less precise the company can afford to be about marketing to one primary type. This is why car manufacturers, credit card companies, pharmaceuticals, and major food brands can design for all Four Buyer Types in each social channel, while keeping their brand voice distinct. They have whole teams of people and millions (billions?) of dollars to help them pull this off.

But solo and small businesses? We’re obliged to specialize.

Solo and small business owners — like The Voice Bureau, and like our clients — have limited resources (time, money, interest, human power). In order to be most effective (and usually, most profitable), it’s necessary to design a brand conversation and an offer for a particular type of person — someone most likely to buy.

Here are some tips for moving closer to designing a strong Content Strategy:

  • Understand your Brand Voice and how it meets the needs of your Right Person buyer.

  • Consider building yourself a Brand Language Bank — a branded lexicon of words, phrases, and “handles” — that engage your Right Person buyer and make your conversation fresh (without being convolutedly cutesy or abstract).

  • Step into the shoes of your Right Person buyer and ask yourself, “Why would this be important to her? Why would this solution work for her?”

Here are some beginning tips for engaging your specific primary Right Person “type” through your content, using an empathetic marketing model:

  • If your Right People are HUMANISTIC, engage with warmth, intimacy, even love, and show them you’re a real person who genuinely cares about people, planet, and profits. The Humanistic buyer appreciates a peek behind the scenes of your business, as they want to believe that you are who you say you are. Create content that will present all sides of the picture with equanimity (big picture thinking). Keep your tone and your calls to action harmonious and conflict-free. They’ll get value out of content that helps them to move forward toward their goals, without risking overwhelm. Focus on presenting small slices of your brand conversation that feel positive, encouraging, uplifting, and promote a peaceful approach to life, work, and business.

  • If your Right People are SPONTANEOUS, engage their possibility orientation by using visionary language. Design offers and experiences that keep them at the center of attention. It’s about them, not about you (although the Spontaneous buyer is drawn toward a charismatic personality who opens doors for them to experience something new, fresh, and exciting). The Spontaneous buyer grooves on community, sisterhood/brotherhood, feeling like they belong, and having opportunities to self-express. Keep your tone and your calls to action clear, easy, playful, and positive. They’ll get value out of content that connects them to their unique potential and ability to have an impact. Avoid overcomplicated explanations, lots of hoops to jump through, or dry navel-gazing philosophy. Focus on presenting visually-oriented content that feels cutting edge while activating their love for lifelong learning.

  • If your Right People are COMPETITIVE, engage their drive to “get it done now” by being direct, straightforward, and competent. Demonstrate your credibility and assume that your Right Person will choose to do business with you because they see you as the best option. Match their high Excellence value with your own, and redeem all opportunities to demonstrate your wins. Position yourself at eye level with your high-achieving buyer. The Competitive buyer is relentlessly focused on activating ideas and being in control, which creates security. Through your content, show them how they are the hero/ine, how they can rise to challenges, and conquer obstacles. Avoid asking them to go against their nature, which includes slowing down, seeing things in grayscale, and admitting they have been wrong. Note that your Competitor buyer may be oriented to compete with himself or herself, just as much or more than with others.

  • If your Right People are METHODICAL, tap into their desire to know why things are the way they are, through understanding all the nuances and seeing the big picture as well as the fine details. Validate their passion for solving problems, pointing out what isn’t working (i.e. being a contrarian), and finding the next layer down. Provide them with research, resources, systems, tools, frameworks, and visual data to balance their overactive brain. Frequent content is less important for the Methodical buyer, just so long as your content is deep, thorough, and consistent. Methodicals care less about the personal details of a brand creator’s life; rather, they’re obsessively interested in the brand’s reasoning for doing what it does, the way it does.

If you understand your buyer, you’re closer to understanding what content they need/want to see from you in order to make a purchasing decision.

In the comments, we’d love to know:

In your perspective, have you already been using this Buyer Type approach intuitively, without quite knowing why? If so, how did you come to “know” that you wanted to talk to this type of person? What have you noticed? How does it feel? We’d love to hear about your process and experiences.

(Image credit.)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee August 27, 2013 at 5:36 am

Hi Abby,
I’ve never seen this post and think it’s great. I did dothe voice values quiz (great tool!) a while back and found Depth to be one of my core values. So today I just clicked on it and went to Pinterest … then I saw myself as much as those ideal clients I want to attract. I’m still working through all of that but it occurs to me that, maybe, to start, my ideal client is one that … not that different from me, shares my one or more of my core values. And that what I have to offer is a particular value-added (pun intended) approach they are engaged to learn with me as teacher, a piece I have that might be missing for them. If that makes sense … if I was further along in my process with all of this … I’d certainly sign up to your DIY course … and plan to in the future.


Abby Kerr August 27, 2013 at 8:33 am

Hi, Lee —

Your Voice Values tell you about YOU — how you actually show up when you’re communicating at your most powerful and natural. It transcends what a person says he or she values and sorts for what actually presents itself. The Voice Values pinboards are a reflection of each particular value-in-action, not necessarily of the buyers drawn to that value. So I’m not surprised you “saw [your]self” there!

Our methodology teaches you how and why your Right People are drawn to you because you have a high Depth value. The way we naturally communicated responds to a deep core need of our ideal buyer.

We’d love to see you in one of our DIYs when the timing feels right to you!


Ezzie Spencer August 27, 2013 at 6:07 am

Great post, Abby & Tami. I’m a methodical water sign, amongst other things, and could happily read about personality types all day. You do these breakdowns so well.

I haven’t come across this typology before, but suppose I have been speaking primarily to the competitive type. My process has been organic, just noticing what types of people are most drawn to my work, feeling where they are at, and asking how I can best help them out. I like working with this type because I feel deeply satisfied when they tell me they have benefited from concepts that may have seemed a bit outside their sphere of reference (‘I was skeptical but…’).. My people take me seriously largely because I speak their language, have credible qualifications, and my work gives them observable results.

There’s a bit of me in this type too. Does the Seller Type often align with the Buyer Type?


Abby Kerr August 27, 2013 at 8:42 am

Hi, Ezzie —

Welcome! (I’m glad to have discovered YOUR site today, too. Cool stuff.)

I’m a Humanistic/Methodical water sign and many of our clients are a Methodical/Humanistic blend. Based on our Voice Values methodology, it often is true that your primary Buyer Type aligns with your own dominant Seller Type, but not always. This isn’t problematic, though, because as human beings, we all have access to all 4 Buyer Types, and most of us switch between them as needed based on what we’re buying, the context, who’s with us, etc.

Fascinating stuff, isn’t it?


Ezzie Spencer August 27, 2013 at 10:13 pm

So fascinating, Abby! Love that you’re a water sign, and touched that you checked out my site. Avidly reading your work :-)


shanna August 27, 2013 at 9:16 am

Oh, Abby, I just eat this stuff up!

I am a problem-solving Humanistic/Spontaneous water sign. Actually, the only thing that doesn’t fit for me (or my right buyer) is the Competitive type, although I can be that, and have been in the past, I just don’t feel that rings true for me any more.

I feel like it’s fairly hard to nail down since I have several services that I offer (coaching, writing/copywriting, business/brand alignment, etc.). My clients often hire me to write, and find out I have the other skills mentioned above so we end up moving into an agreement where I am more business advisor/communications czar, rather than “just” a writer.

I find it interesting that the Spontanous type seeks outer validation–that, at least for me, is not true. Is there a Compassionate/Urban Hippie-with-a-Punk Rock-Background/Nonconformist/Seeker type? :)


Abby Kerr August 27, 2013 at 11:03 am

Hi, Shanna —

Is there a Compassionate/Urban Hippie-with-a-Punk Rock-Background/Nonconformist/Seeker type? :)

LOL! The type you describe above sounds very much like a strong Spontaneous with a bit of a Humanistic blend. Seeking external validation can look different from person to person. It doesn’t always indicate a lack of confidence. There’s a lot to it!

And yes — isn’t personality typing just the most fun thing? I love understanding more about universal human nature — how so many similarities flow through all of us, and how we choose to individuate and show our autonomy in different ways. Fascinating!


Martin September 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Hi Abbey, I was working on defining my ICP and how we might communicate with then this weekend and ran across your post and found it to be very interesting. I especially liked your comments that we as small business owners must focus and not try to address all the buyer types.
I recall some time ago running across the 16 personality types of myers briggs. Do your four buyer types relate to those?


Abby Kerr November 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi, Martin —

They sure do relate. The 4 Buyer Types are aligned with all of the other personality typing systems we have reviewed. For more insight, read Keirsey’s book PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME, II. That’s a goldmine resource for those interested in understanding many facets of personality typing.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: