Selling to people using the principles of Personality Marketing is not new. But we know so much more now than was available in the late 1990’s when I first saw the technique. The first time I saw it was in the book “Why People Don’t Buy Things” by Harry Washburn & Kimball Wallace. Their technique was based on the relatively new science of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. What is that you ask?

In the mid 1970’s, Psychotherapists Richard Brandler and John Grinder discovered that by communicating with their clients in a similar style and using the same types of phrases that their clients used, they built rapport and increased the patient’s trust and confidence in the therapist. As a result, they as therapist’s were much more likely to produce positive changes in the patient’s behavior. They called the technique Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

In the book “Why People People Don’t Buy Things,” the authors take the NLP technique and apply it to selling. Like what I do in Personality Marketing, they want you to mirror their verbal and body language to establish rapport and build trust and confidence. As they say in their book, “it is more persuasive style of selling.” I agree whole-heartedly.

How is Personality Marketing different? There are two major differences. First, Washburn and Wallace only identify three buying persona’s (or personalities). They are the “Commander,” the “Thinker,” and the “Visionary.”

By comparison, in Personality Marketing, there are four personalities, based on the four temperaments identified in the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. They are the SP, which is sometimes called the “artisans,” the SJ, which is often called the “Guardians,” the NT’s, which are the “Rationals”, and finally, the NF’s, which are often called the “Idealists.”

There is some overlap in the two systems, but since the method described in the book by Washburn and Wallace uses only three personalities, they combine traits that are considered separate by the Myers-Briggs Test Indicator (MBTI).

For example, the Commander is very close in description to the people with the SJ personality trait (Gardians). And the “Thinkers” might be associated with the NT (Rationals). However, there is some mixing of the traits that I’d probably associate with other people in the Myers-Briggs personalities. For example, the SP and the NF traits all seem to be combined into the “Visualizers.”

But that really isn’t of too much importance here. I just wanted to make the point that adjusting your marketing and selling style to people based on their personalities is an old concept. It works! And it is time-tested.

However, there is one other difference that I’d say is important. That is the breadth of information that is available based on the Myers-Briggs classification system.

Because the Myers-Briggs classification has been around since the 1950’s, more psychologists have added their own observations to it. Using this additional information available, we know a lot more about people with similar personalities.

Whereas, I haven’t seen anyone build on the material from Washburn and Wallace’s book. That doesn’t mean it isn’t available, just that I personally haven’t found anything.

It was an excellent start, and I’d say it was the first such marketing system that I have seen that tries to adjust for different buying personalities. It even beat out the older Myers-Briggs system, because the psychologists were interested more in the interaction between the different types of people, than they were in how it related to selling. For example, the Myers-Briggs typology assessment is used extensively in helping couples resolve conflicts, and in personnel problems in the workplace. Why is this, instead of being adapted toward selling? Mainly be the psychologists themselves are mostly of the NF personality type, and they feel comfortable dealing with relationships, and not with marketing and selling.

But other than what I’m giving you here, I haven’t seen much other information available on the internet that appeals to the SJ personality type (like you and I). There is however, abundant information available that appears on web sites that are geared to the NT and the NF personality types. It only needs to be re-organized into a document geared toward the SJ types who are more interested in commerce. Specifically, what you and I are probably most interested in, is knowing the fears and the desires of the different personality types. This information is priceless in the hands of a copywriter or marketer.

Example of Personality Selling

Let me cut to the chase, and give you the recommendations on marketing from Washburn and Wallace. These men came up with a simple list of fourteen selling points for the three different personalities that they identified:

Commander buying profile, stress:

  1. Strength, durability, toughness
  2. The number of years in business
  3. Proven and time-tested product
  4. The product is number one in its category
  5. The company has other famous clients, or it has a famous founder

Thinker buying profile, stress:

  1. Best future results – it is a good investment
  2. Logical design – it just makes sense
  3. Best procedures – step-by-step instruction, time-tested
  4. It has a clever, unique design
  5. It is endorsed by other experts

Visualizer buying profile, stress:

  1. Clear features = clear benefits. It is simplicity in action.
  2. Best-looking design. How it looks, matters a lot.
  3. Quick and easy solution
  4. Cosmetic appeal – How it looks on YOU. This is different from the best-looking design, because it gets to what we believe that others will think about us when we own the product. In other words, “what will the neighbors think?”

These are all great recommendations, but you don’t get a lot of ideas to work with. That’s it; you only get fourteen.

Will they work on everyone? Probably not. So I’m sure you’re like me and you want more options to try out to see if they would be effective in a variety of situations.

This is where we’ll leave it at today. But in the future, we’ll look at Personality Marketing in greater depth and what it can do for your profits.  But if you want to get this information quickly, visit my other web site, That is where I really expose the personality traits of people and how it causes them to buy things.


Why People Don’t Buy Things by Harry Washburn & Kimball Wallace. Perseus Books Group, 1999. ISBN 0-7382-0157-X

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