Video shows the use of buying modes in persuasion architecture

Personas are used to help in web design — especially in optimizing its content. The goal is to identify important user types and speak to them in their own language. Personas are traditionally archetypes, such as the following (these are summaries of longer personas, pulled from three randomly-selected persona sets):

  • A single, 50-something female executive researching healthcare options for her mother, and intending to share her findings with her siblings
  • A young man who works as a car mechanic, considering buying an engagement ring online and afraid of making a mistake
  • An elected city official responsible for recommending a source for a fleet of utility vehicles, who is unaccustomed to using the internet

Purchasing styles are implied within those personas, and those varying styles are key to how a site is designed to cultivate interest and close the online sale. It’s knowledge of these varying purchasing styles that helps set the tone and composition of a site — choosing what goes where on a page, and how is it presented.

This begs the question: Since purchasing styles are so important, why can’t you focus on those alone, and place other aspects of a persona on the back burner? The answer is you can.

Roy H. Williams, along with The Eisenburg Brothers, tout a four-quadrant system for categorizing a person’s purchasing style. It is as follows:

  1. Fast + Logical = “Competitive”
  2. Fast + Emotional = “Spontaneous”
  3. Slow + Emotional = “Humanistic”
  4. Slow + Logical = “Methodical”

These Modes of Persuasion Architecture are described at length in Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing.

View this video

Books like this one from The Brothers Eisenberg are all well and good. But they can be fairly lifeless. Then, this morning, I saw their dimensional approach brought to life. It was in a video produced by Patrick Sullivan, Jr., showing the home page of, a slick personal finance site. See for yourself how various modes of purchasing are successfully addressed on this excellent site.

2 Replies to “Video shows the use of buying modes in persuasion architecture”

  1. Re: the 4 modalities. First off, how do you know which quadrant someone is in? Second, how does someone even categorize him/herself as emotional or logical? By asking them?

    People don’t know if they’re TRULY logical or emotional decision makers. Many of us love to say we’re logical decision makers, but we’re often not.

    It’s an appealing 2×2 matrix, but just not supported by reality

  2. Ron,

    Your points would be valid if we expected to push certain pages at consumers based on their mode. For instance, if this was like a restaurant, guessing what plate of food someone would like without asking them. Instead, this system allows for us to array various foods — buffet-style — and let them find what they want and take it.

    It’s a bit of a strained metaphor, but it’s appropriate. In direct response, there is a maxim that “The more you tell, the more you sell” (within reason!). Of course, web sites don’t allow for lots of copy. The trick is to dangle “samples” of selling arguments and objection-addressing information in a way that is manageable — so people can be drawn to what is important to them, while ignoring the rest.

    Sort of like how someone who is a vegetarian ignores all of the red meat on the buffet’s steam table!

    So this two-dimensional model is merely a system to anticipate all of the different ways someone might deal with the stresses and information requirements of buying something. It helps the chef to organize the buffet so no one leaves hungry! 😉 Could it be chopped up differently? You bet. But if the buffet is organized properly, you’ll more likely find that your restaurant successful.

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