Ever tried making a product for the Invisible Man?
Of course, you haven’t; you need to be guided by a representation of something, someone, who’s representative of your ideal customer.
When building a product, you can’t throw mud and hope it sticks; you need to shape your offering on what people want, so you can understand their needs, experiences, consumer trends, and personal goals. And the same applies for you when you’re selling - you need to sell to personas, a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t do.
Personas are an essential tool for product marketers to pack in their artillery. Let’s check out what they are in more detail, why they’re important, and most importantly, provide you with the material you need to form personas at your own company.
What is a persona?
Personas are a representation of your ideal customer.
It’s important to understand personas aren’t based on assumptions; they’re the product of research, and must also be validated by real customers.
The market is continually changing; it never stands still, and this’ll have a knock-on effect on your personas. Revisit and update your personas regularly, to ensure your product positioning and messaging are on point.
An effective persona will always include key info, such as:
- Pain-points, and
- Buying behaviors.
...to name just a few.
When a company devotes consummate time and effort to fine-tuning their personas, they can bring a whole host of benefits to the table.
The difference between user and buyer personas
There are two types of personas you’ll become accustomed to as a product marketer: user personas and buyer personas.
Same difference? Hmm… not exactly.
The main difference between a user persona and a buyer persona is what is says on the tin really. The buyer persona buys the product, and the user persona uses the product. That said, there can be a bit of crossover, in that in some cases, the buyer might be both the buyer and user - it’s on you to uncover this during your research.
For example, let’s say you buy your dad a set of brand-spanking-new golf clubs. Each of you takes on a different persona; you’re the buyer, but he’s gonna be the one carving up the course like a wannabe Woods, therefore, he takes on the role of the user.
The same logic can also be applied to the B2B market. For instance, a construction business may have a go-to provider they use to source their building materials. While the head of the company is the buyer in footing the bill for bricks and concrete, the workers on the site are using the product.
We’ve touched on the intricacies of user personas in a piece we popped together, for your reading pleasure here:
“That’s all well and good, but what about buyer personas?”
Don’t worry, we’re not wrapping up yet; we’ve plenty more persona expertise up our sleeves.
Daniel Palay, Product Marketing Consultant and Persona Development Expert (and PMA ambassador 😉) specializes in building and strengthening user and buyer personas and in this article, he offered an insight into the what, why, and how of sales-focused buyer personas.
How to use personas
We think personas are pretty handy, to say the least.
After all, without them, we’d be running down blind alleys, relying on guesswork, and churning out products that may or may not be what our customers are looking for.
But their benefits aren’t limited exclusively to helping us understand the market. During his presentation at the Product Marketing Summit, Yoni Solomon, Head of Product Marketing at G2, discussed The 5 Key Product Marketing ‘Personas’ Behind an Award-Winning Go-to-Market Team.
How to create personas
For some product marketers, creating personas is a part of the job they can do with their eyes closed. However, if you’ve less experience tackling the process, then you may need a little help to ensure you’re ticking the right boxes.
Depending on whether you’re creating user or buyer personas, and if you’re operating within a B2B or B2C market, your respective approach to creating personas will differ, slightly.
We’ve a whole bank of handy resources if you’re in the B2B market, including persona questions, buyer persona examples, a buyer persona template, as well as an example of a user persona for you to refer to and help you refine your practice.
And if you’re plying your trade-in B2C, you can also access similar resources tailored to your needs, to give you the support you need.
Keen to learn more about personas? Our Product Marketing: Core courses, available OnDemand, and Live + Online covers the topic in further detail and offers you the opportunity to become PMM certified. 🏆