When defining a new product, it’s easy to get lost in the details of functional (what the product will do) and non-functional (how the product works) requirements while abstracting away who you’re building the product for. To stay connected to the customer, create a persona that represents the customer and link the product requirements back to the persona.
A persona is a brief description (usually less than one page) of a fictitious person used to represent the target market segment, based on information and insight gathered from engaging actual target customers. A persona helps build empathy and makes the target customer less impersonal. Create personas for the end-user, the economic buyer, and other key people in the target market.
Common elements of a persona include:
- Their name and a picture
- Their role, such as “end-user;” for B2B products, define the job title for the target persona
- Their profile:
- Demographics: Age, gender, income, location, etc.
- Psychographics: Personality, values, attitudes, interests, etc.
- Behavioral attributes: Usage, brand loyalty, purchase occasion, etc.
- Their goals, the top things the persona is trying to accomplish
- Details of what is preventing the persona from achieving their goals with current solutions
An example persona for a frequent business traveler for an airline company looking to develop a fast-track check-in and security process might look something like this:
Bob is a business traveler based in San Francisco who travels to Asia frequently for work. Bob is 45 years old and a parent of two teenage kids. Bob works as a Business Unit Manager for a biotech company based in the Bay Area and earns greater than $300K per year. Outside of work, Bob serves on his children’s parent-teacher board and is a season pass holder to the San Francisco Giants. Bob travels alone on most trips but sometimes brings one of his kids with him. Bob values airmiles and will sometimes do a “mileage run” at the end of the year to ensure he meets the requirements for airline status.
Bob flies to Asia twice a month for work. Time is valuable to Bob, and he wants to minimize the time spent during the check-in, visa check, and security process at the airport. Bob would pay a premium to have a service expedite him through check-in and the security check process. Today, he typically spends 30 minutes going through airport security, although there have been times where it’s taken well over an hour, so Bob arrives at the airport at least three hours before his international flight.
When defining the product, and throughout product development, make the persona integral to product team discussions to ensure the effort is centered on the customer and their needs.
Read more about personas and other key product management topics in my book, Mastering Product Management: A Step-By-Step Guide, available in paperback and eBook.