LinkedIn principal author Doug Winnie describes how a product manager can support the definition of a go-to-market plan with the development of personas. Personas define the characteristics of your end users and buyers of your product. Personas are great ways to encapsulate what you know about a user and put it in a single place that you can refer to easily and check against with features and messaging.
- Knowing who's going to buy or use your product is an important part of the release phase of product development. Let's look at what you need to do and who you will work with to clearly define your go to market. The process of defining your market is a team effort between you and your marketing partner. As product manager, your contribution is to develop the personas. Let's first talk about what goes into a persona. There are a lot of different types of personas that are used in marketing and product management, but here are some good basic considerations.
Give your persona a name. Let's say I'm defining personas for an app which will allow teachers, students, and parents to collaborate on grades, assignments, and school activities. If you have a persona for each of these types of individuals you can clearly define what they like, what they don't, and what motivates them and their decisions. When you use and refer to your personas, everyone on the team will understand the users since they're all defined and referred to using their personas. So for the app I mentioned before, we have three personas.
The teacher can be Mr. Williams, the parent can be Janet, and the student can be Zach. Giving them names is a great way to avoid bias. Often when we make products we unintentionally build them for ourselves, so when we are reviewing a future proposal, we can ask, "Would Zach use this," instead of wondering if we would use it ourselves. Each persona has a narrative that defines a little about their background. It is written in a way where it is specific but still widely applicable to the audience you are targeting.
Be sure to consider what other products they use and don't use. This will give you insight into their preferences. So for example, Zach might prefer Evernote while Mr. Williams prefers OneNote. You have two personas that prefer different note-taking tools, so you're building features or pitching them based on integrated features which support both. Then define some of their social and demographic data. This could include gender, income, location, or some other parameter.
Finally, add some quotes from these fictional personas in their own voice. Customer meanings can give your persona a voice to make them more tangible and human. I recommend starting with two or three personas. This might evolve and change over time, but it's a good starting point. With personas there are two ways to classify them. First, are they a primary or secondary persona? The primary personas are the ones you are going after the most.
The secondary ones will benefit from the product but it isn't specifically targeted for them. For the school app you could have Mr. Williams and Zach be the primary personas, and Janet as the secondary one. The second categorization is if it is a user persona or a marketing persona. For many technology products, these are one in the same, but for products designed for teams or enterprise customers, the person that is making the purchasing decision if often not the end user.
Take our school app for example. Depending on how the app is made it might be something that is implemented at the school or district level. In that case the technology coordinator or another school administrator would be the marketing persona, while Mr. Williams, Zach, and Janet are the user personas. From these personas, evaluate the product you have assembled and create a user path for them to acquire your product. Evaluate and see if there are any items that impede their ability to get the product, and then find ways to remove these barriers.
How you address these barriers to learn, acquire, and use the product are the basis for your marketing plan.
- Types of products and industries
- Leading through influence
- Understanding your team
- Using an agile or waterfall development cycle
- Managing your product life cycle
- Researching your market, customers, and ideas
- Planning the product
- Building the product
- Releasing the product
- Refining the product
- Understanding when it's time to retire the product