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MANAGING THE BUSINESS OF SOFTWARE

Do your personas have names?

"Names are the hooks we hang ideas on."Al Ries and Jack Trout, authors, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.

For product managers and product marketers, the term ‘persona’ is used for profiles of buyers and users. Personas are a key element of a product manager’s playbook. They define the behaviors, attitudes, and goals of the kinds of people we encounter with our products. (Frankly, I’ve always had a little difficulty referring to our customers as 'users.' After all, only software developers and drug dealers refer to their customers this way.) 

Some of the common attributes for personas include job titles, industries, a typical day, and products commonly used. For consumer products, we often see demographics like age, education, and buying power.

Some companies use titles for their personas. Titles like “decision maker” or “head of IT” or “HR rep.” One company used “managers” and “doers.” WTH? (I guess managers don’t do stuff.)

But… should your personas have names?

I use “Robin” and “Meghan” for my product manager and product owner personas. I also use “Kevin, the world’s worst sales guy” and “Peter Principle, the CEO.” Some teams use character names from TVs and movies, like “Data” and “Scotty” and “Rachel.” Some even attempt to make the names generic enough to be gender-neutral—remember “Androgynous Pat” character from SNL back in the 90s?

Personas are archetypes meant to inform and inspire so I try to make the characters realistic and recognizable. And I hope to make our development and marketing teams care enough about our primary personas that they’ll create better products.

Names are important. I prefer personas (and products) have real names. After all, you named your kids, didn’t you?

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Do your personas have names?

"Names are the hooks we hang ideas on."Al Ries and Jack Trout, authors, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.

For product managers and product marketers, the term ‘persona’ is used for profiles of buyers and users. Personas are a key element of a product manager’s playbook. They define the behaviors, attitudes, and goals of the kinds of people we encounter with our products. (Frankly, I’ve always had a little difficulty referring to our customers as 'users.' After all, only software developers and drug dealers refer to their customers this way.) 

Some of the common attributes for personas include job titles, industries, a typical day, and products commonly used. For consumer products, we often see demographics like age, education, and buying power.

Some companies use titles for their personas. Titles like “decision maker” or “head of IT” or “HR rep.” One company used “managers” and “doers.” WTH? (I guess managers don’t do stuff.)

But… should your personas have names?

I use “Robin” and “Meghan” for my product manager and product owner personas. I also use “Kevin, the world’s worst sales guy” and “Peter Principle, the CEO.” Some teams use character names from TVs and movies, like “Data” and “Scotty” and “Rachel.” Some even attempt to make the names generic enough to be gender-neutral—remember “Androgynous Pat” character from SNL back in the 90s?

Personas are archetypes meant to inform and inspire so I try to make the characters realistic and recognizable. And I hope to make our development and marketing teams care enough about our primary personas that they’ll create better products.

Names are important. I prefer personas (and products) have real names. After all, you named your kids, didn’t you?