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Do your personas have names?

The Persona is a key element of a product manager’s playbook. Personas define the behaviors, attitudes, and goals of the kinds of people we encounter with our products. 

Some common attributes for personas include job titles, industries, a typical day, and products commonly used. For consumer products, we often see demographics like age and education; for businesses, we might see buying power, and reporting and organizational structure.

Personas are biographies of the typical buyers and users of your products.

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… shouldn’t your personas have names?

“Robin” and “Meghan” are my product manager and product owner personas. I also refer to “Kevin, the world’s worst sales guy” and “Peter Principle, the CEO.” Some teams use character names from TVs and movies, like “Data” and “Gilfoil” and “Rachel.”

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.

When leading a release or launch planning meeting, start with your personas. Who are we building for and promoting to? What problems can we solve? What makes our solution so special? The persona is part of our product vision. After all, products solve problems for personas.

Let’s stop promoting to markets and segments. Let’s start promoting to people. People with names.

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

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