“Persona” is a hot buzzword in this industry, yet most companies that create personas haven’t fully embraced everything they have to offer. Most personas are watered-down and hard to relate to. The worst of the lot are lifeless outlines of a company’s demographic targets. Most often, they don’t deliver the expected outcome from using the persona approach.
I’m contributing to a book about the persona development process with experts Tamara Adlin from Amazon.com and John Pruitt from Microsoft. I don’t have the space here to get into the nitty-gritty, but there are best practices you can use to maximize your persona set potential.
Pruitt, who pioneered persona development for Microsoft, comments:
Our goal was to help a development team understand and focus on a set of target users. We read Cooper’s 1999 book and looked around the industry and our company to see how other teams had defined their audiences and communicated that information to their broader team.
As Pruitt’s team learned more about personas, it uncovered the same pitfalls I’ve seen many others teams fall into:
Creating profitable personas shouldn’t be a mysterious process, but neither is it simplistic. It involves a practical application of science, customer research, psychology, and customer empathy, which already exists in most successful sales processes.