Product invention and marketing: why use personas at all?
Whether a soft drink, IoT device or user software – new products must offer solutions for real problems. The benefits have to be geared towards the needs of specific user groups for a product to succeed on the market. This is important during product development, but also in product marketing.
Good product marketing always involves targeted communication that gets the right messages to the right people. Personas – user models that vividly present the typical characteristics of people within a target group – are a great tool for aligning product marketing strategies with the right buyer groups and their needs.
Using personas to market products
The right user groups can be identified and visualized by means of personas. In this very useful user model
- Attention is focused on the needs of the target group. By working with personas, product managers have to clearly consider the future users – during both the product development and product marketing stages.
- This usually results in very targeted products and advertising messages that are optimally designed for the users’ needs, tastes and lifestyle.
Benefits of personas in product marketing
- Personas make it much easier to communicate product benefits: the specific needs of the target group are clearly defined from the outset.
- Personas help creatives to come up with good ideas: the people at whom the advertising messages are directed are vividly depicted in the mind’s eye.
- Personas facilitate fast, interdisciplinary workflows: when it is clear from the beginning at whom a product is aimed and why, a product marketing concept can be formed even during product development. This can significantly reduce the time to market.
Personas are useful for collaboration between development and marketing departments. The concept can be quickly grasped and personas are easily remembered. This means that everyone involved is clear on who is the target group for the new product and why.
How are personas created and what are the main considerations?
Tip 1: Personas should be created at the start of the product development process and then be picked up upon in marketing. When creating a persona, product managers should start with a rough outline and then gradually work out the finer details. In doing so, they should consider sociodemographic factors such as age, profession, marital status and hobbies.
However, product-specific needs are what matter most. What challenges does the persona face in everyday life and how might the new product help them? Why would the persona want to use the product? These and other questions must be dealt with in concrete terms when creating a persona.
Tip 2: Data is also needed to develop valid personas. Otherwise, we may rely so much on our own perceptions that we fail to consider the real-life buyers. Online surveys, interviews and group discussions with potential users are recommended. Research in online forums can also be a useful way to identify key needs and gather ideas.
How many personas should be created?
Obviously, the product determines how many personas are required. As a basic rule, however, it is always useful to develop several personas – especially if they differ significantly. Different personas help to consider a product from different perspectives. Under certain circumstances, core target groups and other user groups may be defined or products may be diversified for different target groups. In any case, it doesn’t do to let things get out of hand. Too many personas that are too similar will lead to unwanted overlapping. In many cases, three to five personas are enough.
The bottom line: personas in product marketing
As with many other marketing methods, personas need development, testing and revision. Personas are never the “finished object” and should be regularly evaluated and adapted where necessary. After all, just like with real-life people, their tastes and needs can change over time.