Product or Buyer Personas?



It is well known that product development starts with understanding how a user uses and finds value within the given product experience. Without this knowledge, products would not resonate with a target audience, get funded and therefore produced on a mass scale. It is understood that creating user personas is an important step that aids in feature set inclusion and product roadmap prioritization. The product personas also provide context for describing the product’s value and differentiation within the competitive landscape. Conclusion, product personas are very important to the product’s development lifecycle.

But, we need to remind ourselves that product personas are not marketing or, more specifically, buyer personas.The product persona is to be responsible for the “how” and the benefit gained from the product’s features and use. The buyer persona should be more focused on the user’s mindset as it relates to product awareness and adoption. We need to understand the buyer and the reason “why” they would care about a given product. And, why they would bring the product within their already busy organization. What is it about their mindset that could allow the product to be considered for use? What is it about the product that makes the emotional connection with the buying audience? The answers to these questions lead to developing the mindset profile with concerns, barriers and triggers that make up the audiences psychographic profile.

It is this understanding of the audience that the buyer persona incompases which allows for marketing to find the truth to why the audience will find an emotional connection to the product. And If marketing does their jobs well enough, hopefully an emotional affection can be found for the product by the audience. As we all know so well, an emotional affection to a product is a strong allure and isn’t that what we are all attempting to do as product makers?

This way of thinking about the audience is not limited to consumer products. Even the most tactical and/or functional products can bolster a sense of relationship and ownership. Consider the computer server. IT decision makers take great pride in their hardware and what it means to their jobs. They take great pride in the server hardware and have a reverence for it’s existence. They take care regarding the display of the server that rivals most people’s home decorating. By understanding this mentality, a marketer could take strides to leverage this mindset and utilize the emotional connection within their product messaging. Of course, the next step is providing the feature list, proof points, and value validation. But, those messages are merely there to mortar the perception that has already been made based on the initial marketing messaging. Or better yet, the emotionally driven attraction that has been created toward the product.

As you embark on developing personas to guide your marketing efforts, make sure you are describing the buyer (or the various members of the decision committee) who may or may not be the user of the product. It will help you hone your message to make stronger connections and accelerate action on their part.


Buyer persona checklist:

  • Are the persona’s summarized into buyer roles instead of user roles?
  • Do the personas focus on the mindset of the audience as it relates to adoption
  • Do the personas outline the challenges, concerns and purchase triggers for how an audience makes decision purchases of similar items
  • Do the personas describe the audience’s fears, aspirations, desires,  and behaviors?
  • Is all of the data above based on research of the purchasing audience?