Buyer Persona Guided Product Development

I spend WAY too much time on Amazon. Frequently I am somewhat freaked out by their fine tuned assessment of my buying habits. I have bought Amazon suggested items on more than a few occasions. Their ad campaigns are equally fine-tuned and because I am a mom who buys for her children and home I was presented this (also below) after adding something to my cart.

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While I’m not a mini-van kind of girl, I applaud both Amazon’s well-oiled marketing machine and Honda’s marketing team’s wise placement decisions for this ad. Upon further inspection, despite my general lack of interest in mini vans, I clicked the video.

Well done, Honda, well freakin’ done. A vacuum in my car? Where do I sign? As a parent and consequently the owner of unceasingly messy vehicle, the HondaVac is a more than a desirable feature. It’s quite nearly a necessity. For the first time in my life I actually considered buying a mini-van. Then it hits me- ‘Whoa, I’m in Honda’s buyer persona, they made this car for people like me.” I have not seen (and definitely never so profoundly experienced) a better example of buyer persona guided product development.  I mean seriously look how glamorous it is to clean your van with a Honda Vac.

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I’d like to think every company designs and improves on their products with their current buyers and target audience in mind, but reality is that is just not true. And it’s silly. Why wouldn’t you, as a company, choose to create and improve products geared toward the people that buy or should buy your brand? Honda has solved a problem humanity has faced since children started riding in motorized vehicles. That’s what buyer personas help companies do. They narrow down the people that are or could be benefiting from and in turn purchasing your product by identifying what problems they are trying to solve. You may not know it, but you are actually in the business of solving problems. All business are solving problems for their customers whether it’s a built-in vacuum for the old French fries and Cheerios that cover your car floor or an IT managed service provider that supports medical record back ups for large server infrastructures in a medical offices. Solving problems for your buyers creates customers and customers make purchases. Therefore, getting to know your target audience through developing personas and developing products for those people increases sales.

The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design, is a great book on the subject of buyer persona based product design. The book summarizes 3 ways personas offer benefits within product development as follows:

  • Help team members share a specific, consistent understanding of various audience groups. Data about the groups can be put in a proper context and can be understood and remembered in coherent stories.
  • Proposed solutions can be guided by how well they meet the needs of individual user personas. Features can be prioritized based on how well they address the needs of one or more personas.
  • Provide a human “face” so as to focus empathy on the personas represented by the demographics.

These benefits can be applied to most of the company’s efforts toward success. In the end, buyer personas are not simply beneficial or useful but essential. There is so much more insight on personas I’d like to share like Hubspot’s list of 7 Companies That Totally ‘Get’ Their Buyer Personas. Or from WSS own blog, a couple posts on the basics of buyer personas. Here’s a great blog about developing buyer personas and this one is about using their power.

Ready to amp up your product development with your own buyer personas? We made up a little worksheet to get your personas underway.  The first few pages are general questions addressed in this post, but then it really drills down and gets specific so you can fully formulate you perfect buyer personas.

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