Getting to “Bennett”: Design and Marketing Personas for Your Product

Developing a product design and marketing messages for:


  • 39 of 100 users, ages 35-45, subscribes to 2 electronic device related
    magazines/newsletters per year, from San Jose, CA, average time on PC = 9.0 hours/day, average TV watching hours/day = 3.0

seems to be more difficult than to develop and market to:


  • "Bennett", a 37 year-old, tech geek, from San Jose, California, who
    spends 9 hours a day on a computer, doesn’t have a girlfriend, wears
    ties with short sleeve dress shirts, and lusts after the IPhone as much
    as he does Jessica Alba in Dark Angel reruns.

Bennett is a made-up guy.  But he’ll probably add a lot of value to a product designer or marketing team when developed from the above spreadsheet.  Far too many companies and entrepreneurs are sinking money into
products that will never get off the ground because they did not let
the market lead them down the path. 

User-driven design, user-led
innovation…development…marketing.  Sure, all of these buzzwords
sound great.  Companies often employ a number of techniques into their
development processes, but the kernels of valuable information they
extract often get tainted, lost in the shuffle, or dropped entirely, as
the marketing and engineering processes water down what started the
whole thing.

Marketing and design personas are a tool that have become
increasingly popular in the last few years, as a way of taking
quantitative and qualitative data and fleshing it out into a story or
persona of who their customers are and what their customers do.   These can get off track as well, particularly if they’re taken too far and the real purpose is lost.  But they still seem to be a useful tool in giving people something emotive and substantive to connect and work with, rather than reams of data.

How do we get from data to…"Bennett"?  The best design and
marketing firms in the world get intimate with their potential
customers by interviewing them, watching them in action, and staving
off assumptions about them until they have a significant amount of
research–qualitative and quantitative.  Based on this research, they
craft stories about their intended user which become personas. They are experts in the process just as much as the market.  That’s why firms like IDEO can work on all kinds of products for different companies in different industries.  They’re masters of the process.   

Here are some useful "how-to" resources to help you resuscitate,
refresh, and reinvigorate the process of understanding your customer
and letting them lead your creation of design and marketing stories and