Deeper into the Chris persona

Many of you have written to me about Chris, the product marketing manager persona that I profiled a few weeks ago. Most of the people who sent emails and comments wanted even more insight into Chris. Some wanted to know more about his personal values and concerns, while others wanted to understand more about his working environment. The questions are probably endless. Just think of all of the layers of knowledge you have about the people you know really, really well.

Here is an excerpt from an email sent by Bonnie Rind of Bonfire Development Associates (thanks, Bonnie, for giving me permission to use your questions in my blog).

  • Chris feels he is floundering a bit in his job, but does he feel that his job at risk, now or in the future, if he continues to flounder?  Bonnie says that "if a PMM thinks he is floundering, he is – if only because people sense that he isn't in charge."
  • His personal finances are tight. What of his company’s? Do they invest in people? All people or just special people?  Bonnie says she’s "hoping to get a peek at how he might get some training or support to improve his chaotic work situation – if that’s of interest to him.
  • Another question Bonnie asks "I always like to know a bit more about the home-life situation because I think it is very telling. Did they buy a new house or a fixer-upper?  Do they keep their house immaculate?  Does his wife do all the repairs? Do they use a dog walker?"  She says, "I'm looking for something that emphasizes Chris' character in a way that is – by implication – meaningful to your company’s product."

Bonnie and I have never met, but I went to her website after I got her email and learned that Bonfire is in the business of developing personas, with an emphasis on the personas that developers rely upon for direction on product design.

Bonnie’s questions got me thinking about the depth of information that is needed in a buyer persona, and the extent to which the need for information varies depending on what we want to market to Chris.

For example, I’ve always been focused on buyer personas in the context of targeting messaging and program strategies for technology products, so I hadn’t thought to pose the second question in my evaluation of Chris. Now I see that this would be a great insight for my purposes.

I’m less clear about how I would use the information in the third question, but I’m interested in discussing this point and any others. As I said to Bonnie, I’ve purposely avoided some of the psychographic insights about buyer personas, hoping to stay away from topics that people might perceive as soft and fluffy. I’m concerned that we will pay a high price with our internal audiences if we stray into areas of persona information that aren’t directly tied to a decision about marketing business-to-business solutions.

Any thoughts or observations on Chris, or on the amount of info we should have about a persona?

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