Most product marketers wrap up buyer persona research by creating "the PDF." But personas are not PDFs; better buyer personas begin with a change of perspective.
Before you decide how to deliver persona insights to your teams, you have to figure out how to aggregate them. To begin this shift, you need to step even farther back from the PDF, and start with aggregating insights around a Persona Function:
Buyer and User Personas Overlap
Even in the complex buying journeys of the B2B world, buyers and users often live in the same body. But we typically build separate buyer and user personas - two PDFs - with different groups in charge of each.
Except for the actual buying and using of our type of product, everything else about buyer and user personas is the same, yet product managers and marketers duplicate the research in their quest to product PDFs. This typical approach to personas not only creates avoidable work, it also increases the risk of the two personas contradicting each other - not helpful for anyone!
Buyer and User Personas Start with One Core
The first step away from thinking of buyer (and user) personas as PDFs is to build a repository of persona knowledge, and the first step in building the repository is to anchor the repository with a core entity: the Persona Function.
Create a persona repository based on the function they perform. In B2B function can usually be tied to the title the persona holds, like Director of Human Resources, Customer Success Rep, VP of Sales. The function is what they do every day; their job, skills and priorities as a contributor to their company. It's NOT how they buy or use your product.
Centering your persona repository in this way creates one unified core for all persona insights. Too often, function-related insights (and effort) are duplicated in buyer and user PDF personas. Or - worse - the insights don't align leaving different teams using different perspectives on what the same persona does.
Add all Persona Insights the Core
Now that you have a single, core persona, you can add insights on how the role acts as a buyer and user of your offering; why they care, how they decide, who they interact with. You can build robust buyer AND user personas that are nuanced and actionable, while also being consistent where the insights should be the same, and more efficient in your gathering.
When you have a persona repository, you can create tools - maybe PDFs, maybe not - that communicate the right insights to your teams via the media they'll use. But that's a topic for another post . . .
It's time stop duplicating work on buyer and user personas. It's time to innovate on purpose.
About the Author
Diane Pierson is the Founder and Chief Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product commercialization for B2B tech companies. Diane is also the author of How to Innovate on Purpose. Contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org.