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The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets by Eric Ries, Patrick Vlaskovits, Brant Cooper

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Personas: Create a Fake Customer

A description of the customer with the job he or she wants done is called a persona. Popularized by Alan Cooper in 2004, personas are a description of pretend users and what they wish to accomplish. Wish to accomplish is another way of saying “job hired for.” Originally conceived of as a tool for designers to ensure products were being developed in ways that would resonate with users, we believe the concept is useful to help you understand your customer deeply and drive all customer engagements, including marketing and selling.

So instead of just looking at how people will use the product and then treating sales and marketing as problems of distribution and exploring what magazines they read, you treat them all as a desirability problem of creating something wonderful that people want to buy, and you do that by identifying who is going to use it, what drives them, and what goals and desires they have.

Cooper says that these need not be real users, but rather archetypes of actual users. In our opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using a real user as long as the sketch is representative of others. The advantage of using stereotypical characteristics is that the sketch is readily accessible to others, but your primary goal is to be as accurate as possible. You want to be able to recognize them when you see them.

Vague descriptions tend to solicit broader feature lists and less understanding of your must-have use case. You are not going for ...

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