she-needs

As a long-time B2B infrastructure product manager, I’m used to thinking about my customers as guys.  IT managers and directors, 30-50, developers or sys admins who’ve been pushed up into management, frustrated, under-appreciated and under-resourced, pale from weekends spent inside.  Sports fans who vent their aggressions at the stadium rather than at the office.  Process hawks.  Mid-way through part-time MBA programs.

I’m exaggerating on purpose, but it’s easy to get stuck in stereotypes.  And recent chats with three women who run IT groups reminded me that we (product managers) need to channel our diverse customer base — wherever it leads us.  So I’m offering up Tuesday as “Female Pronoun Persona” day.

Take a minute to look at your last few user stories or personas or customer success vignettes.  Proper English defaults to male pronouns (he, his, him), which may be unconsciously slanting your market perceptions.  Do your artifacts reflect your actual customer base, with a range of titles/colors/locations/company sizes?  Are you tapping into their emotional motivations and hero stories, or just laying out CFO-ready financial justification?  Take the opportunity to shake up your team’s thinking by describing what your prospect says she wants.

Even better, get out of the building and meet an assortment of your customers in person.

And since the rest of the week is unclaimed, how about

  • “Not all of our customers are Americans” Mondays
  • “50+ Boomers also use our social/mobile products” Wednesdays
  • “Get some women engineers onto our Dev interview roster” Thursdays
  • “Put down the PowerPoint and talk with your peers” Fridays

Product Byte

Most of our products have a wide range of customers and users.  We’re better product managers (not just more inclusive coworkers) when we see the variation in our audience.