What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

One habit I find fascinating in the world of buyer personas is the model and naming convention that has become a standard part of the practice. The alliteration of “Sam the Safety Engineer,” “Molly the Marketer” or “Dave the Decision Maker” gets the English nerd in me all riled up.

Why do we name personas?

Close your eyes (wait, not yet, keep reading…) What comes to mind when you imagine an “IT Decision Maker?”

Now, what comes to mind when you imagine “Jenny the Software Engineer?” A real person, right?

This is why we assign a real name to a segment of people, because doing so humanizes the persona. It triggers the empathy you feel when you stop thinking of your leads as faceless, anonymous contact records and start imagining them as real people with tangible emotions, problems, and orientations.

The history and future of empathy in marketing was the topic of my recent TEDx Talk.

Incorporating emotion is critical, as the emotional stimuli that a marketing message delivers is critical to its impact and success in converting someone to take action, change their mind, or feel something different than they did before. Even in our B2B world, selling to a business buyer incorporates emotional factors. Emotions matter even more than logic and reason, as personal value has 2X as much impact as business value does.

What should you name your persona?

I came across a fascinating study today conducted by Verdant Labs, which used public records to map out which names have a higher percentage of showing up in a given profession.

  • Graphic designers are most likely to be named Diana, Alison, Vanessa, Jessica, Kurt, or Jan

  • Mechanics are most likely to be named Randy, Patrick, Dave, Rick, Jerry, or Fred

  • Accountants are most likely to be named Adele, Mindy, Kurtis, Charmaine, Meribel, or Mitzi

  • Venture Capitalists are most likely to be named Shawn, Guy, Joanna, Doug, Alexander, or Nicholas

  • Insurance Salesmen are most likely to be named Patty, Garrett, Dalton, Mac, Clark, or Brent

The study even looked at interesting professions like Stuntmen (Alex, Eddie, and Tom) Rabbis (Judah, Shiomo, Chaim, or Yosef) and Ranchers (Leroy, Clifford, and Judy). See the full infographic here – certainly you should choose to name your personas in a format that resonates with your organization, but I hope this resource is helpful as you humanize your own buyer personas.