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Personas 101


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Personas 101: An overview on how to "really" get started with writing personas for practical use in your product management & product marketing role.

Personas 101: An overview on how to "really" get started with writing personas for practical use in your product management & product marketing role.

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  • The Webster and Oxford dictionaries actually define persona as “the characters of a drama, novel, etc.” In the world of product management/product marketing, there are many definitions with different words, but they all come down to the same meaning. A persona is a representation of your typical, average, most common, etc user if you are looking from a product management side and working on features, priorities and builds; or, the same of your buyer if you are looking at product marketing and trying to understand how to look at outbound activities that will resonate with your targets.
  • You may hear different reasons about why you should invest in personas, but in the end it all comes down to two reasons:To keep your eyes on what real people want, not about making stuff up or guessing. There is a science to this art; and, To insure that all members of your team hear the same, understand the same, and have the same knowledge about the real people’s needs; and, Because real money is at stake. The economic challenges that we have been facing, the job cuts that resulted, the downturn in your sales all had an impact on real money in your company. If you’re going to make an investment, you want it to matter and be the right one with the desired impact. Making it up is not an option in this economy.
  • There is no magic number for how many personas should be created. Generally, create one for each unique market segmentation you have identified; however, it is commonly accepted that you cannot manage more than 4-6 personas for either users or buyers.The number is less important than the value!
  • Don’t use your existing customers – they already believe in the value of what you offer and are solving their problem with your solution.
  • Don’t underestimate the “other” influence category! Spouses, neighbors, children, etc play a larger role than you might think.
  • The post-it exercise allows you to write the data down from the different collection tools and group them into categories.
  • If you don’t change your behaviors as a company, actions and outputs, from having developed personas – why did you invest in the development?
  • Transcript

    • 1. How to Really Get Started
      so Personas Can Help You Succeed
      Personas 101
    • 2. intro
      “You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.”
      Albert Einstein
    • 3. agenda
      • What is a persona?
      • 4. Why invest in persona(s) creation and use?
      • 5. How do you use persona(s)?
      • 6. What is the structure of a persona?
      • 7. How do you create a persona? (Steps 1-2-3-4)
      • 8. Key takeaways
    • 9. what is a persona
      A model or a representation …
      … of a user …
      … and/or buyer …
      … that remains conspicuous in the minds of those who design, build, and market products
    • 12. why do we invest in personas
      • To focus on “real” people we want to use or buy the products
      • 13. To help in communicating the same information to all members of the team, reducing interpretation
      • 14. To help in making the decisions about where to invest real $$ in the development (for users) and marketing (for buyers) processes
    • 15. how do you use personas
      • Improve decisions
      • 16. Strategy – what behaviors and/or actions are most
      important to drive business goals
      • Spending – what are the priorities for investment
      • 17. Metrics – what are expected behaviors and success measures
      • 18. Results?
      • 19. Change misconceptions about market segments
      • 20. Stop design debates
      • 21. Effective marketing messages & programs
    • 22. persona structure
      How many?
      It’s about value, not number!
    • 26. persona structure
      Many formats!
      • Common to have one-two page narrative with image (a 19-page persona is a book!)
      • 27. Bullets work fine, if that is acceptable style
      Don’t confuse market segment with market persona!
    • 28. getting started…1-2-3-4 steps
      Involve many colleagues
      Analyze & write
      Communicate & use
    • 29. 10
      • Led by product management (user) &
      product marketing (buyer)
      step 1 - involvement
    • 36. step 2 - research
    • 45. step 2 - research
      Where do you find them
      • Not customers!
      • 46. Comb company CRM data
      • 47. “Friends & family” list
      • 48. Mine Social media resources
      • 49. Internet search
      • 50. Facebook (better for consumer-based products)
      • 51. LinkedIn
      • 52. Twitter
    • 53. step 2 - questions to ask of all personas
      What do they like?
      How long have they been in their role?
      What activities do they engage in?
      What knowledge & skills are required?
      Overview of their organization
      • Relationship to others
      • 54. Key initiatives underway
      What are their goals?
      What problems do they face?
      What is their ideal solution?
      Who makes the decisions?
      Budgeting process/authority/approvals?
    • 55. step 2 - questions to ask of all personas
      How do they learn about solutions?
    • 64. step 2 - user persona questions
      What are they trying to do?
      How do they do it now?
      Who do they do it with?
      What do they want? (their vision)
      What are they willing to give up?
      Ask for A/B priority choices
      What competitive products do you like? Why?
      What would stop you from implementing …?
      (in person) Ask for a show & tell
    • 65. step 2 - buyer persona questions
      • Obstacles that interfere with success
      • 66. Attitudes or beliefs that stop them from purchasing your product
      • 67. What metrics matter to them?
      • 68. What metrics do they use?
      • 69. What are their alternatives to purchasing your product?
      • 70. What alternatives do they use to solve their problem?
      • 71. Role/influence in the decision process
      • 72. What have they seen they like/dislike?
      • 73. What did they see/hear that moved them to action? Why?
    • 74. step 2 - be prepared
    • 75. step 2 - be prepared
    • 76. step 2 - be prepared
    • 77. step 2 - be prepared
    • 78. step 3 - putting them all together
      • Write up each visit
      • 79. Look at your research
      • 80. Post-it exercise = great tool!
      • 81. Develop personas
      • 82. Word doc is fine!
      • 83. Narrative, short paragraphs
      • 84. Salient details for audience’s understanding
      • 85. Picture is critical!
      • 86. Test them
      • 87. Revise if persona isn’t supported
      • 88. Test them
      • 89. Revise if persona isn’t supported
      • 90. Test them again
    • 91. step 3 – “persona mapping”
    • 92. step 3 – samples: end user
    • 93. step 3 – samples: end user
    • 94. step 3 – samples: buyer
    • 95. step 3 – samples: buyer
    • 96.
      • Communicate/share the personas
      • 97. What programs/marketing artifacts can benefit from the changes learned?
      • 98. Web site
      • 99. Sales presentations and brochures
      • 100. Trade show booth
      • 101. Targeted campaigns
      • 102. How will product management help development incorporate?
      • 103. User stories in agile environments
      • 104. Prioritization lists for roadmaps
      • 105. What will Sales do differently? Customer support? Executive Leadership?
      step 4 - closing the loop
    • 106. key takeaways
      Personas only add value if you invest time in their development
      • Must be based on real life, with supporting data
      Personas only add value if they are “living” reference points
      • If they become shelfware, don’t bother
      Personas are not meant to be a magic bullet
      • Still need to invest in the other research and other business, technology, design, marketing & sales principles. They will not solve all the problems
      Your persona effort will not succeed without leadership team support. Period. No further discussion needed.
    • 107. what else?
    • 108. contact me
      Jennifer Doctor
      • Blog:
      (look for this ppt & resource links )
      • E-mail:
      • 109. On Twitter: @jidoctor
      • 110. LinkedIn:
      • 111. Phone: 612-965-0033