MIMA – Getting from Data to Design: Truly Practical Methods for Using Personas Every Day

Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product DesignMIMA educational event  was as spectacular as usual. This time the presenter, Tamara Adlin, not only delivered her valuable message, but also did it in an engaging manner, with amusing stories and hilarious (but very true) analogies.

I have all intentions to read The Persona Lifecycle : Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design – the book that the speaker co-authored.

What are personas?  Personas are translators and focusers. Personas help to communicate the vision of the executive team.

Know thy user.

When you are not customer focused:

  • too many different and unconnected sites
  • your company’s organizational structure shows on your web site (corporate underpants)
  • “It has to be on the home page!” Hippo rules – by Avinash Kaushik
  • Significant amount of information, no calls to actions

Data is not always usable!

Demographic data is useful to find out where to advertise
Personas help design products. You have a person and his goals. Personas used for design, not for targeting.

A precise persona aligns the whole team (IT, creative, etc. clearly understand who is the audience).

Often, personas are created but not used.
Persona’s life cycle:

  1. Family planning (what problems are you trying to solve; finding the data)
  2. Conception and gestation (turn data into personas)
  3. Birth and maturation (persona is introduced into the organization via an internal campaign)
  4. Adulthood (personas do their jobs)
  5. Achievement and retirement (using and reusing personas)

Personas help prioritize business efforts:
– based on persona’s needs
– based on business needs

Competitor review is not about collecting of features, but how the persona can satisfy his or her needs.

Important: create personas, and then ask the executive team to prioritize them. “ You have 100 points, give personas points based on the business objective.”  The prioritization is done individually, and then shared on the white board; usually, no two persons have the same number.

How to prioritize: “If we do the next successful release, which persona should be happy?”
At the feature meeting: “Would the most important persona like this feature?”

Then, features are evaluated how beneficial they are and how difficult are they to build. 

Design Map:
From the persona’s point of view what should happen?  Person wants: See x, find y, do z. Then, build it.

What you can do tomorrow?

  • Create ad-hoc personas (what are personas trying to do?)
  • Prioritize these personas
  • Review you site and competitor sites from the point of view of these personas

Start tiny! 

Location and food was great as usually.

MN AMA – Explore Minnesota—How to Rebrand and Market the State


As usually, very informative event for marketers not only in travel industry… Actually, the benefit from looking at other industries is significant: it opens the eyes to the possibilities not limited by the “home industry” perspective.  Check a great description of the project and the speaker on the MN AMA web site.

Interesting points from the event:

  • The start: research. What does the traveler want?  Where the traveler finds the information?
  • Traditional approach of sending brochures still has a place, but…
  • The research showed that the traveler prefers to receive the information from the internet; the traveler wants to be inspired, to be informed (in an authentic way), and to talk to other travelers.
  • Rebranding Minnesota concentrated on the web site with features that travelers wanted; all traditional advertisement lead prospects to the site
  • Consumer – generated content is used very successfully and seeded on other social media video sites
  • Most people love to view video, but not necessarily upload it

Examples of viral videos (very entertaining!!!) 🙂

The site owners try to make sure that videos are less than two minutes long.

The project of rebranding Minnesota exceeded more than twice its plan on web site traffic increase, and achieved significant increase in inquiries. The advertisement on the site was quickly sold out.

Interesting question from the audience: was the change initiated internally, or did it come from an agency’s advice? The realization that the change needed came internally; the RFP to search for agencies to execute the new direction included description of the new point of view.

The understanding of the change came from research.

Think Different

Think Different – half day conference with a fabulous lunch was offered by Silverlink in several cities. The conference was very interesting; however, as a marketer, I did not find anything new… Silverlink president mentioned that a couple of reactions to the event were:

  • Marketing in healthcare? Can it exist?
  • You are not doing it yet?

The conclusion for me was simple: if I love and understand marketing, my clients may “think different.” I need to take this fact into consideration when I am trying to suggest approaches which have been successful in other industries. And, I should not get frustrated…. I am not alone 🙂

Interesting point from the conference:

  • While 25 years ago megatrends were important; we live in the time of explosion of choice and need to pay attention on microtrends
  • Microtrends can contradict each other (obesity and low-calorie diet)
  • To understand microtrends we need to be comfortable with two contradictory ideas in our heads and respect human complexity
  • Example of a microtrend: young women treat doctors “as consultants at best” and want to make their own medical decisions
  • Example of a microtrend: working retirees (ads targeted to retires usually show people in leisure activities, what may not be the right approach)
  • Segment targeting is more successful than general targeting (what seems to be obvious); microtrending should lead to microtargetting
  • In health care identity group changes quickly (after a diagnoses the person may immediately change identity group)
  • Public health environment is shifting: before – “quick fix or die;” now – chronic conditions.


Economist: Evolutions
The situation will get worse before it can get better 🙂

  • Consumers are looking at social networks for information and support (particularly younger consumers)
  • Social computing is used particularly by people with certain diseases (especially socially stigmatized conditions)
  • PHR – 75% of consumers never heard or don’t know what it is
  • For many consumers, wellness involves trading something concretely good for something abstractly good
  • Incentives are needed for people to achieve wellness results (the additional reward is needed)
  • Interesting: a parallel in financial industry – consumers use credit cards with rewards much more than traditional credit cards, even if the basic benefit is the same. People who want credit cards for rewards spend more and less delinquent
  • Wellness reward program should be tailored to the person
  • Health care web sites are considered less usable than web sites of other industries and less enjoyable
  • Pick one segmentation and stick with it… changing segmentation often is not helpful…
  • Health care is not differentiated product, except for the communications… the communications can be the differentiator