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Tactical Personas (i.e., “I have personas, now what?”)

We often get questions from prospective clients about how to use personas. Like, “okay, after I have these personas, then what? How can I use them?“.

I have two standard responses for this:

  1. Persona analytics is just like any analytics. If you want to understand your customers, there must be some reason for that. What is that reason?
  2. What are your marketing/business/design goals? What do you want to improve? After knowing these, we can then tell how we think personas could be useful.

The point is that we are not some magicians that can tell you what to do. Instead, we should figure it out together. It’s called co-creation — you, as the client know more about your organization, your problems and goals than us. We need that information to figure out if personas make sense and if so, how.

When to apply personas?

Personas are not a panacea. There are many cases where another tool would work better. For example, if you are only interested in audience sentiment, maybe having a sentiment analysis tool makes more sense than having personas, even though personas would incorporate sentiments.

That said, personas extend to many use cases, especially to those where empathetic and holistic thinking are needed. The audience is more than only the sentiment, which is why personas can help give a more thorough understanding of key customer or audience segments. In addition to sentiment, we can have other information such as demographics, topics of interest, audience size, and so on.

These different pieces of information increase the tactical readiness of personas.

Think of your goals before thinking of the persona

Instead of thinking personas as universal, all-around tools, think of them as tactical. Tactical personas are fluid and flexible, shaped according to the situation. In other words, different goals require different deployments of personas.

And it’s your job to figure out the goals before engaging with the persona.

Interactive systems enable tactical personas

Data-driven systems can enable tactical personas more efficiently than traditional methods, as customer databases can be used for retrieving the needed information on an ad-hoc basis.

Therefore, the goal of data-driven persona development (and that of persona analytics) is to support decision-makers under variety of information needs and tasks.

One of these systems is APG – Automatic Persona Generation. We are continuously adding new features to support tactical decision making, such as gap analysis that helps decision-makers find lucrative user segments to target.

Want to reach out?

We are happy to learn about your needs for personas! You can contact myself (jsalminen@hbku.edu.qa) or Dr. Jim Jansen (bjansen@hbku.edu.qa) for more information.

By Joni Salminen

Dr. Joni Salminen works as a Scientist at Qatar Computing Research Institute, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Turku School of Economics, University of Turku. His research interests are heavily focused on personas, including topics such as automatic persona generation from social media data (YouTube, Facebook, Google Analytics), persona perceptions, biases in data-driven personas, optimal number of personas, etc.