Persona Development

Episode 09

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Market Segmentation: Episode 09 Transcript

Hello, and welcome to our segment today, which is on persona and persona development. My name is Clay Dethloff. I’m the Senior Vice President of the Qualitative Research Group here at Decision Analyst. Again, today we’re going to be talking about personas, and I think personas, in essence, is about bringing the segment’s to life. It is taking those segments that have been developed in the research and helping to make them actionable within the organization.

A lot of times, I think what we’ve found is that segments and segmentations, when they’ve been done, they get put on a shelf, if you will. I was recently with a client, and about five or six years ago they had done a segmentation, and now we were in the process of doing a new segmentation. And as we were talking to them they said they knew that they’d had these segmentations done, they knew what the segment’s were called, but they didn’t know what to do with them. Matter of fact, he just kind of reached up on the shelf, pulled out a binder, and said, “Here’s the segmentation that we had done earlier.” They had not done any kind of a persona, they didn’t know who these people in those segments truly were, and I think that’s one of the key pieces that is needed when you move forward with a segmentation study.

persona development

Personas really help to diffuse the learning throughout the organization. They give you something that you can put your hand around; something that you can really kind of grasp the meaning of. They also help to internalize these customer segments throughout the different organizations that are in a company or organization, whether it’s marketing, whether it is sales, whether it’s operations. These personas give everyone something common that they can talk about.

Most of the people within an organization are not researchers, and so kind of the idea of “simpler is better” really is a key point and a key thing that we try to stress with our personas. I like to think of personas really is just kind of shaking hands with your customer, and getting to know them a little bit. You know, who is the person, what do they do, what do they like, and really, kind of importantly, kind of getting under the hood, and understanding what motivates them, what makes them tick, why they’re using your product or service, and why there are barriers to using your product or service.

Another key thing I think about personas is, for me, they really act as a gut check or a disaster check, if you will. They help to avoid confusion. A lot of times these segments are developed, and it’s hard to kind of get your head around. Personas, once they’re developed, really can help tell why one segment is different from the other. They can really bring those segments to life again, and they can tell you where there is overlap between the segment’s.

We’ve done some work, a couple of weeks ago actually, with a client that had a five-segment solution had been developed. After the personas were developed, and after the persona interviews were conducted, we found there were really probably four segments that were actionable, that two of the segments could be combined. And I think that’s important, and a nice result of persona development. It really does ensure that those segments are accurately portrayed, and that they can be reached the way you want to reach them.

market segmentation personas

I think one of the fun things about a segmentation persona is that it is something that is kind of internalized within our client organizations. It’s just fun to see, when you’re in the back of a focus group room, for example, clients will sit there, and they’ll be talking about respondents who are in the focus group, and they’ll be like, “Oh, this is in that segment,” or “Oh, that person’s definitely one of these segments.” And actually one of the most interesting pieces happens when they’re like, “ I don’t see how that person is in that segment,” or “That person’s not quite what I thought that segment would be like,” because I think that’s where good conversations and good discussions happen. It just helps to make everyone in the organization, as well as us, a little bit smarter.

When we do our persona development we really kind of use a combination of in-depth techniques and in-the-moment techniques. I think it’s this combination that really kind of helps to understand the perceptions, the motivations, as well as the actual behaviors, that are happening within these segments. We’ll often use webcam IDIs, for example, in combination with a virtual ethnography, where we are viewing behaviors or purchase occasions that the respondents are going through. We can use an in-person focus group, we can use an in-person IDI, along with an ethnography for example. We do quite a bit of ethnographic work in our persona development, and again it’s the ability to see the behaviors as well as those motivations that consumers have, I think, that are key.

One of the things I think that’s important also with personas is, as we mentioned earlier, you’ve got to make them as simple as possible. The simpler they are, the more straightforward they are, the more utilized they are within an organization.

Two of the best ways I think that we found to help simplify our personas are what we call one-pagers. And these just have the key elements of the persona on it. They have maybe a picture or character of the person or persons. They have the key information: the likes, the dislikes, what their motivations are, for example. Oftentimes we’ve had these one-pagers put in a poster format that are hung within someone’s office or in the halls of an organization.

market segmentation personas

Another very effective way that we’ve had to bring those personas to life is through the use of video montages. Video montages are a great way to keep our clients attention, to make sure that they understand all the aspects, and to really bring it to life. We can use videos, for example, of the respondents in a montage. We can also include those key points that really will help to disseminate that segment and that persona throughout the organization.

In closing, I think that segmentations are critical for an organization’s success, and I think that when we are able to bring those segments to life, it helps to be able to better utilize the segmentation. It helps to have everyone within the organization be on the same page about who those segments are, and what the importance of those segments is.

I want to thank you for listening today and hope you will be available for our next segment on geo-mapping.


Clay Dethloff

Clay Dethloff

Senior VP, Insights and Innovation

Clay is an experienced marketing research professional with more than 25 years of experience in both leading and delivering qualitative research in the industry. As the head of qualitative research efforts at Decision Analyst, Clay is responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of qualitative research, identifying new/innovative qualitative research tools, and overall management of the qualitative team.