Monday, October 10, 2016

A Simple Approach to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy


I write this fresh off a trip that took me from Cleveland to Helsinki with a brief stop in Copenhagen and then to London.

It’s been almost 10 years now since I’ve been speaking on the topic of content marketing in and around Europe.  Over that time, content marketing has become a driving force, maybe THE biggest change I’ve seen in the approach to marketing around this continent.  It is slowly evolving from a product-centric to a more audience-centered strategic approach.

#Contentmarketing is evolving from a product-centric to audience-centered strategic approach says @joepulizzi.
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And yet, just as we’ve seen in the United States, marketers in Europe tend to overcomplicate the idea of content marketing. There is still a belief that we need to be everywhere our customers are on the web.  That we need to be on all social platforms (like it or not). That we need to be distributing our stories 11 different ways every day. That we need to create viral content (don’t get me started on that one).

When I take the stage telling marketers in Finland and the United Kingdom to slow down, to choose channels carefully, possibly desert publishing on some social media sites, and to simplify their strategies, I often get pushback.

“Too simplistic,” I hear.

“My management expects us to publish on every platform,” I hear again and again.

“We need immediate results” is a common pushback.

All I can advise is that you should zig when everyone else zags.

Let your competitors waste their time and resources publishing more and more content, while you go out and build a loyal audience that will reap rewards for years to come.

Remember, more content does not mean more assets.  The asset is the audience, and the content is what gets you to the asset.

The asset is the audience … The #content is what gets you to the asset says @joepulizzi.
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A simplified approach

If you are a marketer who has a handle on your content marketing approach, this post will serve as a review.  For everyone else, you can use this to help you document a content marketing strategy that you can present to your team and continue to refine.

You need to answer the following questions as you proceed with any marketing approach, but they will be particularly helpful for a content-first approach.

Answer big-picture questions

These broad questions must be answered to start your documented strategy:

  1. What is the challenge? What business challenge (specifically) are you trying to solve?
  2. What is your dream outcome of this approach?
  3. What is the risk if you fail?
  4. Who is involved? What permission do you need from your managers to participate?
  5. How much will you spend?
  6. What if things go wrong? What is your plan if you don’t achieve your goals quickly enough, if there is a customer complaint, or if other problems arise?
  7. How long do you have to show success?

These are broad questions for a reason. They are intended to get you into the right mindset before you start to talk about any type of content creation.

Get more specific

  1. What’s the specific need to reach the objective? (e.g., create leads, have better customers, generate higher-quality leads, make direct sales)
  2. How big of an opportunity is it? Is this opportunity big enough to warrant spending your time and/or money?
  3. How will the initiative align to your business objectives? With your existing marketing?
  4. What are the risks? What sources could prevent you from achieving the goals? Which of those things can you control and minimize the likelihood of their occurrence?

Detail your audience

Now that you have a feel for the problem you are trying to solve for and the reason to create content in the first place, you can begin to focus on the persona.

  1. Who is the target audience? (only one)
  2. What content or information do they need as it pertains to this plan?
  3. How will this help your audience with their job or life in some way?
  4. Why would your audience care about this? (Do they?)
  5. What unique value proposition (UVP) do you offer this persona? What differentiating value do you bring to the table?

Develop your content

You want to highly scrutinize the content.  If the information isn’t truly differentiated, with limited competition, there is little chance you will break through and gather attention.

  1. What is the content niche you are planning to cover?
  2. What other companies provide this kind of information? Do you even have an opportunity to become a leading resource in this area? How do you find out?
  3. Can you purchase an existing external asset instead of developing a new one?
  4. Where will you find the stories in this content niche? Who in the company has the expertise to help? What internal assets and other content do you already have?
  5. What resources (staffing and otherwise) will you need?
  6. How will the stories mainly be told (audio, video, textual)? Remember, you want to focus on one key content type and one key distribution platform (a blog, a magazine, an event series, a podcast, a video series, etc.)
  7. What key design issues will make or break the program?
  8. What platform makes the most sense to distribute the content?
  9. Will this be a new content brand or woven into an existing product or company brand?

Distribute and measure

  1. How will the information be found by the audience?
  2. What current assets do you have to distribute the content? What partnerships can be leveraged? Is there paid budget available?
  3. How will you know the initiative is successful?
  4. What subscription tools will you use to capture audience information?
  5. What key assets need to be created to capture the necessary data?
  6. What other departments should you bring in to maximize impact?
  7. What technology are you missing for enabling collaboration and measurement? What are “must-haves” and what are “nice-to-haves”?
  8. What internal communication will you need to make sure the program gets and keeps buy-in?
  9. How quickly, considering the buying cycle, can you tie the initiative to sales, cost savings, or customer loyalty?
  10. What internal issues need to be worked out so you can tie the subscribers to revenue?

Create the business statement

While there are more questions to be asked, answering the above will uncover the opportunities and gaps in your overall plan.

Now, you can take this information and create a business statement, which will serve as an elevator pitch for the overall project.  Here’s an example.

Problem: The mechanical engineers (our key buyers and key leads) gathered from our traditional marketing processes often come to us very late in the buyer’s journey. Even if the sales team can break through and get a meeting, we are trying to win the business solely on price and not on value. Thus, yield has been significantly impacted over the past 12 months. It has become a significant management concern.

Solution: If we can build a loyal audience of mechanical engineers by developing an amazing awareness experience for our brand, we will be able to bypass the RFP process, increase the quality of our leads (pulling leads from our subscriber base), and earn more business without competition or product discounts.

Our own engineers are some of the smartest around designing industrial soldering equipment (ISE).  Currently, three publications cover the design/build process of ISE, but none solely focus on ISE.  We believe, if done right, we can become the leading informational resource in this area, build a loyal subscriber base of mechanical engineers who design/build in this area, and then build our lead flow from the subscriber base after a series of behaviors take place and we hit the appropriate lead score (subscribe, engage, download, attend webinar, etc.)

After reviewing all possible content avenues, we believe that a blog/e-newsletter combo would be the most appropriate. The initial plan is to create two blog posts per week (Tuesday and Thursday, with a Saturday e-newsletter) until we see a minimum of 5,000 subscribers to the e-newsletter.  Once achieved, we will increase frequency to three times per week.

The incentive to sign up for the newsletter will be a free sample template for the design/build process.  This was already developed by another department, and we have its approval to redesign and share it as an extremely valuable download.

We believe that the 5,000-subscriber mark is achievable in six months with adequate promotion leveraging our current database and partnering with outside media organizations. Considering a buying journey of six months, we believe that we’ll start to see yield impact at about the eight-month mark of the program, with the ultimate goal to increase average yield per sale by 15%. Considering the budget and resources needed for this program, we believe that with new business and the overall yield impact, the program will generate 5.5 times ROI in a 12-month period.

What you just read is the kind of one-page report you would present to your management team.  Obviously, you’ll add things like a content marketing mission statement, team structure, distribution plans and more. But in this case, the goal is only to get your strategic thoughts on paper so that you have a solid business plan and hypothesis for moving forward with this opportunity.

And remember, this plan is not set in stone … it can and should be updated regularly.

Good luck!

Want to receive daily insight to help you create and regularly update your content marketing strategy? Subscribe to the free CMI newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post A Simple Approach to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

from Content Marketing Institute

From Newbies to Seasoned Marketers: How to Measure Your Content Marketing


What is one of the biggest challenges facing content marketers today? If the blog traffic and conversions at CMI are any indication, measurement and ROI are two nuts that marketers are trying to crack. But this is no surprise. Justifying marketing spend has been a struggle since the beginning of time.

But content marketers face a more specific challenge because the payoff is not immediate. In fact, it typically takes at least 18 months before you see bottom-line results. If you are in an industry with a long sales cycle, it often takes longer to tie content marketing to revenue, making short-term ROI even more elusive.

As Scott Severson says:

Content marketing is a lot like working out. You’re not going to see a payoff in a week, but if you commit to doing it regularly over time, you’ll see amazing results. Bottom line: There is tremendous ROI in consistently developing great content for your audience. And, unlike other forms of marketing, content marketing pays dividends far into the future.”

Unlike other forms of marketing, #contentmarketing pays dividends far into the future says @scottseverson.
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First things first: What are you trying to measure?

Regardless of whether you are getting started or trying to prove ROI on a long-standing program, you need to have consensus on what success looks like. This may seem obvious, but only 44% of B2B marketers, 43% of B2C marketers, and 30% of nonprofit marketers know what this is.

When you are getting started

Unlike traditional advertising where you can see the results quickly, it often takes at least 18 months to start seeing results from your content marketing efforts. This means that it’s tough – if not impossible – to show true ROI at the beginning or your efforts.

It often takes 18 months to start seeing results from your #contentmarketing efforts says @michelelinn.
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Build your business case for content marketing

You first need to set the stage so your leadership team understands what you’re measuring (and agrees that is what should be measured) and knows that the results will take time. While there are many ways to build your case, here are few ideas:

Present case studies and examples of brands that are using content marketing to build their business – and be realistic about how long this will take.

I’m a big fan of our documentary, The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing, which explores the evolution of marketing and presents several interesting case studies. You can even download our screening kit to help you use the documentary to have the right kinds of conversations.)

Below is a video from one of my favorite brand success stories, but the documentary covers several:

  • John Deere
  • Marriott
  • Blendtec
  • Jyske Bank

Help the leadership team realize that content marketing has benefits beyond revenue.

Appeal to the leaders’ sense of empathy: Do they like to be interrupted and have information shoved down their throats, or would they prefer to have their questions answered – when and how they want?

By sharing useful information and educating your audience, you are building a better customer who may be more likely to make more confident purchasing decisions, renew more often, and advocate for your brand.

Remind the team that the content you are publishing today will be found in the future – and will continue to drive traffic, subscribers, revenue, or whatever your goals are.

Just like a 401k, your investment in time and money for your content will likely not result in an immediate payoff, but the benefits that compound over time can be enormous.

Scare them.

If keeping things positive isn’t going to work, show your leadership that your competition is showing up while you are buried (or invisible).

Are there keywords you want people to identify with your brand? Do some poking around in Google and find those words where your competitor shows up – and you don’t.

Then type these keywords in for your management team and see their reaction. It’s a great kick in the pants to start the conversation.

Identify your short-term goals

If your team needs to have specific goals in the early stages, here are some ideas:

  • Figure out what matters in the short term to your executive team before your content is able to tie to revenue. Even if these metrics are not technically ROI – they’re ROO (return on objective). For instance, do they care about traffic, social shares, quality back links, or email conversions?
  • Consider justifying your program by comparing it to the costs of traditional advertising. While this study from Kapost and Eloqua is a few years old, I love how it compares the cost of content marketing and paid search marketing.

TIP TO IMPROVE ROI: If you need to justify the cost or your program in the early stages, make sure to budget for paid promotion of your best content (not your products or services) in search and social channels. Having this type of data can help you make better decisions on what to focus on in the future and show the team what type of results are possible.

BuzzSumo is a great tool to help you identify where to spend your money. You can look at all of the content on your domain by simply typing in your URL (minus the http://) or you can type in your domain as well as the general topic you want to cover. You’ll get a set of results that you can then sort by Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.


Click to enlarge

Once you have a bit of content and experience

After you have been executing content marketing a while, you may be asked to show more quantitative results. Again, you need to understand what success looks like in your organization and what metrics your leadership team cares about so everything can be tied to these.

While there is no one right way to do this, I suggest looking at costs/investment vs. benefits.


How much does it cost to create your content? This exercise can be easy or complicated, based on the level of detail required.

Quick method: If you are using freelancers, this cost can be somewhat easy to calculate. If you are using internal resources, ask people to track the time they spend on projects for a few weeks so you can understand where time is spent and then translate that cost to projects.

More detailed method: In this presentation, Making Better Content Decisions, Laura Creekmore details seven expenses as they relate to content, which is likely more than what you are considering:

  • Percent of your ongoing audience research
  • Time to come up with the idea
  • Time to create one asset
  • Number of people involved for how long and for what cost
  • Time/cost for content structure creation and maintenance
  • Percentage of any budget you have, including things such as hardware upgrades, training, travel, office supplies
  • Time/cost for every person involved in the review/approval process (and consider how often you need to review)

You don’t need to get this detailed, but it is useful to start to understand what your content is really costing. Even if you aren’t doing these calculations to justify your overall program, having an understanding of this information can help you make better decisions on where to prioritize your efforts.

TIP TO IMPROVE ROI: Michael Brenner suggests one hidden expense in many organizations:

Sirius Decisions has reported that as much as 60 to 70% of content goes unused. Any content that never gets used is 100% waste. You need to not only track content production, but also usage.

In short, figure out what content isn’t getting used and stop producing that type of content immediately to reduce expenses.


Of course, you not only need to look at costs, but you need to look at the money your content is generating for your business.

You need to continue to do two things:

  • Understand which goals are most important to your leadership team and report on those.
  • Communicate that the benefit of content marketing builds a better customer, not just revenue.

The benefit of #contentmarketing builds a better customer, not just revenue says @michelelinn.
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Next, you need to associate the value to each of these goals.

For instance, one common goal of content marketing is building an audience/subscribers, which is something that can be measured. I like this explanation from Pam Neely in the article, How to Calculate Email Subscriber Value (and Why it Matters). She presents this simple equation (the blog goes into more details):

Month’s revenue earned from email list divided by number of month’s subscribers = revenue per subscriber

TIP TO IMPROVE ROI: As mentioned, the great thing about content marketing is that you likely have content created ages ago that is still contributing to your goals. Don’t only look at recent content but look at historical content as well. At CMI, we have many posts that are more than two years old that still drive substantial traffic and new subscribers. Take your analysis a step further, update and republish those popular pieces. From my experience, these pieces take minimal work, yet they bring in a fresh audience that converts very well.

TIP TO IMPROVE ROI: While the ideas above are great for getting you started and provide some quantitative suggestions on how to prove the worth of your program, here is another way to look at your efforts: What would the impact be if your content were not there?

Bringing it together in a report

Once you have your measurements down, it’s useful to keep everyone in the loop about the progress of the program. Here is a simple editorial status report that you can adapt for your needs. A couple of things to remember:

  • Continue to report on the metrics that the team agreed are important.
  • Only collect the data on which you will take action.


Click to enlarge

I’d love to hear from you. Does this help you measure your content more successfully? What other roadblocks are you facing?

(Editor’s note: This post is adapted from my contribution to Uberflip’s eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Content Insights.)

Want to keep up to date on content marketing trends and tools to persuade your leadership team? Subscribe to CMI’s free daily newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post From Newbies to Seasoned Marketers: How to Measure Your Content Marketing appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

from Content Marketing Institute

This Week in Content Marketing: Audience, Not Content, Is the Real Asset


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this episode, Robert and I discuss the results of CMI’s 2017 content marketing benchmarks report and confirm that content marketing is, indeed, all about building an audience. We also talk about Rolling Stone magazine’s new buyer, and debate who should be in charge of content creation. Rants and raves include a book review and the demise of Mental Floss’ print publication; then we wrap up with an example of the week from Sainsbury’s. 

This week’s show

(Recorded live on October 3, 2016; Length: 1:08:40)

Download this week’s PNR This Old Marketing podcast.

If you enjoy our PNR podcasts, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

1.   Content marketing in the news

  • Singapore-based music start-up buys 49% stake in Rolling Stone (09:37): U.S.-based Wenner Media announced the sale of its stake to Singapore’s BandLab, which plans to focus on “expanding Rolling Stone’s business in new markets, and propelling the brand’s global evolution,” according to TechCrunch. While Robert is fascinated by this example of a music product company using a content brand to drive sales, I believe the potential to ramp up your content capabilities quickly through an acquisition should be a no-brainer for anyone in the media business.
  • Content marketing takes a turn for the better: New 2017 research (16:31): Last week, CMI released its new B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, which demonstrates that enthusiasm and momentum for content marketing are definitely on the rise. I’m greatly relieved to see the industry turning the corner on the “trough of disillusionment” we were stuck in last year, and I discuss two particular trends that the research attributes this shift to, while Robert opens a discussion on what marketers will have to do to maintain the necessary quality standards and production schedules to keep up with such a high demand for content.
  • Content creation: Whose job is it anyway? (40:00): Ad agencies are increasingly embracing content marketing because of its potential to help them build audiences for their clients, rather than buy them. But who they feel should be in charge of that content is a less clear-cut decision, according to a recent article on the U.K.-based Mediatel. While we aren’t convinced that the traditional agencies are well-prepared to make these types of high-level content decisions yet, we absolutely believe that those who specialize in content will need to have a seat at the table when they are.  

2.    Sponsor (45:45)

  • ion interactive: 50 Ways to Engage Your Audience — Interactive Lookbook: Want a fun way to get 50 ideas for improving content engagement? That’s what this interactive lookbook is all about. Each capability is illustrated as an example of itself. Have fun. Get ideas. Get results. Get the Lookbook.


3.    Rants and raves (47:50)

  • Robert’s rant No. 1: Robert recently discovered a new book by Mara Einstein, called Black Ops Advertising, which contends that content marketing and native advertising are dangerously deceptive “stealth marketing” tactics, out to fool people into believing that they are more than just sponsored messages and sales pitches. As you might expect, Robert takes issue with many of the book’s contentions, though he does encourage those who love a good marketing conspiracy to read it — with a grain of salt.  
  • Robert’s rant No. 2: Robert is fascinated with the story shared in an entertaining Slate article, which details Paramount Pictures’ self-flagellation after having taken the movie idea of a 4-year-old and turning it into a $115 million write-down. If, as a marketer you’ve ever struggled with content quality and the feeling that your ideas aren’t worthy of being produced, take heart that even the magic-makers in Hollywood aren’t immune to suffering from creative blocks or executing on bad ideas.
  • Joe’s rant No. 1: I wanted to point out a recent Digiday article that discusses a new analysis by NewsWhip, which found that publishers appear to be cooling on Facebook Instant Articles. The decline is likely due to the difficulty media companies are having in monetizing the vast amount of content they publish on the social network — which leaves me with little to say about this complication of building your brand on pay-to-play platforms beyond, “I told you so.”
  • Joe’s rant No. 2: After 15 years, news and entertainment magazine Mental Floss is shuttering its print version, as discussed in an article on Folio. I’m disappointed — though not surprised — that Mental Floss’ publishers felt its business model was no longer sustainable; but the decision also emphasizes how tremendous an opportunity print still represents when it comes to cutting through the clutter — as long as you aren’t looking to monetize your publication through print advertising.

4.   This Old Marketing example of the week (1:00:35)

  • Robert shares an exciting example this week from U.K. grocery chain Sainsbury’s, which came away from the 2016 Content Marketing Awards with the prize for Project of the Year for its multiplatform publication, Sainsbury’s Magazine. Robert admits that, until recently, he didn’t appreciate the full details of this landmark content effort. However, during last week’s speaking engagement in London, he had an opportunity to hear from Seven, the U.K.-based agency that produces the effort, and learned that, not only has the magazine been around since 1993, but it also came about in a somewhat unique fashion: A cook named Delia Smith proposed co-launching a new publication with the supermarket as a way to help people learn to cook better, use fresher ingredients, and work with the latest cookware supplies and techniques. Over the years, the magazine has grown to become the No. 1 cookery magazine in the U.K., with 3 million paid subscribers — which makes it a content marketing effort that actually pays for itself. But, what’s even more remarkable is that according to a 2015 survey conducted by the company, 81% of readers have cooked a recipe after reading the magazine, and eight out of 10 have bought a product from Sainsbury’s after reading about it. Simultaneously serving as a successful marketing vehicle, a proven driver of purchase intent, and a revenue generator, it’s a stellar example of the multiple levels of value content marketing can provide for a business.


For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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from Content Marketing Institute

Friday, October 7, 2016

Minimum viable personas (MVPs)


I hate acronyms, I really do. Acronyms are used by people who are too lazy to use proper words and by those who want to keep others out from their secret little acronym laden club. Seriously, I’m not a computer so don’t talk to me in short little codes that I won’t understand. WTF! (Whoops). It therefore pains me to throw another acronym into an already acronym overburdened world, but alas sometimes a bit of collateral damage is hard to avoid. The shiny new acronym in question is: MVPs – Minimum Viable Personas.

What are minimum viable personas? Well very much like a minimum viable product, a minimum viable persona is a persona that is just about ‘good enough’ to do what you need it to do. A persona that has just enough information and detail. A persona that is useful within the UX design process but which hasn’t had any more time and effort spent on it than is absolutely necessary. A minimum viable persona is like the humble, but essential sandwich. Sure, it’s not going to be the best food you’ve ever tasted, but it’s ‘good enough’ to stop you from getting too hungry.

In my last article I outlined why there is still life left in personas. I also outlined some of the reasons why personas have fallen out of favour with many designers – one being that too much time and effort has often been spent on personas. Minimum viable personas help alleviate this problem by keeping that time and effort to a minimum. Let me explain.

Swiss Toni & Barbecuing

There used to be a great BBC comedy sketch show in the UK call the Fast Show. One of the characters in the show was called Swiss Toni. To Toni almost any situation in life is best understood as being, “like making love to a beautiful woman”. Take making a cup of coffee for instance.

Swiss Toni

“Making a cup of coffee is like making love to a beautiful woman. It’s got to be hot. You’ve got to take your time. You’ve got to stir… gently and firmly. You’ve got to grind your beans until they squeak.”

I desperately wanted to show how creating minimum viable personas is, “like making love to a beautiful woman” but I worried about where this might take me so instead I’m going to save your and my own blushes by showing how it’s “like cooking food on a barbeque”.

What the hell has barbecuing got to do with minimum viable personas? Well, it’s all about good preparation and judging just the right amount of time to spend. Every experienced barbecuer knows that if you try to barbeque your food too soon, namely whilst everything is still madly flaming away (I’m talking about a ‘proper’ charcoal barbeque here) it’s going to end badly. You’re going to burn the outside of your food, and undercook the inside. Even once you’ve waited for the flames to go down it’s very much a balancing act. If you don’t cook things for long enough you’re going to give everyone food poisoning. Too much cooking time and your food will be edible, but horribly overcooked. A good barbecuer knows that the key is putting the necessary time and effort into preparing the barbeque, and then putting just the right amount of time into cooking the food. Not enough preparation and things go badly. Too little cooking time and things go badly. Too much cooking time and things go badly.

Personas are just the same. Create personas without the necessary preparation and homework, without gathering user insights and user research findings and your personas are going to turn out burnt and inedible. Put too little time into creating personas and they’re going to potentially poison the project team with lots of dangerous assumptions and baseless user information. Put too much time into creating your personas and you’re going to overcook them. You’re not only going to needlessly burn time creating them in the first place but you’re going to potentially bombard your team and stakeholders with more information than they arguably need.


Creating personas is like barbecuing – both require good preparation and just the right amount of time

Just as barbequing is a step towards creating a nice meal, personas are just a step towards creating a great experience for your users. The amount of time and effort you spend on personas should reflect this so rather than spending weeks creating beautiful and exquisitely detailed personas, you should be spending mornings, or even just a few hours creating a set of minimum viable personas. Here’s how.

How to create minimum viable personas

A really great way to quickly create a set of minimum viable personas is by running a 2-3 hour collaborative workshop. Invite a small group of people who know about users and ideally have had direct contact with them. For example you might have someone from sales, someone from support, someone from market research and so on.

If you realise that there is relatively little known about your users then you’ll need to carry out some rapid user research prior to the workshop (unlike proto-personas, minimum viable personas should always be based on good ol fashioned user research). Get out of the office and track your users down. Find out who they are, what makes them tick and what is important to them. Don’t spend too long, but you need to be able to get at least some idea of who your users are otherwise your minimum viable personas will be a work of pure fiction, and designing for purely fictional users is never a good thing.

Persona workshop

A collaborative workshop is a great way to create minimum viable personas

1. Agree your user groups

The first thing that you want to do (rapid user research aside) is to identify and agree your distinct user groups. This is something that you can do prior to the workshop so that you can come to the workshop with some potential groups in mind.

When identifying your user groups look for behavioural differences rather than demographic ones. For example, if you’re designing a product for online grocery shoppers you might have identified that there is a group of users who like to plan out everything that they need to buy before going online. This group of users are likely to be of all different ages and backgrounds, but because their behaviour is similar you should be able to cover them off with just one persona. Discuss and agree your user groups at the start of the workshop. It can also be useful to identify key user groups as you’ll want to focus on these first.

2. Create a minimum viable persona for each user group

Having agreed your user groups, collectively create a minimum viable persona for each user group using the information and knowledge in the room. Start with your most important group and try to spend no more than 30 minutes on each persona so that you can hopefully cover them all off within the workshop.

Capture key information for each persona. A good starting point is the following:

  • Name – Give them a memorable name and tag line
  • Goals – What are they trying to achieve?
  • Background – Who are they? What is their background?
  • Needs – What matters most to them?
  • Behaviours – What sort of a relationship with the product would they like?
  • Frustrations  – What are their pain points?

If you have to make assumptions, that’s fine, just be sure to capture those assumptions so that you can check them later on. Otherwise you are potentially designing against false premises.


An example minimum viable persona by Anthony Reyes

3. Add a photo and some detail

After the workshop you can add a bit of gloss to your minimum viable personas if you like. It can be good to add a photo (just avoid stock photos), include a little extra detail and to clean them up so that they are a little easier to read and take in.

Minimum viable persona example

An example minimum viable persona with a photo and some detail added

4. Use your personas

Whilst it’s useful getting everyone together to discuss who your users are and to build a shared understanding of them, creating a set of minimum viable personas is pretty pointless unless you’re going to actually put them to use. I’ve already written before about how personas are a vital ingredient to design stories such as scenarios, experience maps, user story maps, storyboards and scenario maps. In my next article I’m going to show you exactly how you can put your personas to good use by outlining 5 specific ways to use personas in your project.

See also

Photo credits

Business workshop by The Natural Step Canada
Proto-persona by Anthony Reyes

The post Minimum viable personas (MVPs) appeared first on UX for the masses.

from UX for the masses
via IFTTT | AUTONOMANIA! | Consumer Trend Briefing | OCTOBER 2016

Shoppers lust after digital technologies for one simple reason: because the digital shopper is a super shopper. Knowledge is empowering, choice is wonderful, transparency reduces doubt, relevance saves time.

Think back: consumers ventured online to find they now had the ability to hunt out product reviews and the lowest prices. What a brave new world! But this is all now expected. Soon, shoppers will find their abilities further supercharged as they get access to truly intelligent services which provide them with more powerful and intuitive routes to find the best products, plus automatic (even retroactive) access to the best prices.

Indeed, where the onus has been on the customer making the best decision using the information at their fingertips, now they will be able to shop increasingly carefree, safe in the knowledge that they are supported by CLEVER COMMERCE platforms and services.