Buyer Personas, User Personas and the Road to Customer Lifetime Value

Jon Barkworth Insights, Marketing Strategy

Buyer Personas & User Personas
Every year Ledger Bennett work with numerous clients to help them develop Buyer Personas with a clear focus: Build Buyer Personas that make a commercial impact on their business. We do this by narrowing the focus to the personas that have a real influence on the buying decision, so they are useful and actionable to marketing and sales, and use the personas to support things like Value Proposition development, Content Strategy and the development of relevant Buyer Journeys to Revenue.

But now there’s an added complexity and a potential increase in the personas we need to consider. Why? Because there’s a change happening. More and more companies are selling a ‘Zero Dollar Deal’ or are shifting their business to an ‘as a Service’ or Recurring Revenue business models.

Typical buyer personas – the people who make the vendor selection decision, those who go get approval from leadership to adopt a platform, product, service or solution are only part of the consideration. They are still vitally important – but they are not always the ones who either adopt something like a tech platform or service contract – or support its onboarding and long-term adoption.

These are the User Personas.

Why Create B2B Buyer Personas?

In B2B marketing you build buyer personas to gather real insight on your target audience. They help you understand their business needs and triggers for seeking out a new vendor, the content they value and the channels they prefer. You can then engage with them over the long term, build trust and increase their propensity to add you to their consideration set.

Not only that, buyer personas will also help you organize your audience for media, content and always-on nurtures which will ultimately feed Marketing or Sales Qualified Leads.

But are MQLs and SQLs enough? Why would you stop there? What about revenue? And what if revenue is actually driven by user adoption?
Why can User Personas be so important?

Users are the people in in a business who have to adopt and use a platform, technology or service on a day-to-day basis after our buyer personas have made their decision.

If your revenue is based on usage, then users can not only be a powerful advocate or detractor, but will also have a direct impact on your revenue. Even if users don’t have a direct impact on revenue, if they don’t adopt the platform or ‘go rogue’, it won’t be great for business in the long term.

If users aren’t happy, they will collectively make a lot of noise. And if they happen to be users in leadership, then life will get even tougher for our Buyer Personas!

The Difference Between Buyer Personas and User Personas

Let’s look at the difference in the context of a fictional tech platform. The diagram below shows buyers and users and plots them in relation to their impact on the decision or influence, and also usage. We can see the importance of a buying group that might include a financial persona, domain expert and exec leadership, but we can also see the influence of exec users and frequent users – both of which will have a critical influence and impact on long term adoption and uptake of the platform or service. If revenue is based on adoption and use, they are clearly important to the financial success of your business.

Buyer Personas vs. User Personas

In this scenario, the Financial Influencer (Buyer Persona) might be interested in things like costs savings, cost visibility, vendor response and platform or service usability, whilst the Frequent User (User Persona) would care more about service and response, their own preferences, ease of use and how it impacts their own productivity.

How Many B2B Personas Do You Need?

This seems to be a dilemma that arises time and time again. And with User Personas coming into the mix this makes this an even more important consideration. The Buyer Persona Institute has a great way of putting this:

Will you generate more revenue if you build separate persona strategies?

Justifying each persona with a view towards the revenue each target will generate is effective at determining ROI potential. This insight helps to recognize the number of approaches required.

Do you have the resources to execute?

It’s all very well and good recognizing the needs of different audiences, but if the resources aren’t available to effectively target each one, then prioritization is required. You need to recognize the priorities of your targets in order to create messaging that appeals to them, delivers genuine value and drives action.

With these 2 points in mind, you have to look at both the Buyer Personas and the User Personas and prioritize between the two. In short, there’s no point going all in on the Buyer Personas if User Personas are the ones driving long term revenue in your business.

Contact Ledger Bennett to discuss your Buyer and User Persona needs.