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Use persona marketing to fine tune messages and target buyers more effectively

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on August 8, 2018

Great dealerships market to someone, not about something

Dealers who speak directly to their audience’s challenges and concerns drive more sales. But to do so effectively, you need to know—in detail—who your buyers are. If you do, you can create organic content and advertising that better answers real questions and meets real concerns. You market to someone, not about something. That’s where persona marketing comes in.

Persona marketing might sound like a buzz phrase, but it’s really just another way of segmenting your customer base, so your content is targeted more effectively.

Customer personas drive sales

With persona marketing, dealers create semi-fictionalised representations of typical customers, informed by data, experience, and expertise. You hone them over time, creating personas that match ever more accurately the habits, preferences, and personalities of the real people who buy your cars. As you do, your digital marketing becomes more effective, because it answers more of your customers’ real challenges and expectations.

How do we know? According to statistics collected by Curata, the top factor in making content effective is relevance. The more you know your audience, the more relevant your content will be, on your website, on blogs, on social media, and on every marketing channel you exploit. Buyer personas may be especially effective in email marketing.

But really, it’s common sense. Creating personas that—to a large degree—match the customers you have and the customers you want, gives you a solid target for your content creation. It drives relevance. It makes you focus on what your customers want to hear, rather than what you want to tell them.

Creating customer personas

Customer personas aren’t rocket science. The only things you need to get started are readily available data, your company’s accumulated experience, and any qualitative research you can find.

Talk to your longest-serving members on staff, and ask them who they think your typical customer is. Ask them to think about age, gender, location, job status, family, income, and interests. From their experience, what does this typical customer value most in a car (safety, reliability, sportiness, performance, looks)? What are they most likely to use it for (work, leisure, town, motorway, etc.)?

As patterns emerge, your persona starts to come to life. Add meat to its bones with readily available behavioural data. Google Analytics is particularly useful here. What keywords do your buyers typically use, and which pages hold their interest longest? Note the blogs or newsletter articles that are most viewed and shared. Dig into social media to see which posts prompted flurries of engagement.

You can also harvest useful demographic data from customer interactions—from the forms they’ve filled out when visiting your website or your premises—and from Customer Relationship Management software.

Then put this information together to create your first persona. Give her a name, and perhaps even attach a picture. Bullet point what you know about her and, importantly, what your research suggests her goals, desires, and challenges might be when considering buying a car.

Applying personas in your marketing

Don’t stop at one. The information might point you in a second direction, and perhaps a third. Few businesses have just one customer archetype. But remember, you’re looking for personas that represent groups, not occasional outliers.

So what are you left with? Perhaps, to start with, it’s Jenny, a woman in her early 20s who lives near the university. She’s a postgraduate or in her first—modestly paid— graduate job. She wants an urban runaround and values reliability above all but has a soft spot for aesthetics. Her main challenge is around initial finance and ongoing running costs. She’s of the digital generation, and expects to complete much of the buyer journey online.

And then, perhaps, there’s Mike, who is in his early 50s and lives in the prosperous leafy suburbs. He holds a management position that may well come with a company car. He’s not buying for himself but for a child. He’s anxious and values safety above all. He’ll buy outright with cash, but has a challenge to marry his own priorities with those of his son or daughter.

These are simplistic, and may be entirely unlike your own buyer personas, but they show how characterising customers in this way provides a razor sharp focus for your content. Jenny and Mike might actually be looking for the same car, but they have different needs, expectations, and challenges that your content can now deftly address.

This is the start of your journey, not the end. Continually hone your buyer personas, moving on to use customer questionnaires that harvest invaluable qualitative information.

A lot of what’s in a buyer persona you instinctively know anyway. But by teasing out the characters of Jenny and Mike, you make sure each piece of content you create has a real person in mind. It will speak to real hopes and fears, connecting with customers and targets in a way that vague, catch-all marketing messages never could.

Topics: buyer personas, customer personas, digital marketing, marketing tips