The Mystery of the Persona

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This simple shift in your marketing strategy can have a huge impact on your dealership’s success.

Many of us understand our “target market” and we actively communicate with them every day. With a blend of online and offline strategies, we hope to turn them into customers. How many of you are looking beyond the target and dialing into your “customers’ personas?”

Many of you may have heard the term, but let me explain the difference between a target audience and a customer persona. Then we’ll walk through how to build customer personas for a more insightful approach to your marketing efforts.

Target Audience – A target audience is the intended audience or readership of a publication, advertisement, or other messages. In marketing and advertising, it is a particular group of consumers within the predetermined target market, identified as the targets or recipients for a particular advertisement or message. (source – Wikipedia)

Customer Persona – Buyer (customer) personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviours, and concerns of different types of buyers. The strongest buyer (customer) personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base—through surveys and interviews. (source – Hubspot)

It’s easy to see the difference between the two.

A target audience strategy is broader. It can be defined by higher level details such as age, location, and various other core pillars. I personally feel that we make a lot of assumptions about our target audience with blanket market research. However, we need to rely on that to build the audience in the first place. It’s big, and we want it that way so we can connect with the most prospective customers possible.

A customer persona strategy, while leveraging market research, is about “insights you gather from your actual customer base.” It’s a deeper dive into the actuality of your real customers, including all the little things you’ve learned about them through weeks, months, and years of having them as customers. Simply put, personas allow you to personalize or target your marketing for different segments of your audience.

How often are we going to market with blanket statements based on the manufacturer’s program with core retail offers attached without really moving past broad stroke target audience messaging? I’d guess it’s common. We live in 30-day increments, and it would be difficult to break out our marketing to be more defined to different personas.

Here’s the rub—it’s not. If you do some simple persona development with all your departments you may begin to see that you start to convert more customers based on years of relationships you’ve built with your existing ones.

Building a customer persona

Here are some simple steps to build a customer persona from Buffer. I think this layout works best to get you started. Get a working session with a specific department team and have everyone work through compiling information based on customers they recently sold and have long-standing relationships with. Your CRM will come in very handy here if your staff is populating it properly, as it should be full of relevant data on everyone.

Name of the persona (use the customer’s first name only)

Job title

  • Key information about their company (size, type, etc.)
  • Details about their role


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Salary/household income
  • Location: urban/suburban/rural
  • Education
  • Family

Goals and challenges

  • Primary goal
  • Secondary goal
  • How you help achieve these goals
  • Primary challenge
  • Secondary challenge
  • How you help solve these problems


  • Primary values
  • Common objections during the sales process

It’s a thoughtful exercise that could literally show you that your dealership has a diverse set of personas. Find the commonality in the team’s work to your core base of personas. That base could be six to 10 or higher, and that’s great! You now have a deeper understanding of the people who walk in and out of your dealership every day, as well as those who are looking at your online content, listening to your radio spots, and interacting with your social media.

Leverage the findings

Take these findings and share them with your internal or external marketing teams and partners. Push them to expand your core messages and pay more attention to multiple and more finely-targeted opportunities that are in front of you with your newfound insights.

This is an excellent way to separate your dealership from everyone in your market. The challenge is to commit to the exercise and then make it a necessary part of every piece of content and advertising you create.

Let the other dealerships move through each sales program with cookie cutter creative and under-thought messaging. Laser target your audiences with great content that speaks directly to them, and you will see a marked difference.

Categories : Dealerships

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