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Ian Tomlin

Ian Tomlin Director

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Customer Science: 5 Buying Personas Every Dealer Needs To Know About

When you're a marketer or dealer manager it can be overwhelming to look at hundreds, if not thousands of customer records.  I've seen marketing managers staring at pages of spreadsheet tables trying to make sense of all the customer data they hold wondering quite where to start to make sense of it all.  

And in the real-world customer data is neither consistent or complete.  It's normally gathered from different places and is often poorly treated by sales and aftersales folk that see manual data entry as a time consuming waste of time. Only marketing people truly know the painful impact poor customer data entry has on business opportunity (and their personal life-style when they find themselves sitting in front of the telly with family manually correcting telephone numbers and zip codes!) when they attempt their next marketing campaign!

Buying personas are a useful way to make sense of customer data.  It's a method of clustering types of customer so that you focus your marketing on the most important customers first.  This doesn't mean that ANY customer should be treated vastly differently - one would hope that every customer enjoys your best customer service - it's simply about prioritization and resourcing.  There are only so many hours in the day and dollars in the marketing budget, so it makes sense for dealers to do what they can to align effort and investment to potential returns.  In this article I describe the 5 common buying personas that all dealer need to understand - and why.

At NDMC we define the buyer behaviour of private vehicle buyers through fourn buying personas:

Cherished Teddies 

These are loyal buyers that consistently reach within 20% of their future planned life-time value. Typically these customers will purchase service or loyalty plans (often with additional insurances or paint protection options) to make sure their dealership can look after their needs. For this group dealers should have a very complete picture of the customer profile.  Cherished Teddies need looking after because they are the group most likely to recommend others buy their vehicles from your dealership!

Loyal Dogs 

These are vehicle buyers that purchase after-sales products but don't achieve the future planned life-time value.  Understanding why this group doesn't achieve their future life-time spend is helpful because it can point to weaknesses in your offerings or aspects of local competition that you're not aware of.  At the same time, it pays to contrast buyer behaviour with affluence ratings given that it may well be that Loyal Dogs WANT to be Cherished Teddies - they just can't afford to be ;-)


These are  buyers that have purchased a vehicle from you but only come back for aftersales services when it suits them.  Just like cats you can't rely on their loyalty and you have to work harder to get their attention.  Cats are harder to love because they're not around as much. The obvious thought is 'What does it take to turn a Cat into a Loyal Dog?

Neighbours' Cat

These are buyers that haven't bought from your dealership but have bought services or parts. Perhaps these customers are 'sampling your dealership' to understand how well they get treated. If you pay them more attention, perhaps they will become your Cat in time.

And the OTHERS

With any persona building exercise there will be the 'also ran' list of customers that 

Benefits of persona building

The benefits of persona building ae many and varied but to summarise, it helps marketers to:

1. Prioritize data cleansing/improvement activities

If you have 2000 customers, it might well be that your business generates the majority of its income from the top 500.  There's a good argument that this top 500 of customer relationships should contain very accurate and complete data records.  Once you've got the top 500 sorted then you can move on to the rest!

2. Prioritize marketing spend

At NDMC we've created marketing dashboards to enable dealers to view their customers by person category.  Marketing spend focuses on the most likely customers to spend money and most compelling reasons that customers will spend their money on.  Again, once a strategy has been established to secure the returns of the mos likely to spend customers, downstream campaigns can be established for the next segment and the next after that (etc.)

3. Get to know your customers better!

It's quite remarkable what persona building does to help decision makers better understand the buying behaviors and activities of customers.  When sales activities and revenues are recorded by persona segmentation, managers can build up a very complete picture of how customers are interacting with their business.


If you'd like to find out more information about persona building and examples of marketing systems we've developed for other dealers around the world, please do get in touch.

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