Making Sense of People Based Marketing

Love sticky ideas? Here’s one for you. What if marketing became a lot less about impressions, clicks and cookies and more about observing real people doing what they do. That’s what People Based Marketing is all about. Well, sort of.

The Basics on People Based Marketing

The idea came about as a result of a natural shift in consumer behavior. People used to carry out most of their online activity on their laptop or desktop which made it fairly easy for marketers to track their activity via cookies. Fast forward several years we see a strong shift towards mobile, but not just mobile. In reality consumers are using their phones, apps, tablets, laptops and offline means to complete a transaction. In the context of your dealership, this could mean watching a video on mobile, reading reviews on a tablet, submitting a lead on a laptop and then walking into your dealership to buy the vehicle. What does this mean for marketers? It means that techniques like tracking cookies to show you the customers purchase path just became a lot less effective. It also means new opportunities for you.

Getting Started

Executing People Based Marketing requires a shift in mindset. It’s about being where your customers are so that you can observe how they do things (both online and offline). The end result should be the ability to offer a personalized experience that benefits both you and your customers. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Create groupings of customers. The exercise of identifying these groupings will help you think about your customers as unique individuals with unique needs and wants. Here are some potential groupings:

  • Return customers vs new customers
  • High value purchasers vs low value purchasers
  • Interacted with you online vs those that didn’t
  • Purchased a truck vs purchases a car
  • Geographic location (even neighbourhood)
  • Purchases every 3 years vs 8 years


Start collecting as much information and data as possible. Use sources such as Facebook, your CRM/ Lead Management Tool and your DMS. Also take advantage of the opportunity to observe your customers while they are in your dealership. See how they interact with the various departments and people within your dealership.  The information that you gather in this stage can be tied back to the groupings that you establish


People respond to messaging that resonates with them. By delivering a personalized experience to your customers (and potential customers) you are really telling them that you understand them and people really like to be understood. The extent to which you customize your messaging and experience is up to you. Have fun with it and try different approaches.


Remember that customers are interacting with your dealership in many different ways, both online and offline. Pay close attention to potential transition points where a person may switch from one device to another or even online to offline. For example, if someone sends you an inquiry online, don’t automatically pick up the phone and call them.  Communicate with them via their preferred method and don’t forget to think about ways to improve their experience by tailoring it to them.

As you can see, People Based Marketing is more of a philosophy than a hard and fast set of rules. Get creative and give it a try!

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