Who’s Your “Amy”?

three women with shopping bags
Photo credit: ThinkstockPhotos-454296797

Last week the Globe and Mail published an article by Marina Strauss on Sears Canada’s marketing focus (New Sears Canada president’s mission: Win over ‘Amy’) — spoiler alert, it’s all about Amy. Amy is “40 years old and has one child and another on the way. She’s time-starved and looking for reasonably priced fashions.” And she doesn’t exist as an actual person, she is a representative of the ideal customer that they believe will help Sears regain some of its lost market share in Canada. And, for the foreseeable future, most of their marketing decisions and service implementation will take Amy into account.

Defining your ideal client, even to the point of naming her or him, shouldn’t seem odd in this time of avatars and online profiles. In fact, determining your target market and understanding your customer is nothing new. However, the structure and detail applied in the current trend does seem to be adding an additional dimension to the practice. And, that’s a good thing. It is driven, in part, by the rise in content generation and inbound marketing tactics. It’s important to understand who you are writing content for and how best to attract their attention and online loyalty.

Sears realizes, of course, that they can’t ignore the existing customers who remain loyal shoppers. Have you met Linda? She’s an “over-50 customer with two grown children and an ingrained Sears shopping habit.” (Maybe Amy and Linda will go shopping together, and Amy can help Linda post her purchases on Instagram.)

Under the savvy stewardship of new President Carrie Kirkman (another notable successful woman in Marketing), Sears Canada is applying a disciplined marketing strategy. It sounds obvious, and you might assume that all companies employ this type of strategy, but most don’t. In fact, many SMEs don’t truly implement any structured marketing strategy. (Yes, they probably have some form of strategic plan, but they often don’t have a workable implementation plan, so it never becomes part of the day-to-day consideration.) And that’s the real strength of what Sears Canada is doing. This strategy is pervasive and lends itself to implementation at all levels — not easily, it will take real commitment. But making it more tangible (Would Amy use that product, notice that display, appreciate this service…) It’s easier to understand directives and more motivating to care about how they are fulfilled when you’re “doing it for Amy.”

In addition to facilitating implementation, here are some other advantages to a successful buyer persona directed marketing strategy:

Coherent Communication: For any organization, and especially large corporations, communication (both internal and external) can be rather confusing. Concentrating on buyer personas provides a simple and engaging storyline internally, and coordinates clear external messaging.

Resource Deployment: Having such a laser focus reduces waste as you more effectively direct spending and staff.

Staff Morale: Understanding who you are working for and why can be a rallying force for staff. If everyone understands their targeted demographic is, if everyone knows Amy, then the entire organization can understand what they are doing and why. Retail, and virtually every organization, is reliant on service; isn’t it easier to care of a friend?

Satisfied Clientele: Not trying to please everyone allows your organization to hone in on satisfying your targeted market — improving both ROI and customers’ experience.

Regardless of the type of organization, you will benefit from articulating your ideal client/customer/member/donor/patron, and focusing your strategy on that buyer persona. Any business is not necessarily good business, so determine who you should be catering to, and set out to rock their world.

Any other advantages that you would add to the list above?