Whichever Way You Slice It

If you’re selling to everyone, you’re selling to no one. Even if you want to sell to “everyone”, you need to focus on segmentation. With this, you can speak directly to each target market. As we talked about with campaigns, messaging needs to be precise and consistent, speaking directly to the specific needs of each group you want to reach.

The best way to define who you should be selling to is to define who you should not be selling to. Who will not be interested in your product? By eliminating potential segments, you narrow things down so you know where to focus. This allows you to spend your time drilling down into the segments that will really matter to you, rather than staying shallow with a whole lot of different groupings.

So, what are these segments that we are discussing? A market segment is, in the academic, textbook sense, a group of buyers with similar needs to each other that can be differentiated from other groups. You need some sort of working definition of why this group is different from that group in order to differentiate them. There are different ways to do this, of course.


To Slice or Dice?

Some companies segment the market altogether and go for a mass market approach, treating everyone the same and hoping to reel in as many leads as possible. After this the next logical step is macro-segmenting – what you typically think of – geographic area, demographic information, industry, company size, etc. This works for plenty of companies, but for those wanting to take it to the next level micro-segmenting is a must. This groups customers together based on their needs, attitudes, and behaviors and tends to be more effective.

For example, if you were a bicycle manufacturer, you might micro-segment the market looking at behaviors. You might find a group of consumers that buy bikes for exercise, some that do so for transportation needs, others for environmental concerns, and still others looking for some sense of adventure off road. These different intended uses each create a different set of customer expectations for your products and a different way you need to engage with them.

It should be obvious for most companies how micro segmentation is much more effective than simply sending the same message to consumers that happen to live in the same area or work in the same industry (in the case of B2B).

When identifying these segments, your own research and intuition are invaluable. Beyond this, most companies find the need to use secondary sources. There are plenty of places to get this information, including trade journals, research agencies, government agencies, market research consultants, and statewide directories.


How to Position…

All of this helps you identify which segments you are best positioned to serve. However, you also have to know your product. If there’s nothing unique to consumers about your product or service, then you have to compete on price, something no one wants to do. Knowing the micro segments in whichever market you are in allows you to identify which group your product will best appeal to.

Using the example of bicycles again, if your bikes are tight and compact, you should probably speak to commuters. If you also use sustainably sourced materials, chances are the environmentally concerned may be interested in you as well. When you start planning your campaign, the segment you are pursuing informs what kind of language you will use.

It also tells you where to find these people. Rather than blasting a message out on a mass media channel and hoping they see it, you can get more targeted in your advertising. Creativity in reaching consumers is how you win the marketing game.

One final consideration all businesses, no matter what they are selling or who they are selling it to; you’re marketing to people. It’s easy to forget that when we get deep into segmentation and campaign planning, but at the end of the day all people are driven by similar motivations and desires. As Ann Hadley from MarketingProfs says, “Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time”. So, market accordingly.

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