No Segment Left Behind

It's a brave new world out there. We're witnessing the birth of a media-rich environment filled with tons of alternative information resources for customers who are increasingly in control. And these customers are becoming more resistant to marketing's "push." Finding customers via targeted mass media vehicles these days isn't enough. Marketers must be able to leverage all their market segments, maximize ad expenses and message with pin point relevancy.

So, how many market segments do you have? How diverse are their needs? Their motivations? Their demographics? How do you market to segments that have interest in your product or service as their only common denominator?

A Terribly Brief History of How Marketers Segment

Traditional marketing segmented by 'broadening' the appeal of the ad, throwing a little something into the message for everyone. Offer this message through a mass market media vehicle, and you're bound to catch a little of every segment. But with the increasing fragmentation of media, large audiences are elusive and prohibitively expensive. On top of which, over-saturation makes these generic messages easy to ignore. Marketers had to find something better.

Then came the age of targeting, wherein marketers would target one particular market segment at a time. They would identify a demographic, find the demographic in some targeted media and create a message touting some features. This generated some advertising success. It also created the need to prioritize and decide when, where and how to spend the ad budget across the segments.

How priorities are then assigned

Up until now the most common means of prioritizing market segments was simply finding the path of the least marketing resistance. Marketers would say that if the research suggests (let's pretend) that 58% of men make the decision to buy a DVD, you should target DVD sales to men. Targeting 'dudes' would be the wise first choice since they are a majority. So you'd give 58% of the advertising budget to men and 42% to women. Sounds great right? But what if that research doesn't mean women are less willing to buy? What if it actually reflects your inability to sell to women?

Other companies prioritize more profitable customer segments, leaving other segments the scraps or ignoring them completely. Again, what if the low-profit segments are the result of ineffective marketing and sales efforts? What if, given the right time and nuture, you could persuade these segments to perform as admirably (or even more so) than your current high quality segments?

Then there are those companies that try to push the lower-profit segments into behaving like the high-profit ones. This tactic is guaranteed to fail in an economy where customers must be pulled.

The Brave New World of Persuasion

With the advent of the internet and a new wired world, savvy marketers are sensing there is a more potent means of marketing for maximum ROI. But the question remains. If traditional marketing methods don't work anymore, how do you prioritize market segments?

In a word: Don't. Instead, treat them all equally!

Take a peek at how Best Buy approaches their market segments. Best Buy treats each segment with the same respect and assigns it the same effort and budget. Individual business managers are given responsibility for a single segment, with the sole focus of developing it. A manager researches what drives her particular segment, then devises strategies and tactics for marketing in a way that is meaningful to that segment. That's selling, in a "pull market," to "individuals" on their own terms!

And that's Persuasion Architecture in practice - the only way to stay ahead in this morphing marketing fun house!

Here's a couple of tips to get you started on the path to achieving pin-point relevance:

  • Create personas to represent each of your market segments.

  • Look beyond the demographics of your market segment. Demographics rarely tell us what we need to know about what is relevant to each segment's buying process. Instead, look to dominant personality types, the topology of your business and the dimensions of complexity in your sale.

  • Consider EVERY brand touch-point as an opportunity or step in the persuasion process for your segment. Even post purchase touch points.

  • For mass media efforts, find needs and motivations that are shared across several personas (segments), and use those to create the most potent messages.

  • Where a persona (market segment) has a deeply felt need that is unique and divergent from other segments, seize the opportunity to develop a strong message. It may not be a mass appeal message, but if executed properly, it can be very effective.

  • Avoid stereotyping your personas (market segments). All IT buyers do not share the same motivations. All women do not behave the same. All Hispanics do not have the same goals. You get my drift.

Why continue squandering or sacrificing the potential in your audience when the same media-rich landscape that puts your customers in control also offers you unprecedented opportunity to speak to everyone?

This article is courtesy of Anthony Garcia, Senior Persuasion Architect for Future Now, Inc. and Dude Extraordinaire!

Volume 119: 10/15/05

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