by Joe Ross – special to bizNEVADA
If you have been in business for a while, you’ve likely made discoveries about your industry, customers, and market. Hopefully, you’ve uncovered new opportunities and have a strong understanding of how to prosper and grow. Naturally, marketing plays a role in any growth plan. There are tools you can begin using right away to make the most of your promotional eﬀorts.
Expert marketers use a fundamental technique to segment your market into groups based on interests and shared motivators. Broad segments like industry, income and location are obvious. You can imagine how the messaging would be diﬀerent for each of these, however, depending on the goal, these are too broad.
The key is to address motivators of individuals that comprise each segment. The more specific the better. Before getting into specific examples, let’s explore another concept; positioning.
Positioning is the sales and marketing process/technique of matching interests, activities, lifestyle, personal goals, location, income and other attributes to the products and services individual consumers care about. Get started by asking questions.
Business books teach you to ask, “who cares?” Let’s take that up a level by asking the following for each product or service you oﬀer.
- Who cares about this product or service?
- Why do they care?
- How much do they care?
- What problem does it solve?
- Is this the best solution on the market? Why?
- How much does the consumer care about this product or service? Why?
- What is the most important reason consumers would want and not want this?
- How does it make your consumer’s life better?
Come up with as many questions as you can and answer them thoughtfully and completely. Build a profile and mental picture of individuals that share common motivators. The idea is to match the right consumer with whatever you sell. It can be tricky, but the ones that do care probably care a lot.
Imagine a leaky pipe. It is natural to assume someone with a leaky pipe needs a plumber. However, a diﬀerent consumer might resolve the problem with a trip to the hardware store and fix the leak himself. It’s a problem with two very diﬀerent solutions, which is why positioning is critical.
If you are a plumber, it is important to position your service for the “call a plumber” group. Likewise, if you own a hardware store, it is pointless to market plumbing supplies to those that have no interest in fixing their own leaky pipes.
As suggested, segmentation is the process of organizing consumers into similarly motivated groups. This allows you to position your products or services to the groups that are most likely to be interested, by matching your messaging with their goals.
You can do this several ways. You could simply list them or use a spreadsheet but it will require manual action to keep it up to date. A bigger problem is it’s diﬃcult to work with more than one attribute at a time. Segments are typically built from several attributes (income, interests, special needs, etc.) that add up to form a complete consumer profile. The best tool for this is client relationship management software.
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
You’re probably familiar with CRM. Perhaps you use it in your business. If not, CRM provides a means for storing customer/client information including simple stuﬀ like contact information and purchase history, along with anything else you find relevant. However, storing information is just the beginning. Most CRMs provide tools to manage your sales pipeline, contact clients and colleagues, send emails and even automate tasks.
CRM is a dream for managing customer/client segments. Usually this is accomplished by creating groups by filtering attributes that are stored as fields. For example, you might know from experience that customers that purchase product X frequently also purchase product Y. With a few keystrokes, your CRM will provide a list of customers that purchased product X, but did not purchase product Y. Now you have a segment for a future campaign to market product Y. This makes it possible to focus your message on those who will be most likely to make a purchase.
Once you have developed consumer segments, create personas to represent individuals in each segment. Personas serve as real people that have a reason to be interested in your services. They help you develop a relatable, personalized understanding of what motivates individual consumers to make buying decisions.
This will be especially useful when deciding on the marketing mix and to develop messaging. Personas will help you avoid talking about yourself by focusing on the needs of individuals rather than you and what you sell.
Imagine a friend coming to you for advice. The first thing you’re likely to do is listen and make sure you understand the problem or need. You’ll ask clarifying questions and think about similar experiences of your own or others before oﬀering ideas.
Personas not only make your market segments human, they make you human. No one wants to be sold, but we all want to learn from someone we trust. Try to imagine how you will earn the role of trusted advisor to each of your personas. While each persona represents a larger group of similarly motivated individuals, be careful not to simply give your market segments names. Give them context, challenges, goals and even objections.
Market segmentation is not a new concept. Same with buyer personas. The challenge for most small business owners is limited time and budget constraints. However, taking time to define and address groups of customers as individuals can mean the diﬀerence between thriving and merely surviving. The good news is your competitors probably won’t put in the eﬀort. Advantage: You.
Joe Ross is the President of OCG Creative, a digital marketing agency based in Reno, NV with clients throughout the world.