March 28, 2018, posted by Tony Quin

Fish Where The Fish Are

A big part of success in marketing today is just knowing what to do. The challenge is that there are so many choices and directions that without a good plan you’re as likely to go off a cliff as you are to get to your destination.

A Great Marketing Plan Starts with Segmentation

Developing a strategic marketing plan is about getting answers and making choices. Early on in the process, you have the big decision of who you are going to go after. Like most companies, you probably have a solid idea of the make-up of your target audience, but for your marketing plan, you need to have a very clear picture of the composition of that universe. You need to understand the relative importance of one segment vs. another, which to prioritize and why.

For those of you who are new to segmentation, it is exactly what it sounds like: segmenting the consumer market for your products into groups. These groups might be divided by age, or behavior, or some other characteristics. The important thing is that the reason for the segment should be important to the brand and a defining characteristic of the group. Segmentation is critical because most companies have more than one target audience, and each usually behaves very differently from the others.

The most important job of segmentation is in guiding you to the consumer segments that have the most potential for your company. Segmentation also lays the groundwork for the kind of data profiling that will only become more prevalent as data technologies become more accessible to companies of all sizes. It sets up a company’s ability to make educated guesses at probable behavior. So, for example, if people in a segment tend to work out regularly, you might infer that everyone with that same behavior profile is likely to be into fitness.

Segmentation can be by geography, demographics, behavior, lifestyle, the frequency of use and much more. The process of conducting a segmentation study should show where clusters of similarity exist and in doing so may reveal hidden opportunities. This work should be research-based vs. informed guessing. Industry-focused studies are available for purchase, but they are often too broad for the specific needs of one product or services category, which may lead you to original research.

Coming out of a segmentation study, a company should be able to identify which discrete segments it makes sense to pursue. Many considerations factor into these decisions such as the size of the market, growth potential, value, maturity, competition, etc. Much of the other research you have gathered, and your business goals, will help, but a judgment is called for before you go on to the next step of creating personas. The idea is to get focused with a manageable number of segments, often three to five. Too many will spread your efforts, and budget, too thinly, and may create operational problems down the road.

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