Marketing Segmentation:
Sell Your Customers

Marketing Segmentation can be either complicated textbook theories or, alternatively, a simple way for you to categorize the different types of customers you service in order to be able to best meet their needs. In this section I want to, as always, present you with simple and powerful techniques for understanding and applying this concept to your own sales and marketing efforts.

Once you know your customer you can effectively market and sell to them. Market Segmentation thus becomes about understanding your customers based on their needs and then speaking to them in terms of fulfilling these needs using your product or service. The goal of gathering data about your customer is to be able to relate to them and serve them.

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Marketing Segmentation:
Needs, Benefits, Features

Segmentation in marketing is a way to categorize customers into different groups based on specific characteristics. The goal is to know how customers are likely to respond to different set of communications and product features. Something I talk about a lot is the idea of looking at your product first and foremost in terms of what customer needs you are fulfilling with a particular product or service. This is the best way to connect your product or service with your customers.

Marketing Segmentation

What you should be trying to accomplish by marketing segmentation is to understand who your customers are and not simply define them by what product or service you think they will buy. What this means is that you should focus less on your features and more on the benefits they provide your customer. In doing so, you will begin to understand customer needs which will give you the most accurate picture of who your customers really are and how to position yourself.

Marketing Segmentation: Technical to Personal

Let's look at an example of what I mean by being customer-centric by focusing on needs. Suppose you are trying to market and sell automobiles. One of the features of a car you are selling may be a large trunk than standard cars of this make and model in the industry. In traditional selling you should try and connect this feature to a benefit so that you sell the feature by telling a customer that they will have more space for their luggage or golf clubs or kids activities depending on what they are looking for.

Marketing Segmentation tries to identify your customer in such a way that their needs correspond to your product or service. You should ultimately be able to paint a picture of your customer depending on the various needs that they portray to you. For instance, if they do have kids and tell you that the extra trunk space will be great for extra-curricular activities then what other needs can you infer from this? How about extra child safety features, folding chairs and an onboard TV?

Marketing Segmentation

As you map features to benefits to needs, you begin to build a picture of your customer and take the discussion from a technical one to a personal one. This is how you build a relationship with your customer and the ultimate outcome is understanding your customers as aggregations of needs. The goal of marketing segmentation is to form this picture so that you know each of your customers types intimately and can begin to craft sales, marketing and service around who your customers are and what they want.

Marketing Segmentation: Lifestyle

By analyzing customer needs this way you can create a corresponding picture of the overall characteristics of each of your different types of customers that is based on lifestyle instead of arbitrary demographics that are so common in market segmentation. Instead of thinking of an ideal customer as male, age 20 to 35 and professional, how about a more personalized picture of a busy single adult who you know is keen on quality and speedy service because of the demands of their career? Here are some lifestyle pictures you may come up with:

Marketing Segmentation

Young professional: needs dependable quality service and a flashy product or service

Marketing Segmentation

Soccer mom (or dad!): looking for safety and kid-friendly features as well as service that fits her busy schedule

Marketing Segmentation

Elderly couple: want to spend time evaluating your product or service and getting to know you and your business

As you can see, this kind of analysis is very different from what you may see in typical marketing segmentation where we are primarily interested in a product or service as a starting point and then ask “who is going to buy this?” By adopting a customer-centric approach you can begin to design everything about your business to cater to your best customers. This goes not only for your message but everything about how your customers will interact with you and what kind of relationship you will develop over the course of many years (hopefully!).

Marketing Segmentation: Final Analysis

Here are some final thoughts about how to approach marketing segmentation and what to do with the information you collect about your customers and your growing understanding of them and their needs.

Know thy customer
A crucial part of your success in sales and marketing as well as your overall business is getting to know your customer at every opportunity. This is why asking questions and listening is so crucial and why the most successful companies spend a lot of time and effort in a constant dialog with their customers

Features as Needs
Learn to think about each and every feature of your product or service – as well as your whole business – in terms of what the customer is getting. Even for relatively minor things like color, packaging, optional extras and other detail you should invest time thinking about what these might mean to your customer. See your product or service features as answers to customer needs.

Marketing Segmentation

Product Development
In an ideal world you should not even create a product or service without market segmentation and this type of effort around understanding your customers and their needs. Unless you know your customers as you do a friend you cannot effectively meet their needs, communicate with and serve them. Start and finish with your customers in mind

Sales and Marketing
It goes without saying that in marketing segmentation is used to understand what kind of sales and marketing strategy will be the most effect in dealing with your customers. As you know by know, you should not try and sell features and function but rather understand your customer, their needs, personality and lifestyle and then speak to these

People First
Putting your customer and their best interests first and foremost is the key to your success. It may be that as your business mature so does your market in which case you may need to revise your product strategy based on the feedback you get from loyal customers. In all, what you are trying to do is to stay abreast of what your customers are by knowing them intimately

Value is all about needs and not how good your product or service is in your eyes. Your product or service is only as valuable as your customers think it is. Do not look at your product or service in term of features but rather in terms of what customer needs, wants or challenges they address

Finally, remember that you are not only trying to sell a product but serve your customers as well. As you get to know them through marketing segmentation the insights you gather into who your customers really are should be used to craft your message, product or service as well as tailor every part of your business to improve customer experience at every step!

Get help with Marketing Segmentation for your business!

SWOT AnalysisMarket SegmentationNiche MarketingWhat Is PositioningProduct DifferentiationDifferentiation StrategyThe BCG MatrixMarketing Segmentation Consultant

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