A 5-step guide to developing and scrutinising target markets

How should you develop market segmentation strategies?

When discussing audience segmentation, many professionals assume the end goal is to zero-in on very specific, almost niche markets.

While attention to detail is certainly valuable, marketers should not limit themselves to only delivering services or products to granular target audiences. A company could reasonably appeal to several target markets without forcing its operations to undergo significant adjustments.

In fact, the first thing marketers should do is scrutinise their businesses to determine which segments they're capable of accommodating. All in all, to identify and analyse marketing segments, professionals need to do five things:

1. Analyse your business' capabilities 

For the sake of argument, let's assume you're a marketer at a B2B company that delivers, customises and provides consultation on cloud-hosted enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Obviously, you want to target companies that are unlikely to cancel their subscriptions to your service. Why would an organisation terminate its contract with your business? While a number of reasons may prompt such a decision, they're all founded on what you are and are not capable of doing.

The Open Group, a worldwide consortium dedicated to developing IT standards, advised firms to assess their internal processes and outcomes associated with them. Ask specific questions such as:

  • How many clients can one consultant reasonably handle?
  • What is the cost associated with deploying and training clients in the software?

By the end of the project, you should have a strong understanding of what kind of clients you should target.

2. Start with demographics

Whether you're a B2B or B2C company, the next step should involve classifying your customer or client data into demographics or firmographics. Just how successful you are in completing this step of the process depends on the information you have at your disposal.

This step is generally quite simple. Simply categorise individuals by age, gender, race, marital status, income levels, education, occupation and where they live.

Remember that the group in which a person belongs does not dictate his or her behaviour. For example, you may assume that a 64-year-old male living in a rural community likes to fish. However, you have no way of verifying this claim.

3. Distinguishing behaviours 

Now that you've categorised people into multiple segments, you can distinguish them further by identifying consumer group preferences and behaviours. Doing so will provide insight into their specific needs.

How you go about identifying these traits depends on your capabilities. Do you have the budget to hold a couple of focus groups? Is an anonymous online survey more practical? Again, refer to your capabilities to identify the best course of action.

The National Arts Marketing Project recommended asking the following questions:

  • What are their beliefs? Identify people's opinions and attitudes about specific situations. For example, in an anonymous survey, you could inquire as to how individuals feel about particular political issues.
  • What do they prioritise? Assess where they're most likely to place value. An 18-year-old may focus more on obtaining a degree or learning a trade than a 34-year-old.
  • What activities do they partake in? For example, some individuals may indulge in sports, while others take a liking to painting and drawing.

4. Develop a persona 

After enhancing audience data by verifying behaviours, you can bring out your creative side.

When developing marketing campaigns, it's usually helpful for those involved with such projects to have a clear idea as to who their audience is. In this regard, developing a persona can be a huge help.

Creating a persona involves crafting a fictional character who possesses the behaviours, values and traits of the people you're trying to connect with.

For example, suppose the persona you're attempting to attract has an intense passion for sports, exercises on a regular basis, enjoys a glass of red wine every now and then and has a technical mind. Already, you have a lot of information on which to develop a marketing campaign.

Say you want to develop a commercial that will appeal to this character. The shoe you're marketing was designed to support quick movements and explosiveness. Why not add graphics to the video that succinctly describe the science behind the foot apparel?

Bottom line, ask yourself what sort of messages, imagery and other materials will hit the right note with your persona.

5. Identify the persona's needs 

Wants and needs are two fundamentally different things. While the latter refers to something a person literally cannot live without, the former regards something that's nice to have, but not essential.

Needs are tied to people's livelihoods. In other words, you need something in order to survive. So, a farmer with a lot of land needs equipment that allows him to work his property efficiently. A single mother of three kids who's working full time may need a quick and easy way to connect with dependable babysitters.

In this regard, refer back to your data science capabilities. Experiment with the information at your disposal to uncover particular needs your target audience may not have stated in online surveys or during focus groups.


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