When it comes to marketing, instead of looking at the entire audience (i.e. everyone who could potentially use our product or service), it’s better to narrow the focus, breaking it down into smaller, more manageable segments (i.e. only those people who would actually buy our product or service). As much as we might be tempted, we just can’t be all things to all people…nor should we. And that’s what target market segmentation is really all about.
According to the Small Business Administration, there are two main methods used to segment a market.
- Geographic Segmentation: Specializing in serving the needs of customers in a particular geographical area.
- Customer Segmentation: Identifying those people most likely to buy a product/service.
The first type of segmentation is relatively easy to do: pick an area and start canvassing. Of course, you should definitely scope out all of the different segments in your ‘hood first by checking out the demos in your zip code, as defined by Claritas’ Prizm tool. (I guarantee you’ll have fun…and will be surprised by what you find!)
The second type of segmentation is a bit trickier. The key is to figure out what these people want, need, think, and feel in order to find, reach, and communicate with them effectively. I like using the “Personas” iOS app for the iPad (by WhateverApps) to create a visual representation of potential target markets.
A “persona” is a rendering of a fictional customer that examines the things that shopper needs and wants, and (perhaps more importantly) what makes that particular customer decide to buy. The idea is that the best way to target a customer is to know who exactly she is, what she does, what she likes, where she lives, and so on.
Once you can clearly see your customers, you can start to predict their behavior. You’ll not only unlock the mystery of why they buy, but also how they buy. This vital information will enable you to make more informed business decisions, keeping key stakeholders in mind.
So, go ahead and get creative! Have fun superimposing key qualities about what your customers say, do, and see. As you watch each persona come to life—one digital sticky note at a time—you’ll be creating an invaluable catalog of the lifeblood of your business.