Breaking your audience into tiny, little pieces

Segmentation. What a word… What a concept! The idea that you can take your entire viable market, break it into segments defined by metrics, and then approach treat and service them differently is, rarely, in my opinion, executed successfully.

Not because the idea isn’t sound — it is. You mean different things to different people and the more specific your approach to those different people, the more likely they are to easily find you personally relevant in their lives (business or otherwise). In Eventerprise’s case we appeal to hosts and suppliers for very, very different reasons: hosts can find the best suppliers in the world, setting them up for a superior event, while suppliers get found by those very hosts, and build their own businesses. Same business; different messages.

That, to me makes sense. We segment based on need, so we can best solve specific pain points. Easy. What doesn’t make sense are the approaches that other, larger and older enterprises often still apply… Here are my two worst:

I was talking to an old friend the other day who works in Business Banking for one of the largest financial institutions. In their minds it makes sense to segment their client base based on the amount of potential revenue their different clients bring to the bank. Essentially, they segment based on how much the bank needs the client, and service them accordingly. The bigger you are the better the service you get? This is nonsensical.

Rather, they should segment based on need of the client. Or, rather, the neediness. Some clients are financially astute, especially in the larger organisations, and have no need for advice, support or any form of ‘deft baking hand’ — they probably know as much about banking as the banks do, and they just want the basics. On the other hand, you have clients who are great at what they do for a living, but are rubbish at anything else — including banking. Why, then, would you not give the neediest clients the best support from the best relationship managers? Especially considering that the needier a client is, the noisier they are and the more likely they are to share awesome or awful stories about your service. Banks look at how much they need the client, not how much the client needs them. Selfish. And foolish.

Another lazy segmentation method is based on income. In South Africa (and nowhere else in the world) clients are broken apart by Living Standard Measurements (LSMs), which is about as old-school as it gets. In fact, it’s been proven not to work, because you can’t tell what a potential client needs or wants based on how much they earn. Which means you’re not solving any kind of problem.

There are two things we believe are the most effective when it comes to how you talk to your customers.

  1. Work out what message works for anyone and this is generally your ethos. It’s what you believe that others can believe in to, and isn’t necessarily linked to any form of buying motive whatsoever — it’s linked to something deeper and more intrinsic. It should define the bigger picture.
  2. Work out who needs what, how much they need it, and how much they need you. Advertise, speak and support accordingly.

Would you like to see how our market segmentation looks? Click here.

Originally published at on May 19, 2016.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.