Segment Backwards

Segmentation is about building relationships, not just “targeting”. I am not a target to be thrown at, but someone worth caring about.

I am a Comcast customer at home. I use their Xfinity internet product. Yet, somehow I still get sent marketing material from them, trying to sell me products I either already have or products I haven’t had (nor will I have) for more than 10 years — a landline phone. This is a waste of their time and money.

A few years ago, I moved into a home where I had a bunch of tall trees surrounding the sides and back of my property. When I first moved in I had DIRECTV come out and see if I could install their service. The answer was yes, but it wouldn’t work well with the trees I had and they recommended against it. So, I didn’t have it installed. Yet, for the next 2 years until I moved, DIRECTV sent me promotional mail about every month. These were thick envelopes with nice, glossy, colored ads and such. They were trying to get me to sign up for their service. Why? Didn’t they know I couldn’t use it, but would if I could? The money spent marketing to me for two years was a pointless waste and only eroded their brand perception in my mind (by the way, I ended up purchasing Sling and have not turned back).

These two stories illustrate a very simple problem that a lot of brands have with marketing. They often segment their marketing data going out, but they have no mechanism to gather and segment data going back into their business.

When the DIRECTV guy comes to my house and learns that I am still interested, but it’s not technically possible, that data should go back to the company and they should segment me out of that marketing loop until they see a change of address, or until they have a product that doesn’t require a satellite on my home.

I can hear the “buts” from marketing friends now. But (consumers can “but” back), I am not going to buy arguments from marketers who sell me logic that works to their benefit. As a consumer, I care about MY benefit and MY experience. So marketers and their arguments should be centered on that. Does it work to benefit me, the consumer? Because if not, it is not really even benefiting the marketer.

Also, no argument of numbers and effectiveness is going to work with me. There is a diminishing return on marketing tactics that are not built on what is right and good and of value to a consumer, and I am only really interested in developing long-term, solid returns based on relationships, not quarterly marketing numbers based on impressions and sales, etc.

It’s very important that companies build in listening mechanisms that don’t just call for buying actions, but also that listen for customer context and sentiment and can adjust for it as they get it. Marketers should treat marketing actions like the company treats customer service. Sales should not be the only ultimately defining metric for marketing. We need to think more about relationships and less about sales.

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