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One Size Does Not Fit All

Do you communicate the exact same message to every customer when marketing? If so, you could be losing potential customers.

Recently, I stayed in a nice hotel that housed several restaurants. Within the hotel, there were many options to choose from. For breakfast, there was a “grab and go” café-style restaurant that catered to busy folks and to those on a budget. There was a nicer, sit-down restaurant that was a little more expensive as a breakfast option. At dinner, you had the option of choosing between the food court, an upper-end bistro, and an expensive steakhouse with lots of ambiance. This hotel really understood that its patrons came from varied and diverse backgrounds, and I bet they reap decent profits from catering to so many different needs.

It’s easy to forget that your customers are different from each other. After all, they do have one thing in common: they’re all buying your products or services. But here’s the thing: they’re all buying for different reasons. While your customers do share common characteristics, they also have distinct differences.

When your marketing message is too vague or too broad, you risk losing customers. Likewise, if your market is too specific and targets only a few, you’ll probably end up losing money. My company sells solar generators to people who are concerned about power outages. But we also sell a sizeable number to campers. If we don’t speak specifically to campers, in addition to people who want to be prepared for power outages, we lose their sale.

That’s why market segmentation can be a powerful marketing tool for you.

Market segmentation? What’s that?

Market segmentation is the process of dividing your customer base into clearly identifiable parts. Each segment consists of customers or potential customers with similar needs, wants, or characteristics. The objective of market segmentation is to design marketing messages and methods that speak to each segment specifically.

When you take the time to look closely at who your customers are, you’ll find that each segment has different buying patterns … and that’s what can lead you to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. By segmenting your marketing, you can tailor your marketing plan to reach the right customers with the right offers at the right time. Thankfully, in today’s technology-friendly society, there are tools that can help you gather information on your different market segments and keep it updated.

Here are some ways to segment your market:

  • By geographic location
  • By household demographics
  • By lifestyle
  • By products purchased & quantities purchased
  • By where they already shop
  • By cultural and ethnic demographics
  • By political and religious affiliations
  • By age and gender
  • By education and vocation

Jewelry stores have been doing this for years. They cater to women in various life-stages and to those with a higher disposable income. The “diamond anniversary ring” campaigns of several years ago targeted women of a certain age, income, and lifestyle segment, and helped to revive flagging diamond sales. Clothing and makeup companies market to younger demographics and specific ethnic groups. With the recent boom of smartphones, many phone service providers have begun targeting families with teenagers in the home.

Create customer profiles

Create customer profiles to give you insight into your different market segments. If you’ve never profiled your customers, it’s not too late to start. Aside from tracking the basics, such as geographic location and purchasing history, there are ways to find out more details about your customers. You may want to ask them to fill out a survey after the checkout process. Some companies choose to give discounts or special offers on future orders to encourage customers to complete surveys. (This also encourages repeat orders.) Keeping track of which offers they respond to can also give you information about their interests.

Let technology do the work for you

Many online communication programs are available to you at little to no cost. Using a database of your customer’s email addresses, you can use software such as Aweber, Mail Chimp, or Constant Contact with ease. These tools track who opens your emails, what links are clicked, and who deletes emails without opening them. It’s a great way to test your email subject lines to see which ones are the most effective. Other software programs will help you analyze your market segments and keep customer profiles and databases updated. While some of these programs are more expensive, they enable you to sort through mountains of data with just a click.

Keep your profiles fresh

Customer profiles will change over time, because life changes and circumstances change. Everybody gets older. People marry and have families. Job changes occur, geographical moves happen, and all of these things can affect buying patterns. By marketing products that appeal to customers at different stages of their lives, you can increase repeat sales and build profits.

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