Ah, the age-old pitfall of market segmentation. The foundation of all your efforts. Marketing 101 if you will. But why is this concept so difficult to grasp for many?
You might recognize the next part.
You have a product. Or service. You’re selling something. The company is your baby. But now, something triggered you to think about your audience. Who am I trying to reach? What does my audience look like?
In your enthusiasm and solid belief in your products, you proudly announce that everyone is your audience. Everyone could benefit from your product.
Sounds familiar? Well, you’ve guessed it. You’re wrong! Let’s explore why audience segmentation matters and how it can benefit your business.
Why targeting everyone is a mistake
Imagine the following.
You’re going on a holiday and need someone to take care of your pet rabbit. Obviously, you only want the best for little Thumper. Right?
So you start looking online and find several pet hotels. They all look the same. But they all look decent. Happy dogs, cats, rabbits and even snakes fill your screen. You show Thumper, but he seems more interested in his carrot. Can you blame him?
Your next search result shows you a dedicated rabbit hotel. A place where happy bunnies can hop around freely, play together and get the care they need. All the caretakers are trained to work with rabbits too! How wonderful.
Do you see where I’m going? Wouldn’t you be more comfortable sending Thumper there? Wouldn’t you even be willing to spend some extra cash on his stay, now that you’ve found something that perfectly fulfills your needs?
I thought so too.
If you’re not convinced, think of afro hair salons.
What a delight to be able to have your hair done in a place where they understand your needs. No one wants their hair messed up, am I right?
Not to worry! There are no rookie mistakes in this place. We understand how to work your hair type and your hair type only.
Got blond straight hair? Then you might be better off going elsewhere.
But got afro curls? Then you’ve guessed it. This is the perfect place for you.
You see, you want to create the best possible service for your target audience. Give your customers the best value possible.
Keep your target audience too broad and you will become a mediocre option for everyone. Think about it. How can you possibly be an expert at everything? Do you know a neurosurgeon who is also a dentist?
More importantly. Would you schedule your next brain surgery with a neurosurgeon who is also a dentist?
How having a small target audience helps
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore the benefits of having a small target audience.
We’ll start by taking a closer look at Facebook.
If you think about it, Facebook has become a place for everyone. Chances are that even your grandma is on Facebook. Am I right?
But this wasn’t always the case.
The platform was launched in 2004 and was initially only available to Harvard students. They had the opportunity to upload photos, share their interests and connect with others in their class. As you might have guessed, Facebook was a huge success. Half of Harvard’s students created an account within the first month.
The platform was an instant hit and soon enough, students from other universities showed an interest in joining.
Slowly, Facebook was creating an army of superfans. And this didn’t go unnoticed. It didn’t take long before the platform was rolled out to people outside of universities.
In the beginning, mainly the younger generations embraced Facebook. But as word spread, more and more people started signing up. Older people, too. And before we knew it, everyone and literally his grandma now has a Facebook account. Think about it – why do your parents have Facebook? Who told them about it?
You see, the platform’s success originates from this small specific group of superfans. The college students. From there, Facebook was able to grow into the behemoth it is today.
You need to cater to your superfans. People who love everything you offer, are loyal and come back time after time to spend money on your products.
You are only able to achieve this if you have a very specific audience in mind. You can’t please everyone at once. And it’s ok if other people hate your products. As long as there is a group of people that absolutely love it.
Have you ever heard of the adoption curve?
It’s the lifecycle that products go through.
No one has heard about your products and business when you first start out. So you need people who are brave enough to give your products a try. They act without needing proof or historic data. They believe in the potential of your product. We call these people Innovators.
It’s crucial to focus on your innovators early on. Build a solid group of superfans, since they are the ones who will rave about your products and convince those who need a little bit more validation: early adopters.
As you build up your client list, you will see how your product will move through the adoption curve. The most important takeaway is to provide your core audience with the most value you can possibly give them. Forget about pleasing the rest. Please your superfans.
Segmenting your audience
So by now, you might be wondering how you can find your target audience. The best place to start is by segmenting your audience. By doing this, you will avoid the pitfall of going too broad and ending up trying to attract everyone and in the process get no one really excited.
By segmenting your audience, you will get a good idea of what kind of people you are targeting.
Why is that important?
Because you want to know what drives them, what makes them tick and what frustrates them. You’ll be able to communicate with your target audience in a way that really resonates with them. It determines your tone of voice in all your texts and on your website. And you’ll be able to offer a product that matches your target audience so perfectly that they will feel like it was custom made for them.
So how does this work?
You will segment your audience based on five dimensions.
Geographic segmentation is about grouping your audience based on the area they live in. Think about your ideal customer’s location and take note of the local language, timezone and climate.
Next up is demographic segmentation. You will now divide the market into smaller segments based on demographic elements. Think of age, gender, occupation, income level and family structure. Remember to keep your target audience narrow. It’s scary to dismiss groups of people, but what you are actually trying to do is come up with a prototype of a person that is your ideal customer.
We’ve already got quite a specific target audience by now, but let’s go even further. Benefit segmentation groups your target audience by the benefit they get from your product or service.
Let me give you some examples. Your shoes. What were you looking to get out of them when you bought them? Perhaps you wanted something that provides your feet and joints the maximum amount of support while walking or jogging. Or maybe you wanted shoes that show off your style and fashion sense. Or maybe you just wanted the cheapest container for your feet, because it’s weird to walk around outside without shoes.
This is benefit segmentation. What is the value your target audience gets from your product? What need are you fulfilling?
Do you see how you can throw this benefit straight to your audience in your promotional materials?
Now we’re going to sort our target audience based on the behaviors they exhibit. First off, you will want to define how your target audience buys. Think about their purchasing behavior and the decision-making process of buying products. The goal here is to understand how your ideal customer approaches a new purchase and how they will during the buying process.
Also, think about how your target audience uses your product.
Which features are important to them? And how often do they use it? How loyal are they to your brand? Do they generally feel any brand loyalty at all?
And the last dimension in target audience segmentation is psychographic segmentation. You will now narrow down your target audience based on their beliefs, values and reasons for being.
Think about your ideal customer’s lifestyle, interests, social status and opinions. Do they live an active lifestyle? Are they worried about the environment? Does keeping up with the Joneses matter to them?
That’s it! You have now defined each of the five dimensions and ended up with quite a specific target audience. Well done!
Make sure to write this down and picture your target audience. Think about them regularly.
Every time you create new products or communicate something to your audience, have your target group in mind and give them what they long for.
Remember – you are set out to build that initial group of superfans. Your brand ambassadors that know, like and trust you. Nurture them and provide them with the best value imaginable. Keep at it and they will love you back for it.