The Why and How of Marketing Segmentation

The Why and How of Marketing Segmentation
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Sometimes you have to view your customers through different lenses.

Imagine you're at the eye doctor's office. Don't worry, it's not my favorite place, either.

When you sit in that chair with the various devices in front of your eyes, the eye doctor switches from one lens to the next, trying to find the right prescription for each eye.

Sometimes you need a different prescription for distance and reading. You might get progressive lenses or bifocals, or transition lenses.

Whatever the case, we all see differently, and sometimes you need to look at your customers differently, as well.

Why Do You Need Marketing Segmentation?

As a small business expert, I'm often asked about marketing segmentation. Why is it necessary? After all, your products and services don't change; neither does your business model or your mission statement.

The answer lies not in your business, but in your customers.

Just like your eyes, your customers see different things. They want and need different things. And more importantly, they come to you from different directions.

Market segmentation allows you to direct messages that will speak to the recipient based on his or her behaviors, shopping habits, social media interactions, and other data.

If you're anything like me, market segmentation has a second benefit. It not only allows you to craft more compelling, actionable, accurate marketing messages, but it also allows you to fine-tune your products and services to meet your audience's needs.

Who could say "no" to that?

How Do You Segment the Market?

You can segment your market in numerous ways. I'll break down a few of the most common methodologies to get you started.

Demographic Segmentation

Start by analyzing your target audience's demographics.

  • How much money do they make?
  • Where do they spend their money?
  • How much do they spend on cars? Homes? Electronics?
  • Are they religious?
  • How old are they?
  • Single? Married? Married with children? Empty Nesters?

The answers to these questions can help you drill down on buyer personas. Give each persona a name and start creating marketing materials that appeal to each one.

Geographic Segmentation

Let's say that you sell clothing both from a local boutique and from an online store. If you live in Florida, your local customers probably come into your store for tank tops, hats, shorts, skirts, and other lightweight fashions.

However, you might sell to customers in Maine. They're more in the market for fleece-lined jackets and fuzzy boots.

As you can see, geographic segmentation can make a big difference depending on your industry. If you try to sell a ice cream in winter to someone who lives in the Alaska, you'll probably be disappointed.

Buyer Journey Segmentation

How do your customers shop for items that you sell? For instance, if you sell high-end products, many of your customers might have long lead times between shopping and buying. They compare prices at different stores or service providers and take their time weighing their options.

Other customers are split-second decision makers. They see something they want, and 20 seconds later, it's in their hot little hands.

You can segment your market this way by appealing to customers with different shopping habits.

Subset Segmentation

Why do your customers want to buy your products? Let's say you manufacture shoes, for example. Customers might buy from you because they:

  • Need a pair of running shoes for their morning jogs
  • Desire a comfortable pair of shoes for working in the garden
  • Want to look great for an upcoming date night
  • Can't stop feeding their love of high end designer pumps
  • Won't resist the latest sneaker styles from their favorite basketball figure

Each of these customers might buy your shoes, but for different reasons. If you know those reasons, you can effectively segment the market.

You might discover that you need to focus on just one subset of this segment of your market, based on the most profitable opportunity and frequency of purchases. By all means, follow your data — (instincts are important, but never forget the data).

In the meantime, I'm always available to answer your questions and to facilitate conversations around small business advice. Let's connect on social media so you can get even more tips to grow your business. Just follow me on Twitter to connect.

This article was original published as Are You Effectively Using Market Segmentation on

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