Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Segmentation: Building Better Interactive Marketing By Reaching More Focused Markets

At the heart of successful marketing is the need to generalize: to make predictable the behaviors of large groups, and to extrapolate predictable trends from the jumbled mass of seemingly random individual actions. You must generalize your intelligence, tackling common sales trends rather than spending all your time chasing a multitude of independent prospect interests.

Your customers, however, do act individually with their own motivations, desires and needs. And when economic conditions get tight, your prospects individualize even further - they focus more on their unique problems and less on wider commercial trends. Their buying behavior segments. Businesses that overly focus on a single generalized market soon discover that financial problems arise fast when their customer base, previously marching in step, all start bolting off in their own directions. That poses a dilemma to many businesses when a recession hits.

No business can profitably afford to uniquely cater to every prospect on an individual basis. So how should you adapt your interactive marketing when their core market base - faced with the practical realities of a tough economy - begins to splinter and fragment?

Successful businesses segment their market. Targeted communications are crafted on a level closer to the lives of their customers. Rather than one big customer base, they segment their market into a group of smaller related customer bases - and in doing so, both serve their customers better and build a reliable redundancy into their sales cycle. As long as the economy remains in a recessionary or recovering position, smart businesses will segment their core markets with marketing strategies designed to appeal to smaller, more predictable prospect groups.

Consider how your core market can be approached as multiple segmented groups, each segment being:

Distinctive. Each targeted segment should be very clearly distinguishable from the others. What makes this group of people absolutely unique? What can you add to your online marketing to better identify with them, to distinguish their needs from other prospects?

Common. Prospects that make up each segment should share clear common qualities. Even in tough times, people never escape generalization altogether. What ties these prospects together? What can you add to your online portal to inspire a sense of community among them?

Responsive. Be brutally honest with yourself: is this group of people truly apt to respond to your marketing right now? Is your offering clearly within their current buying patterns? Don't waste time and money attempting to sell to a segment that clearly won't respond to you.

Reachable. A sharp message, selling a fabulous service to a responsive segment, accomplishes nothing if you can't actually reach those people. Interactive marketing - social networking, website design, email marketing - offers you more opportunities than ever before to reach your prospects. Start taking advantage of the tools available today to get your message out.

It is rarely good business to ever put all your eggs in one basket. But in a recessionary or recovering economy, it is often a guaranteed recipe for failure. If you're finding it harder and harder to boost your sales in this increasingly pragmatic sales landscape, stop: take a closer look at your prospects and consider how a segmentation plan can improve your marketing. You'll likely discover opportunities for success that you never dreamed were there - and the clear strategies you need to leverage them into greater future successes.