Sometimes we assume too much

Like many agencies, life at SheTech includes a steady stream of “check this out” messages that we pass among each other when we see something inspiring and share-worthy. One of us sent this link around yesterday:

To: All

Subject: Wow. Just, wow.

and their designer

What followed was a lively exchange that was neatly divided between folks that thought this was great creative and execution and those that just didn’t like it. This got me thinking about our small but significant individual differences, and how one might assume that if you took a fairly small sampling of like-minded, connected people you probably wouldn’t expect to get such widely different responses to a product presentation. Sometimes we assume too much.

When marketers develop a campaign, sometimes they take a one-size-fits-all approach, and that’s fine if it serves the need for continuity and brand awareness. Another approach uses audience segmentation to fine-tune messages to different audiences.

Clearly, there are many ways to segment audiences. Classic criteria (mass-market segmentation) considers factors such as age, gender, geography, education level, income/affluence, etc. as primary sectors.

In light of how our reasonably similar group reacted to the same stimulus, consider the possibility that those classics are too coarse and can miss important influences that drive our response to marketing. There are virtually endless ways of generating much more nuanced segmentation: mental models, capability levels, mood, affinity, experience lifecycle, attitude, sentiment, learning style…you can practically make up criteria that fit your unique space.

What’s important to recognize is that segmentation demands us to look at our product through a different lens for each audience and experience it through their eyes. A well-executed segmented campaign will not be a matter of juggling a few design elements or swapping out a stock photo. It requires a deep understanding of the segment’s context, usage and needs unique messages. In our little group, looking at the same site drew some of us in and others bailed out quickly. Astute segmenters will examine why some of us jumped, and tune content and creative to addresses our drivers and compels us to action.

Segmentation doesn’t mean being all things to all segments. In fact, it allows you to conserve resources and focus on the best prospects within your segments and avoid spending where it won’t resonate.

Thanks to the incredibly creative folks at Nerd Communications for the spark.

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