Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Respect my differences (and similarities) if you want to sell to me

Are you an individual? Of course you are. You are as unique as I am. None of us are average.

Or so we would like to think. None of us like to think we behave in ways that are anything but specific to us and our unique situation.

That may be true, up to a point. Yet the dazzling array of differences, and similarities, we display in our purchasing habits somehow have to be managed by those responsible for marketing (selling) to us. A business with over 200,000 customers cannot possibly craft 200,000 messages to all her unique customers. Nor could she use “technology” with any degree of success to somehow create messages based on characteristics held in a database. The resulting mess is likely to be highly comic.

So in order to manage complexity, and the similarities that we invariably display (I'm not nearly as unique as I'd like to think) we have to group customers and prospects together. Well, we have to if we have more than a handful of high-spending customers.

So in addition to being able to inform our business and marketing strategies, segmentation also allows us to manage complexity in a way that would not otherwise be possible.

It may not be the newest marketing kid on the block, it may not have the originality of Twitter or augmented reality, but it has the distinct advantage that it works. And if more of our marketing cousins in the financial sector had thought to segment their customer base by how profitable their customers were, maybe we wouldn’t have had the financial meltdown we had.

PS A comment on yesterday’s post suggested that we should be marketing to customers individually, and providing what they individually want. Further, that segmentation was an old-marketers notion that stood in the way of progress.

If only that were true.

Despite many companies holding a great deal of information about us, and our buying habits, they still insist on treating us as one group. Sending me samples of baby food (thanks Ocado!) or offering a free all expenses paid trip to Cardiff to someone who lives in Cardiff (not sure he will be entering that prize draw). Or sending me vouchers for steak, chicken and hamburgers when it has been at least 15 years since I have eaten any meat (forgivable if it were not from the company that benefits from my monthly grocery shop). I could go on, and no doubt will, but I hope I have made the point.

Segmentation is more economic, effective and polite than treating everyone as proud parents/thrilled at the possibility of shopping in Cardiff/eating dead animals (delete as appropriate).

12 comments:

  1. jenny kowalczuk7 July 2010 at 17:23

    hang on, I live in cardiff, have a baby and eat meat, perhaps it's a case of identity theft?

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