Sharpening Your Audience: Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning

Your Brand Is Looking Sharp. Are Your Campaigns?

As an inbound marketing agency, we’ve heard that you want to “raise brand awareness and increase engagement for your brand to generate leads” a time or two. We’re no stranger to developing digital marketing and advertising campaigns that meet this objective goal. But, it’s not just one goal. It’s many. Let’s get a little dialogue going to set the stage:

CEO: Marketing Maven, you’ve seen our second-to-none brand and understand our products and services. I’m charging you with getting our name out there. We need to be strategic about generating those leads. Let’s make that positive ROI happen.

Marketing Maven: (Purse lips. Deep breath. Smile.) Boss, I like where your head is at. Let’s definitely make that happen. But first let’s identify who these prospective leads are going to be. And then, let’s figure out what makes them different. Because at the end of the day, our prospects aren’t all the same, right? And the ad campaigns that reach them should be specific to what makes them unique.

Sound familiar? Whether you relate best to the c-level executive or the digital marketing director, both make valid points.

CEO is rightly thinking about his bottom line and how to get the most out of his investment.

Marketing Maven is figuring out how to make the most of the investment keeping the company’s buyer personas, or audience segments, top of mind.

These two mindsets aren’t at odds, but rather complementary in developing the segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) strategy.

The STP model simply helps you develop more relevant communications and deliver them to the market segments that are most valuable to your business.

Segmentation: So Many Colors. Select Your Favorites.

In the coloring book that is the marketplace, first you have to realize, your brand and product or service offerings are not going to reach everyone. Besides, everyone isn’t going to be a quality lead. So get that whisky on the rocks for your boss as s/he digests that fun fact, and be selective and segment.

Identify the different audience segments you have the greatest likelihood of attracting to your brand and turning into customer. They may share some similar attributes, but it’s the qualities that make them different that will inform the type of advertising campaign you deliver.

Think of it this way. If your product or service is ideal for newlyweds, parents, empty nesters, and seniors, your ad campaign messaging and creative (images, videos, demos) are going to need to be tailored to each life stage.

In addition to life stages, other common audience segmentation may stem from:

  • Demographics: age, gender, income, education, ethnicity, marital status, education, household (or business), size, length of residence, type of residence or even profession/occupation and employer depending on the ad network.
  • Behavior: web browsing behaviors and purchase choices including attitudes, lifestyle, hobbies and interests, the nature of the purchase, brand loyalties, benefits sought, technology or channels used, and reaction to other marketing features.
  • Geographies: Segment by country, region, state, city, zip code and then drill down further by whether they live in these locations, are visiting them or are simply interested in them.

Psychographics and beliefs and/or values may also come into play as you are developing your audience segments, but often require a more involved process through surveying and interviews.

Once you’ve identified your audience segments, it’s on to targeting.

Targeting: Skip the Mechanical Pencils. No. 2 Pencils are a Better Option.

So now Marketing Maven, you can go back and say Boss, we’re not going to be everywhere. But, we’re going to be somewhere that matters.

The beauty of digital marketing and advertising today is that it affords your business the opportunity to deliver relevant communications to each of your audience segments through targeting. It is flexible in supporting a diversified marketing mix, so you can run multiple campaigns across variable ad networks where your prospective leads are already engaged.

Your newlyweds and seniors may be spending a bunch of time on Facebook sharing their wedding photos and grams yelling “Where’s my great-grandchild?” Are you delivering Facebook Ads with messaging that encourages them to connect?

Your parents and empty nesters are probably Google feigns on-the-go with the kids or onto the next travel destination as far away from the kids as possible. Are you running Google Ads optimized for voice search so they’re seeing your brand first in search engines?

And most importantly, what is the projected effectiveness of each audience segment? Keep these four factors top of mind as you’re assessing if your ad campaign targeting is up to snuff:

  1. Size – is the market big enough or too niche? Is it prone to grow or dwindle overtime?
  2. Uniqueness – are your audience segments truly unique or have too much overlap? Should you put more effort behind one vs the other?
  3. Profitability – are you putting in too much elbow grease, but not seeing muscle?
  4. Conceivable – can you successfully service these audience segments? How are you doing it better than your competitors? What are the barriers? How about opportunities?

Positioning: Get Out the Sharpener

The last step of your STP strategy is positioning your brand products and service offerings so you can go back to your boss and say “We did it! We raised brand awareness, increased engagement, and generated quality leads.”

This is the exercise where you figure out how you tailor the messaging for your product and services to each of your audience segments that not only addresses how you can help them, but also how they’ll perceive your brand, and why they’re going to pick you over your competitors. Time to dig out that USP and value proposition you filed away for a rainy day.

And that’s it. Once you’ve STP’d that strategy, it’s time implement and launch. Just don’t forget to measure, sharpen what’s working, and adapt what’s not!

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