If you try to serve everyone, you won’t serve anyone.
The fact is customers want to feel unique. They want you to treat them as an individual and feel you truly understand their individual needs. That’s why generic copy, or claiming that you can ‘cater to everyone’, simply doesn’t work in today’s society where consumers expect a personalised approach.
To succeed in your business, you need to understand who you wish to serve, define the ideal demographics and psychographics, and express that in a clear and compelling way that makes your audience say ‘yes – that’s me’.
But what do you do if you have very different people that you wish to serve? For example, small business owners and large corporates, or middle aged and retirees.
The answer is not to create generic content that speaks to everyone.
There is another option. It’s called segmentation – a process of dividing your audience into different segments based on shared characteristics.
You could divide your audience based on demographics, geography, behaviour and more.
To explain what I mean let’s look at an example…
Imagine you sell sportswear. You have footwear for runners, tennis players and hikers. Just thinking about the runners, your target audience includes professional athletes, committed amateurs, casual runners and new runners. Rather than sending the same message to everyone about your sports footwear, you may send a specific message to runners or hikers. You may even decide to target professional runners and committed amateurs separately. After all, people who have been running for years and are familiar with the products you offer will engage differently from people who are just getting started.
So how will you segment your audience? There are many characteristics you could consider. Let’s have a look at some of the options.
This is the typical way of defining your target market. This includes characteristics such as age, gender, location, ethnicity, income, household size.
Age – for example, are you targeting children, teenagers, adults or retirees?
Gender – do you have specific products for men and women? Think of self-care products that are specifically relevant to men e.g. shaving cream.
Location – do you have specific products for people in different locations? This could be as narrow or expansive as you wish from postal code to global. For example, you may have in person events local to you as well as virtual events that attract a wider audience.
Note: be careful not to use stereotypes when advertising based on demographic attributes such as gender, age, ethnicity, etc.
These give insights into the actions your audience takes. For example, online shopping habits, favourite social media platforms, devices they use.
Benefits – you can divide customers based on the benefits they are looking for. You can motivate them to buy your product by highlighting the benefits most relevant to them. For example, if you offer online grocery shopping, some may appreciate the convenience of having everything delivered to their door whilst others may appreciate the time-saving aspect (e.g. if they live far away from a local store).
Purchase journey stage – in other words, where are they in the customer journey? Depending on where your ideal customer is at in the customer journey, they will have different needs and will require different information. For example, a potential customer may be struggling with a problem, but they may not be aware a solution exists. You may share blog content to raise awareness for people at this stage. Once your ideal customer knows what kind of product they require, they want to learn more about its characteristics and find the best version to meet their needs. Reviews and comparison tables can be great tools to help them make a decision.
Want to learn more about the different stages of the buyer journey? Download the customer journey template
These give an insight into the mindset, perceptions and interests of your ideal customers.
Personality – are your customers adventurous or conservative? Introverted or extroverted? Spontaneous or a planner? Or maybe you have a mix. Look out for patterns between personality type and product preferences.
Lifestyle – do they lead an active lifestyle? Do they spend long hours on their feet in their job? Do they spend a lot of time sitting? If you have a clothes store, this will indicate the kind of clothing and footwear they need e.g. cross-trainers, hiking boots or orthopaedic shoes.
Values – what do your customers care about? Maybe it’s eco-friendly, luxurious or economical.
So you might be wondering where to start with all the options… Luckily, you don’t have to choose one factor in isolation. You can combine these characteristics to create more powerful and personalised marketing campaigns. For example, environmentally conscious stay-at-home mums who live in rural areas or single university students who enjoy an active lifestyle.
Once defined, you can use these insights to inform your advertising campaigns, email marketing, social media content, and more.
Whatever the nature of your business, you likely serve different groups. By communicating with all these people in the same way, you risk being bland or irrelevant to some and at worst you risk pushing unsatisfied customers further away from your business. If you instead focus on a few key segments of your audience, you can customise your messaging to be so much more engaging to each group.
Segmentation helps you to provide a customised experience and super-tailored offers to your audience. With content and offers that are highly relevant, you will be able to stand out against your competitors and build stronger relationships with your audience.
How do you plan to segment your audience? Let me know in the comments.