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What a seven-year-old can teach you about segmentation

By Huw Waters | Head of marketing



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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April 30, 2018 | 4 min read

My seven-year-old consciously adapts his voice, words, and communication style to suit who he talks to. Marketers today (especially those with digital in their title) focus so much on tactics that they’ve forgotten about strategy. Segmentation is at the heart of marketing. Who are your customers? What are their needs? How do we communicate with them in a way that resonates and incites action?


/ Jenn Evelyn-Ann

By concentrating all your efforts and energy on a market segment you can create competitive advantage, which leads to greater awareness, more appreciation, and a better chance of success.

Choose your language carefully

Small changes in phrasing can change how people feel and react. My seven-year-old is always adapting his style to suit who he talks to; how he talks to his football teammates is different to how he talks to the kids in his karate class. How he talks to his male school friends is different to how he talks to the girls. How he talks to his grandmother in Japan is different from how he speaks to his grandfather in the UK.

He has found a commonality within segments of his market. He focuses his efforts on the segments that matter to him and ignores the rest. And he changes his language depending on which segment he’s talking to.

And you know what? It works. He’s fantastic friends with the members of each group. He’s won hearts and minds. He gets invited to the party. And he gets picked first.

Thinking like children

Marketers need to think more like children and make friends with their customers by speaking the same language.

It takes time. It’s trial and error as to what works and what doesn’t, and what attracts people and what doesn’t.

Not every organisation has the budget for focus groups to test creative ideas. But every time we create an advert, an email, an image, a video, or write copy for our website, we can put ourselves in the shoes of the segment we’re targeting. Is the language right for them? Will they ‘get it’? Will it show that I understand them? Will it make me part of the group? Will it incite the right action or reaction? Are they more likely to accept me as a friend?

Getting invited to the party

Segmentation helps your brand define the right customer journeys and create the right content to deliver better results, but where to begin?

Start with strategy

What are your business objectives? To attract new customers? Increase leads? Increase conversions? Knowing this helps to define your plan.

Define your KPIs

The KPIs you choose to define success need to be different at each stage of the customer journey. For example, direct website visits may be relevant at an awareness stage, but repeat purchases will be more relevant at an advocacy stage.

Prioritise your key customer segments

Some groups are more important than others. What are these groups? What do they have in common?

Use the PIE framework to help select the right ones for you

P - Potential – is there a big potential to meet our strategic objectives if we target this segment?

I – Importance – is the segment big enough to make an impact?

E – Ease – is the segment easy to identify when they arrive at your website or within a few clicks?

Then – and only then – can you decide on the content to create, the tactics you’ll employ, and the language to use to get results.

So here’s my plea to marketers. Before you start creating anything, ask yourself – what would a seven-year-old do?

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