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Targeted Marketing - Strategically Target And Segment Markets

Targeted Marketing - How to strategically target and segment markets to win new customers

6th September 2021

 

Segmentation Targeting Positioning Process

B2B (business-to-business) activity makes up the majority of income for 40% of UK businesses, and a further 42% are blended between B2B and B2C (business to consumer) industries (Source: The Business Intelligence Group). That leaves just 18% of companies that aren't marketing to other businesses! If that's a surprise to you, you're not alone.

The B2B market is widely misunderstood within the UK, but the truth is that we're a country built on business-to-business activity. Unfortunately, that means that if you're a B2B company, you're up against a lot of competition. Identifying, targeting, and winning over your clients isn't likely to be an easy feat, which is why it costs five times more to win over a new client than it does to keep an existing one. But, if you're looking to grow, then those new clients are crucial.

Trying to be everything to everyone often results in a business having a shallow understanding of its markets, competitors, and customer needs, leading to poor targeting and positioning. Focus enables depth of understanding and from this we can develop a winning solution.

So, where do you start?

You can't just hit the ground running without any preparation, which is where the STP strategy comes into play.

Strategically Target Markets With STP

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What is STP in Marketing?

STP stands for segmenting, targeting, and positioning. In simple terms, this technique is all about focusing your marketing efforts and creating more efficient strategies. It also brings clarity on customer demands and your position in the market, ensuring you can stand out in the competitive business world. 

STP Marketing 

The three different cornerstones of STP - segment, target, and position as illustrated above - are designed to aid the development of a market plan and supporting marketing mix that will benefit your business and drive your growth. If you feel like you’re floundering and don’t know where to go next, this is a strategy that will help.

What is Segmentation?

Segmentation is the first step in STP and is essential if you want to start implementing strategic targeting.

When it comes to the value within your company, there are two main issues you need to address:

1. Which customers you're selling to

2. How to serve those customers

Segmentation, sometimes generically referred to as customer segmentation, focuses on the first problem by honing in on exactly who your target market is. It divides the larger market into smaller sections, grouping clients together based on their different characteristics, needs, and desires. These segments can be massive, comprising almost all of your target clients, or they can be incredibly niche, incorporating only a very select few. 

Segment 

Some different B2B segmentation examples include:

  • Location of the business
  • Financial data (e.g. Turnover, debt, cash, etc.)
  • Age of your target company (e.g. a new cybersecurity startup run by millennials vs a family-inherited computing business run by a 50-year-old)
  • The occupation of the person who will be interacting with you (e.g. CEO, software developer, marketer)
  • The budget and purchasing habits of the business.

That's just a tiny sample of the different groups you can segment your wider audience into - we’ll look closer at the models later.

What is Targeting?

Targeting is the process of selecting the audience you're going to market to.

Targeting in marketing 

There are three different approaches to this; mass marketing, segmented marketing, and niche marketing.

Mass marketing disregards the use of segmentation and instead targets a wider audience. So, let's say you've created a company that provides IT support for schools; with mass marketing, you'd be marketing to all schools, regardless of location, the pupils' age, or the school's budget. Whilst this sounds like an appealing method, it lacks focus and can make it hard for brands to really hone their marketing. It's often referred to as the 'spray and pray method' because businesses will chuck out as much marketing as they can without direction and then keep their fingers crossed that it works.

Segmented targeting is a much more thoughtful approach. Rather than using your whole board of clients, you pick out a few specific segments to cater your business to. These define the products you make or the services you offer and how you ensure they appeal to your audience when it's time to market them.

Finally, there’s niche marketing (also known as concentrated marketing). This is when a business focuses on one tiny segment of their broader audience and creates a brand solely directed towards their needs and interests. A great example of this would be if an IT support company only catered to schools within their local area. Whilst this method drastically reduces the audience interested in the company, it also gives them a much better foothold amongst that segment and can help them earn a huge market share.

What is Positioning?

The final strategy of STP is positioning. To be able to position your brand you should first segment your market and target your audience. You can then use positioning to delve into how you’re going to reach them.

Whilst segmenting and targeting are brilliant for knowing who you need to cater to, they don't tell you how. So, you need to explore the value of your business from your customers' point of view, addressing the benefits sought, along with how you're going to set yourself apart from competitors carefully positioning your products and business.

Targeting in marketing 

This is known as your value proposition. Be careful not to confuse this with your own ideas of the value of your products or services, but to remain entirely focused on how the customer views them.

There are a range of different values that you can consider. For example, a popular market position is offering more for less - in other words, high-quality for low prices. This can be seen in action from smartphone brands like Pocophone, who are offering smartphones with advanced features (some of which can outperform the likes of iPhones and Samsung models) at a fraction of the price of other brands. As a result, they've seen revenue increase almost 25% year on year and have broken into a market that was overrun with tech giants.

Of course, it's not always through money that you'll reach clients. Other examples of market positioning include:

  • Offering innovative or cutting-edge technology
  • Positioning yourself as a luxurious, status-symbol brand
  • Piloting social change as a brand (e.g. donating 10% of all profits to charity)

One value that's seen an increase in prominence over the years is sustainability. It's good to note, for example, that 73% of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2015) are willing to spend more on eco-friendly brands. So, if you're marketing to Gen Z businesses, adding sustainable values to the core of your company could increase your market appeal.

Use a Market Positioning Map to Avoid Oversaturation

Although market positioning is largely based on the needs and desires of the client, you can’t base your entire strategy on them. If every business did that, we’d have hugely oversaturated markets! Instead, you need to find the sweet spot between a widespread value and one that hasn’t already been done.

A popular way to do this is with a market positioning map. On this, you’ll have two comparison values. For example, the most common is low to high price and low to high quality.

Brand Positioning Matrix

(Image source: http://neladunato.com/blog/rebranding-why-how-update-existing-brand/) - Free for commercial use.

You can place competitors on this market positioning map and spot any gaps, looking for specific niches that haven't been catered to yet. For example, you can see a clear lack of high-quality airlines at a mid-range price on the map here. If you can tap into this market, you'll have a differentiating value that will help you win over business clients.

Why Are Segmentation and Targeting Important in B2B Marketing?

We've looked a lot at what segmenting and strategic targeting in marketing is, but why is it such an essential part of building a brand strategy?

As mentioned earlier, trying to be everything to everyone often means becoming nothing to no one. The spray-and-pray method leads to thin, unaligned results that are more random than anything else. On the other hand, focus brings depth and differentiation, both of which lead to solid results and sustained growth.

You need to have clarity on your company's target growth markets, the companies you'll target within these, the persona of the decision-makers who will purchase your products/services, and the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. All of this begins with STP. It aids in understanding your priority target markets - along with the commercial opportunity within each - and where the majority of your business is likely to come from. You’ll also learn more about who these businesses are, what problems they’re looking to be solved, and how you can meet their needs, all of which are essential for winning new business. If you want to create a growth strategy, it has to begin with segmenting, targeting, and positioning.

To explain more, let's take a look at some of the benefits that implementing the STP process can bring to your business.

1. Allows Small Businesses to Compete By Identifying Niche Markets

If you're a small startup tech company with a limited budget, competing with the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and other tech giants in your industry is out of the question right now. One day you might have the innovation, team, and marketing budget to go head to head with these titans, but for now, you need to start small. By identifying niche markets within the wider industry, you give yourself a leg up and help reduce competition from more prominent companies, making it easier for you to break away and start growing.

2. Avoid Unnecessary Ad Spending

Marketing with targeting is incredibly wasteful and inefficient. By marketing to an unsegmented audience, you're going to be pumping money into showing your ads to people that simply aren't - and never will be - interested. By identifying who your specific target audience is, you can direct your marketing efforts towards them, be it through social media ad targeting tools, your tone of voice on your website, right down to the colour of your logo.

3. Identify Profitable Segments

By exploring the different segments within your broader audience, you can pinpoint those with the most profit potential. For example, you might discover that companies that are five years old are likely to spend more on your IT software or specific tech than startups. Once you know where the money is, you can make sure your brand follows.

4. Develop the Right Products and Services

Even once the wider target audience is identified, different segments within that will have different needs, budgets, lifestyles, and dislikes. By closing in on just a few segments, you can find the overlapping interests and understand what they're looking for in your products/services. Then, you can ensure you meet all of their criteria and create a brand that holds tangible value for these businesses.

5. Improve Campaign Performance

When it comes to marketing, it's all down to performance. By carrying out segmentation, you can learn a lot about your audience, from what interests them to the budget they have to spend and where they're located. All of this information helps you create marketing campaigns that will resonate with your audience, improving their opinions of your brand and gaining their trust. From the words you use to the images you incorporate, everything can be catered to appeal to your audience and improve the performance of your campaigns.

6. Reveal Areas to Expand

Segmentation can help you identify areas to expand that you hadn't previously considered. Once you've identified your concentrated audience, you can look deeper into who these businesses are, discovering interests, needs, and wants that you didn't know they had. As a source of inspiration, this is priceless! You can then start expanding your brand based on your segment, making growth a whole lot easier.

7. Cater Your Business to Your Clients

By using strategic targeting, you can start to create an entire business that's catered to your clients. Whatever your starting reason for using STP, be it product development or creating better advertisements, it'll start to inform other business decisions and spread throughout your brand. It can help you work on:

  • Pricing
  • When to release products/services
  • When to add deals and promotions
  • Product/service distribution (e.g. online or in-store)
  • Which brands to partner with

Every decision you make becomes client-focused and based on data. The end result should be happy business customers, sustained growth, and a better ROI on every decision you make.

Are There Any Drawbacks You Should Be Aware Of?

Market targeting and segmentation in IT and Tech don't have too many pitfalls. You should be aware of only two main drawbacks, and by taking these into consideration, you can work to eliminate them.

How to Reach Consumer Is Up To You

The first is that targeting and segmenting doesn't tell you how to reach your consumers. It identifies who they are, but that's only the start of your marketing journey. Positioning will understand more about how you can reach your audience, but you might not see the results you expected from your research without excellent marketing. Strategic targeting isn't the be-all and end-all of your marketing strategy, but it does lay a solid foundation.

Segments Don't Stay the Same Forever

The second - and perhaps more relevant - drawback is that your market is constantly shifting. People's needs, lifestyles, and desires change over time, and just because your segment responds to something one day doesn't mean that they always will. A change in the segment you're targeting could lead to your branding suddenly becoming less relevant and effective.

For example, the industry your clients are in could suddenly take off or crash - volatile markets like Cryptocurrency are well known for this - drastically changing your audience's budget. Perhaps they can suddenly spend a lot more and want products/services of a higher quality. Or, they can no longer afford to pay your fees, in which case you'd have to adjust what you're offering to suit their budget whilst retaining a profit.

Being adaptable to change is a must, and the fact that STP forces you to get used to that is actually a good thing. There are plenty of ways you can stop segment changes from stalling your growth, too, like ensuring you stay ahead of shifting trends within your market. You should also analyse your data to identify when certain techniques seem to be becoming less effective - such as if a sponsored ad suddenly isn't getting the clicks anymore - and keep adapting. Staying flexible is a must across business industries and a common factor in those startups that become giants in the tech and IT industries.

Why is Positioning Important in B2B Marketing?

From the moment a client starts looking for a product or service, they're looking to be directed towards the best fit for them. Having a positioning strategy makes sure that that's you.

Let's look at some of the benefits of market positioning to understand why you need it.

1. Stay Client Orientated

Market positioning is all about putting the customer first. It can be easy to identify your own points of value in your products/services, but if those differ from what the client identifies or is looking for, your marketing strategy isn't going to work. Positioning prevents that from happening by ensuring you focus your efforts as a whole on the client, and everything you do is designed to entice them and fulfil their needs.

2. Give Yourself a Competitive Edge

By carrying out market positioning (especially when using a map), you can identify gaps in the market. Rather than positioning your brand in a niche that's already saturated, you can spot an area that, as yet, has nothing to offer the clients. This gives you a competitive edge, ensuring you offer something unique to the industry and adds value to your brand. By identifying gaps, even the smallest of startups can see huge growth.

3. Meet Client Expectations

Clients expect brands to meet their needs. If you don't do that, the chances are that they're not going to shop with you - definitely not ideal. By carrying out research into market positioning, you can identify your clients' needs and ensure your products/services cater to them, creating a brand that's built entirely from the client's perspective.

4. Focus Your Marketing

Focus delivers results in business. By using market positioning, you can create a clear, focused strategy of how your brand will appeal to your audience and what sets you apart. You can then pull out these key factors to use in your marketing, creating campaigns built on research and designed to engage your target clients. They'll be more effective, more targeted, and you should see a much higher return on investment (ROI).

Missing Your Market Can Lead to Disaster

We've spoken a lot about the benefits of STP in marketing, but what happens if you fail to do it? The most significant risk here is missing your market entirely.

Marketing - Missing your target clients 

If you don't know who your audience is, what they want, and how you can meet their needs, you could create a brand that's totally off the mark and impossible to grow. Without a clear marketing focus, your business is likely to flounder.

Here are just some of the ways that skipping STP could affect your business:

1. A Lack of Understanding and Interest From Your Audience

If you're not putting the client first, you're unlikely to garner much interest. Businesses aren't interested in your company; they're only interested in how it can benefit theirs. You might think that you have an amazing product or service, solid brand ethos, and engaging marketing, but if your audience doesn't agree, you're not going anywhere. STP helps you understand your audience and create a brand that resonates with them and actively meets their needs.

2. No Clear Differentiation To Win Over Clients

If a company came out with a smartphone that did nothing new, why would anyone buy it? With the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei already monopolising the market, there'd be no point even trying. However, if there's a differentiating feature that appeals to audiences, the smartphone now stands a chance - just as we mentioned earlier with Pocophone. This is the same across businesses. Without something that makes you different - be it price, quality, innovation, or even catering to a niche segment - your audience won't be inclined to switch from brands they know.

3. Irrelevant Messaging and Ineffective Marketing

Without a clear market position, your messaging and marketing isn't going to stand out. If you yourselves are not sure why your brand is different or why it appeals to your audience, how are you going to let clients know?

4. Low Enquiries and Conversion Rates

A lack of positioning often leads to a lack of enquiries and conversions. If you don't have a selling point or something to pique your audience's interests, you're not going to get much interaction. Think of your market position like bait, and the stronger it is, the more bites you're going to get.

5. The Failure of a Successful Idea

No matter how brilliant your idea or how promising your brand, if you don't position yourself correctly, you're putting it all at risk. You won't have the knowledge you need to reach your audience and drive your growth, and your purpose won't be clear. Eventually, it could lead to total business failure.

Advantages of a Digital Age

Nowadays, segmenting, strategic targeting, and positioning has become easier than ever. The world has turned digital, and we now have access to reams of data that we've never been able to use before. Yet, less than a quarter of businesses are creating organisations that are actively driven by this data. This is down to several factors, including:

  • A lack of knowledge on how to access data
  • A lack of understanding around how to use data
  • Not putting enough time, money, and resources into data-driven campaigns
  • Underestimating the power of data

The world of data analytics is still wildly misunderstood and, more importantly, misused. But there's a reason why big-name brands are using it; because it works. STP is rooted in the use of data to drive your brand, and with each year the advancements in tech make that even easier.

In this digital world, finding market data, industry trends, and sector growth rates is far simpler than it used to be. When carrying out STP, you can analyse:

  • Offerings of competitors
  • Demands of your audience
  • Website visitors on your own site and that of your competitors
  • Success and failures of different marketing strategies
  • Future trends and consumer demands

All of this leads to a clearer understanding of your position in the market and how you can create a brand that reaches your audience.

Segment Marketing For McDonald's Southwest Chicken Salad

Whilst not an IT, tech, or even B2B company, we can still learn a lot about how data and segmentation are used in marketing from McDonald's. In an interview with Carol Sagers, a director of marketing for McDonald's in the US, she goes into detail about how STP was used for marketing their new (at the time) Southwest Chicken Salad.

She explains how they used different marketing strategies to approach different segments of their audience based on data. They knew, for example, that the African American consumer was less inclined to consider a salad as a filling substitute compared to any of the burgers. So, their marketing for this audience was based around showing off the salad as hearty and full of delicious ingredients.

In contrast, marketing geared towards Hispanic demographics focused on resonating with their culture through the ingredients used in the salad. The TV ad showed people farming and creating the ingredients that would be used, and it has an entirely different feel to the ad used for African American demographics.

The news that McDonald's is a successful company and a marketing tycoon doesn't come as a surprise to anyone these days. So the fact that they use STP and data from consumer research to form the foundation of their marketing strategies should be a massive sign that this is a strategy that works. It's tried, tested, and the proof is in the sheer number of global, household name brands that are using it.

How Can You Start Segmenting Your Customers?

To begin strategic targeting of your audience, you first need to know how to segment your market. There are several ways you can do this, and we're going to dive into the five main methods here.

Demographic Segmentation

One of the most popular forms of segmentation is demographic. This refers to things like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family size
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Race
  • Income

All of these are people-based, observable differences that are easy to measure. In fact, this is the most basic form of segmentation and is done by companies almost naturally, without any real thought about STP. Whilst its simplicity makes it a brilliant way to begin strategic targeting, the segments are often large and not very focused. This is where many businesses will start to combine different segmentation methods, helping to narrow down their market and create more niche segments.

But, if you're a small business on a tight budget, demographic segmentation is a great start. For some companies, it's enough to target products explicitly by demographic, too. For example, a shower gel may be made into two different products; one for men and one for women. Or, slightly more complex, you may market different computer models at different prices to businesses with different budgets.

There are a wealth of ways to use demographic information, and gathering it is incredibly easy. If you're looking for a gentle introduction to STP, this could be the way to go.

Behavioural Segmentation

Another popular approach to segmentation is dividing people by behaviours. These should be geared towards consumer behaviours that relate to your business, such as:

  • What software the brand already has bought
  • Where they shop most frequently
  • What actions they take when on a business website
  • What benefits they are looking for most frequently
  • How loyal they are to the brands they shop with

Behavioural data often looks at how your audience interacts with your brand, too. For example, if an existing business is a light user of your tool or frequently uses it, it can dictate how you market to them in the future and help you to suggest other products. You can also collect data about their shopping habits from third-party sources.

Geographic Segmentation

Without a doubt, the most basic form of segmentation is geographic. This involves splitting your audience up by location to help you better understand their needs and create more targeted marketing.

There are a number of different ways you can implement geographic segmentation, the most basic being their location (e.g. country, county, town, postcode). You can also split people up geographically by looking into the characteristics of where they live. For example, you can group together cities, meaning that someone who lives in Manchester and someone who lives in London can still end up in the same geographic segment. Other characteristics you could use include:

  • Climate
  • Differences in language
  • Suburban or rural
  • Average salary

Although simple, geographical segmentation is often crucial to successful marketing campaigns. Knowing where your audience is or customising your campaigns to reach different audience segments ensures that your marketing is suitable for the audience and actively targets them.

For example, if you're having images of food in your ad campaign, you would have to change this from country to country - and sometimes even region to region - for the images to resonate with your audience. The people may also have different needs in different areas. A person in Scotland, for example, may be looking for warmer clothing than a person in the South of England, and someone near the sea will be more interested in paddleboards than someone in the city.

Psychographic Segmentation

Psychographic segmentation is often confused with demographic segmentation, but the two are actually very different. Whilst both look more at the characteristics of the person or business, psychographic factors are more mental and emotional, and they're much harder to observe. This means that fewer businesses segment psychographically, but they're missing out on incredibly valuable insights into their audience.

Psychographic analysis builds a picture of your target clients' motives, needs, and preferences. For example, it can look at their:

  • Interests
  • Morals and values
  • Attitudes
  • Lifestyles

So, you might discover that a large segment of your audience value eco-friendly approaches to their own business and prefer to shop from others that feel the same. This information would be highly valuable to you as you can then ensure your brand adds sustainability into your processes, ensuring you appeal to this segment.

Psychographic segmentation is often paired with other methods because of the insight it gives. Many businesses benefit from it when they're struggling to convert their existing segments. For example, you might be marketing to people between 25-35 with an income of over £35,000 living in cities, and you're finding that some are converting whilst others aren't. You can then use psychographics to look further at your segment, understand what's drawing people to your brand, and then increase focus on those things to draw in more customers.

Firmographic Segmentation

B2B companies use firmographic segmentation frequently to divide businesses directly. Whilst the other methods can all be adapted for B2B industries, this one is specific to the market. Firmographic segmentation involves looking at the characteristics of companies to divide them with information that can't be applied to individual consumers. This includes the industry they're in, the number of employees they have, how they operate (e.g. in-house or freelancers), and their revenue growth.

By segmenting your potential clients based on these factors, you gain a lot more insight into which markets are more suitable for your business or how to adapt your products/services/marketing to suit your segment.

Other Methods of Targeting in Marketing

There are other segmentation models aside from these five. Whilst these aren't as commonly used and can be a little trickier to get right, some businesses thrive after using them.

Value Segmentation

Some companies find it helpful to segment their audience into transactional worth. In other words, they split consumers or businesses into how much they're likely to spend on products/services. This is usually worked out by looking at the client's past purchase data, including how often they make purchases and how much they typically spend on a purchase.

Lifestage Segmentation

It can be beneficial to segment your audience on where they are in their lives. This could include life events like going to university, buying a home, getting married, and having children. People need different things at different stages of their lives, and by identifying these key life events, you can cater to your audience's needs better. It can also make your marketing more relatable, which is a definite bonus.

In terms of B2B, you can adapt this model to businesses. A business will also have key events, from planning a launch, to launching, to different growth stages, and even eventually when the CEO is selling the business. Again, companies will need different tools during these stages and have different budgets to spend on them.

Seasonal Segmentation

Seasonal segmentation is a great example of how STP is a fluid marketing strategy. Using this model, you can look at how your audience and their needs change throughout the year. People and businesses can buy very different things throughout the year, such as during seasonal events (like Christmas) or industry-specific dates (like the end of the tax year, the start of the school year etc.). Understanding this will help you to know when you may experience lulls in your sales, when to increase your marketing, and how you should change your marketing to suit your audience throughout the year.

B2B Segmentation Models

If you're doing market targeting and segmentation in IT and Tech and targeting businesses, there are other factors to consider too. These are related to the company itself rather than the individual decision-maker. Some models to segment by include:

  • Based on industry market structure
  • Vertical markets
  • Early adopters
  • Operating variable
  • Strategic variables
  • Horizontal markets

Why, What, and Who?

Another method of segmenting audiences that's becoming increasingly popular is by looking at why, what, or who. On its own, that doesn't make much sense, but when you dig deeper into the meaning behind each segmentation strategy, you can start to understand how it works.

If you choose to segment by 'why?', you'll be looking at the behaviour of the decision-maker of business. This mainly comes down to the client's past purchases, and by analysing what they've already bought, you can make better predictions about what they'll be looking to buy in the future.

Segmentation using 'what?' looks at the data behind those purchases. It considers information like how much money they've spent, how frequently they make purchases, and who they shop from. This can give you a better gauge of their loyalty and what they seek from the brands they shop with (e.g. value for money, customer service etc.).

Finally, there's 'who?'. This method is simply about who the brand is, and if you're struggling to interpret reams of data, this is the easiest! It takes basic information about the company or consumer and uses it to segment your audience, helping you create more targeted marketing. For example, if a business is small, has a local demographic, and is female-run, you can instantly shift your brand to be more appealing to them, using local messaging in your marketing that's geared towards women to engage them.

Assessing Your Market Segments

When it comes to STP in marketing, there isn't one specific way to do things. When segmenting, for example, you're given a wide range of choice on which factors to use to segment your audience. It's the same when choosing which segments to market to.

There isn't a one-size-fits-all equation that helps you work out which segments to target. Instead, you'll have to look at a range of factors to pick the segment that you think you can work with the best. When assessing your choices, here are some factors to consider:

1. Segment Size and CAGR

If your segment is too niche, you might struggle to pick up the clients you need. Although it's best not to market to everyone, you also don't want to end up marketing to no one! So, it's essential to consider the segment size as you assess the right audience. You also need to consider your potential CAGR (compound annual growth rate). If you invest in this segment, how is it going to impact the growth of your company?

2. Ease of Entering the Market

Not every market is easy to enter. Some, for example, will already be catered to by a large corporation that has monopolised the market. Steer clear of those segments unless you have something unique to offer. Other segments may simply not be interested in what you're offering, making them almost impossible markets to enter. You need to find an audience who are likely to be open to your business and who already have the potential to become loyal customers.

3. Can Your Brand Provide a Solution?

Businesses in different segments are going to have different needs. These can relate to their budget, the size of their team, and even slight differences in their own business purposes. Look realistically at their needs and whether you can meet them before choosing a segment. For example, if you know that a segment is looking for low cost and high quality, but bringing the cost of your product/service down to their budget would compromise quality, it might be a dead end.

4. Segment Understanding

Your understanding of the segment is going to go a long way in helping your business succeed! If you don't have much data on specific audiences, it's best to avoid choosing them as the main target. Without the data, you won't be able to create clear strategies, and STP benefits will be drastically reduced.

5. Level of Competition

It's unlikely that the level of competition is going to be the same across segments. Ideally, you should choose a large segment to fuel your growth, but that doesn't have too much competition. This is where your market positioning map will come in handy, so be sure to create one for your industry.

6. Ability to Differentiate

Is there anything you can offer that segment that no one else already is? Being able to differentiate is crucial to winning over clients and getting ahead of the competition. If the audience is already well-catered for and you can't see a gap in the market, it could be time to move on to the next segment.

7. Margin Potential

When it comes down to it, STP is all about driving growth and increasing profits. So, it's vital you look at the profit margin potential of different segments. For example, there might be a segment that contains many businesses, but their budget is too low for you, whilst another group has the right budget but too few companies. Think realistically about whether the segment you're looking into will bring you the profit margin potential you're looking for.

Weighting segment attributes and scoring segment attractiveness.

When considering the attractiveness of B2B market segments to select those that you will target, you will consider the relative importance of the various factors and attributes of those segments that will enable you to achieve your commercial and longer-term strategic aims. The factors may be any of those covered above or other criteria by which you will segment, target, and position your business.

Weighting the importance of a segment attribute and then scoring likely target markets provides a mathematical way of assessing the overall relative attractiveness of those target markets and segments.  The attractiveness of any segment is relative to your current or future strengths to take full advantage of the opportunities in any segment:

Selecting market segments - Scoring matrix

After completing the above, you may decide that Hospitality and Education are the most promising industry segments. You may then wish to further segment and score those markets diving deeper into the detail of where the sweet spot is within each market for your business. For education you may look at schools, colleges, universities, etc. For Hospitality you may choose Hotels, also segmenting by their star ratings, and other major accommodations too. For Finance you may look at investment banking, business banking, life assurances and pensions, etc. The requirements of these segments are clearly different and their attractiveness to achieve your aims is likely to vary.

What Resources Can You Use to Research Your Segments?

For a lot of businesses, choosing the segments they're going to position their brand in is the easy part. The tricky part is putting those segments together in the first place. You need a lot of data and knowledge to build up reliable segments, and where would you even start to look for that?

Luckily, there are various routes you can take to compile this information and a wide range of resources.

  • Purchased Market Reports - Market research is constantly being carried out, and information is compiled in reports. The reports are then made available for purchase online, giving you a simple way to gain insight into your audience. Just be sure that the company that has carried out the report is reliable before you hand over any money.
  • Search Trend Analysis - Google processes over 60,000 searches every second, making it a hive of data. Use online tools to find out what your target audience is searching for to understand more about their wants and needs.
  • Consultants and Analysts - If you're willing to pay, you can hire a consultant or analyst to take on the task for you. You can explain the sort of data you're looking for (e.g. budget of your clients and who they're currently shopping with), and they'll go away and do the research.
  • Commissioned Research - There are tons of research reports out there, but if you can't find what you're looking for, then you can commission research from third-party companies. They'll compile detailed research reports for you, and you can then use the data to create your segments.
  • Your Own Analytical Data - If you've been running your business for some time, you should have data already built up that you can tap into. You can use online tools, like Google Analytics, to access your data or start compiling research with customer surveys. If you already have an audience, make use of it!
  • Government Data - Governments around the world have a wealth of information about the businesses and consumers in their countries. Search on a .gov website in the UK for studies, reports, and data to see what you can find on your target audience. For example, in the UK, according to ONS data, at the beginning of 2020 there were 5,980,520 private sector businesses, 1,412,748 of them employers. These UK businesses are split: 

Total UK Businesses

5,980,520

With no employees (unregistered)

3,328,055

With no employees (registered)

1,239,720

With employees

1,412,745

   

Split of businesses with employees

Employees

Employers

1

138,705

   2-4

756,780

   5-9

261,440

   10-19

138,020

   20-49

73,825

   50-99

23,835

   100-199

10,235

   200-249

2,070

   250-499

3,990

   500 or more

3,845

All

1,412,745

 The above segments UK private businesses by the number of employees they have. Using readily available government UK business data we can segment by many other factors too. For example, the table below, again ONS data, segments the 5,980,520 UK businesses by industry:

Number of UK businesses by industry

All

industries

 Industry

5,980,520

 

 

 

A

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

155,340

B,D,E

Mining and Quarrying; Electricity, Gas and Air Conditioning Supply; Water Supply; Sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation Activities

39,695

C

Manufacturing

288,480

F

Construction

992,250

G

Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles

553,055

H

Transportation and Storage

346,520

I

Accommodation and Food Service Activities

223,045

J

Information and Communication

381,610

K

Financial and Insurance Activities

92,190

L

Real Estate Activities

126,985

M

Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities

873,170

N

Administrative and Support Service Activities

526,485

P

Education

325,010

Q

Human Health and Social Work Activities

379,920

R

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

312,395

S

Other Service Activities

364,370

 You may be surprised at how diverse and detailed the available free government data is. The ONS website is https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business.

Segmenting, Targeting, and Positioning Mistakes to Avoid

Segmenting and targeting in marketing is by no means easy. As with every marketing strategy, it takes time and knowledge to develop your plan, and it’s possible to make the wrong moves. If you’re not aware of the mistakes to avoid before you start your own strategy, they could end up holding your business back.

To ensure that doesn’t happen, here are the most common STP mistakes to avoid:

1. Ignoring the Data

Data can be overwhelming, but ignoring it is like sitting on a goldmine and not digging down. You’ll be missing out on a wealth of information that could transform the growth of your business. In fact, one survey of Fortune 1000 companies found that by making just 10% of available data usable, the average business saw profits grow by over $2 billion!

If you’re struggling to interpret the data you need to properly carry out STP, don’t give up. Instead, you can bring in an expert to help you or spend some time learning more about data analytics, making sure you don’t miss out.

2. Not Being Adaptable Over Time

Market targeting and segmentation in It and Tech isn’t a stagnant strategy. It can shift and change over time, and your business needs to be aware of this. What STP taught you in one month might be completely different in the next, so you need to keep analysing and keep learning.

You also need to be prepared to switch segments. If one segment suddenly sees changes that make them less of a suitable target for your brand, don’t be scared to make some changes! To secure long term business growth, you have to be adaptable, especially when it comes to STP in marketing.

3. Ignoring New Segments and Personas

New segments and customer personas will constantly be popping up. As certain age groups begin to earn more money, there are shifts in the political climate, or a new product leads to new demands elsewhere, you might see the creation of new segments. Don’t ignore these, but instead use them as a chance to reevaluate your current strategies and how your customer personas might be changing.

How to Adjust Your Marketing Based On Strategic Targeting

Segmenting, targeting, and positioning are primarily used to shape marketing strategies. If you’re unsure how it could help you, here are some examples of how you can use your segments to create more impactful marketing:

  • If your segment is aged between 18-29, 90% of your audience will be on social media, making it a brilliant place to market.
  • A UK startup will budget £5,000 on average to launch, which should factor into your pricing if you’re targeting businesses that are in the process of getting off the ground.
  • A UK startup will spend an average of £22,756 in their first year, making them much easier to market to after they launch.
  • The average salary in London is over £40,000, whilst the average salary in the midlands is below £30,000, meaning that if you are based in London, you may have to lower your prices elsewhere to cater to your segments.
  • 91% of millennials prefer shopping online, so if your segment targets millennial businesses, you’ll need a strong online presence.
  • The biggest challenges of small businesses in 2021 include Brexit changes, Covid-19 restrictions, and financial challenges, so marketing around solving these issues could be appealing.

As soon as you know your audience, you can start finding out useful, evidence-based information like this that can shape your marketing strategy. You’ll have more clarity about who your audience is, how to reach them, what messaging will resonate with them, and be better able to predict their future behaviour - and that’s just scratching the surface!

Start Using Market Targeting and Segmentation in IT and Tech to Drive Growth

The B2B market in the UK - and around the world - is full of potential. There are a wealth of opportunities to tap into and an almost endless stream to potential clients ready to be marketed to. But, as should be clear by now, marketing to all of them isn’t the answer!

Whether you provide software for small businesses, offer physical tech to improve teaching in schools, or support IT departments in companies worldwide, strategic targeting through market segmentation will be a valuable tool for your brand. You can split your larger audience into smaller, more targetable sections and use marketing positioning to differentiate yourself from competitors. The result is a more engaging, appealing brand with a strategy that’s built for growth.

Get In Touch With Epitomise

If you’d like to start creating more strategy-led business plans using STP but aren’t sure where to start, get in touch with our team at Epitomise today. We can help you through the steps of segmenting, targeting, and positioning, creating marketing campaigns that are designed to convert.

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About Epitomise:

We help SME and Technology companies use modern marketing strategies to grow. From strategic advice to tactical execution grow your business with the support of a 'top-100' award-winning marketing leader who is supported by a network of expert marketing specialists. With over 20-years' senior marketing experience and a track record of delivering results, as an attentive expert strategic marketing and services company, we help you grow your brand, leads, sales and customers by doing the right things the right way. Help for as long or as short as you need.

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