How many BUZZ words are there in marketing? Hundreds. If not thousands. Top ones at the moment must be Customer Centricity and Segmentation. And they are both concerned with treating customers as individuals.
And why not? Everything about marketing these days is about individuality. And everything about customers is about expressing their individuality. And this is no bad thing (see my piece on why, when customers share your content they are building their brand not yours).
And practically speaking, it is possible to treat customers as individuals. You can serve up individual data in email or dynamically on websites to make your message unique to each (which is where big data comes in – another buzz word, sorry).
But what does it mean practically to your marketing comms? After all, If you have 500,000 customers, you aren’t really going to deliver 500,000 different messages. But you can create smaller, manageable groups of like minded individuals and flex your proposition and messaging to suit.
The problem is that when I hear the word segmentation I know I am going to have to steel myself to be looking at diagrams and gantt charts and spread sheets. And it’s boring.
Don’t get me wrong, the forensic analysis is important. But to me, and to use an old advertising metaphor, it’s like describing the ingredients of a sausage, without paying attention to the sizzle it makes. Customers are so much more than what they reveal in their data sets. When I look at a segmentation report, I’m seeing emotionally aligned individuals.
Segmentation is brought to life by a creative empathy with your customers. The analytical report is where it starts, but see it as a route map to deliver an emotional segmentation that will make the communications it drives feel natural to them and in that way it will genuinely connect with your customers.
Which is why segmentation is a creative thing. And if the emotional, creative connections aren’t made, then your segmentation work might end up a bit formulaic.