Market Segmentation & Your Small Business

It’s a term we hear a lot as marketers, but what does it actually mean?

Market Segmentation is the process of dividing your target market into groups; these groups will need different products or different types of marketing to pull them in.

How do you divide your target market into segments?

First of all, you need to absolutely know your target market or target audience. Who are they? What motivates them to buy? What are their interests etc.?

Once you know who your target market is, you can then divide them into different groups. The groups need to be big enough to give you a solid customer base.

You can use several different ways to segment or divide your market.

  • Demographics – this includes age, family size, occupation, job
  • Geographics – this is all about the location of your market – could be local, regional, nationwide or international markets.
  • Psychographics – things such as lifestyle, values and personality – for example, someone might like to visit the gym, have a Vegan lifestyle, focus on mental health, and be environmentally aware…this list is absolutely endless in possibilities – but all hangs on knowing your target market.

How to identify your segmentation groups

OK, so you know your target market – now it’s time to break that down into smaller groups.

Try and create a detailed description of your ideal client – a persona that describes them in detail.

For example is you sell children’s’ books, one persona might be female, aged 25 – 45, stay at home Mum with young children. Interested in eco products and the environment, and healthy eating for her family. Her hobbies could be reading, family time, socialising with friends and hiking in the countryside.

The questions

Once you have this persona, you can more easily target that audience with specific books that would be interesting to that target group.

You will most likely need to work on several different personas. I give each persona a name as it makes them more real for me!

Here are some questions that might help you sort out your different segments. 

  • What are your highest and lowest value customers regarding the revenue they bring to you and profitability?
  • Are there any things that your customers have in common – or any patterns of buying you notice that they have in common?
  • Can you divide your customers into demographic information – age, income, gender?
  • Can you divide them into location?
  • What interests and hobbies do your customers have?
  • Have you noticed that customers with a particular interest or value are interested in your services/products?
  • How much do your customers know about your industry, products or services?
  • Do your customers buy online? If you have several online outlets, which is the most popular?
  • Do your customers need to have a consultation before they buy anything from you, or is the purchase just a transaction?
  • From your reviews and records, are your customers more likely to be satisfied with a particular purchase, or are they likely to want to exchange or return it?
  • Do customers ever make a suggestion to improve any of your products or services? Again, look at your records to see if any have the same opinion. Maybe that’s something you can improve and then target that audience?  

The more information you can find out about your current customers, as well as your potential customers, the easier it will be for you to segment your market. You will find groups by age, which is quite a broad spectrum to target, but if you look at feedback and reviews, you may find other things that certain customers have in common. For example, it could be how they found out about you? They may have googled your products or services, or maybe had a recommendation. It’s good to know these things.

Segmentation allows you to aim at the right market for your products. It helps you to focus on the way you interact with your customers, based on their interests, hobbies and behaviours.

This article wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t give you a quick overview of the pros and cons of segmentation. This gives you lots of information so you can make up your own mind as to how you would segment your market.

The pros of segmentation

  • You can look at each segment and determine if your current offering satisfies the needs of that segment. If not, you can adapt your products/services to make sure that you do – this might involve new products/services.
  • If you have a marketing budget, knowing who you want to target and how, you can better allocate that budget.
  • Segmentation helps you to set realistic targets or goals for your business.
  • Understanding your market in more detail, can help you when looking at what your competitors do.

The cons of segmentation

The cons are around, quite simply, costs.

If you are serving several different segments with different wants and needs, you could find costs escalating due to the increased number of products or services, or product variations.

Marketing costs will also increase as you will be serving different groups of people with different marketing. If you do paid ads, you’d need to do more than one to target the different segments.

I think the benefits outweigh the downside, but you need to take everything into consideration if you’re going to go this route.

Donald Norman, an American researcher, professor and author, once said, “Market segmentation is a natural result of the vast differences among people.”

This is so true, even people with the same hobbies or interests have huge differences between them. It’s just about finding those differences and how you can use that information to your best advantage.

Seth Godin, an entrepreneur, best-selling author and speaker, has been quoted in saying, “Don’t find customers for your products; find products for your customers.”

This absolutely puts it all into perspective. If you can work out exactly what your customers want and work to improve or change your products/services to meet their needs, you’re there! Customers always buy for their own reasons, not ours!

Do you know how to market your content?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing isn’t anything new, but it is a term bandied about a lot in marketing circles. Those who have always got involved in the traditional kind of marketing would argue that they use content to advertise. But this is the crux of the matter and where the differences lie.

Traditional marketing vs Content marketing

Larger businesses will typically use traditional marketing as it is the kind of content that is pushed into the view of the public. For example, TV commercials, radio ads, print ads, brochures etc. You will see traditional marketing everywhere; on billboards, sides of buses, the ad breaks in the cinema, but they are all high end marketing which require a big budget to reach that large audience.

For the small business, content marketing is the way to go; it involves having a content marketing strategy, which comprises of all types of content being created and then published online in multiple locations. Instead of forcing your content on the public, your content will sit online forever, with the end goal of attracting your ideal audience or customer.

Content marketing is also different in that it doesn’t concentrate on just advertising your products or services, it’s about drawing your audience in by providing useful information that is helpful and solves problems. Your readers can follow you on social media to read more of your content, or follow your blog, in order to find out more. This helps you gain a loyal audience who trust you…and ultimately, will sign up to your email list in return for some kind of offer…be that a newsletter or a freebie checklist or e-book.      

What kind of content can I share online?

When your audience find your content useful, their connection to you and your brand is strengthened. They will share your content, so that your audience widens further. So, what kind of content can you share?

  • Your website copy (this is everything you write about on your business website)
  • Your Blog
  • Social Media posts (status updates, tweets etc.)
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • E-books
  • Printables
  • Guest posts on other websites 

To make your content work, it needs to be optimised for your target audience and it needs to be relevant to the niche you are in.

How do you market your valuable content?

Now you have your content online, what do you need to do to market it?

Website

If you have a website for your business, you can add a blog to it, so you are creating content that people will see when they visit your website.

Email

Do you have a ‘subscribe to email’ button on your website? If not, do it! When you have subscribers, you can send them a monthly email as a newsletter. You can include:

  • Links to any blogs you’ve written
  • Details of new products or services
  • Special offers
  • Send links to videos you’ve produced on YouTube
  • Links to any podcasts your record
  • Links to any articles, news or videos you think they might be interested in (not ones that you’ve done)
  • Generally talk about new trends in the marketplace, a little bit about you and what you’ve been up to, ask questions make them feel like part of an exclusive ‘club’. 
  • You can also enable buttons so that your audience can follow you on your social media channels

Social Media

Share your content to all your social media pages. You will have different audiences on Facebook to those you have on LinkedIn for example, and again different to those you connect to on Instagram.

  • You can schedule your posts, so you’re not constantly on social media (and therefore getting distracted by other things!).  
  • Share the link to your blog in your profiles on social media.
  • Ask questions linked to your content and respond to anyone who makes a comment. In fact, respond to any comment you get and thank people through messenger or private DM for following you.
  • Share you blog posts as soon as you publish them. The more immediate responses, likes and shares you get, the more credibility your post gets.
  • Share your blog posts more than once…share again the next day, with a different caption and image. And again a week later. This way, you will pick up people you have missed, or who didn’t see your original post.
  • If you notice that an old blog post went well and got lots of engagement, then share that again…not all of your posts, just the ones that had great stats.
  • Posts with images get better engagement, so really think about the images you use to entice your audience in. There are lots of free image sites out there (such as Pixabay, Pexel, Unsplash and Canva) that you can download licensed images for commercial use. DON’T just google images and use one as you could be fined for copyright.
  • Join groups on social media and participate in group discussions, giving advice, answering questions etc. This helps get your name known and helps you get seen as an expert in your niche. They also have ‘share your blog post/business page’ type events, which help get your content in front of a different audience.
  • Use hashtags, which categorise your content for your audience.
  • You can also pay to boost your reach on social media.
  • Write a guest post for someone else’s website or blog – you then tap into their audience.
  • Make sure your blog/website has social media sharing buttons, so your audience can click to go look at your social media sites.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Choosing the right keywords will help your content get seen.

  • Google’s keyword planner will help you pick the right keywords and help you brainstorm ideas.
    Log into the Google Ads platform with your account, then choose ‘Tools and Settings’, ‘Schedule’ and then ‘Keyword Scheduler Tool’.
  • Write a long, compelling blog post and use your keyword(s) and variations of it throughout the blog.
  • Optimise your whole post for the keyword you decide on. Include your keyword in…
    – your title
    – your Meta description
    – your main headline (H1)
    – use the keyword frequently throughout your blog post, without stuffing it anywhere – it has to make sense! And you don’t want Google to think you are being spammy!
    – Use related keywords in subheadings and in the first 100 words of your main body of text.
    – use your keyword in your URL slug
    – use keyword and related keywords in your tags and categories

Link building

Internal links: A good way to get your content noticed is to build internal links into your blog post. This simply means that you link to previous posts you’ve written. For example, in this article, you will see highlighted phrases or words – these are links to articles I’ve written about that subject before, so my audience can take a look at those.  

Revisit your older blogs from time to time and add internal links to newer blogs that you’ve written.

External links: where other people link to your blog post.

  • If you send out a newsletter email, ask your customers to share a link to your blog posts.
  • When you publish your blog on social media pages, ask your audience to share.
  • If you publish entertaining or educating blogs that capture your audience’s attention, they are more likely to share.

Headlines

A headline really matters – the ones that seem to get the most traffic are lists, how to, or a question. Also, headlines that contain numbers, e.g. 101 ways to …….

Emotional headlines also seem to hit the mark too, as well as a bit controversial headlines!

Images

Using great images can help market your content. Images don’t just have to be photos; it can be GIFs, infographics, graphics or video. These help capture and keep the attention of your audience.

If you have a Pinterest account, make sure your images can be pinned (shared) by other Pinterest users.

If appropriate, also put a caption on any image as this helps with search engines – images alone won’t necessarily be picked up by search engines, but if there is text, they will be.

Revisit and repurpose your content

Revisit your old posts and content regularly. Revisiting content means you can update it with new information, add new images/infographics and maybe add a short video you’ve made on the subject.

You can also repurpose posts into e-books, video or a podcast. You can also use ideas from them to make social media posts.

Conclusion

I’ve shared loads of different ways to market your content. But the most important thing to keep in mind when marketing is to always have your customer/target audience at the heart of everything you do. Do it for them, aim it at them, and make sure it’s something you know that they will be interested in.

Keep your brand in mind and write in your own particular style – don’t try and copy anyone else. Keep your content original and engaging. Remember, content should always entertain, educate and engage your audience.

If you found this post valuable, please share on your social media site. And if you have any further ideas as to how to market content, please leave a note in the comments box.

Happy content writing and please get in touch if you need help with your content!

How to write creative, persuasive content

Do you dream of being able to write creative content that is persuasive and that inspires your readers? It’s all about structuring your content so that your article is appealing and irresistible!

There are four forms of content…

  1. Written
  2. Audio
  3. Video
  4. Images

No matter which medium you’re working on, it’s crucial that your content is valuable and useful to your reader…or they simply won’t read it and it won’t resonate with them. Your articles need to help solve a problem or improve their life in some way. This will also help set you up as an expert in your field.  

Create a content strategy

Your content strategy is your why, who and how. Why you are creating it, who is it aimed at and how are you going to get it out there. Businesses use content marketing to build an audience and to either increase their revenue, lower their costs or to get better customers. For me, it’s about engaging with my audience and, almost as a proof point to illustrate that I know what I’m talking about and am experienced in this field.

Publishing content is great, but it also needs to be published consistently. It needs to educate, entertain or inspire your audience. This way you can turn total strangers into followers and then those followers into customers. You do this by building relationships and solving problems.

Know your audience

Once you know what your strategy is, you need to build the content around your audience. What makes them tick? What problems do they have? What do they look like? If you know your audience well and know what they want, you can really deliver.

Now you’re ready to choose which form of content to use. Try and utilise a mixture as this will help keep your audience’s attention.

Written content

This is the most popular and most used way to communicate with your audience. There are lots of different ways to communicate using the written word…

  • Blogging – Blogging is about writing relevant, useful, informative and entertaining copy. A blog is a regular, consistent post. Your audience can follow your blog, and so get informed automatically every time you publish a new one. Anyone can start up a blog about absolutely any subject you can think of! There are cookery blogs, health and fitness, nutrition, fashion, travel, crafting…you name it, and I can guarantee it’s out there.

    A blog post can be as long or as short as you like – you will soon get to know what your audience likes. Use SEO (search engine optimisation) to get ranked higher in search engine results and use categories and tags to make your blog easier to find.   
  • Email – A direct way to communicate with your followers. If you have a ‘subscribe to email’ button on your website, you can regularly keep in touch with your customers and followers. Just be aware not to overdo it and bombard people with emails every day, or use them solely to sell or push your products/services, or you will find lots of ‘unsubscribes’.
  • Newsletters – These used to be hard copy, but most businesses send these out via email nowadays. It is, in effect, an email as in the last point, but this is specifically your newsletter. Again, don’t go mad with the frequency – once a month is great and also more manageable for you too. You can give news on what you’re doing in your business, any new products or services on the horizon or any freebies you might have created. Or, it might be just some interesting information you want to share, or hints and tips. And of course, you can use it to share links to your blog post.  

Audio

Podcasts are very popular and are growing in numbers every day. There are less podcasts out there, than there are blogs, so it is a good one to try for your business. Like blogs, they can be about absolutely anything…someone out there will be interested in what you have to say. It’s also a great way to reach your audience as they can listen to your podcast whilst driving to work, or working out. Your audience don’t necessarily have to set aside a certain amount of time to catch up with your latest message.

Video Marketing

This has been around for a long time now, but it is fast becoming the norm for all sorts of small businesses, as well as the larger corporates. You can ‘go live’ on social media, or record a short message to your customers/followers. It’s versatile, you can say what you like and most importantly, you will reach your audience more quickly. In a few seconds, you can convey a mood, a setting and your message can be received shortly and succinctly in less than a minute. There are lots of ways to use video in your marketing…

  • Live stream – in real time on social media accounts. As it’s recorded ‘live’, it will be a ‘warts and all’ recording, so you won’t be able to edit out any mistakes – but this does add to the excitement and appeal. People see you as you are!
  • Recorded stream – the same as the ‘live’ stream, but you’ve pre-recorded it before you put it out, so you can edit out anything you don’t like and add in anything that might have forgotten with the ‘live’ version.
  • Vlogging – the same as blogging, but using video. This can be longer that the ‘live’ or pre-recorded videos. Your audience love these as they feel they are getting to know you as a person – if you Vlog regularly, they will get used to seeing you and this helps build a relationship and trust.
  • Whiteboard videos – these are animated or sketched videos, so the subject matter and scenery is not real.

Images

Using images is also a great form of content marketing. They are usually on your website, on social media or within a blog. Images can be very powerful to help you convey a message and help you create more impact. They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and whilst this can be true, I tend to use them more to enhance my messaging.

The only downside is that search engines don’t necessarily recognise images, so a good tip is to make sure you add a caption to your images, wherever it is relevant. If using in a blog, use keywords to help the search engines find the images.    

AND SO, ONTO YOUR ACTUAL CONTENT

Writing your content

Here are a few tips to help you write your content to help make it more persuasive.

  • Write the headline first. Make sure it is compelling and sparks the curiosity of your reader to want to read on.
  • Write your subheadings next. This will help you plan your content and split it into readable chunks for your reader.
  • Add a few captions. Captions catch the readers’ eye, so add a few in for good measure!
  • Opening paragraph – this is what will draw the reader in and help them decide whether they want to, or can be bothered to, read the rest. People spend seconds scanning an article and, if the opening paragraph and headline doesn’t draw them in, you’ll have lost that reader.  
  • Closing paragraph – Depending on what you’re writing about, this is the end of your article/blog or whatever. Use it well; maybe reiterate the most important take-away from your article and have a CTA (call to action) so they know what to do next.  
  • Bullet points – these are easier to remember and, if someone is just scanning your article, these are likely to be read. So, make them stand out, make them full of good hints or tips and great advice. Make them totally fascinating!

Now we know what to include, let’s dig a bit deeper…

Why is a headline so important?

On average, only 20% of people read an article beyond the headline. If your headline doesn’t grab attention then of those 20%, even fewer people will read your content. So what can you do?

  • Give a benefit in your headline. Give your readers an incentive…’how to’ do something or a recipe. Use numbers…’20 ways to …..’
    Let them know that there is something in it for them.
  • Absolutely command attention. Not always easy, but remember you only have a few seconds to hook someone in. Use power words or positive words, such as ‘inspiration’, ‘revelation’ or even things like ‘is your business doomed because…..’
  • Be specific. Make your headline specific to the article – don’t use a generic headline. For example, if you were writing an article about Mental Health, just having the title ‘Mental Health’ isn’t very inspiring and won’t necessarily pull in your audience, but if you have ‘Mental Health – what does this mean?’ or ‘Mental Health – 10 ways to help yourself’, you’re giving specifics and are more likely to get readers.
  • Don’t get cocky. Don’t try to be too clever with a headline, as these are notoriously hard to come up with. And, they can spectacularly fail!
  • Use a proven structure…as talked about in previous points. Being original is great, but you can try too hard!
  • Keep on, keeping on – practice, practice, practice…makes perfect! Take notice of headlines when you’re reading a newspaper or magazine. Look at headlines on billboards and understand how they capture your attention.
  • Action – Know what action you want your readers to take and make sure that is incorporated throughout your article and in your headline.        

Write content your readers will remember

Here are a few tricks to help make your content unforgettable.

  • Emotion – appeal to your reader’s emotions – this makes them care about something and if they care, they will remember.
  • People have short attention spans – use sound bites to grab attention. I’ve heard the term ’60 is the new 40’, referring to the fact that people now live longer…this is a sound bite.
  • Surprise your reader – Say something unexpected – the element of surprise always makes people remember
  • Use solid details. As well as all the trivial stuff, make sure your content has some real concrete solid details and information that help your readers understand your content.
  • Use stories. It could be a case study, or just a little ‘aside’ piece from your personal memory. People love stories, so be a good storyteller.

Using persuasive writing

If you want your readers to buy something, subscribe to your course or newsletter, you need to be persuasive. Here are some of the reasons you can give your readers…

  • Tell them why…why they should buy your product. Keep it simple – use the word ‘because’ – that tells them all they need to know.
  • Expect objections. If you’re on social media, you’ll know that no matter what you post, there is always someone who objects or who doesn’t agree with you. So, when writing copy, anticipate those objections up front and address them!
  • Give an incentive. Most people have endless curiosity. So give incentives to read to the end of your content…. ‘As well as this, you’re going to love…..’, ‘Here is the best bit’…’Here’s the most awesome part…’. You get the picture!
  • Use stats – these give credibility to your content. And quote your source if there are lots of specific stats.
  • Be passionate about what you do. If you love what you do, it will shine through your work.
  • Give the benefits of what you are offering. You might have told readers why to buy your product/service, but also list the benefits – what can it do for them? How can it make their lives easier? How can it save them time and money?
  • Write about a subject you know about. It will be obvious if you are just spewing out information. KNOW what you’re writing about as it will be easier to be more persuasive about it. And bear in mind that the person reading might not know anything about the subject you’re writing about, so keep the ‘beginner’ in mind.
  • Have a clear call to action. Once they’ve read the article, tell them what to do next and remind them why it’s good, and why they should click or subscribe or buy!     

At the end of the day, you know your customers and you know who your ideal customer is. Write for those people. Write as if you’re talking to a friend in a pub over a drink. Use easy to understand language and not jargon.

Entertain your audience, educate them and ultimately you will sell to them. But as with most marketing tactics, it’s important to have that all important engagement first.

If you have any other ideas, please feel free to let me know in the comments.