No matter what you are selling, understanding your customers is the most important thing you can do. Segment customers into manageable chunks with similar characteristics, and suddenly marketing seems a lot easier. You can then market to the most attractive segments.
Customer characteristics might be what products they buy, how often, where they live, how old are they, and so on. When you start thinking about it, you'll probably find other characteristics that bind groups of customers together.
For instance, a flag maker noticed his online orders for St George flags peaked several times a year. Somehow, he worked out that these periods coincided with the return of Navy ships from overseas. Now he monitors Royal Navy ship movements and directs his marketing at Navy towns at key points of the year. That's his ‘Navy segment'. But he will also have ‘summer fair', ‘street party' and ‘political rally' segments.
Marketing to small businesses is notoriously difficult, but segmentation can help you reach your targets more efficiently, too. SMEs are considered hard to reach because:
- there are so many of them
- they are invariably very busy
- they don't want to spend any money
But for business to business marketing it is often possible to identify segments based around an existing network of some kind, perhaps a Trade Association, buying syndicate or drinking club. If you adapt your marketing message for that segment, and gain access to the network's established communications channel (maybe a newsletter or event), you can get your offering in front of the right people.
Even though these businesspeople are busy they are more likely to take notice of your service as it will be seen within a context they trust.
If you can adapt your product - and it might only be a change of name or slight tweak to the benefits - along with your marketing, then you will increase the chances of a sale.
Some people call that a channel strategy but I call it common sense.