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BLOGTargeting: From Gut to Segmentation to Individual Targeting

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Business Development, MarketingTagged as: , , , ,

How sophisticated are your marketing and targeting efforts? If you’re like most organizations, you’ll admit that you could be doing a bit better… but how?

Targeting: From Gut to Segmentation to Individual Targeting

The answer lies in segmenting, and how your organization has approached it. Consider these three levels of sophistication:

Level I — “Gut” segment strategy: Otherwise known as not having any segments at all, at this level the business may be doing relatively well, but all of its marketing and service are geared to the needs of a generic buyer, with generic needs.

This may work well if those responsible for marketing have an innate sense of their market; while not explicitly using a segmenting strategy, they can “sense” what is right. Sadly, this is not sustainable: what happens if the market changes, or even worse, the marketing leader changes? Most often, the “gut” approach is the reason why so many marketing plans fail to deliver.

If the gut approach sounds all too familiar, the solution is actually quite simple: move to Level II.

Level II — Segmentation and Personas: This approach divides the major types of prospects into categories, personifies them (e.g. “Personas”) and seeks to understand their motivations to engage and ultimately purchase. The major benefit of this approach is that the organization can prioritize their investment in each segment, and then design a marketing program (and operational delivery approach) for each.

Pretty much every sophisticated marketer uses segmentation and personas. Those who don’t — and those who do a halfway job of it — risk spending their marketing dollars and time with a suboptimal ROI.

If this sounds familiar, then the solution is to do it properly… and then move to Level III.

Level III — Individual targeting: For the first time ever, technology allows us to have visibility on the entire prospect journey, from awareness to commitment and beyond. This means that marketing programs can be tailored specifically to each individual person, as their engagement levels and interests solidify. And it is a good thing, since in today’s omnichannel world, the path to purchase is often very different.

While the marketing mix at Level I and Level II included line items such as advertising and trade shows, Level III brings the importance of programmatic PPC, Marketing Automation, CRM, and big data into the mix.


What level does your organization operate at? Wherever you are, there are two key tasks: can you get better at it within your current level? And how might you take a baby step to the next. This week, give it a try.

Trust insight: While Level III is clearly a goal, it is not without risks. Done poorly, your prospects will think that you are “creepy”. And since you are compiling significant data on each prospect, the question of privacy and regulatory compliance will clearly become factors. To ensure that your marketing builds trust – not diminishes it – transparency needs to be built in from the start.

Targeting insight: There may actually be a Level IV – where sophisticated marketers use all three. The data from individual targeting helps with “gut” decisions. And the data also exposes hidden segments that might not have been otherwise apparent. And reporting and further analytical work can take place at the Segment/Persona level.

Related post: LinkedIn Prospecting: A New Social Contract?, Elevent Key Marketing Automation Sequences

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