Your Target Audience Is A Tapestry
Woven Out Of Threads Of Behavior

Arturo F Munoz Open QuoteWe don't accomplish anything in this world alone ... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.

-- Sandra Day O’Connor

Weaving Or Knotting Up Threads Of Behavior

target audience profiling Making decisions in isolation. Missing the forest by the trees. Failing to consider the context. This rapidly leads to ineffective marketing decisions. Engaging your target audience effectively is always key. When deciding to do so, look beyond one thread of contact behavior to understand who they are.

Look to include additional behavioral threads characterizing the individuals you're targeting, the community to which they belong and the value of each customer relationship to the business.

Looking at this locus of activity as a composite -- a tapestry -- reveals insight about customer demands, particularly when the customer contact buys complex products as part of a team and not individually. This is a form of market segmentation.

"Analytics without segmentation gives a false sense of insight,” says Bill Gassman, research analyst at Gartner. “The more you know about a customer and the composite of actions they have taken in the past, the better you can craft your marketing actions to a segment or individual.”

But it's only too easy to get tangled up in a myriad of behavioral statistics ending up in a knotted mess. If you are there, you know what I mean. The typical symptom is analysis paralysis.

Get out of it quickly. Do as Alexander the Great did and cut off the Gordian Knot. Then hand it over to Management. Present along with it a new segmentation strategy, lest you get your head handed to you in return.

When You're Ready To Cut The Knot

Here are the elements of strategy you should work on:
  1. Know what your target audience is after. Know it with precision. Make sure it is measurable. A company becomes what it measures, because a company that tracks and controls what it measures also conditions itself to improve on the basis of these measures.

    Whether it's better pricing or unique product features, faster service or more personal support, your audience will reveal this to you with their behavior. Track it. Verify it. Then use it to segment the population.

  2. Know what your audience is doing or likely will do with your products and service offerings. Know it intimately. Know it clearly. Are they dumping your offers in the trash can? Will they likely delete your email promotions from their inbox? Or will they reference them to others? Are your products sitting in a drawer in their original shrink-wrap or are you getting questions about the next version upgrade? Is only 15% of product functionality in use by a tiny fraction of power-users or is a large proportion of your base using most of what your products have to offer?

    Learn whether you're a final good or only intermediary capital; whether standalone or supplementary to higher end goods. Find out if you're perceived as being worth the warranty or may be just worth the risk. Know how your products are being or might likely be applied to real life situations by your target audience. Then segment by those inclinations.

  3. Know the size of the opportunity. Various factors define this area, such as the maturity of the market relative to your product's lifecycle. Consider the length of your sales cycle relative to the availability of credit, the rates of thrift and other financial imperatives impacting your target markets. Evaluate contact risk aversion to buying from you and who the risk-seekers are.

    Take an estimated market growth rate and compare it against the rate of contact acquisition minus attrition weighed for contact experience at buying your products by contact role in the sales process, i.e. influencer vs. decision-maker, etc. Why? Because it matters not that demand is growing at a fast clip, if you're losing contacts faster than you gain them, and those that you do have share little experience buying your products and neither influence nor decide on what to purchase from you.

    Size the opportunity space, then segment the audience according to how well you may be able to fit into a groove and maneuver from exploit to exploit.

Why Bother Weaving Again?

The 3 elements of segmentation strategy above can yield a rich reserve of behavioral statistics. You will end up with a fresh Gordian Knot, however, unless you weave all these new strategic threads together under a sensible pattern. Call that a unifying model of behavior, a composite profile of the target audience. This pattern is the context within which each audience member exists in your version of reality in your marketing database.

You will need this model in advance of the data to populate it. So decide what you will want the big picture to look like first. Determine where each component will take its place within the frame and how they will relate to each other.

Build a vision for the context, and then set out to build the actual context for your target audience one thread at a time, using metrics that monitor both behavior and choices across the 3 elements of segmentation strategy.

With context you won’t decide in isolation. You will see the forest by the trees. Your marketing direction will be effective. You will guide yourself by the tapestry and not the knots.

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