Divide and Conquer A Primer on Needs-based Segmentation
Today's most successful database marketers begin at the other end of the equation—examining the needs that are met for your most loyal customers when dealing with you. The starting point for this kind of analysis should be defining those customers—focusing on those who consistently give you a healthy portion of their share-of-wallet, who use the broadest range of your offerings, and who provide the best profit margins.
Step 2: Identify their needs and concerns
Your next challenge is finding out why these companies have chosen yours. Which of their needs have you been particularly qualified and willing to meet?
Before you go outside to acquire this information, ask those people in your own organization who know them best, such as account managers, sales reps, and dealers. Asking where you might improve your service to them can help you identify unmet needs, as well. You have a wealth of information right at hand; and it's knowledge that is unique to your company. Your competitors' segmentation won't look anything like yours.
In the process, find out as much as you can about how their business, and particularly their purchasing cycle, works.
*Are the company's purchasing decisions centralized or decentralized?
*How long is the buying cycle, from initial identification of needs to purchase decision?
*Who—by job title—influences that decision, with what degree of clout, at what points in the cycle?
*What information do they need to do that, and when?
Next, check out what's available in industry research; make use of "data overlay" information and constantly keep refining it.
Validate your hunches. Your best sources of data are your customers. You can initiate ongoing two-way dialogue directly with current customers using any number of techniques. But keep in mind that unless you also have a mechanism of putting all this information into your marketing/knowledge management database, no single person—even the individual at the top—will have more that a few pieces of the total mosaic.