The Few, Not The Many: Segmentation for Start-ups

Traditionally marketing teams can segment their target audience by any number of variables resulting in numerous segments on which to focus their marketing messaging and campaigns. For start-ups the temptation to ‘target’ everyone who could be a potential user can be immense. However when looking at segmentation for an early stage start-up the key is to focus on the few, not the many.

Fewer is faster and betterStart-up Segmentation

Given tight resources and fierce competition generally start-ups need to focus on one key segment and win it. By targeting just one segment you can better focus your product, messaging and marketing strategy on the needs of that segment, giving yourself a better chance of success. In addition by concentrating on just one segment you have a better chance of reaching product-market fit faster as you’ll be really focused on solving the problems of just one core group of users.

If groups require different distribution channels, relationships, offers or pricing they are distinct segments. Pick just one!

As always there is an exception, if you’re launching a marketplace type business where you need two groups, for example buyers and sellers, then you will have to target both segments and develop and execute marketing strategies for both groups simultaneously.

Picking that one segment

In picking the best segment to focus on think about the core group of potential users who really feel the problem that your product or service solves. People who feel the problem the most acutely will be highly motivated to try things that could help them solve it, and they may even be searching for a solution already making it much easier, and less expensive, to acquire them as users.

Get to know your chosen segment as best you can, understand who they are, what motivates them, how they’re currently dealing with the problem you solve and how it impacts their daily lives and of course understand what media they consume and how you can reach them and communicate with them. Use this in-depth knowledge and understanding of your audience to develop a highly targeted marketing plan that will communicate effectively with them and motivate them to adopt your product or service.

An additional benefit of this strategy is that users who feel the problem you solve most acutely are likely to be delighted if you can solve their issue and are therefore most likely to tell people about you and share your product or service with their friends.

Rinse and Repeat

Once you’ve achieved success in your chosen segment you can begin to expand to the next segment, working through each segment by order of how strongly they feel the problem you’re solving and also how similar they are to your previously successful segment. As you enter each new segment you can tweak the marketing strategy you’ve used previously to make it relevant to the new audience’s needs, media consumption and so on, plus use the learnings you gained from your previous experiences to improve and optimise how you market to this new group.

Avoid the temptation to target everyone who could possibly use your product and you’ll be able to get to know your customers better and be able to focus in order to achieve success more quickly and more cost-effectively.