Are You Missing the Heart of Your Marketing Strategy?


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The CEO is demanding results and it doesn’t get any easier next year. In my last post, I discussed how the annual marketing planning cycle is upon us. I gave you the 6 steps to include in your planning process. However, there is one critical step you must complete before planning.


Segmentation is a foundational step found in world class marketing strategies. In SBI’s annual marketing research report this was validated. The report studied how top producing marketing organizations landed on the right marketing strategy. Segmentation was the common first step in their marketing strategy methodology (Download the complete report at this link.) Unfortunately, Marketers frequently hold back on or altogether skip the critical 1st step. Skipping this step will cause your team to thrash. All of their prospecting efforts will be guesswork.  So before you start planning or investing in initiatives, execute Segmentation.

What is Segmentation?

Segmentation is where you gain an in-depth understanding of the market, accounts and buyers. This will help you differentiate your marketing strategy from your competition. You will know which accounts to prioritize. You will be able to align your marketing strategy with buyer needs. As a result, your marketing strategy will be aligned with the external market. Just make sure it is also aligned with internal strategies. For example, are you aligned with internal strategies from corporate, product, and sales? If so, you are on your way to defining the right marketing strategy.

There are 3 phases to the Segmentation step:

1 – Market Segmentation

Divide the broad target market into subsets of buyers who have common needs and priorities.

The Problem

Not all markets are created equal… Determining which customers to serve with which marketing channels can be difficult. Multiply your customers’ diverse needs by the many marketing channels available. Pursuing markets that are too wide often means that you’re aiming off-target. Gain a clear understanding of market segments. This will prevent limited sales and marketing resources from misallocation. Broad markets need to be divided into subsets of buyers who have common needs and priorities.

The Solution

To complete the Market Segmentation phase, you need to answer the following questions:

  • How big is our market? What is its growth rate?
  • What are the needs of the market? How are these changing?
  • What should be our go to market strategy for each product/service/solution?
  • How do my competitors go to market?
  • What are the strengths/weaknesses of our marketing team?
  • What are our opportunities/threats in the market?
  • For our solution set, what is lifecycle stage of adoption are our buyers?

 2 – Account Segmentation

Understand which accounts in your market are going to generate the most revenue.

The Problem

The marketing team is typically provided revenue potential by market level only. What they really need is to know the revenue potential by account, product and solution. Incomplete information results in poor campaigns, programs, and offers.

The Solution

To complete the Account Segmentation phase, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What is our ideal customer profile (i.e. what defines our ideal prospect/customer)?
  • How does each prospect/customer score relative to our ideal customer profile?
  • What is the potential spend for each prospect/customer?
  • What is the cost to acquire each customer?
  • What is the lifetime value of each customer?
  • What is the propensity to buy for each prospect/customer (i.e. how likely is each prospect/customer to buy from us)?

3 – Buyer Segmentation

Understand how buyers in your accounts make purchase decisions.

The Problem

Need to know your buyer down to the last detail. The explosion of information channels online has altered the buying process forever. Many sales and marketing teams still rely on tribal knowledge and past experiences. Without an updated understanding of how your buyers make decisions, revenue opportunities will pass you by.

The Solution

To complete the Buyer Segmentation phase, you need to answer the following questions:

  • Who are our buyers?
  • What do our buyers care about?
  • How do our buyers make purchase decisions?
  • What do our buyers value when engaging with our marketing team?
  • What must our marketing team be best-in-class in to succeed in our industry?

Key Takeaway:

Have you skipped Segmentation? If so, you’ve jumped ahead before building a strong foundation. World Class marketing leaders invest in defining their markets, accounts and buyers. Only then can they engage in the planning process and future marketing strategy steps. By segmenting first, you improve your chances of success. Sign-up for SBI’s Marketing Workshop to get the complete overview of a world-class Marketing Strategy.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Koehler
John Koehler serves as Director of Demand Generation at SBI. He specializes in top of the funnel activities. John has extensive expertise in Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Web Analytics, Search Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing, Social Media, Social Selling, Buying Process Maps and A/B Testing.


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