“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” — Walt Disney
Whether you are a “one-person band” or a large organization, your customers are why you are in business.
By having clarity on the customer segments, the customer needs, and the potential profitability of each segment, you can choose more effective segments to serve for a more sustainable business.
Serving everyone is serving no one.
Customer segmentation helps you target a specific set of customers and serve them exceptionally well.
“Who is the customer?” is a strategic question. It forces you to figure out who’s in and who’s out.
In the book, Managing the Design Factory, Donald G. Reinertsen writes about how to segment customers effectively.
You Need to Know the Value and the Cost
To choose a customer to focus on, you have to weight market opportunity, technical opportunity, value, and differentiation across a set of customer segments or niches.
The problem is, there are many ways to segment markets.
To segment a market effectively, there are a couple of best practices. One practice is to divide the market up based on profitability. You might find that some markets simply won’t sustain your business.
Another practice is to make sure both marketing and engineering are involved in segmenting a market. Marketing can determine the price customers are willing to pay, but engineering will help determine the cost. To segment effectively, you need to know both the value and the cost.
If you’re a one-person band, this means figuring out your development and production costs, compared to the price your customer will pay.
Divide the Market into Segments
Chunk the market up by profitability.
“The choice to serve less than 100 percent of the customers is called market segmentation. This is simply the act of dividing up the market with the goal of finding a group of customers that is more profitable to serve than another group. This difference in profit can result because the customers are willing to pay a higher price, or because the customers can be served more cost effectively.”
Look for a Profit Difference Between the Segments
Marketing and engineering need to work together so that you know both the price customers will pay and the cost of development. Then you can know the real difference in profit between the segments.
“Of course, there are an infinite numbers of ways to segment any market. Fortunately there is a very simple test to tell if you have a good segmentation scheme: look for a profit difference between the segments. This raises an interesting problem for the product developer: Can the marketing staff segment the market by themselves? Unfortunately not. Doing good segmentation demands a knowledge of both value and cost. Marketing can determine the value by trying to assess what price customers are willing to pay for the product. However, it is still necessary to know the cost of serving each group of customers to assess the segmentation scheme. This means that both manufacturing and engineering people must be involved to segment a market.”
A Target Customer and a Rough Definition of Needs
An outcome of segmentation should be a definition of the customer needs for that segment.
“The results of the market segmentation step should be a definition of the target customer and a rough definition of customer needs that will be satisfied. These needs are normally described by stating the functions that the product will perform rather than the features that the product will have. At this stage, you should have a rough idea of the size of the revenue stream that the product could generate and the gross margins that might be achieved.”
How you slice your customer pie can make all the difference in your success.
By taking a look at the profitability (price and cost) and the actual customer needs, you can choose the most effective segment for sustainable business and for leveraging the blend of market opportunity, technical opportunity, value, and your differentiation.
Photo by modern_carpentry.