Segmenting Your Market - A Case Study

Written by Robert Silverstein on May 21, 2019

In Segmenting Your Market - An Overview, we introduced the topic of how associations have more than just diverse members, but how industry suppliers or similar communities present a varied market to be examined.

The following charts illustrates an example of this:

As the chart illustrates, each of the five industry suppliers executes their own marketing strategies using different combinations of our association’s offerings and those offered by others. In other words, like individual consumers, each of these companies is behaving differently in the marketplace by using their marketing budgets in different ways.

As shown in the chart:

  • Company A is a strong supporter of our association’s products by being a regular advertiser in our magazine and exhibitor at our convention. But, they have never been the sponsor of one of our events.
  • Although Company B has been a regular advertiser in both our print and on-line products, they no longer exhibit at our tradeshow.
  • Company C has never supported our products though they are actively advertising and exhibiting to the industry through competitor’s products.
  • Company D is a first-time exhibitor with us and supported that investment with additional ads run on our association’s website and by sponsoring an event at our convention.
  • Company E has been a regular advertiser in our products but has dropped its exhibit from our tradeshow.

The goal for any sales program is to maintain and grow revenue, but the individual behaviors of each of the companies in this example imply that each one is looking for something different from each of the media companies with which they participate. As an association executive, the best way to achieve your organization’s goals is to develop a customized program for each of the company prospects and create offerings that match their buying patterns and behavior in the media marketplace.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Company A - as a regular advertiser and exhibitor, this company is familiar with your organization’s products and the audience it delivers, but needs some incentives to increase its participation as a web advertiser and event sponsor. Perhaps, bundling a sponsorship with web ads at a package price to increase the company’s exposure at the convention would provide the added value this client needs.
  • Company B - As a previous exhibitor who stopped supporting your event, it seems that, perhaps, this is a budget issue. Look at this company’s purchasing record and see if there is anything that can be done to lower his costs to exhibit. What size booth did he previously purchase and see if costs can be reduced by offering a smaller booth. Offer some web advertising options (bundled into his booth price) for this company to use to promote its presence at your show and to drive traffic to his booth. This might result in an increase in the return on investment (ROI) this company gets from exhibiting with you once again.
  • Company C - This is a company that is not now and has never been a customer of one or more of your products but continues to support those of your competitors. The strategy to use here is to determine what this company’s marketing goals are (possibly in a face-to-face meeting) and develop an integrated marketing plan across several of your products to assure that this company achieves its marketing and budgetary goals in a clearly measurable way.
  • Company D - Although an active advertiser with your competitors, this company has never purchased an ad in your magazine. Create incentives for this company to run several ads in your magazine by offering guaranteed up-front positions, or price considerations (purchase three ads at the 6x rate) or include coverage in an upcoming sponsored content (advertorial section) if you offer such a product.
  • Company E - This company is a strong supporter of our products but has never increased its exposure by becoming a sponsor of a convention event. Explain the value that increased exposure provides and the way that your association acknowledges its sponsors. Offer something small such as the sponsorship of a coffee break so that this company can see the benefits it will derive from the increased exposure as a leading supporter of your organization.

The bottom line is that each of these companies, and others with similar characteristics, need a unique targeted marketing message from you on a regular basis and a tool to use to deliver those messages and track the results through the sales pipeline. Fortunately, that tool already exists and should become an important part of your sales operation. In our final article on segmenting markets, we will dive into Customer Relationship Management, and how these systems support your sales team’s efforts resulting in more efficient use of staff’s time, provide valuable information and intelligence to the sales management about the environment in which your products compete, and help to generate more revenue.