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B2B market segmentation

Segments can be used to inform a variety of B2B sales and marketing activity, including (but not limited to):

  • Targeting customers and prospects, e.g. knowing where to find each buyer segment, and which individuals you should be talking to within an organization
  • Channel, e.g. what channels to use to engage with them in their day-to-day life, and how to be ‘present’ when they’re actively looking to purchase
  • Messaging, e.g. knowing what to say to engage with each segment as a peer, and what sales arguments to make
  • Content development, e.g. what pieces of content to push to each segment at each step in the sales journey
  • Proposition/product development, e.g. how to develop solutions to better serve customers

Adience is an expert in developing business-to-business (B2B) customer segmentations and personas. Through a program of research we will:

01

Identify the different segments in your market (whether behavioural, attitudinal or needs-based)

02

Size each segment

03

Value each segment

04

Reveal the ideal proposition and positioning for each segment

05

Communicate the segmentation model in an engaging way

06

Embed the model into your systems and processes, so that it is actually used

Over the last decade, the team behind Adience has developed segmentation and persona models for dozens of B2B brands from start-ups to SMBs to enterprises. Based on this experience, we’ve developed an approach to B2B market segmentation which has three guiding principles.

01

Flexibility is key.

There are a lot of unknowns going into any buyer segmentation/persona project, and the best outcomes come when the research approach is flexible enough to adapt if our understanding of the market changes. This means we don’t have a standardized product – the questions we ask, and the approach we adopt, are specifically tailored to our clients’ needs.

02

Throughout the project we need to get the right balance of ‘art’ and ‘science’.

Most customer persona/segmentation models are based on some mix of:

  1. ‘art’ – the deep understanding of customer needs that typically comes from qualitative research methods, which tend to lead to personas that feel recognizable to internal stakeholders
  2. ‘science’ – the robust validation that typically comes from undertaking quantitative research and, typically, running statistical analysis

Too much ‘art’ can mean that the segmentation isn’t based on tangible evidence, and falls apart under scrutiny. Too much ‘science’ can often lead to us developing a segmentation that is statistically optimal but not very pragmatic because internal stakeholders can’t recognize the segments among their customers.

The key is finding the right balance between the two for each project. Our approach is designed to be flexible enough so that we can pick the right mix of ‘art’ and ‘science’ as we progress.

03

We recognize that segmentation is as much about change management as about research.

Market segmentation isn’t an academic exercise – once developed, buyer segments or personas need to be used. The biggest challenge is changing how colleagues view the customer. As such, great care needs to be taken to get their buy-in to a new approach. There are two critical steps in doing so:

  1. Key internal stakeholders are involved across the journey so that they can share their hypotheses and feel part of the process
  2. We develop collateral so that the segments are understood, recognizable and brought to life, and can be used on a day-to-day basis. For example, we develop one-pagers which show the size and value of each individual segment, as well as what makes them unique

Interested in hearing more?

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