Tag Archives: market segmentation

Business Viability

If we’ve heard one story about someone wanting to start a restaurant, we’ve heard a dozen. The idea of opening and operating a restaurant most likely stems from a bad experience where someone feels they can do a better job than what they encountered. It could be that there is a belief they’re a good cook, or they have children who suggested mom and dad open a restaurant. In any case, the horror stories are more common than tales of success.

Here’s why, and the reasons apply to more than restaurants.

More than once we’ve heard about the person who wants to take over an existing restaurant that failed and closed. We even heard of one restaurant owner who closed a franchise operation and claimed they would reopen at the same location as a “different” restaurant. Could location have been a factor? Or could hiring a majority of the same employees drive a stake into the new operation?

There have been fast food franchises that have torn down one building and relocated to the other side of the street, simply because the old location was not accessible to customers who wanted to avoid turning left into the restaurant. Location is key.

When it comes to any business, it pays to do some diligence and investigate issues such as traffic flow, residential population, ease of access, and other establishments nearby that are capable of or already bringing potential customers to the location.  If you can do that yourself, great; if not, consider a professionally conducted competitive market analysis or feasibility study. Realize that the cost of acquiring that information could help you avoid moving forward on a project that is destined to fail … and spending much more money in the process.

Besides location, you have to consider your management team, target market segments, value proposition, revenue streams, various cost factors, and key resources, among others. All of these are part of developing a business model.

To go back to restaurants, for example, far too often the owner chooses to employ managers to run the operation in their stead. Unless those managers have a vested interest in the endeavor, they could ruin the business by the way they manage the employees, treat the consumers, and handle inventory and other financial matters. Ever hear stories of managers embezzling funds?

Have you identified the various market segments likely to patronize your business or use your products? What are their buying habits? Do you have a value proposition that resonates with them and is relevant to their needs and wants? Do you know how to reach them with effective advertising that provides a return on your marketing investment? What makes your business different from the other ones that provide the same product or service? It’s one of the first question certain consumers will ask.

Now ask yourself: How much money can I realistically expect to make from this business? On this step, it is critical that you are brutally honest with yourself. Leave your emotional attachment to the idea or suggestion out of the decision making process!

As part of this evaluation, ask yourself the long range question: Why am I doing this?

We are here to help you take the time to think through that question.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand


Market Segments

Let’s start with defining market segmentation.

First, your “market” consists of the people who need your product or service and the people who want your product or service and are most likely to purchase it from your company.  Rare is the company that has products or services needed by “everyone.”  Manufacturers of toilet paper are one exception that comes to mind, but when you think about it, infants and children still in diapers are not “customers” in the sense they can make a purchase, and they don’t need toilet paper yet but that’s okay.

Market Segmentation Target

Second, market “segmentation” is a method for dividing up your potential consumer base into various, well-identified portions for the purpose of appealing directly to that group.  An obvious differentiation is between female and male consumers.  If your company manufactures and sells high-heeled shoes, women are going to be your strongest market segment.


Considering that group of consumers, it is likely you can further define your market into age-related segments.  Things constantly change, but high heels are less likely to be worn by females under the age of 15 and those 65 and older.  There are exceptions, of course, but what this tells you when it comes to marketing is that you are likely to have fairly well-defined market segments:  Women in the age groups of 15 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, and 55 to 64 or similar delineations.

Rather than belabor the example, let’s get to the point.  The more narrow you can define your market segments, the more concentrated your sales efforts can be on each of those segments, and the greater your likelihood of success in expanding your market share in certain segments.

As professional business and marketing consultants, defining a customer’s market segments is one of the primary steps in developing an effective marketing strategy to build a company’s brand.  Advertising can be expensive, especially if the return on that investment is questionable or, shamefully, unknown.  Why would you market high heels to a male audience?  Or in a Super Bowl commercial?  Think about what makes sense.

Where the challenge lies is in determining the buying characteristics, or what we refer to as customer buying motivation (CBM), of each market segment.  Why would women in the 25 to 34-year old age group buy high heels more frequently than those in the 55 to 64-year old segment?  If you find it is job-related or as a need for social status, you have narrowed the potential appeal for your shoes to that age group.

The next step, and where professional help can prove valuable, is determining which delivery vehicle is best for conveying your sales pitch to that demographic audience.  In conducting research, you might discover (as we have) that women 25 to 34 may have a favorite TV program but they use the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to fast forward through the commercials.  The challenge, therefore, is figuring out how to reach them with a message that encourages or convinces them to buy from you and become loyal to your brand.

We’re here if you need help with any of this.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand


What’s Your Value Proposition?

What good are you?

That’s a fair question for any business if it’s coming from a consumer.  Tied to that question is:  What makes you different or better than any other company that does what you do or offers the products and/or services that you do?  That is a rather common query from today’s consumer.

What makes you different?

What makes you different?

Consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to virtually any product or service on the market.  They can shop online, weigh the variables, and make their decisions based on whatever information they can find, good or bad.

This is why your value proposition is essential.

Some marketing gurus call it your unique selling proposition (USP), and that’s close, but it really boils down to knowing your specific target audience (market segment) and the value your product and/or service provides to that specific target market.  That’s a value proposition.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of a company that manufactures ceramic coffee cups.  The range of consumers for their product could include companies that retail sets of dishes to consumers, companies that produce promotional gift items for businesses, tourism and hospitality-related businesses, and the general consumer.

Is the same value proposition valid for each of these market segments?  Hardly.

When we dig deeper, we discover that the value provided by our ceramic coffee cup manufacturer to the promotional market may be an average quality cup at an economical price point.  Add a short turn-around on delivery to the promotional company or the ability to print or etch the consumer’s message on the cups and turn them around quickly, and the value to the promotional company rises considerably.  Add a variety of colors or different sizes and shapes and the value goes up even more.

The concept of a value proposition goes to the heart of your business.  What consumer markets do you, or do you want to, serve?  It is vital to know your consumer segments because the value they expect is what your company must deliver in order to meet or exceed their demands.

Weigh what you offer in terms of value, not benefits.  That means you have to look at what you offer from the consumer’s point of view.  You think of what you offer as a benefit to the consumer, where they need to see it as having value for them.  Define the value clearly; again, from the consumer’s viewpoint.  Determine how best to deliver that value message to the marketplace to earn your share of the business that’s out there.

If you need help figuring this all out, Brand Irons is here to do that, and the initial consultation is offered free of charge.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand 

A Brand Budget

How much should you, or must you, spend to brand your business?

The most common answer:  It depends!

The cost of marketing your products and/or services, through advertising, sales, promotions, or other avenues is related to your goals and objectives.  If your goals are indistinct or your objectives lack focus, the odds are that you will be wasting marketing dollars on ineffective vehicles.

For purposes of discussion, let’s assume you’ve built a convenience store off a high volume interchange on an interstate highway.  It should be apparent who your target market is, so why would you advertise in a phone directory in a community 50 miles away without easy access to your place of business?  While you may be able to justify the expense, in the mind of most business owners that would be wasted money.

If, on the other hand, you were able to invest that money in billboard advertising on the approaches to your exit, you are more likely to meet your objectives for sales.

What you spend to build your brand should be measurable and tied to the bottom line.  If your goal is to have your brand identified with the market segment comprised of men between 24 and 35 years of age, you can quantify how many of the male species lives in your targeted area.  You can also identify which media is most likely to garner a positive response from those men, and build brand loyalty.

It might take six months or six years to reach the level of penetration you desire for your brand, with many variables playing a role.  If you gain acceptance through a social media community, the time span can be shortened considerably.  A heftier advertising budget and well-placed commercials can also push up the acceptance.

An important consideration is to take the time to do some planning.  Think about what you want to accomplish and the best method to achieve it.  Allocate some funds to test the waters and measure the results.  If the campaign works, build on it.  If it doesn’t perform as expected, stop and think about what went wrong or could have been better.  Tweak it and try again, within budget constraints.  Measure the results.

If you operate blindly in spending your advertising dollars, you may wind up joining the thousands of other business owners who assert that advertising doesn’t work.  It does, if done correctly.  That’s what there are professionals for; to help you make the right decisions and use your marketing budget effectively.