How to Talk to Different Customer Segments

Let’s talk for a minute about Paul Revere. (The American historical figure, not the Beastie Boys song.)


Image courtesy of Encyclopedia Brittanica

On the eve of the Battles of Lexington and Concord that kicked off the Revolutionary War, patriot and Boston silversmith Paul Revere embarked upon an historic horseback ride to warn the colonists of the approaching British troops.

Contrary to popular legend, Revere didn’t shout “The British are coming” to each colonist he encountered. In fact, no one actually knows just what he said, but we can reasonably assume three things:

1. He probably didn’t stop to discuss taxation without representation, even though that subject was highly relevant to the evening’s events.

2. He probably got right to the point.

3. He probably had different versions of his warning, based on who he was talking to.

So what can Paul Revere teach us about marketing content strategy? Plenty, as it turns out.

Many businesses turn off customers and prospective customers when they don’t emulate Paul Revere – and instead make one or more of these three common messaging mistakes: (1) Giving too much information, which makes customers work too hard to find what’s important to them; or (2) Pushing out content that is relevant to one customer segment but less so to others; or (3) Never varying their story, even though their customer segments have different needs and motivations.

If your business is a trade association for apple orchard owners, for example, and the orchards in Wisconsin suffered a huge blight this year, then those customers are not going to be very receptive to marketing content that’s centered around dues increases or how great the apple market is in other parts of the country. Nor are they going to want to sift through a lot of other content in order to find out what resources may be available to help them in their time of need.

Luckily, there are a lot of tactics that make it easy to vary your marketing content across different customer segments. Here’s a few ideas to help you get started:

1. Use your data. If you’ve gone through a best customer profiling exercise, you can use the insights about your customers’ attitudes, motivations, and preferences to develop customized content that speaks directly to their needs and aspirations.

2. Use email marketing. Many email marketing platforms allow you to deploy mass email campaigns with segmentation features. For example, you can send out one mass e-blast, but everyone in Customer Group 1 gets a different Story B than the customers in Group 2.

3. Use automated content sparingly. It’s tempting for busy marketers to use the same pre-scheduled content across your social media channels, especially when there are so many scheduling tools that make doing so very easy. But if you know that Customer Group A really likes Twitter, it just makes sense to push out customized content on that platform whenever possible.

4. Unpack your adjectives. Sometimes messaging by customer segmentation is just a matter of different word choices or sentence structure.

5. Be a Paul Revere. If you need to hammer home three points with all customers, but make a fourth point with a segmented customer group, make that special fourth point right up front, then get to the other three. Save the elaboration for another day, or put it the form of “read more” links or teases from print collateral to your digital marketing channels