Marketing Services to Targeted Industry Segments
(Originally published as a Marketing and Business Development column in the
By William K. Pollock
Many services organizations believe that simply because their services offerings may be used by customers of all types, sizes and industry segments, that they must target their marketing and business development efforts to the market as a whole - that it does not make sense to restrict their sales and marketing efforts to a smaller than universal marketplace. However, even the largest OEMs, ISOs and systems integrators - who arguably can provide all services to all segments - generally prefer to approach each targeted segment on an individual basis, using segment-specific sales and marketing, advertising and promotion, and marketing collateral.
In fact, many of the largest - and most successful - services providers have built their respective service delivery organizations on at least a partially decentralized basis, in order to ensure that they can provide focused services to each of their most attractive industry segments. As such, those services providers that are large enough to support multiple industry segments generally also have multiple internal organizations, infrastructures and service delivery processes designed to support each targeted segment.
For example, many large OEMs may have separate financial services, healthcare, enterprise and government services divisions. However, even those organizations that seemingly cater to only a single industry segment have found that individual sub-segment targeting also makes sense. These may include medical/healthcare ISOs that divide their services portfolios into support for hospitals, clinics and private practices; or networking providers that separate their organizations into support for Service Providers (i.e., telcos) and Enterprises (i.e., all other businesses).
For any services business, there are usually always prospects in certain segments that ultimately become better customers than those in other segments. As such, your business may be best served by directing its marketing and business development efforts toward a select, and prioritized, number of individual segments rather than to a more broadly defined and all-encompassing universal market base. This is what is commonly known as "market segmentation."
The primary reasons for segmenting the general marketplace are essentially based on marketing and economics. If your company can only produce a certain number of products, or deliver a certain number of services, within a finite timeframe, it would make great sense to concentrate its efforts in segments that are:
The Phase I activities should focus primarily on the market research and "discovery" aspects of the overall segmentation effort, representing the foundation upon which the remainder of the process will be based. The key components of this phase will be to identify the most attractive market segments for future business development; to define each of the selected segments in terms of their respective structure, size and anticipated growth trends; and to identify the most relevant market usage/purchase characteristics that define each of the segments vis a vis your product and service lines.
Validation and Concept Testing
Qualification and Development
These may include the:
Any business could benefit substantially from broadening its historical customer base by penetrating new, fast-growing and receptive segments. However, just because your company's products and services could potentially be used by all types and sizes of customers, does not necessarily mean that you should attempt to "be all things to all parties."
Even the very largest businesses that, conceivably, could "offer all things to all parties," have recognized that there are far greater benefits that can result from their ability to first understand and support a smaller, targeted and more manageable number of "pre-qualified" industry segments.
William K. Pollock is president of Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM), the Westtown, Pennsylvania-based services consulting firm specializing in strategic business planning, services marketing, CRM consulting, market/survey research, and customer satisfaction measurement and tracking programs. Bill may be reached at 610-399-9717 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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