Marketers continue to embrace personalization and all its benefits. But in this day and age, greeting customers by their first name in an email is no longer enough. And lumping them all together based on demographics won’t cut it either.
Typically, marketing segmentation looks squarely at a user’s buying behaviors in trying to predict their next actions. But a new strategy, mindset segmentation, goes deeper. Let’s take a closer look:
What is Mindset Segmentation?
The term “mindset segmentation” was first used by marketer Kellie Cummings. She noted that:
“[m]indset segmentation identifies people based on their emotional desires and expectations […] Simply put, there’s more to customers than their willingness to purchase products. When employees see the human side of customers, they can develop communications that sustain customers’ trust.”
But mindset segmentation goes far beyond simply reaching out and building relationships with customers. It’s about getting to know your customers as people rather than just purchasers of your products or services.
So how do you do it? It’s important to note that in order to get the best use out of this type of segmentation, that you include — but also look beyond — the customer’s perception of your brand. Mindset segmentation can be broken down into the following attributes:
A customer’s beliefs can be boiled down to one simple question — what are the principles that drive them? Are they more independent or introverted? Do they tend to feel that life is an adventure, or are they happiest when surrounded by a large circle of friends?
There is no one right answer — but rather that their core beliefs line up with your business’ values. A mismatch here can create a disconnect or a misalignment, most often expressed in the feeling that “the company doesn’t understand me.”
Hopes, Dreams, Fears
Much like understanding their beliefs, understanding people’s hopes and dreams can help you more closely align your business and marketing objectives toward helping them meet them. By the same token, knowing their fears can help you avoid disappointing them. If something goes wrong, possibly the worst thing a brand can do is bury their head in the sand and hope the customer firestorm passes.
But by doing this, you’re making a statement that in turn, whittles away at their trust in you and their perception of you (more on that below). All too often, companies claim to be champions of the consumers, but when words and actions collide and the customers’ fears are made real, there’s a very distinctive “us versus them” division.
On the other hand, getting this right, and working with it responsibly is an open invitation to exceed your customer’s expectations and utterly delight them in doing so. And that’s the kind of trust and consideration that simply can’t be bought.
What do customers expect from you and how do you live up to that standard? Many companies claim to support the customer and go “above and beyond” — but seldom do. Consumers of all backgrounds want to be perceived by friends, colleagues, and others in a certain way. How does your brand help them do that?
When understanding a customer’s expectations overall (and not just in relation to your company), it’s important to look closer at their beliefs and their hopes, dreams and fears. What will they absolutely NOT stand for? What values does your company represent that they feel comfortable in aligning themselves with?
In a similar vein, many people talk about “lifestyle brands” — brands that evoke such a powerful feeling that there’s an entire perceived lifestyle around them. One need only mention “Apple”, “Burberry” or “Quiksilver” to realize just how much of a role these brands play in shaping the culture and perception of those around us. Even if you’re not a high-end techie, an upscale Londoner or a surfer, you’ve likely seen these brands and the people who embrace them. Whatever opinion you have of them, there’s no doubt that they are living up to their customers’ expectations.
One may not instantly correlate a brand with a customer’s emotional needs not being met – but it affects their decisions more than you might think. Many financial decisions are affected by a customer’s self-esteem and their need for security and love. They have a direct, open need to be admired and liked, or to feel beautiful or be seen as hip or smart.
Whatever the need is, you can’t just plaster up a fancy presentation about how your company is meeting those needs. Customers want, more than anything, to be involved and feel important. Engage in conversation, not monologue. When people perceive your parent company as one that listens, understands and takes steps to maximize customer satisfaction, that company becomes a part of the customer’s lifestyle.
How do customers see your brand? Beyond that, how would they describe your company to their family and friends? If you think your brand doesn’t have a perception, then you haven’t been monitoring the conversation. You’ll know if you’re doing mindset segmentation right, because you’ll go from a company that the customer recognizes, to one that they want to integrate with and use to reflect who they are.
Getting Started with Mindset Segmentation
The great thing about mindset segmentation is that it’s easy to work with. But it’s also worth understanding that not every customer will fit into these neatly packaged imaginary boxes or categories you’ve created — and that’s fine. Those are where mindset segmentation ends and persona creation begins.
Start by interviewing your most loyal customers. Touch on all the points mentioned above in a way that isn’t intrusive or annoying. Do more listening than speaking, and you’ll be amazed at what you hear. Take time to collect all the meaningful data you can about these people in a way that’s open and communicative. These people are going to be the linchpins of your mindset segmentation initiative. They’re going to be the people who drive the creation of your marketing personas and help shape your brand.
But interviews are just the tip of the iceberg. You can conduct polls and surveys, encourage users who like you on social media to also subscribe to your email list (and give them a reason to want to do so) and vice versa.
And it should go without saying that mindset segmentation isn’t going to replace market segmentation — but rather complement it. By using both tactics together, you’ll create a strategy that’s rooted in personal attention, yet still has a finger on the pulse of the industry and consumers as a whole.
Put simply, mindset segmentation is another facet of data that you can explore to give your customers a truly customized, personalized and influential experience with your company — and that’s the kind of interaction that every brand strives for.