A common challenge for Economic Development Organizations (EDOs), is a desire to cast a wide net, while avoiding generic messaging. Because you have multiple strategic objectives, you also have multiple audiences made up of people with different goals, needs, and behaviors. So how do you appeal to each of these groups without watering down your marketing story? The answer is audience segmentation.
Audience Segmentation – a marketing strategy based on identifying subgroups within target audiences to deliver a custom-fit message and create stronger connections.
You probably recognize that audience segmentation should be a strategic part of your marketing plan, but where do you start?
It’s best to start with your business goals. Most EDOs want to build local support for their organization, retain current businesses, attract new businesses, and attract a skilled workforce.
As a result, most EDOs have top-level audiences that include:
Local community stakeholders
Prospective business leaders
Prospective workforce members
Each of these audiences can be segmented into subgroups based on a number of factors which are driven by your strategy, including industry, demographics, job titles, and locations.
Return to Your Buyer Persona
We discussed creating a buyer persona in our blog, Creating an Effective Marketing Strategy for Your Economic Development Organization. Buyer personas are essential when it comes to defining your target audiences, and once you’ve created these personas, you can separate them into groups to begin the process of segmenting your audience.
Audience Segmentation Strategy – An Example
Let’s take a closer look at your business attraction segmentation. To begin segmenting this audience, you can ask yourself questions such as:
What industries are you focused on attracting?
What types of businesses are most likely to expand or relocate to your community?
Who are the decision-makers of these businesses?
What do these decision makers care about?
How can your community solve their challenges?
What persuasive appeal best resonates with them?
What do they need to know about your community?
Widely Define Your Segments
There’s a sweet spot when it comes to segmenting your audience. You want to work toward specificity, but instead of segmenting your audience too narrowly, you should aim your focus on a few key groups. If you are too broad, you’ll resort to generic messaging and prospecting tactics. If you are too specific, you may not reach enough of your intended audience to make an impact. Think about the different types of people that could be interested in your organization's mission and activities. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, profession, interests, and values when creating your segments. This will help ensure they accurately reflect the diversity of the population you are trying to reach.
For example, a targeted audience might be CEOs, COOs and CFOs of transportation businesses with 200 or more employees, located in all adjoining states. Based on this profile, you or your agency can identify likely pay ranges, interests and activities that will allow you to place targeted ads and social media content to this narrow group.
Set Your Goals and Measure Them Often
Once you have segmented your audiences, you can begin setting goals that are relevant to those audiences. These goals should be measurable, so you can track and compare each segment’s performance. For example, you may want to drive a certain number of visits to a specific page of your site, field a particular number of inquiries, or drive a desired number of deals.
You should also review your goals often—they should not remain static but evolve as new data becomes available or as your business strategy changes. Also remember to measure other metrics periodically, such as website page views and social media engagement, to get a holistic view of how well your strategies are working.
Appeal to Your Audiences
Understanding your audiences helps you craft messaging that is relevant and appeals to these groups. This will, in turn, result in higher conversions for your EDO. As an example, let’s look at developing the messaging around attracting a large transportation company. Decision makers will want to know the available number of qualified workers, while qualified workers will be interested in attributes that make your community a quality place to raise a family.
Market Your Organization on Different Channels
Once you have established clear goals and defined your segments, it's time to market your organization on different channels. Depending on which segment(s) you are targeting, this might include social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, streaming TV, email marketing, website content such as blogs and news, or even traditional print media. The key here is to use the channels that are most likely to reach each target group most effectively so that they receive the message in a timely manner, with relevant and engaging content.
Here are ways you could market your organization:
Showcase success stories and news updates on your website featuring local industry growth and success.
Create and run targeted social media ads on LinkedIn and Facebook to area business owners and potential entrepreneurs.
Audience segmentation is essential for any successful marketing strategy looking to reach and engage with the right people at the right time. By taking the time to define distinct segments, setting measurable goals, and marketing on different channels, your organization can better understand your target audiences' needs and craft effective strategies for reaching them. With an effective audience segmentation strategy in place, your organization can maximize its impact by targeting specific groups with tailored messages that result in meaningful relationships.