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Mar 7, 201712:18 PMOpen Mic

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Segmentation is killing your brand: Five reasons to find your unicorn customer

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A store is a place you go to buy stuff, usually out of convenience or habit. In contrast, brands inspire irrational loyalty and yes, even love. How does a company build itself into a brand that people can fall deeply, madly in love with?

The old model says segmentation is the key to business success. This involves strategically dividing your potential customers into groups based on who they are and why or how they’re buying. Segmentation is a fine marketing tactic, but it won’t help build a brand people can wholeheartedly rally behind. In fact, segmentation can even work against a brand by diluting the brand identity. In order to build the type of brand that customers can fall in love with, you must first create a detailed picture of your ideal “unicorn” customer.

Let me start with a real-world example of one brand that I personally worked with. This company is one of the world’s largest retailers of hookahs and hookah supplies. When I asked them who they thought their ideal customer was, they described an older Middle-Eastern man. In fact, their ideal customer — the person most likely to bring in the most amount of revenue for this company over time — was a young guy between the ages of 18–28, who wants to bring people together around the hookah. He is a discerning, curious, fun-loving hookah enthusiast who knows that the most memorable and fun hookah experiences start with the right equipment, accessories, and shisha tobacco. He wants to be the life of the hookah party. You can see why he’s the ideal customer.

This example clearly demonstrates how to define this ideal customer. First, start by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Who is the customer who will be worth the most over the long haul?
  2. Who will be the customer who is the most profitable and delightful to serve?
  3. Who will not only keep buying from you again and again but will recommend you to others?

Then, create an in-depth profile of this customer — the person who is most highly predictive of your brand’s success. Imagine the ideal customer in excruciating detail: What kind of car does she drive? What clothing does he wear? What’s her perfume? Every minute detail must be worked out in your mind so this person becomes as real as possible. To help you fill in the details, consider doing the opposite of segmentation. Think about what unites your customers, and create a singular brand that is for a singular customer archetype.

What are the benefits of identifying the ideal “unicorn” customer?

  • Build a stronger brand identity. If a brand can clearly define who its biggest brand champion is, then more doors will open than previously imaginable. The creative process will become easier, and everything the brand does will be more thoroughly informed by this one anchoring concept. The brand purpose becomes unified and less fragmented, making it stronger and more appealing to customers.
  • Create a brand that your team can rally behind and be truly passionate about. When you build a brand with a strong identity and purpose, you can then recruit people to be part of the team who also feel strongly about the brand purpose. It’s much easier to inspire the team to put in extra work when they feel like the brand is something worth working for. In fact, it starts to feel less like work and more like plain old fun.
  • Make the brand more human. Thinking about the ideal customer as an actual person will help you think about the brand in more emotional terms. The result is a brand that people can relate to on an emotional level.
  • Inspire irrational customer loyalty. A strong brand identity makes for a strong company that instills customers with confidence. This means that people come back even if they’re dissatisfied simply because they love the brand and they know the brand will redeem itself.
  • Help to better inform segmentation. Without a clear brand identity, segment marketing is like driving around without a clear destination in mind. You might find some interesting things along the way, but you’ll waste time and gas, and you will probably find yourself getting a bit lost. Build a brand first, and then use segmentation to help spread your awesome brand identity far and wide.

(Continued)

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