Marketing is about convincing someone that they should consider your product or service instead of: either not using anything, or selecting an alternative option.

But how many people can you convince simultaneously? Or more accurately, how many different people, or organisations, can you convince at the same time?

You’ll agree with me that every time you talk to someone else, strictly speaking you need a different approach. So if you insist on marketing to twenty distinctly different types of client, then you need twenty different variations of your marketing message. This becomes twenty times more complex than if you only had a single message aimed at a single market.

In order to limit the complexity many business owners water down their marketing message so that it can be told to as wide an audience as possible. Everybody. The problem with this approach is that the message becomes so watered down that it has no impact.

This presents a catch 22 to the business owner: either tell a diluted message to everyone, or embrace the added complexity of a unique message to each customer.

The answer is to find a middle ground and segment the market into large chunks of similar types of customer with similar needs and purchasing processes. The next step is then to select a handful of these segments and target them with a customised message.

It is an uncomfortable compromise for entrepreneurs eager to target the whole market, but if you refuse to segment and select, you risk diluting your message and fail to gain sales traction. It is that serious.

If you want to incorporate marketing best practice into your company, start by segmenting your market, and then choosing whom to target. Don’t be fooled into thinking this approach is old school or only for the big boys.

Have you segmented your market?
Do you know whom you are targeting?