How to Segment Your Target Market

Market segmentation can simply be defined as the marketing strategy that involves dividing a broad market into different subset groups of consumers who have common needs as well as priorities and then designing and implementing strategies in order to target their needs and also desires through media channels and other touch points that allow easier access to them. Market segmentation is of great importance for the companies serving larger markets. Consumer segmentation similarly is the process of classifying people into groups that do have some set of similar characteristics thus resulting in the ability to be targeted and studied.

Categories of segmentation

Geographic

This involves dividing up geographic markets by using the existing boundaries, population boundaries and natural climatic zones. It enables us to segment a market that is spread over a very large geographic area into sub-markets that cover smaller geographic areas. In geographical segmentation the market is divided into different geographical units such as; regions (by country, state, nation, neighborhood), Population density (urban, suburban, rural), climate (size of an area, population size and growth rate) and climate where regions have climate patterns that are similar.

A company that is either serving a few or generally all the geographic segments, requires to put more attention on variability of geographic needs and wants. Immediately segmentation of consumer market on geographic bases is done, companies localize their marketing efforts such as production, promotion, advertising and sales efforts.

Demographic

This segmentation occurs when one or more demographic traits are employed in order to divide the market. Demographics are quantitative characteristics of a particular group of people. These characteristics include age, gender, income, education, occupation, social class, family size, generation, family life cycle, religion, home ownership, ethnic group and nationality. Most businesses that segment their market in terms of demographics area attempting to lay their target o specific segments of the market that are most likely to be interested in what they have to offer.

Demographic segmentation is the most popular form of segmentation for three reasons;

First consumer needs, wants as well usage patterns often reflect closely in demographic profiles. This means that people with different demographic traits often will have different needs and wants with respect to products. An example is where preference for music and other forms of entertainment are often tied to differences in age, occupation and also educational backgrounds.

Second, demographic data is very simple to obtain therefore there is a very huge amount of published demographic information that is available from a wide range of sources. Most of this information is available on the internet where you can easily get information such as census data by accessing the Census Bureau’s homepage.

Finally demographic segmentation is the most common employed market segment because even if we use an alternative segmentation base such as benefits or consumption rates, we will still use demographics in order to profile the segments that are being created. For this reason, most firms prefer to use demographics to simultaneously create as well as profile the market segment.

Psychographics

This segmentation divides market based on differences in lifecycles, social class or differences in personality traits. Psychographics are attributes of a market that are qualitative and refer to the way people think and also what they like to do. Psychographic variables include interests, personality, opinions, self image, values, activities and attitudes. Market segments based on lifestyle entails creating segments based on differences in how people choose to live their lives. Lifestyle is highly predictive of many behavior purchase therefore marketers attempt to characterize lifestyle patterns of consumers by asking them questions about their activities, interests as well as opinions. The items of AIO can be used to segment markets by looking for the response patterns that are common to such types of questions on surveys.

Consumption Behaviors Segmentation

This segment includes product consumption or rates of usage. Some other segmentation present in this category are product usage occasion, product user status and also loyalties tom some specific brands.

When creating market segments that are based on use of product occasion, emphasis is put on identifying different occasions or circumstances under which the product is used. This product may be used on by different people on different occasions or circumstances. Example most airlines have segmented markets into occasion segments that comprise of people flying for purposes of business i.e. business flyers, vacation flyers and those people flying for family reasons. Each and every segment represents a different usage occasion and is each segment is targeted with a different strategy for pricing and promotion.

Marketers who employ product user status segmentation attempt to identify differences between non-users, regular users, potential users, ex-users and also first time users of the product. Most of the large firms in the market do target non-users or potential users in an attempt to stimulate the product’s primary demand. The smaller firms on the other hand target regular users in an attempt to encourage switching of the brand. Most marketers put an effort in trying to differentiate between users and non-users of product categories when the characteristics of a consumer are tie d to the need of the product itself instead of use of different brands.

Firms can learn and gain a lot by analyzing customer loyalty patterns in the market. They can do this by finding the characteristics of those customers who are loyal and non loyal for their brand and those of their major competitors then find ways to keep their customers loyal and attract the non loyal ones from their competitors. Brand loyalty is defined based on the consumer’s pattern of how repeatedly the customer makes a purchase.

Consumer Predispositions segmentation

This entails creating segments based on the differences in the needs, wants and attitudes of the consumers. Markets can be segmented based on the level of peoples’ knowledge on a particular product category. This can be done by having in place different programs for promoting the products in order to communicate with those consumers who know little about the product and those who don’t know about the product.

Segmenting the market based on media viewing habits of consumers, may reveal consistent differences in what type of media the consumers prefer may it be television shows, magazines, radio stations and newspapers and how these differences vary with the demographic and psychographic traits of the customer. Such information can be used to target advertising as well as other communication to groups of customers.

Conclusion

The more the segments marketers are able to identify and also combine to target individual groups that are most interested in what they have to offer, the more effective their marketing efforts can be. Businesses puts much effort to learning as much as they can about their customers including where they live, their income levels, age, what they like purchasing and what they like and dislike. Using this information can be used to reach non customers

Marketing Public Library Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction

The concept of instituting marketing principles to non-profit institutions such as library and information Services is no longer a controversy. Organisations operate in an environment of change. Today we live in a global market for many goods and services in which technology, purchasing power and many factors change on a regular basis. One of the key functions of marketing is to find out how these changes affect clientele’s wants and needs and to develop organisational strategies and plans that will ensure that the library meets these challenges (Dransfield and Needham, 1995). It is therefore not surprising that public librarians are joining the marketing bandwagon. This article explores the marketing activities in the operations of the Sierra Leone Public Library services.

Public Libraries

A Public Library is funded wholly and partly from public funds and the use of which is not restricted to any class persons in the community but freely available to all. It is a major agency of enlightenment for adults, providing for children the recorded experiences of others which will help them grow into adults.

Usherhood (1981) defined Public Library as an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some form of or other community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services and equally available to members of the public community regardless of race, nationality, economic and employment status and educational attainment.

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB)

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) was established by Ordinance in June, 1959. The setting up of the Board was envisaged in the Government’s White Paper on Educational Development in 1958 and its functions outlined therein as follows:

• To provide a national/public library Service;
• To support and reinforce programmes of adult and fundamental education;
• To provide effective services for children and young adults including requisite services to schools;
• To provide much needed information and references services;
• To provide where needed adequate services for special groups, that is women and girls, language groups.

The Central Library is designed to give public services to Freetown and also to function as headquarter of the National/Public Library services and to provide accommodation for a growing collection of book and non-book materials in the country. It does all technical processing of stock for the Regional and Branch Libraries and has an Adult Lending Reference and a Children’s department.

Libraries are charged with responsibility to provide information service to support educational, recreation and personal endeavours of the members of their respective communities and the Sierra Leone Library Board is not an exception to that. The following services are provided at the Sierra Leone Library Board to Clientele:

Children Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides information services to children by the provision of books and other materials for children which are often housed in a special section known as the Children’s Library. A special service for children known as child orientated educational programme specially designed for younger library users is included in the children’s library services. They also provide services to children through storytelling, drama/play and reading aloud.

Book Borrowing and Lending Service

The main task of Sierra Leone Library Board is to provide the public with access to books and periodicals. The Sierra Leone Library Board typically offers access to a variety of books which are available for borrowing by anyone with the appropriate library card.

Current Awareness Service

At the Sierra Leone Library Board, current awareness service is aimed at bringing to the notice of potential users, newly available documents and information services. This is done by collating information and producing new secondary sources, circulating current periodicals or other documents acquired and producing and distributing one or more forms of bulletins.

Selective Dissemination of Information

A more personal information service is being run at the Sierra Leone Library Board in which the library constantly notifies library users about particular information/materials matching them in a profile of the information needs and research pre-occupation of their clientele. This is done by either bringing references to relevant items to the notice of their clients and by obtaining copies and then supply the documents themselves to library users.

Outreach Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides outreach information services which is committed to developing library outreach programmes for non-users, the undeserved, and people with special needs in the communities in restricted areas.

Computer and Internet Services

In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, information resources and government services are being provided online by the Sierra Leone Library Board. This is done by providing access to the Internet and public computers for users who otherwise would not be able to connect to these services.

Library Marketing

Marketing is often viewed as a set of strategies and techniques that belongs to administrators outside of librarianship. But, librarians are also involved in the marketing process. The essence of marketing involves finding out users needs and want, then setting out to meet these needs.

Marketing according to Weingand (1995) “can be viewed as a process of exchange and a way to foster partnership between the library and its community” (p.296). In order to maintain the relationship between the public library and the community, marketing strategies have to be employed as effective tool.

Marketing in the public library means more than simply promotion or selling. It is more concerned about user needs. Marketing the Public Library is a social and managerial process by which products and services as well as values are exchanged in order to fulfill individuals or group needs. Marketing refers to those instruments through which information, both raw and processed, are transmitted to its members. Promotion or campaigning is but two activities in the broader exercise of marketing

Planning Library Marketing Programmes

The continued existence of libraries, if not their survivals, may well depend upon the use of marketing and planning strategies, communicated through effective public relations, to significantly alter the perceived role and position of the library in society.

In a real sense, Public Relation is the promotion component of a full marketing plan of library programmes. It can be seen as the communicated module which serves the promotion function; conversely, it may be easily depicted as a philosophical relationship between library and community which serves as a guiding light for promotion activities.

Both communication and research skills serve well in the marketing planning process of which Public Relations is an important component. Specific skills and knowledge are also needed in marketing planning programs for libraries. It goes without saying that both ongoing marketing planning and programmes, and in particular, how the needs of different groups of users differ from each other. Library and information services are complex entities, as are the human users and potential users of these services.

Planning, promotion and campaigning are but all activities in the boarder exercise of marketing. User studies therefore, have a very wide range of uses in relation to the planning of library marketing programmes of a service. They contribute in the planning, promotion and development of library services. In their contribution they help in the understanding of different user group behaviour and their needs, and can assist in effective campaigning and planning process.

Three steps to planning library marketing programmes are:

• Knowing what your beliefs are and therefore what you want to achieve;
• Communicating these beliefs as practical objectives to the people with whom you work, in order that these objectives can be fulfilled; and
• Creating a vehicle which allows this to happen. This can only be achieved by defining the basic components and through organization.

Methods of marketing in Sierra Leone Library Board

Book Displays and Exhibitions

Displays and exhibitions are widely used in most public libraries as a marketing strategy to sell their products or items. The SLLB displays jackets of new books which are not yet included in the lending department for easy access by users and to increase usage. It is also a means of drawing the attention of users and non-users to particular aspects of library resources and services.

Printed materials and Publications

In order to make a very good image of the public library and for public librarians to establish better communication between the library and users, publicity programmes are put in place by the management of the Sierra Leone Library Board through news release. The management also considers annual reports and newspapers as basic publicity techniques. Publications such as bibliographies, guides and brochures are used by the library to communicate with the wider public.

Public Relations Office

Public relations according to Usherhood (1981) is concerned with gaining of public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution. It is a process that furthers mental understanding and cooperation between a government; or any organisation and its various publics. The Sierra Leone Library Board has a Public Relations Office charged with the responsibility to enhance a smooth system of communication.

User Education/Readers Advisory Service

This could be described as training a group of users in the effective use of the library and its resources. It is used to stimulate the users to make greater use of the library and introduces library staff to clientele who might be reluctant to seek their assistance. This is the principal means through which library staff can learn about readers’ needs, opinions and habits. Good communication with readers enables staff to inform and influence readers.

The Media

These involve printed and audio-visual forms of communication and any necessary equipment to render them usable. The Press, radio and television are important means of publicising information service, since they offer potential of reaching many people from all walks of life. The media are cultivated so that messages are distributed with regularity. Publicity mechanism such as news releases, special events and brochures can also be employed.

The Social Media Groups (SMG)

The Sierra Leone Library Board makes use of the Social media groups such as ‘Facebook’ and ‘Watsapp’ as an effective way for publicity in order to put their messages across to users of their services.

Challenges of Marketing Library and Information Services at the SLLB

A lot of challenges have militated against the effective planning and implementation of library marketing programs at SLLB. The following are some of the challenges:

• Inadequate Staff: Although staff numbers have been maintained, the ratio of professional staff is very low. The library is manned mostly by paraprofessionals who mostly lack the skills to plan and implement marketing programmes.

• Finance: The library depends heavily on government subsidy. The government has no specific or substantial funds for the running of the library thus the library administration has to foot most of the bills that have to do with marketing. The irregular flow of funds has served as a barrier to the progress of marketing library and information services at the SLLB.

• Lack of standard printed materials and publications: The SLLB lacks most standard printed materials and publications due to poor planning of marketing programmes. This negligence has made the library handicapped of public relations tools in the form of printed materials and publications such as newsletters, questionnaires, diaries and calendars.

• Displays are improper and exhibitions seem almost absent: The library depends mostly on donations and most of the books are acquired without jackets. Therefore displaying book jackets in inconsistent. In fact exhibition programmes are yet to survive as they are only recently introduced. The library lacks relevant display and exhibition materials to mount these activities.

• Inability to organize frequent Radio Programs: The SLLB lacks media communication facilities. The library cannot frequently organise radio programmes on its own because of lack of funds. The absence of radio programmes stands out as an acute problem to the progress of marketing programs in the library.

Conclusively, marketing is the instrument that libraries use to transform their aims and objectives into operational plans of action. In most developing countries’ public libraries such as the SLLB, marketing strategies cannot operate properly due to the existence of bottlenecks in planning programmes. Good marketing programmes actualise the plans and measures necessary for the achievement of goals and objectives.

What Marketing Automation Means?

The very basic formula of any marketing is:

Defining Prospects + Contact Details + Campaign = Marketing

The act of automating these steps with the help of technology and software turns it into Marketing Automation.

Thus, when with the help of a business software some or many steps of marketing are handled automatically by a software or application, that’s called marketing automation.

Beginning of Marketing Automation

So, at the beginning, when computer and internet were new and weren’t matured as much as they are today, the marketing companies used to compile a long list of prospective clients and then send them the same mail one by one. Then someone invented a function by which people were able to enlist all email IDs in one email and send a bulk email.

We can call that the first Marketing Automation attempt as the system had automated one part of the marketing campaign. Now there was no need to send each individual one by one. It was now done with a single click. Though, you had to create a database of all the email IDs first, but the repetitive process of composing the same email for every individual was discarded.

From the that time on, people have just built upon the same idea, transformed more manual steps into the automatic ones and more and more repetitive efforts performed by executives has turned into automated ones.

Today, it is possible to send one mail to a thousand (or a million) people without writing a single word, without entering email IDs manually or hitting send at the moment you want send it.

How? A few types of mails have readymade formats available for free. You can take that format as the body of your mail. Then there are services which provide you list of email IDs in the domains you require. And then on an email client, you schedule your emails to automatically be sent without your presence. See? Nothing is written and yet you have sent thousands of emails with a few clicks.

Though, such email with readymade templates will have a very low conversion rate. Yet, it reflects the reach and advancements in the marketing automation segment. You are only required to tell the software what you want to do and then, everything is done automatically.

Marketing Automation: Intelligence Gathering

Marketing Automation software has gone advanced and thus they have also made the every steps of marketing advanced. The aforementioned simple formula of marketing has become complex, much more focused, centralized and aligned for the maximum ROI. Nowadays, only gathering lists of email IDs isn’t enough. For maximum efficiency you have more software and techniques to discard the people and steps which have less possibility to turn into conversion. You can target only those people who have higher likability of turning into a customer.

How you/software know that?

Today, in the times of matured internet with the social media sites, increased internet footprints, there is software available which follows and tracks a person’s internet footprint on social media, search engines, different websites and all the things they click and look out for on the internet. After that, the software segmentizes the data and turns it into actionable information. Basing on that information, the tool suggests you the people which are most likely to convert into customer as they are probably following the similar things which falls into the product category of your product or their interests and search results suggests that they are interested into the product you are selling i.e. a person running a big firm is more likely to buy your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system than a man who sells candies at a local shop. Thus, you can discard the people who aren’t going to buy your product and focus only on the people with higher likability. This way, your spending on mail clients shows higher ROI with maximum efficiency. The rate of replies, mail openings, leads and ultimately to the conversion also stays high.

Thus, the software and tools are helping to maximize your performance by intelligence gathering from online sites and people’s online footprints. Collected intelligence is helping you to do marketing efficiently, smartly and with higher return.

Marketing Automation: Workflow Automation inside the Company

There is this third part of the marketing automation which furthers the game to the next level which makes sure that you are always there to close the deal for any customer who is interested in your product. It’s called Workflow Automation.

Workflow Automation actually tracks the performance of the recent marketing campaign and sees if the prospect has reached to a level where he is considering buying your product. He is probably visiting your website regularly, spends longer time on it or is visiting the product pricing page. At that time, the marketing automation software understands the prospect’s higher possibility of turning into a conversion. At that critical time, the software sends to one of your marketing executive an alert for such a prospect who, from there on, can take predefined steps to ensure the prospect turns into a conversion. The Marketing Automation Software are looking at the people’s profiles, habits, nature and collective psychographic data to understand if he will be interested in your product or not.

That’s marketing automation at its maximum performance.

You can understand that all the marketing automation tricks, techniques and ways described here are just the extensions of the decades old basic marketing formula. Those three steps are now highly matured with their own sub-parts, polished to a level where the conversion ration stays high, with segmented information about the prospects to target only the best ones and achieve results with far higher leads and conversions than its basic counterpart.

Marketing Automation isn’t only for Email Marketing.

That’s true. Whenever a person thinks of online marketing, email marketing pops up the first. But, as its well-known, there are a lot of other ways to market your product online. Social media posts, online conferences/calls/webinars, website promotion, advertisements, etc. There are a lot of options and each one is a marketing effort.

Now, in each of these techniques, if there is a Marketing Automation Software available which is making a few steps automatic i.e. posting on multiple social media sites at once or posting articles/press releases automatically on multiple article directories or article/PR submission sites, then that software is helping in your marketing campaign and is making it automatic. That is also a marketing automation software.

Marketing Automation isn’t bound only to email marketing.

How to know if you require a marketing automation software?

The criteria is simple. If you rely on email marketing, social media marketing and other traceable online marketing techniques, then here are the situations to use a marketing automation software:

  1. If you are repetitively sending thousands and thousands of emails to your prospect on daily/weekly/monthly basis
  2. You require a detailed review of your marketing campaign
  3. Using a software reduces cost/time/efforts spent on the task greatly

Benefits

Benefits of marketing automation are:

  1. It accelerates the whole campaign tremendously
  2. Marketing Intelligence helps you to target only prospects with higher conversion possibility
  3. Your employees get great support to track down and assist the most interested prospect. Thus, it goes to the last mile to ensure one more deal is closed.
  4. The detailed analytics and statistics help you to get better and better with your every campaign