Segmentation, Target Market, and Persona: The Three Pillars of Marketing Strategy

May 29, 2024 | Elke Steinwender
4 min


In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, an organization’s success depends partly on its ability to connect with its customers. But how do you do this when dealing with many individuals with diverse profiles and expectations? This is where the three pillars of marketing strategy come into play: segmentation, target market, and personas.

Far from being abstract theories, these tools enable companies to transform an anonymous crowd into distinct groups of individuals, each with unique needs, motivations, and behaviors. By understanding these nuances, companies can develop targeted marketing strategies that resonate with their audience, increasing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales.

To illustrate the power of these concepts in concrete terms, we will explore the stories of some of Maïeutyk’s former corporate clients. These stories, rich in learning, will reveal the lessons of these companies in applying these three pillars of marketing strategy.

Segmentation: breaking down the market

To better identify consumers, a company must distinguish between its various sub-groups, enabling it to develop tailor-made marketing strategies. Segmentation is the process of categorizing a market into different groups according to specific characteristics such as demographics, geography, behavior, etc. Market segmentation includes creating a business model or case for pursuing the segment. It enables a better understanding of the sales potential of a particular segment and the return on investment (time, money, effort) in areas such as marketing and sales, for example. Segmentation also makes adapting better and prioritizing product design or upgrades possible.

The most common mistake is to confuse persona and segmentation.

Let’s take the example of a B2B food processing company with whom Maïeutyk worked. Initially, it had defined 15 distinct segments corresponding to the different stores it sold to and, therefore, thought it had 15 distinct personas. However, after a cocreation workshop, the company realized it had just one persona: buyers for HRI (Hotels, Restaurants, Institutions). All its customers share the same relational needs with the company. On the other hand, product requirements (quantities, product types, prices, etc.) varied from segment to segment. In other words, product needs are determined by the segments, not the persona.

You may be wondering how we managed to address these different sales realities. By mapping the customer journey, we delivered the right product offer message to the right person at the right time. To ensure the success of this new strategy, close collaboration was established between marketing, responsible for communicating to the general public, and sales, who engage in more one-to-one conversations.

The target market: an essential focus

The target market is the segment the company has chosen to pursue or divide into a specialized business unit to respond effectively to specific market needs. This concept is used to develop your marketing strategy and basic 4Ps (product, price, place, and promotion) and to draw up your marketing and communication plans, overall campaign messages, channels, etc.

What to focus on?

One manufacturing and distribution company Maïeutyk worked with had identified 11 different segments. However, it was impossible to focus on all 11 segments at once. Therefore, they decided to prioritize the five most promising segments.

To direct investments to strategic areas, it’s crucial to be opportunistic, even if business is good in all segments. We need to look at current customers: who are the right customers? Why are we serving them well? How can we quickly multiply these customers? In short, you need to prioritize the segments where you are most likely to succeed, where you have the expertise, where the competition is moderate, or where you can outperform the competition. With our support, this company was able to maximize its return on investment.

The persona: meeting your ideal customer

The persona humanizes the target market. It recognizes that the consumer is not simply a set of demographics but has needs, wants, and desires. It provides a clear picture and point of reference for anyone trying to communicate or sell to that person. A persona makes it easy to identify and relate to your target market. It helps ensure that your marketing is aimed at your target, not just at you.

How do you determine the persona?

It was the question posed by an industrial products company that had worked with Maïeutyk. Together, their marketing teams had developed over 29 personas, one for each segment, just like the food processing company. This approach made collaboration between the different teams (digital marketing, events, sales services, etc.) complex, as each team created different personas. They were, thus, targeting different personas rather than communicating with the same persona on various channels, whether for event marketing or new customer acquisition.

Thanks to a co-creation workshop involving all the teams, they reduced the number of personas to three! Therefore, they could harmonize their efforts and address the same personas on different communication channels, improving the consistency and effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

By combining segmentation, target market, and personas, companies can fine-tune their marketing strategy to meet their customers’ needs better. These tools transform data into concrete actions, maximizing return on investment. The examples of companies that have worked with Maïeutyk show that adopting these three pillars is essential to establishing lasting, fruitful connections with customers.

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