Personas & market segmentation for your building industry business

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Many home building and land development marketing agencies disparage the traditional while embracing modernity. Even marketers with years of experience get tripped up with utilizing current marketing trends and solely investing their energy in inbound strategies.

The truth is, however, that this is a false dichotomy, a false choice.

When you research a marketing topic online, you’ll find an obvious line between modern strategies in inbound marketing, persona development, demand generation, AI, and automation to more traditional terms like outbound, market segmentation, direct mail, and print advertising.

Marketers build this new versus old barrier to differentiate, not necessarily to educate.

The truth is there's value to be found in traditional marketing strategies and tactics in some instances, just as Inbound has less value for specific audiences, industries, and markets. The key is not to throw away or embrace one approach solely based on current trends or popular sentiment; outbound and Inbound approaches, when balanced properly, can often yield more robust performance than inbound marketing alone for your home building or land development business.

A prime example of blending “old” and “new” becomes evident when you consider Inbound marketing’s foundational goal-directed persona development in the context of traditional target market development and segmentation.

Developing great role-based personas with an understanding of how to geographically and demographically segment your market will result in more robust results, as will deploying traditional marketing segmentation without fully developed personas.

When combined, goal-directed personas and more traditional market research and segmentation are a marketing force.

So, What’s the difference between personas and market segmentation for your home building or land development business?

First, we have to understand that there’s a lot that goes into establishing a target market. This information includes geographic and demographic data as well as personas.

  • Geographic Considerations.
    A “traditional” target market approach would likely research and document the geographic boundaries of a business, which could include a mile radius from a central retail location (i.e., 10-15-20 miles out as primary, secondary, and tertiary geographic markets) or buying patterns in specific zip codes. But, of course, it all depends on the individual business.
    • Research could be conducted on lead sources and sales by identifying consumers' zip codes, thereby pinpointing geographic hot and cold spots for business and geographic areas of untapped potential.
    • A map could be created indicating the boundaries of these geographic markets.
    • Additional research could be conducted by buying mailing lists or hiring an outside company to research using pre-identified customer demographics to substantiate the market’s boundaries further.
  • Qualitative Considerations. A demographic profile must be constructed and subdivided to effectively define the target audience within a geographic boundary (even if there are no boundaries).
    • Research should be done on user archetypes regarding age, income, assets, gender, occupation, marital status, and other available demographic data points.
    • This research should include existing clients and customers as well as prospective clients and customers via traditional market research techniques.
    • Once you have a demographic profile of your customers and prospects, you can segment them into sub-types and by location.

As we’ve written extensively, building personas is both an art and a science. Therefore, it’s critical to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. In many cases, traditional approaches to demographic profiling yield more accurate qualitative data than what’s espoused in many persona circles. But, conversely, the persona designer process is fertile ground for the art, or the narrative, a psychographic component of segmentation.

The website SAILTHRU puts it best: “ Market segmentation identifies pieces of your audience based on broad commonalities like geography, profession, or marital status, while personas are precise representations of particular individuals within segments.”

  • More traditional target market development defines the parameters of the sandbox
  • Demographic or quantitative segmentation divides the sandbox
  • Personas (a mix of quantitative and qualitative data) frame how you attract individual groups within sections of the sandbox

There are many places where the boundary between segmentation and personas blurs. The blurring often results from an organization's size and financial strength. For example, a larger company could delineate traditional market research from modern persona development. In contrast, a smaller company might need more capacity to pay for market research lists or focus groups-they gather what they can.

For smaller organizations with smaller budgets and fewer resources, they have limited primary source research yields to more anecdotal segmentation. On the other hand, a hybrid and separated traditional and modern Inbound approach can yield outstanding results for large enterprises that can afford more robust quantitative data collection.

It’s About Drilling Down

It is important to remember that target markets, market segmentation, and personas are not mutually exclusive items; they’re part of the same whole, each with a role in attracting and converting customers.

Think of it this way. Personas are the logical end point of a gradual focusing process. Think of Google Earth. You start with a view of the globe; you hit the zoom button, and the earth gets closer and more defined. The more you zoom, the more details emerge until you eventually find your own home shown in more facts than you’d probably like. The more point you have, the more you learn and understand.

Geographic markets yield demographic strata, and demographic segmentation provides the capacity to create accurate, actionable persona narratives and profiles.

Yin and Yang

At Illumine8, we believe in deploying marketing approaches that make sense for our clients. In some cases, we might take an all-digital, inbound-heavy approach; in others, we’ll create a hybrid traditional-Inbound program. The point is that there is still value in traditional marketing tactics and “old-school” market research. The key is smart implementation and execution, not blindly and unquestioningly following the crowd.

“Traditional” market segmentation (market research) and “Modern” Inbound Persona development are like Yin and Yang, seemingly disparate things that are, when you drill down deep enough, complementary forces within a complete whole.

Illumine8 can help you blend the best of traditional market research with solid persona development to increase your lead generation and conversion rates for your home building or built environment industry business. So reach out to us; we’d love to learn more about how your audience interacts with your business.

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