Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Defining Your Micromarket

Many companies, particularly smaller firms, struggle to properly define their target micromarket properly. The natural temptation is to spread efforts widely so as not to miss any possible prospects. For example, one company I worked with said it "focused" on eight (!) vertical markets. You can focus on one, two, possibly even three things simultaneously -- but not eight. The practical result of a "scattershot" approach is that the best prospects are inadequately communicated to, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and dollars, a mushy message, and an inordinately difficult sales process.

By carefully defining and focusing efforts on a micromarket and using the proper micromedia to reach it, companies not only reduce wasted marketing spending but can also finely tune their messages to have the greatest impact on their target market, as opposed to producing lowest-common-denominator prose designed to appeal to a wide variety of prospects, and thereby being of little interest to any.

So how do you define a micromarket? In a word: precisely. For example, "healthcare" is not a market; it's a segment word used by economists, as in "the U.S. spends 14% of GDP on healthcare." The healthcare segment is comprised of several vertical markets, including manufacturing (medical devices, durable medical equipment, pharmaceuticals), financial institutions (insurance companies, banks), providers (hospitals and clinics), professionals (physicians, nurses, medical technicians) and others.

Healthcare is a segment; hospitals and doctors are vertical markets; neonatologists at hospitals with at least 500 beds are a micromarket. By carefully defining and then focusing on a specific micromarket in this way, companies are able to maximize the impact of both marketing dollars and target-specific messaging. The opportunities missed by focusing in this manner are generally those with the most difficult sales cycles and lowest probability of closing -- hardly a big loss.

Once a company has successfully established a beachhead in one micromarket, it can repeat the exercise with others. That creates a path to growth through focused efforts that provide a much higher ROI than a scattershot approach.


Terms: micromarket, micromedia, targeted marketing, marketing focus

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