Marchand--Segmentation - Man of Many Words Finds One
A jargon only those who initiate it can understand. When I first heard it spoken, I wondered why customers weren't included in the shorthand. Who do these companies print for, I thought? What are their customers' industries? Are there any commonalities among them? Do they have any shared special needs (beyond wanting it fast, good and, oh yes, at the lowest price)?
I thought these were production executives talking to one another. Then I learned that sales managers (job titles didn't include marketing in those not-so-long-ago days) and CFOs use the same lingo, and they are also not quick to include references to the customer base in their shorthand descriptions. Why?
The answer is easy. Industries that require heavy capitalization and sustained reinvestment are inevitably focused on production. The more so when they are often less than a generation removed from their craft roots. (How many owner/operators of substantial and often successful companies first worked as strippers or press operators—often just 20 years ago?) The answer may be easy, but the focus is dangerous when it excludes an understanding of markets at least as detailed as the emphasis on production.
It is irresponsible, even absurd, to suggest that a heavily capitalized and usually debt-laden company can turn away from considerations of plant and equipment to follow the whims of the marketplace. But that is not the alternative.
Customers must be understood not only one-by-one, but also segment-by-segment. There are marketing consequences that must be addressed to each segment.
Here are eight examples:
1. What are the production and buying cycles of each segment? (When is the best time to direct our marketing and sales efforts to companies in given segments?)
2. How are printing and related services bought? (To whom should we direct our efforts—designers, print production staff, buyers, operations executives?)