Market segmentation is more fun than it sounds

Market segmentation is a technique for determining who will buy or use your product. Essentially you brainstorm a boatload of possible user types, organize them, and rank them. By the end of the exercise, you should have a shortlist of customer segments you can research and interview. Read all about it in the thoughtbot playbook.

I’m a programmer, not much of an entrepeneur, and I think marketing is pretty boring. But when I participated in a segmentation exercise last week I had a really good time. I think this is why:

  • I get to brainstorm. I enjoy blue sky thinking and getting creative. And my teammates came up with some pretty weird customer segment ideas.
  • I get to categorize and rank. I’m the type of person who builds spreadsheets when deciding which new bike to buy. I love distilling a bunch of ideas into a neat grid. And figuring out criteria for ranking them is interesting. This scratches an itch in my analytical brain.
  • I get to debate. I enjoy a friendly argument, especially when it’s backed by untested assumptions. Perhaps I have opinions about a certain customer segment, but a teammate makes an especially strong argument that changes my mind. This debating and sharing of ideas helps to align the team. It also challenges us to go test our assumptions by talking to customers.

Don’t ruin it for me

If you really want a market segmentation session to be just as boring as it sounds, here are some ideas:

  • Gatekeep and nitpick the brainstorming ideas. Discourage segment ideas that you disagree with.
  • Don’t talk about your assumptions. Make bold statements about people groups without explaining why you think that.
  • Don’t accept that you could be wrong. Get into an angry arguments.