Have you ever been to a party when someone suggested, “Let’s play charades and the teams are the boys against the girls?” That is the most basic kind of segmentation – or clustering. A cluster is a group of people who have one or more like characteristics. Simple clustering or segmenting looks at the groups as “this” or “that;” they are broad groups – like boys and girls. In associations, generic groups in include members and non-members, or association members and affiliate members. These groups are very general, and don’t give you enough information to pinpoint a problem of theirs that you can solve.
You have several distinct groups that make up your membership, but its not often something that association staff think about. For a value proposition project, choosing a few important (and specific) groups is critical.
- If you approach your entire membership all as a single group, you’ll dilute your decisions. And your message
- It’s impractical to sell to your whole membership – so targeting specific segments helps you prioritize your efforts.
- When you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll waste time and resources marketing to people who aren’t interested or who don’t benefit from what you offer.
Prioritizing member groups requires you to think about the people you serve as individuals, versus one big group. Common member segments might include:
- Position level – like Business Owners/Managers
- Members who are customer facing or behind the scenes
- Full-time versus part time practitioners
- Affiliate members
- Age groups by generation or age category
- Tenure in the business, like a new member or a long-time active member
Segmentation is a 3 -step process:
- Brainstorm all the possible member groups that make up your membership. Be as specific as possible. In fact, put a member’s face with the name of the member group. Make a list.
- Prioritze very important member groups to your association. It’s not enough to simply vote on which groups are most important. Here’s a process to help you rank the member groups. The first filter is to ask yourself these questions:
- Do they represent a significant % of your membership?
- Are the members of this group similar? (Selecting all Business Owners still may not yield the information you are looking for – the group is too big. Further segment Business Owners by business size or type (like franchise versus corporate-owned).
- Do you have the ability to reach them? For example, if you choose part-time members, you may not have the ability to reach them through your marketing activities.
- Use the sift graphic on this page to finalize your target audiences.
Some may think you’ll exclude members by choosing three very important member groups. In fact, the opposite is true: When you intentionally get into the heads of three very different member types and find out the needs they have in common – you have a better chance of relating to and solving the needs of many other member segments beyond them.
Cluster your membership because it is the first step to understanding them. This is critical to the value proposition process.