Find Your People with Lisa Craig

Drawing on an actual client case, veteran marketing consultant Lisa Craig explains how small business owners can do their own market research — and find their most profitable customers.


Hi, I’m Lisa Craig, Founder, Northern Magnolia Brand Consulting and VP of Brand and Content Strategy at Savvyeur.

Since founding my own company in 2000, I’ve worked with a wide variety of organizations around the world on topics related to brand positioning, brand architecture and brand research.

Welcome to my Savvyeur Conversation.

Somebody once told me that the most important advice they could offer me is, Find your people. And while I believe that is certainly true in life, I know from experience that there is absolutely nothing more fundamental to brand success than identifying your bullseye target. That’s the audience that is going to provide the most revenue and profitability to your brand over time.

How to find your bullseye target market.

Today, I’d like to share a real world case that illustrates the fundamentals of segmentation and targeting. I’ll be sharing the case in STAR+I format, which simply means taking through the:
  • The Situation
  • The Task
  • The Actions that we took
  • The Result of those Actions
  • and the Insight to leverage going forward. That’s the I.

Real World Case: The Fundamentals of Segmentation and Targeting

I’m going to talk about a big company case. But don’t tune out, because in this case, the company had the resources to do a lot of target audience research. But the case is relevant to small businesses as well, because what the big company did is something that you can do, too.

Situation: Develop Brand Strategy to Define and Differentiate

So here’s the situation. The client was a large, local tire company that had three brands in its portfolio, one of which they built, and two of which were acquired. They wanted to develop a brand strategy for the three brands in their portfolio that would define and differentiate them from each other based on clear targeting for each of the brands. So in other words, each brand needed to find its people.

My task was to recommend the brand portfolio architecture. And the first, most critical step in that, was to define the tire market in terms of consumer segments so that we could understand how those segments were, or could be, aligned with each brand. Ideally each brand would find a different bullseye target that would give it its own strategic space without any brand overlap.

Segmentation: Motivations and Root of Relationship

We wanted a really insightful segmentation that would define people beyond basic demographics like age, income or the value of their car. We wanted a segmentation that would get at their motivations in buying and replacing tires and then got to the root of their relationship with their cars.

So what did we do? So, unlike most small businesses, our client had the resources to do a large quantitative segmentation survey in four different regions of the world. Now obviously most small businesses can’t afford that level of spend. But they can do what we did, which was create some hypotheses about what segments exist and then get some qualitative VOC (Voice of the Customer) that could confirm and refine a working segmentation.

Hypothetical Matrix Dimensions

So we developed a hypothesis about what dimensions would form the segments based on existing data and a lot of intuition, a.k.a. guessing. Our hypothetical matrix was based on two dimensions. We thought about it in terms of two axes. We thought the first axis would be their level of involvement with their car, maybe going from “It’s just a machine” to “I’m totally in love with my car.”

And we thought that the second axis might be about their level of knowledge about tires and their importance to the car. So, for example, are tires just commodities, or are they really important to the car’s performance and their appearance?

We were fortunate that we were able to find and talk to people who filled out different profiles in that matrix, and we surveyed their attitudes, their behaviors and their unmet needs with regard to tires. But importantly, those fundamental assumptions that we made, were the ones that actually were the most important when we saw the results of the quantitative segmentation.

So this visual shows you our segmentation hypotheses on the left and the results of the actual quantitative segmentation on the right. In the matrix on the left we hypothesized the existence of five segments.

Those who would be high car engagement and high tire knowledge and we called them “Tire Experts.”

We believed there would be a group that was high car engagement and low tire knowledge and we called them “All About The Car.”

We also thought there would be people in the middle who were simply associating tires with safety, that’s the “Mainstream Safety Group” that you can see there in the middle. And we thought that there would be, as there always is, an uninvolved segment for whom cars are simply a way to get around and for whom tires are more or less just commodities, the “Uninvolved” group. And there was a group, and I put it there because it was the one that I thought I belonged to, that loved their cars but didn’t understand the role tires play in the vehicle, the “Educate Me” segment.

So, those were our hypotheses.

As you can see from the diagram on the right, which is the actual result of the segmentation, there were nine segments of people, far too many for one brand to focus on in any sort of a bullseye sort of a way. But with three brands in the portfolio, we felt that we had a good framework and could find alignment between each brand and its bullseye target.

Once we knew the segments, we simply had to align the new target with what we knew about the equity and the potential of the three brands.

Result: Segmentation Identified Bullseye Target for Each Brand

So, for example, we aligned the client’s premium brand with the “Tire Expert” group but aligned the bullseye target for their homegrown mass brand with the “Willing to Learn” high engagement, low knowledge group. This segmentation allowed the client to identify the bullseye target for each of the brands in their portfolio.

And as a result, they eliminated brand overlap, focused brand positioning and communications, and positioned the entire portfolio for growth.

Insight: Think About Potential Customer Segments In Your Market

The insight I’d like you to think about is whether you have one brand, three or fifty. It’s important to think about and try to define the potential customer segments even before you start talking to people, and certainly before you define your value proposition.

If you can develop a hypothesis and test it out with qualitative interviews with your customer groups, great. My experience is that you’ll learn enough in talking to them to validate or refine or whatever hypothesis you have about how those groups are defined.
  1. identify them,
  2. rank them in a bullseye fashion with primary and secondary segments and then
  3. align the brand you’re building with its people.
And then, as your business grows, you can confirm the segments with quantitative information.

However you do it, this process is essential to making the connection you need between your brand and your highest potential customers.

So here are the key points I’d like you to take away from this conversation. First,
  1. identify the underlying dimensions that you think drive and motivate your potential customers, whether those are discrete groups or points along a spectrum. Secondly,
  2. develop a hypothesis about what segments exist based on those dimensions. And finally,
  3. define the bullseye target and focus your brand on that group. Those are your people.
Thanks for listening. I hope you find it a fun exercise and I really hope it helps you find your people.

I’d love to continue our conversation through Savvyeur Coaching or my upcoming courses on branding where we can spend more time on the how-tos and can customize your brand to your small business and its market.

Thanks for joining my conversation.

CARD: Thanks For Joining the Conversation.