B2B Target Market Segmentation: What It Is and Why You Can’t Market Without It  

“You can’t be all things to all people.” We’ve all heard that adage and nodded our heads in agreement. Yet many B2B companies inadvertently fall into that trap when they fail to take care of one of the most critical tasks in effective marketing: segmenting your target market. 

Treating all your prospective buyers the same will you get nowhere fast—wasting time, budget, and other resources you can’t afford to squander. But if you take the time to understand each of your buyer segments and develop messaging and content that speaks to their specific pain points and challenges, you’ll draw more leads into your revenue funnel and convert a higher percentage of them to customers. 

Your Target Market is Actually Multiple Markets

You might assume that since B2B companies typically target smaller, more defined markets than a B2C company that sells a widely purchased product, like ketchup, there isn’t much need to segment buyers any further. “We sell engineering services to developers and construction companies. We know our audience!” 

But for a B2B product or service, there is never a single buyer profile. (I rarely use absolutes, but in this case I’m fairly confident in saying it doesn’t happen.) One reason is the fact that the B2B sale is more complex than a B2C sale. You tend to have multiple decision makers and influencers in a single company, all with different roles, motivations, and challenges.  If you try to appeal to all of them the same way, you’ll end up appealing to none of them.    

To move your buyers to action, they need to feel that you’re talking to them directly and you get their unique pain points and issues. They should be able to see themselves in your product or service. If you expect your marketing to engage your buyers, turn them into customers, and drive revenue growth, you need to break down your buyer population into smaller, defined segments and develop messaging and content tailored to each. 

Getting the Breakdown Right 

Segmenting your target market means breaking it down into highly specific groups based on characteristics they have in common.  

One of the first cuts is to use demographic data about the company, often referred to as firmographics. It starts with information that’s easy to obtain, like the customer’s industry, location, size (based on revenue and/or number of employees), and type of ownership (public vs private). But it also includes some information that could take more digging to find out, like whether the company is growing and where they are in the sales cycle. And it means identifying which job titles in the company will make or influence the decision to buy your product/service.  

Some marketers also look at “technographic” data—what kind of technology the buyer uses and what their digital footprint looks like. If you’re selling a technology solution, using technographic data to segment your buyers is a must. 

Moving From Buyer Segments to Personas 

Identifying your various buyer segments is just the first step in target market segmentation. You also need to understand what makes buyers in each segment tick, and that means developing buyer personas. 

A buyer persona is a profile of your ideal customer type. While this narrative is semi-fictional, it’s not something you create out of thin air. The most effective buyer personas are born out of research with your customers and prospects (through surveys and interviews) and conversations with your sales team to glean their insights based on their relationships with existing customers and prospects they’re in discussions with.  

The goal is to understand the objectives, challenges, pain points, and motivations of each buyer type. What keeps them up at night? What do they value? How do they make buying decisions? With these details in hand, you’re ready to write a narrative that describes each buyer persona.

Tailoring Your Messaging, Content, and Tactics 

Segmenting your buyers and crafting buyer personas sets you up to create messaging and content that’s relevant to each buyer type, resonates with them, and moves them to action.  

Given that most of the B2B buying journey happens online, and the buyer is far down the revenue funnel before they’re ready to engage with sales, it’s more important than ever to customize your content to each buyer persona. The more you know about your ideal buyer, the better you can create relevant content that speaks to their pain points, challenges, and goals, and keeps moving them further down the funnel.  

Your market segments and buyer personas also can guide your marketing action plan. While your strategic marketing plan sets an overall foundation and direction, your marketing action plan maps out the specific tactics you’ll take to engage with each target market segment. For each segment, the plan might include different marketing channels or approaches.  

For example, rather than send a single e-mail blast to your entire prospect list, you might try several different email messages, each tailored to a different buyer persona. Maybe each message focuses on a pain point that’s most important to that buyer type. You can test the first e-blast, track the results, then refine and optimize the messaging before repeating the process. And rather than create a single customer case study, you might create one case study for each buyer persona—a great way to help buyers see themselves in your product or service. 

How Market Segmentation Increases Your ROI 

As experienced B2B marketers, we’ve seen firsthand how market segmentation drives stronger results. When our clients segment their target market, create a buyer persona for each segment, and customize their messaging and content to each buyer type, their sales pipelines become more predictable and their revenue funnels get chockful of leads that represent their ideal customer profile. 

But don’t take our word for it! Here are just two proof points that demonstrate the power of target market segmentation: 

  • The Data & Marketing Association reports a 760 percent increase in revenue from email campaigns that are segmented and tailored. 
  • McKinsey & Company found that personalizing your offers can generate five to eight times the ROI on your marketing spend. 

The strategic marketing team at Marketri has helped many B2B companies define their market segments, create buyer personas that bring their ideal customer type to life, and develop tailored content that resonates with each buyer segment. That all adds up to marketing that drives aggressive revenue growth and improves your ROI. 

If you’d like to learn more about Marketri’s winning approach to B2B marketing, schedule an introductory call with our CEO Deb Andrews. 

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