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Humanize Your Brand Messages With Mindset Segmentation

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Your customers no longer want to be treated as if they are consumers who all think alike and look alike and are therefore replaceable.

Today, people are seeking value and meaning in many areas of their lives; unlike consumers in the era of mass consumption, today's customers expect brands to treat them as people first, and as potential buyers second.

For marketing teams, this shift in customer expectations requires an overhaul of customer messages. That overhaul begins with segmentation, which determines what companies know about their customers. The segmentation process is what creates a language and terminology for interpreting customers' needs.

The segmentation methods of yesteryear (demographic, geographic, and psychographic) created a language about customers that was rooted in brand value—not personal value. Those rational and logical customer descriptions created a view of customers that was merely a reflection of a company's brand.

To reach customers today, marketers must embrace a more human-centric and more customer-centric approach.


Three trends are influencing personal customer communications

Although emotions have long been derided in business, things are starting to change. Three prominent trends give emotions overdue credibility and lay the groundwork for personal customer communications:

  1. Distrust: Lingering anger from the financial crisis, mounting privacy concerns, and fatigue from corporate scandals all contribute to a general sense of distrust toward business and government. That's a powerful headwind for brand marketers: Deeply cynical people tend to reject all efforts to influence them. To overcome cynicism and distrust, marketers must communicate more honestly, authentically, and openly.
  2. Technology: Every part of our lives is besieged by technology, which leaves everyone hungry for human interaction. As a result, customers are craving emotional connections with companies in the form of rich brand experiences and authentic communications. Small craft brands are making headway against the great marketing powerhouses such as Procter & Gamble specifically because customers want to interact with real people.
  3. Research: A growing body of research makes a compelling case for the role of emotion in customer communications. Research from the Corporate Executive Board and Google finds that emotions drive buying decisions—even for B2B customers. After surveying 3,000 B2B buyers from 36 distinct brands, CEB found that emotions trump rational motivators by a two-to-one ratio.

    Products that offered buyers personal value in addition to product or service value achieved a 42.6% increase in commercial outcomes, the research found. (Personal value included emotional appeals, such as how to be a better leader, to feel more confident, or to improve one's self-image.) Products with purely functional benefits achieved only a 21.4% increase in commercial outcomes.

    The research concluded: "Not only do emotions matter in B2B buying, but they actually matter even more than logic and reason."

Adjust your segmentation strategy

Now that you're ready to connect with your customers on a more human level, it's time to learn about their mindsets. Following are five categories of audience segment attributes that are used in mindset segmentation:

  1. Beliefs: To connect authentically with customers, it's essential to know their personal values and principles. Focus on customer attributes that reveal personal beliefs: Are your customers active in their community? Do they value loyalty from friends and colleagues? In what ways are your brand values aligned with their personal values?
  2. Hopes and fears: Psychological researcher Jeffry A. Simpson says trust is the juxtaposition of people's loftiest hopes and their deepest fears. Marketers who know people's fears also know how to avoid disappointing them and thus halt the erosion of trust. Likewise, by knowing customers' aspirations, marketers learn how to delight customers and fortify trust, because that information engenders empathy for customers by giving them a true human dimension.
  3. Emotional needs: Customers' emotional needs for security and self-esteem are often at the root of financial decisions. To explore undiscovered emotional needs, conduct qualitative interviews with open-ended questions: How do your customers want to be perceived by their friends and colleagues? What aspects of their personal dignity are occasionally at risk? Why? And so on.
  4. Expectations: We know that customer trust has less to do with a specific product experience than it does with customer perceptions of the parent company. Discover customers' rational and emotional expectations of your company. What types of actions would your customers consider unethical? What social value does your parent company provide that gives customers the greatest sense of satisfaction?
  5. Brand perceptions: How would your customers describe your company to their peers? Remember, the goal is to capture personal value, not functional value. How does your brand appeal to customers' self-image and sense of dignity?

Through mindset segmentation, marketing teams can develop a shared understanding of customers' personal aspirations and fears. Once that vocabulary is established, team members will be able to empathize with customers' personal needs and therefore anticipate customers' reactions to new products or service changes.

This segmentation process enables empathy, thereby humanizing customers in an otherwise rational and data-driven world.


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Kellie Cummings is a business consultant specializing in practices that fortify trust with customers. Learn more at www.kelliecummings.com.

Twitter: @kellcummings

LinkedIn: Kellie Cummings

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Comments

  • by Ford Kanzler Thu Feb 19, 2015 via web

    Good article! Heartily agree with the points made under Three Trends... Under the Technology bullet, added factors are the web has leveled the playing field for small businesses that want to invest in using online marketing. At the same time, Internet communications demands and allows much higher standards of business transparency as well as potential for customer engagement.
    Suggest purchasing decisions have ALWAYS been emotional and that B2C marketers have long appealed to emotions. The VALs research of 1978 got at emotionally-driven, human value-based consumer behavior quite well. Many marketers subsequently, successfully applied it. B2B purchases are initially emotional (who gets on the short list), then are supported with rational decision-making, often by committee, for final purchase selection.
    Also strongly agree successful marketers will apply humanized communications rather than merely data-driven campaigns just as businesses which are only financially-driven by bean-counters will ultimately fail for dehumanizing the organization both from within and without.

  • by MO Wed Feb 25, 2015 via web

    I totally agree with the first three points but I'm at a loss on how a brand can possibly segment by emotional needs. What kind of data points would provide that kind of insight? Can you provide real-world examples of how this is being used/accomplished? Otherwise this is one of those things that sounds great on paper but is not actionable.

  • by Ford Kanzler Wed Feb 25, 2015 via web

    @ MO - Read up on VALS. Its highly applicable and actionable. And it has been by many astute, generally B2C marketers, for quite some time.

  • by Kellie Mon Mar 2, 2015 via web

    Hi, MO: Thanks for your question about implementing emotional segmentation. To answer your question, mindset segmentation is practiced at leading businesses and this "how to" article is drawn from practical experience. Please feel free to contact me directly for more information and take a look at the tools section of my website: www.kelliecummings.com for more insight regarding implementation.

  • by Bshaer Al Helali Sat Mar 19, 2016 via web

    I love the article, and i wish it could reach to the largest number possible. Its nice how Kellie specified how can a person or an organization use segmentation in order to be more human or customer centric, in addition to the three trends influencing customer communication, and the strategies used in segmentation. The article is clearly narrated in a way that it can help people to create emotions and feelings in customers minds as my professor taught, and help many organizations open their minds and begin focusing on the number one important goal and objective which are us (customers). Plus, loved the details in each and every point you explained in a distinct way.

  • by Yasmeen Ali Sat Mar 19, 2016 via web

    I really liked the article "Humanize Your Brand Messages With Mindset Segmentation", as its talking about human beings not as a consumer only, with such a concept the human being will be able to see the differences which will allow them to make their decision logically. I totally agree with this concept and I would love to see it in near future in our country.

    Best of luck in raise awareness through an open marketing ideas and educating human beings more about their choices and decisions.


    Best Regard,

    Yasmeen Ali

  • by Ahmad Fawad Haqiqat Tue Mar 22, 2016 via mobile

    It is a very interesting article as it is all focused about the most important factor in organization which is customers. It is mentioned that we should see customers as human and be a customer centric organization and there are three factors affect prosonal customer communication. By applying this concept organizations can improve alot and build a profitable customer realtionship.

  • by Ahmad Khaled haqiqat Tue Mar 22, 2016 via mobile

    Good Artical! I love this article (Humanize Your Brand Messages With Mindset Segmentation) and I agree with all point of this Artical. This artical tell to us how can an organization use segmentation in order to be more human centric. I love the three trend that destroy the relationship between customer and organization. And also this Artical help us how to creat feeling in the mind of customer and it is the most important things that help us to be success in our organization.

  • by Nooran sami Tue Mar 22, 2016 via mobile

    This articl is one of the most wonderful articls about the market stratiges .this articl help me as a marketing student to know how most of the consumer think an how to deal with different type of consumer and different needs and how much the segmentation help marketers to provide the service or product to the customer

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