Segment your audience for continuous market monitoring
Segmenting the audience is a topic I run into almost daily in the continuous market monitoring sector. Although I am writing from the viewpoint of an external market monitoring service provider, my views also apply to analysts and managers providing monitoring services to internal audiences.
In this text, ‘the client’ refers to readers of your deliverables, and ‘the service provider’ refers to the person or team, internal or external, who is delivering the service.
Know your audience
Regardless of the industry your client is in, you will always have readers with different information needs. That is the very premise of customized market monitoring – to cater different information needs in an organization.
While there are many fancy definitions and techniques for segmentation, the bottom line is this; know your audience. There is no need for additional tricks when you know who is reading the content you deliver. Knowing your audience not only helps you in your everyday work, i.e. monitoring various sources and selecting the relevant stories, but it also enhances your understanding of the client company as you become familiar with your readers’ topics of interest.
Many monitoring services are provided to a wide range of readers in various business functions, which always creates challenges in terms of the content of deliverables.
It is of utmost importance that both you, the market monitoring service provider, and the client readers are aware of what to expect from the service. If there are readers who expect to receive a large amount of information pertinent to their specific – sometimes niche – function, but end up receiving little, you have created a lose-lose situation.
If this scenario materializes and is not immediately corrected, you may alienate your readers and find yourself in a situation where a good portion of your audience considers your deliverable obsolete.
Manage expectations through open communication
Communication is the key here, in particular with external service providers. Often the key stakeholder may not even be aware of the need for segmentation, which means that you have to take charge.
Make it very clear from the beginning that you need to know who is reading the content, and that the main stakeholder communicates the scope and objectives of the service to all readers. Open communication is the only way to ensure that all readers know what to expect, and to ensure they do not have unrealistic expectations.
Once you know who your readers are and what type of content they are after, it is easy to see where the information needs overlap and you can plan your information collection accordingly. Recognizing the overlaps is very important as it enables you to make your information collection process more efficient and utilize the synergies created by overlapping information needs.
Functional segmentation is based on frequent feedback
Speaking from the perspective of service provider, you can never receive too much feedback. Feedback is a crucial element of segmentation, so do not forget to ask for it frequently. Receiving feedback ensures that the content of your deliverables is being developed, but it also helps you learn and is the most effective tool for professional growth.
Professionally, it is always a beautiful thing to receive feedback, whether it is good or bad. It may not feel good to receive occasional crushing feedback, but hey – at least you know people are reading what you are providing. And by giving feedback, they indicate they want to improve the content and keep reading.
To sum this up in two sentences: (1) market monitoring service provider must always be aware of who is reading the deliverables you produce; (2) client stakeholders should never hesitate to provide feedback on the service, because that is the only way they can improve the service in which they have invested.
By Veli Sauranen
Intelligence Best Practices