Three posts in the recent past - each one a Codex, from visionary duo Seth Godin & Kathy Sierra - with powerful messages having a strong inter-correlationship - "Back Seat drivers and the wikipedia problem" (Seth Godin), "Listening to users considered harmful?" (Kathy Sierra), and "Don't give in to feature demands" (Kathy Sierra).
I went through them feeling like Professor Langdon, trying to decode the insights contained within, insights that eventually inspired me to pen down the following contribution.
The common point driven home by "Back Seat driver.." (Seth's one line summary is THE actual message) and Kathy's "Listening to users.." is that Customers don't necessarily know what they want. And Kathy's "Don't give in.." tells us what happens if you try accommodating the myriad demands coming in from different types of users: You will end up with 100% dissatisfied users. Not a good shape to be in.
Seth and Kathy, the visionaries they are, make a strong and sensible point, and my take from this is to tell businesses WHY should they absolutely, absolutely focus on Customer Segmentation as a key strategy, and work it out to the 'T'!
Allow me to don my thinking hat and try putting a structure around Kathy's 13 user types from "Don't give in..". Instead of adding more types to the phenomenal work done by her, I'll attempt to categorize those into the following user types:
These are my 3 C's of Segmentation. Concerned users are your critics, they are "Hopping mad" to tell you things. Complacent users are merely complacent, and usually go "Ho, hum..". Celebrities are the "Happy" ones, they are your Stars.
Remember the above 3 C's give you 3 H's! (Now is this resembling an Organic Chemistry class - C3... H3...?? Some more elements for the Benzene type of formula? Thankfully no!) I will now venture into the type of things these broad Segments will be pestering you with - if you bother to listen.
The varied and interesting feedback typically comes in either of the following: a) Continue (C) doing what you are doing fine; b) Start (St) doing these things that you didn't earlier think of; & c) For God's sake Stop (Sp) doing these terrible things to us. "Continue" / "Start" / "Stop"! The music player for you! Making you sing tunes: start / stop / keep going... .. the core concept of "Listening to users...harmful?" (Kathy)
Now take a look at how the 3 C's typically operate the music player:
The 3 broad categories also have shades within. Something like an "Extremely Concerned" being distinct from a "Concerned bordering on Complacent" .. and so on. And the feedback will proliferate accordingly. For instance, C=These:St=These:Sp=X, is a possible shade. This shade hovers on Complacent<->Celebrity border, and appears to be a Creative Innovator.
Whereas C=X:St=These:Sp=These, probably denotes a Balanced Innovator.
An "All three" C/St/Sp = These contributor is an enthusiastic Celebrity eager to tell you a lot of things!
The moot point is that if you are not a "Basecamp" which can attempt to be an e2e, i.e. everything to everyone (keyword 'attempt' is my disclaimer, I'm neither saying yes they are e2e, nor that they're not); then the only way out for you is to figure out how to divide your market into meaningful segments - each with its own 3 C's; rather than a big huge befuddled mass market.
Why not create Segments with only Celebrities? Tempting though it sounds, that would mean: a) you create a befuddled mass of multiple markets instead, and b) you would spend too many resources building 'exactly' what the Celebrities want in that segment (who might turn out to be THE solitary Celebrity left there..)
So, Segment. Segment judiciously. Identify the 3 C's, know their 3 H's, and the shades of C:St:Sp mix. And NO, don't implement each and every C:St:Sp combo. Apply your subject matter expertise, apply your knowledge of the 3 C's and implement what you know will work. Also try converting the Complacent into either Concerned OR into Celebrities! Extremism may be taboo in Politics; but it's certainly the key lever in business.
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