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Why We Should All Be Feeding Consumption Communities

“Segment your customers!” has been the battle cry from every marketing expert for years. The idea is: people should get messages that are relevant to them, based on their past behavior. So, if you’ve donated $25 to a nonprofit, you may get a segmented email talking about the power of small dollar gifts.

“There must be some issue with that idea, or he wouldn’t be writing about it,” I can hear you saying. You know me well.

First, to be clear, I support segmentation. It keeps the right people getting a tailored message, and it’s perfect for, say, not sending a “buy tickets now” email to everyone who has already bought tickets. But the core of segmentation is this: we are making educated guesses about the customer’s future intentions based on their past actions. What if we could do more?

What if we also allow customers to join segments on their own, or even create their own segments? Historian Daniel Boorstin first proposed the idea of “consumption communities.” A consumption community forms when a group of people who share like behavior congregate. Harley Davidson riders form a consumption community. Apple computer users certainly do.

You create these groups by naming them, and inviting people to join. Let’s say you’d like to see if there is a consumption community for parents with small children. You name it “Parents United, Kids Exceptional!” (P.U.K.E.). You send an email to your list, and tell people: if they would like to join the community, click on the “join” button that you’ve added in the email. They click it, and they’re in.

On the back end, your email software will provide the email addresses of everyone who clicked the “join” link. Add them to a new list, and share meaningful (segmented!) content with them. “How to introduce new kids to the theatre.” “Suggestions for kid-friendly restaurants to go to after the museum.“ “Introducing your new rescue animal to your children.” Invite them all to an event where they can meet each other and share stories.

By allowing your customers to segment themselves into consumption communities, you put the decision back in their hands. The next level? Encouraging the community to decide what content it receives. But that’s the subject of another Monday Evening Insights.

Your time to implement: It's Ron's Monday Mission™

What are three communities that you might offer to create for your customers? Discuss this idea at this week’s staff meeting.

Have a great week.



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I'm Ron Evans. I dramatically improve individual and organizational performance. If you found today's topic intriguing and want to apply it to your situation, I'll brainstorm with you. The few who follow through and take me up on my offer will benefit greatly. Strike while the iron is hot! 


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