Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Katie Kuehner-Hebert Nov 6, 2012

Understanding Customers with Segmentation Toolkits

Want to be able to hone in on what product your best business customers are likely to want next and which prospects will be the most profitable to target? Consider utilizing a “segmentation toolkit,” said Susan Brown-Monforte, senior vice president and marketing group manager for San Diego-based California Bank & Trust.

Brown-Montforte made her comments during a presentation at BAI Retail Delivery 2012 entitled “Uncovering Opportunity in B2B Banking Utilizing Segmentation Toolkits.” She was joined by John Eisz, account executive at Nielsen, the global measurement and information company based in New York City that provides B2B segmentation solutions.

By using a segmentation toolkit, Brown-Monforte said her bank now has a much better understanding of its customer base by type of industry, size, product and service usage and how profitable each customer is to the bank. As such, California Bank & Trust can better identify the cross-sell opportunities within its existing customer base and the type of new customers it should pursue.

“Bottomline, segmentation really helps to optimize our sales and marketing efforts because we are able to focus our outreach to a few core segments rather than to the entire market,” Brown-Montforte said. “Our message and value proposition can then be tailored to the specific audience, making it more relevant and ultimately more powerful.”

California Bank & Trust, a subsidiary of Salt Lake City, Utah-based Zions Bancorporation, has been particularly interested in attracting more business from manufacturing and wholesale distribution companies with 10 to 24 employees, she added.

The bank developed its segmentation toolkit after enlisting Nielsen to conduct a custom study to determine the bank’s key customer segments by profitability. Included in the study were profiles of specific industries, as well as a list of industry associations and the editorial calendars of related trade publications. Most of the analytical work to build the segmentation was done in SAS/SPSS and Excel, while Nielsen offered its software solutions for some of the reporting and mapping, according to Brown-Montforte.

California Bank & Trust then developed its “Segment-in-a-Box” toolkit to educate sales associates about the segment information and provide them with customized templates for marketing materials for each segment. The toolkits were initially distributed to each branch in an actual box, but now all of the materials are on the bank’s intranet.

Additional benefits from segmentation include identifying optimal locations for new branches or where to relocate existing branches, based on where the most profitable business customers and prospects reside or work, Brown-Monforte said. “It’s also helpful when we are looking to acquire additional institutions. It gives us an opportunity to see how closely aligned the customer bases may be and what new opportunities may exist.”

Segmentation can also support the bank’s product development effort by analyzing what business customers are buying by industry and by size, she added.

Eisz stressed the importance of tailoring segmentation solutions to business needs. “The fundamental questions we ask clients up front are, ‘What are you trying to do? How are you going to take action with the results? How are you going to measure successes?’ We then can develop a segmentation solution tied to business needs, once we identify what they are trying to do.”

For example, if a client wants to specifically score a list of prospects for direct mail purposes, or identify individual customers who fall in different dimensions, Nielsen may take a different approach than it would if the client needed a prospect list to plan TV buys, Eisz said.

Segmentation toolkits can enable everyone within an organization – including marketers, business line managers and the C-Suite – to speak the “same language,” according to Eisz. “Everyone has buy-in from the top down as to the identity of their consumer or business segments so it brings focus to marketing strategies and operations within the branches.”

Ms. Kuehner-Hebert is a contributing writer to BAI Banking Strategies based in Running Springs, Calif.

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