Step Up Marketing Strategy with STP (Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning): A Comprehensive Guide

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Segmentation criteria, audience size-based segmentation, audience differentiation, audience reachability, profitability-based segmentation, benefits-based segmentation

There's a common saying in the business world, "If you try to be everything to everyone, you'll become nothing to anyone." Far too often, businesses fall into the trap of positioning their product(s) as something that 'everyone' benefits from. Their rationale is this: if they cast their net wide enough, they're bound to catch enough customers soon. This approach is flawed in two ways-

  1. The company's resources - budget and employees - get spread too thinly in chasing far-flung customer segments.
  2. It leads to brand dilution, where the company's 'real' target customers stop seeing value in the brand.

Think about it: you build a product or many products to solve a specific problem. Not all 7.9 billion people in the world would have that problem. Even if your product is something as essential as a toothbrush, it has to stand out from the existing toothbrushes in the market to bring in sales.

Say, from the media and your conversations with friends; you notice that an increasingly large number of people are moving towards sustainable living. You strike up this idea of ​​creating toothbrushes out of bamboo shoots.

At the very outset, you plan to target all the toothbrush users by positioning your product as an environmental-friendly alternative to plastic brushes. This strategy will create a negligible impact, almost like a drop in the ocean.

This is because 85% of your audience doesn't care for sustainable living. While you could still go after them by creating awareness, you need to first educate them on the adverse effects of using plastic on the environment. Tell them how your product addresses the issue and how it benefits the customer individually.

This long-drawn process can strain your time and budget while giving minimal returns. You'd fare better targeting the other 15% - people already looking for sustainable alternatives. They're already aware of 'why' they need your product, so you can go ahead and directly pitch it to them.


By skipping the motions, you save on resources and use them where they are needed the most. Also, since your target's needs are aligned with your product offering, the customer acquisition cost is low. 


The above scenario is an apt use case for the segmentation, targeting, and positioning marketing model. Now that we have some context let's dive deeper into the segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) model. Are you looking to know more about Salesforce Administrator Exam (ADM 201) and the Platform App Builder (CRT 403) certification exam.? You should check for the Salesforce course .

What Is STP marketing?

Segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) is a marketing model that redefines whom you market your products to and how. It makes your marketing communications more focused, relevant and personalized for your customers.

In short, STP is a marketing approach where you segment your audience, target the best-fit audience segments for your product, and position your product to capture your target segment effectively.


When you start creating a GTM strategy for your product, you know who your audience is. You can target the entire group that fits the broad definition of your audience, but chances are a generic message may fail to resonate with a huge chunk of that group.

Segmenting the audience into smaller groups based on specific attributes gives you better clarity on who benefits the most out of your product and how. With this clarity, you can make your messages more focused and relevant to target groups.

How do you get started with segmentation?

To perform audience segmentation, you first need to know about your audience. Solutions such as Salesforce CDP (Customer Data Platform) allow you to unify data from across touchpoints - like sales, service, marketing - and use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to mine richer audience insights from it. You can enrich this with first-party data from other platforms like social media, websites, customer forums, etc.

. This helps marketers build a single, comprehensive view of all audiences using a central, user-friendly interface. You can create highly targeted and customized audience segments with an accurate population count and AI-enabled features.

Segmentation gets you better results even when you're nurturing your existing subscribers. Using tools like Salesforce's Email Studio, you can segment your current subscribers' list based on their profiles and send targeted email campaigns, improving your open and click rates. 

Segmenting your existing customer base also helps you make an informed guess about your more extensive audience. By extrapolating current customer data, you can identify potential audience segments and build your marketing strategy around them.

Segmentation with an example

Suppose your product is plant-based milk. Your general audience is people who want to move away from dairy-based products. You can segment this audience into two categories

Segment A: People looking at dairy-free alternatives for lifestyle purposes, typically high-income groups.

Segment B: lactose-intolerant people are looking for other options.

The message you use for these two segments will be different from each other. Using tools like Data Studio, you can further segment the above two segments into groups that already use a competitor product and those that don't. You can then hone your messaging according to it.


The next step in the STP model is targeting. This is the stage where you decide which segments you created during the segmentation phase are worth pursuing. It would help if you ideally considered the below criteria to choose your targetable segments:


 Your audience segments must have enough potential customers to be worth marketing to. If your segments are too small, you may not get enough conversions to justify your marketing efforts.


There should be a measurable difference between any two segments. The lack of it leads to unnecessary duplication of efforts.


 The segments should be accessible to your sales and marketing teams and not be marred by technical or legal complications.


 The segment should have a low-to-medium customer acquisition cost (CAC) while bringing in high returns, i.e., the audience must be willing to spend money on your product.


Different benefits attract different segments. In our plant-based milk example, Segment A would go for cruelty-free while Segment B for dairy-free.

Knowing which audience segments to target comes from having all-around visibility of those segments in one place. This makes comparing segments and weighing the pros and cons of targeting some segments over others easier.


In our example of plant-based milk, you've determined through research that veganism is all the rage, and roughly 60% of the people are searching for dairy-free alternatives. You also discover that approximately 80% of the people in your chosen demographic are lactose intolerant. 


Though the audience size is more significant in the second segment, you're likely to get more returns when you go after the first segment. It consists of high-income groups ready to pay a premium for quality lifestyle-changing products.


Salesforce CDP helps unify such audience and customer data from multiple sources to get more comprehensive insights. With more data and insights, segmenting and targeting your audiences becomes more precise and granular.


 Then, you can translate all of this data into action by using a tool like Journey Builder to create highly personalized and relevant journeys throughout customer lifecycles.




The final stage of the STP model, positioning, is where you use the insights gained from segmentation and targeting to decide how you will communicate your product to chosen audience segments.


While segmentation and targeting are about customers, positioning is about your product from the customer's perspective. You can consider positioning as the bridge that connects your product with the audience. This is when you perform competitor analysis, figure out your value proposition, and communicate that to your customers.


Based on what your brand stands for, you can position your product in several ways. In the luxury market, you can appeal to the 'desire for prestige' among customers by positioning yourself as a status symbol. Or, if you fall in the budget category, you could differentiate yourself by offering more benefits to your target at a lower cost than your competitors.


The best way to approach positioning is by drawing a Product Positioning Map that has two key market attributes as its axes and plotting your competitors and you in it. This will give you a clear picture of how you stack up against your competition and where you should place your product to maximize profits.



The STP model is a scientific, tried-and-tested marketing approach that helps businesses identify segments where they can provide value, personalize their marketing communications, and reap sizeable profits.


If you want to get started on your segmentation, targeting, and positioning journey, you could give solutions like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud a try. The products inside Marketing Cloud provide you deep insights about your audience, help you identify the most viable segments, and hyper-personalized communications across channels, leading to 1-1 customer connect.