Horizontal Segmentation: Harness the Power of Multiple Media

In his TED lecture, Malcolm Gladwell talks about horizontal segmentation as applied to the food industry. Instead of trying to find the one thing that the majority of people like, you should discover the different varieties of something that people like in order to reach everybody. The concept of horizontal segmentation is also applicable to political communication.

Campaigns have often used horizontal segmentation in their message, but not often enough in their method. Micro-targeting and sending issue specific mailers to different demographics is an example of horizontal segmentation at the message level. Horizontal segmentation at the method level involved sending your message using multiple forms of communication in order to reach everyone.

For a while standard operating procedure was to send your message via direct mail, by phone, and through email. That was about it. The reason was that the majority of voters at the time could be reached that way. Nowadays with communications technology allowing people to have multiple choices for how they can be contacted and how they get information, it is important that campaigns embrace that diversity.

For example, a couple days ago I wrote a post on how text messaging was the best way to communicate with young people in rural areas. Facebook is one of the best ways to reach college students who tend to use it for communication more than email. E-mail is still effective with young professionals. Without utilizing these multiple forms of communication in spreading your message you will miss a group of people that prefer that method.

It is also important to utilize communication methods to reach out to online influentials. Many of these people communicate through Twitter or their blogs.

When you begin to develop your communications strategy, you should think about the people you are trying to reach and the methods of communication that are used by each demographic. Make sure to deliver your message through all those methods every time you communicate.