From Segmentation to SegmentACTION

By Krissy Polley and Angela Jones

A great segmentation sets the groundwork for your business for years to come. However, even the best data can fall short of those expectations if it’s not put into action.

Enter: Segmentation Illumination

Segmentation Illumination breathes vibrant life into your segments in the spirit of moving your business forward; adding the detail and context that lets you feel like you actually know them like friends or family. Afterall, these segments are actual people—not just data points!

In just the past five years, Burke has conducted over 200 market segmentations and structure studies, and through this rich experience we know that the keys to making a lasting impact are to build empathy and inspire action, via additional qualitative learning and a creative rollout.

Here are some quick tips to ensure your segmentation is working hard for you and your organization—from initial rollout to years down the line.


Once the data is in and you have the foundational understanding of who your segments are, it’s time to dig deeper to uncover what really makes them tick. Qualitative research specifically designed to illuminate your segments helps your team feel as if they’ve walked a mile in consumers’ shoes. Here are a few tips for ensuring your segmentation illumination yields the insights your team is craving.

  • Game-Plan the End Result
    Working with an experienced team to design the right research product will ensure that you’ll have the inputs needed for a successful—and impactful—segmentation roll out. There are a number of ways to engage with consumers that will provide rich content, sound bites and dynamic fodder for your illumination efforts. Consider what might work best for your organization, and plan to tap the corresponding methodologies, like ethnography, video journals or online bulletin boards.
  • Create a Tight Typing Tool & Screener
    Getting the right people in the room for your illumination sessions may seem obvious, but that’s often easier said than done. This is perhaps more important than ever, since these individuals will be serving as the proxy for the segment as a whole, providing the granular detail and real-life connection your team will use to truly bring the segmentation to life. By working with an experienced analyst, you will ensure that a short version of the more comprehensive typing tool, which is typically used for consumer recruitment, identifies the appropriate people for participation. This, in conjunction with a clear and specific screener (and a strong recruiting partner), are the first steps to successful illumination qual.
  • Deploy a Stellar Moderator
    A moderator with a clear understanding of your segmentation and the nuances between the segments is key. Segmentation illumination is part validation and part production; part art and part science—so the ideal moderator should not only be able to ask those most impactful questions, but also intuitively know when to dig deeper into a response, unpack a reaction, or probe on more specific examples that will ultimately add vibrant color to the illumination effort.
  • Run a Tight Ship
    Not everyone will get to attend the research (we get it, it’s a total bummer). Keeping a lean team will ultimately help with efficiency. However, utilizing the latest technology to record and stream interviews can be a perfect way to engage your broader team early and often during the process. Plus, these same recordings can be used to create sound bites and video clips to engage teams further and keep the momentum growing within your organization. With segmentation illumination qual, you’ll likely be doing lots of interviews, so staying trim will help keep things moving smoothly.


Now, with a stronger foundation of empathy for your segments, it’s time to empower your organization to put that perspective to work with tangible, engaging touchpoints they’re sure to remember.

  • Understand Your Org
    Before you begin a creative rollout plan, ask yourself: what types of documents or events yield the richest engagement? Are there any company culture dynamics to consider? Understanding how your organization operates day-to-day can help you pinpoint the types of illumination executions that will make the biggest impact. For instance, if there’s already an inundation of paper and handouts during ordinary workflow, perhaps creating non-hard-copy elements to illuminate might be more engaging and memorable.
  • Elevate Empathy
    Let your segments help inspire the illumination execution. Are there certain lifestyles, behaviors or perspectives that represent your segments? Explore ways to bring those distinguishing characteristics to life in immersive or engaging formats—like online blogs or quizzes, art galleries, or bags filled with curated “artifacts” from the segments’ lives—building from the nuances discovered in qual and creating unforgettable touchpoints that infiltrate everyday workflow.
  • Be the Translator
    Even with the most robust segmentation, what makes sense in theory may reveal challenges or uncertainties when it’s time for action. Facilitating engaging “action sessions” can help connect new data to tangible action in current initiatives and future plans. For enhanced engagement, try elevating this meeting beyond the typical slideshow/chart pad event—whether that’s through simple touches like special notebooks and segment posters in the room; or with more engaging activities, like mini-competitions or gamified approaches to segment mapping.
  • Keep It Rolling
    The initial launch of your segmentation is bound to create buzz. But engagement and empathy may begin to fade once months and years begin to pass. Consider ways to keep the information fresh and top of mind, through tactics like mini sizzle campaigns to bring segments back into the halls of your office, or a data refresh to provide relevant updates to inspire fresh action.

As a Sr. Account Manager, Qualitative Services, Krissy brings a wealth of knowledge to her client teams as she manages the day to day details of complex projects. She enjoys working on challenging and mixed mode projects that lead to actionable insights for her clients. 

Angela Jones is VP, Creative at Seed Strategy. As a trained copywriter and creative director, Angela specializes in capturing the essence of new ideas, crystallizing strategic objectives, and helping lead teams towards a fully realized creative vision.

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Sources: Feature image – ©Jacob Lund –


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