When you want to communicate with potential customers there are two options. You can broadcast a message and hope that potential customers see it. This is how TV ads, radio spots, billboards and magazine advertising work. However broadcasting is a hit and miss affair. Half the time it works well and half the time it doesn’t work at all. The real issue is that it is impossible to work which half your current broadcast falls in to.By aiming a piece of marketing directly at a pre selected consumer (as opposed to broadcasting it to everyone) you are more likely to be successful. Still no guarantees of course, but it stands to reason that if you know something about the person who you are intending to send the marketing piece to, you can use it to your advantage.At its simplest level, knowing someone’s approximate age will tell you if it is worth bothering to communicate with them in the first place. Most people over the age of 45 are very unlikely to buy a new hip hop album so if that is what you are selling, then you would exclude these people from the list of potential customers.That sounds simple, but it is the core of good Business to Consumer (B2C) Direct Marketing. We call the process of choosing which members the public to communicate with, ‘B2C segmentation.’ There is a vast array of data out there and we can rent it to build lists of potential customers.We can segment on almost any factor we can think of. A short list might start with factors such as age, income, gender, class, job title, geographic location, home ownership, whether married or single and whether parent or child free.Then we can look at past buying behaviour. Those nectar cards collect loads of data which the owners rent to marketers looking for particular potential customers.For example, if you are trying to bring a new chocolate bar to the market, you might want to segment your list to give you a group who can be classed as ‘regular purchasers of chocolate bars’.When all goes well, you should record who actually buys from you and what they buy. Next time you can look for patterns in your actual consumers and when building new lists you will be even more accurate. B2C segmentation relies on learning from previous experience to be really effective.So, having covered the basics of segmentation, you are probably eager to send something. But, what should you send? A flyer? A letter? An email? Well, the topic of choosing the right medium for Direct Marketing is a whole different article in its own right.