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A request to send a survey to customers in Northern California came by my desk the other day. The business unit originating this request failed to specify criteria with respect to which area or region defines what a northern California customer is. A popular marketing way to do this is by identifying a region by zip code. California's zip code range is 90000-96199. The messiest way is to identify this by a list of cities or MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas). What you, as the business unit, shouldn't do is make broad sweeping suggestions as to what you want without knowing what it is that you want.

Disneyland uses the zip code range of 90000-92999 for SoCal resident ticket promos. Another website, www.us.endress.com, suggests that the northern California zip code range is 93600-96199, and breaks southern California into two groups, "90000 to 92999" and "93000 to 93599," however that's just how their sales territories are split for California.

None of these will really do it for this campaign broadcast since what constitutes as northern California is both industry and company-specific. Ventura starts at 93000 and Santa Barbara starts at 93101, both of which are within an hour's drive to Los Angeles. What is good for Endress may not be good for this mortgage company. What's still a bit scary for me is that my inner consultant is telling me to pull a strategy from the air wafting above my head and implement it as a marketing standard for a moving-foward point, since no standard exists for this type of broadcast.

So, what's my resolution? It looks like this state will be split into northern (93600-96199) and southern (90000-93599) California. Unfortunately this is only a bandage solution for what probably wouldn't be aligned with the segmentation goals for the year. Most often when it comes to data segmentation, internal and external clients simply don't know (insert how, what, who, etc). But they're asking you the subject matter expert, the consultant (or in my case, the e-mail marketing manager).
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