Vertical Content Strategies

The marketing domain is complex. With varying thought leaders from different sub-domains of the industry replying to topics of interest, it is easy to succumb to content overload.

Determining how critical those different topics are to your business and specific goals can become a major challenge, and sometimes your best research really is trial and error. Personalized marketing is successful in many cases, but there are other strategies to experiment that might work just as well on a campaign or two.

Vertical marketing is one of those opportunities for experimentation. Maybe you have tried it but you still are not comfortable with it. Perhaps, it is a new concept that you are unsure of how to use or why you even should bother trying. Either way, this article can help break down the basics and give you a little more confidence.

What Is Vertical Marketing?

Vertical content marketing is, in short, a marketing strategy that fits in between everyday marketing and account-based marketing. It is similar to a regular marketing strategy as it is a sort of blanket campaign. However, this blanket does not cover all potential clients. Instead, it covers an industry. Some common industries it covers are government, banking, education, health care, and retail, though it can be used in any industry.

How To Do Vertical Marketing?

There are two very basic steps to vertical marketing:

  • Deciding who to target
  • Deciding how exactly to target them

When deciding how to target them, there are different levels. Some may simply require that you specify the industry or role for them to think you know what you are talking about. Others will require more wording.

For instance, some industries and roles may only require something such as “Basic Tools for Painters” while others respond better to something as deep as “Tools for the Watercolor Artist to Produce Work Like Never Before”.

When Should You Implement Vertical Marketing?

Like any other strategy, there are times that vertical marketing works well and times that it does not. It is important to be able to recognize those times. Following are three times when implementing vertical marketing can be a good move:

  • When your horizontal marketing is already in place and working well. If it is, implementing vertical marketing strategies can complement other strategies for maximum efficiency.
  • If your product is specifically specialized for a single industry.
  • If your target market is already full of generic content so any generic content you create will merely drown in the sea, so to speak.
  • When you have teams that can highly focus on an individual, niche markets.

Why Should You Implement Vertical Marketing?

To really be successful when it comes to vertical marketing, it requires a deep knowledge of the industry you are marketing to. Customers love to know that you truly understand their industry, the struggles they have, and what they need to make things better and easier.

Think of it this way: if you are hiring someone to babysit, are you going to hire someone who seems like they have never been around a baby? More than likely, you will hire the applicant who has experience caring for children and knows how to make a bottle. Trusting someone with your baby that is ignorant in that area is probably not going to be a good idea.

Therefore, showing your potential customers that you know what you are talking about is a good step towards gaining their trust and their sales.

Benefits of Vertical Marketing

As vertical marketing becomes a normal type of marketing in your organization, employees will become well adapted to working within it. The phrase “practice makes perfect” is a good example. Though perfection tends to be unattainable, efficiency can definitely increase. As that occurs, you will begin to see the following benefits:

  • Higher Revenue: The higher the efficiency, the better the reputation. The better the reputation, the more recommendations from clients. This leads to more sales.
  • Better Margins: Efficiency brings with it decreased costs. One of these costs is implementation. As the cost of implementation decreases, the higher profit margins are.
  • Lower Costs of Sales: Another cost that efficiency decreases the cost of sales. The more efficient the marketing, the less it costs to actually sell the product or service.
  • Increased Trust: Vertical content marketing sends the message that you know what you are doing or talking about in that company’s industry. It provides an element of social proof as these companies see that others in their industry try it. For instance, imagine you sell software that the healthcare industry can use for better patient records. If you know nothing about the healthcare industry, you likely will make no sales. However, companies will be more open knowing that others in their industry have used or are using this software. It gives the impression that you understand the industry, so you are more trusted.

Disadvantages of Vertical Marketing

While vertical content marketing can be a great strategy to implement, it also has its downfalls. One is simply that each vertical marketing strategy only reaches a small portion of your clients unless you only have one type of client. If the software mentioned above was developed for more than just the healthcare industry, vertical marketing may hinder sales to some extent. It would require separate campaigns which may cost your business more.

Another issue is that there really is no personalization. Unlike ABM, these marketing campaigns are generic for the entire industry. While this may seem positive for some people, it is not for others. If all of your competitors are providing very personalized content and yours is generic, you will probably lose sales. You must weigh out the pros and cons.

  • Can your vertical campaigns bring in enough sales to replace personalized campaigns?
  • Can you create personalized and vertical content to complement one another?
  • Will you be able to make vertical marketing beneficial enough for your company that it is worth the effort?

Questions to Ask

If you are considering vertical marketing implementation, there are some questions you can ask to decide on which industries to focus on. Following are a few of these questions:

  • Is this a particular industry or market important to your company? How important? Do you want it to be an important part or is it less of a priority than others?
  • Do you have teams that can focus solely on the markets you choose?
  • Will vertical content in this market cause you to be drowned out by others or make you stand out? What are your competitors doing?
  • Do you have any big wins in that industry? Any social proof you can share?

How to Get Started

Getting started with vertical content is not much different than getting started with any other content- it simply has a different focus. The following steps and tips should give you a good start:

  • Select your vertical market and determine what you can offer it.
  • Create a target customer profile including their pain points and commonalities. Determine what you can do to help.
  • Truly consider the value of that market and decide if vertical marketing is the best strategy for it.
  • If you feel it is, commit to this strategy. Learn everything you can about the industry. Assign some people to keep up to date on that industry and use all of this information to create ongoing training programs.
  • Start small. It can be difficult to implement a full marketing campaign, especially when the strategy is new. Instead, start with small pieces of content such as blog posts and/or emails.

There really is no one size fits all approach to marketing. Some strategies work for some companies and products while others do not. If there were one simple plug-and-play marketing strategy design, there really would not be much need for marketers. Instead, content marketers must determine the best approach for each company, product or service, and industry and be prepared to cater to those needs.

The best one can do is analyze how well current campaigns are doing. Through your assessment, you might find that adding or switching to vertical content marketing just might be a wise move.

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