Jack of all trades, master of none. That doesn’t sound very desirable, does it? You wouldn’t want a surgeon like that. A “Renaissance Man” may be the perfect dinner companion, but there’s something to be said for specialties and expertise.
Which leads me to the topic of industry-specific verticals when considering a digital marketing strategy.
The terms “industry-specific” and “vertical” both mean basically the same thing– marketers who cater to the needs of a specific group of people within a much broader industry. This is in contrast to a horizontal market, where the effort is diffused to a large audience regardless of industry. An example would be an engine parts manufacturer who sells to the world (horizontal market) choosing to make auto parts specifically for the auto manufacturer (vertical market). It can feel risky, like putting all your eggs in one basket, but, If done properly, marketing to a specific segment can boost conversion rates, bolster sales and raise search engine results.
Let’s look at Whole Foods, Inc., the premium purveyor of fine natural and organic foods. Even within the narrow group of people willing to spend a fortune to know they are eating the cleanest, most cruelty-free food on the planet, there are smaller, more specialized groups the company has chosen to selectively target. These niche interests include gluten-free, cooking classes, organic farming, catering and environmental stewardship,
Another company doing a great job of niche marketing is Black and Decker Power Tools. Their distinct orange and black design and easy-to-handle, lightweight plastic construction has become the darling of newlyweds and new homeowners. They serve a niche of consumers who want to do their own lawn care, make cool stuff for their first home and work with local support centers other than Lowes or Home Depot. Industry-specific marketing identifies highly-specialized products that appeal to a narrow target market or demographic. Black and Decker developed Combo toolkits for two niche markets: new homeowners and DIY projects. They also offer ideas and inspiration at local events.
How did Black & Decker go from one of many power tool makers to the one being specified on today’s bridal registries? Here are a few steps they took to go vertical:
- analyze what millennials value in the tools they use
- study buying trends to determine what tools are most in demand and what specifications first-time buyers seek
- survey people in DIY classes to gather original information
- use these market research findings to guide design development
- customize products to meet the needs of new homeowners. If they tend to want a clean garage, make tools more compact. If wives will also be using, decrease weight and include video and class support.
- Finally, direct content writing to include new, improved product features in all advertising
Brand Recognition and the Vertical Market
Brand recognition is a major advantage of industry-specific vertical marketing. When consumers get used to seeing the same logo or packaging, it can result in positive referrals and brand loyalty.
For example, take the Monrovia brand of garden plants. Your local garden center has a horizontal market of people who buy all brands and all types of garden supplies. However, they identify a niche market of customers who buy the warranted line of hardy, low-risk Monrovia plants. With vertical marketing, all sales, marketing, production and distribution partners work closely with the goal of making a profit from the Monrovia brand.
Monrovia, the wholesaler, doesn’t control how the various garden centers display, sell and promote their plants. Instead, their website makes their entire selection of 3,000 plants available to consumers to shop, far more than they could find in one store. Your order is shipped for free to a local participating garden center for pick up. They may be competing by selling directly to consumers, but they provide a far greater, first-class website set that aids the garden center by providing a complete catalog, lots of creative support, how-to videos, garden design ideas, etc.
Pros and Cons of Aligning with a Particular Industry
A potential customer seeing you currently service their industry will have an automatic level of trust and comfort leading, hopefully, to conversion. He or she knows your team understands the specific challenges and can write and market their product in a convincing voice.
Specializing in a particular area allows you to excel, leading to more pertinent case studies. Horizontal markets need to change tactics for different industries. One vertical advertising campaign can be created and used universally.
Naturally, specializing means a smaller population that will be interested in your products. Advertising claims will be limited to what your niche market is willing to bear.
When your client portfolio isn’t as diversified, your business could experience greater losses if the niche market starts to plummet.
How Going Vertical Increases Search Success
Here are a few ways an SEO writer could use industry specifics to gain higher search results:
Target locally. Convert generic “personal injury attorneys” or “divorce lawyers” to location-based “Texas lawyers” or “attorneys in New Jersey.”
Long Tail keywords. Drill down to specifics like “gentle dental practice” versus “children’s dentist.”
Link-building research and outreach to Angie’s List, etc.
City guides. Area information keeps people poking around your page.
Frequent updates. Omit outdated menu and seasonal items
Press releases. Announce new laws, services and benefits pertinent to industry or community.
List branch locations. Set up a Google Business account, correct NAP.
Social media presence. Create an online personality to move millennials.
Dedicated pages. Helpful general information about each destination.
Keyword phrases. Switch generic “back pain” with more casual language like “low back hurts.”
Minimum brand mentions. Finish with “See how (your product) can help today.”
Helpful aids. Financial, admissions process, faculty and alumni, student life, athletics, study abroad…to interact with your site.
Remember, vertical marketing helps gain demand exclusively from a niche in a specific industry or demographic. Companies using vertical marketing tactics will either create something intended for a specific consumer or adapt existing products to appeal to those consumers. This can be better than horizontal marketing, which attempts to appeal to a much broader population.
iwebcontent can help with your vertical marketing. For more information about industry-specific marketing, check out our case study concerning the success of the industry pages on our website.