To recap, a vertical is simply a specific industry, like photographers. Yet there are different specialties in photography, from wedding photography, to food photography, and more. You could narrow the field and focus exclusively on wedding photographers. But here’s another way to look at a vertical market:
“A set of customers having the same product needs”
This means that bridal shops, florists, disc jockeys, caterers, and banquet facilities also fall into the same vertical as wedding photographers. This is important to consider when targeting a vertical, because you can focus on marketing to all the companies serving a common customer base.
Focusing on a vertical is a double-edged sword, however, because your marketing message must be very specific in order to address their needs. If you’re going to provide marketing and advertising services like web design and search marketing, you must know:  If your target vertical advertises and  if so, why.
What problem are they trying to solve by advertising? If you decided to target hospitals, what are some reasons a hospital would advertise? Figure that out then weave it into your marketing message. “We help hospitals attract more patients” is weak. Okay, it’s downright pathetic. I found more than a dozen specific reasons why hospitals advertise. Here are a few that stand out:
- To drive elective private-pay patients to a particular provider
- To encourage consumers to seek elective treatment for a condition they haven’t considered treating, or to consider their hospital for the treatment they have chosen
- Because differentiating themselves and attracting consumers as they move from one health plan or community to another is absolutely essential to survival
- Because consumers are empowered and have more flexibility in their plans to choose providers
- Because consumers facing more out-of-pocket expenses are financially motivated to make the most of their health care dollars and are shopping around for the best value
Those are their words, not mine—gleaned from various hospital marketing blogs and websites around the Internet. Let’s see if we can turn those words into a something we can use to market back to them:
We help hospitals attract patients who are facing more out-of-pocket expenses and are searching for a hospital or clinic to get the most out of their health care dollars. More and more hospitals are turning to online advertising because they know that consumers have more flexibility in their plans to choose providers, and that marketing to them is essential to their survival.
Add an introduction and strong call-to-action at the end, and you have a sales letter, telemarketing script, or some website copy.
The secret to successfully penetrating a vertical market is to speak their language. Immerse yourself in their industry and you’ll become the expert they look to for proven solutions from someone who understands their industry.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.