Getting Back to Basics With Verticalization

Vertical target marketing is having a moment (again), but are organizations doing it right?

Getting Back to Basics With Verticalization

Verticalization is having a moment (again).

Not that it’s something new. Over the years, companies have transitioned from a broad platform or technology play, and have decided to invest in vertical solutions to address specific problems that vertical audiences are facing.

But today, it is hot…and many organizations are scrambling to make verticalization part of their strategy. But are they doing it right?

Marketers can absolutely drive success through verticalization, but the amount of success gained from targeting specific verticals will really depend on the resources the organization is willing to invest.

Why Verticalization Now?

Over the past few years, there has been significant disruption in a number of key verticals such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare, ground transportation and financial services. Retail was one of the first industries to experience significant disruption with the entrance of Amazon in the 1990s…technology truly is a disruptive force. The pandemic magnified this disruption even further, as more people have been forced to embrace online shopping and brands needed to deliver the “last mile.”

Organizations in many industries have realized they need to quickly transform by automating or implementing a new business model before they are overtaken by non-traditional competitors.

Steps to Success

When considering implementing a vertical marketing strategy, there are three basic steps organizations should follow to help ensure success:

1. Do Your Homework

This is something that too many organizations skim over and don’t spend enough time on. Doing your homework is key. You need to look at the vertical market you’ve identified and determine what the compelling reason is for them to buy your solution. Do you have a differentiated offering? Is there sustainable market share? Your organization may believe that on the surface financial services is a key vertical to target, but you need to do the research to determine that is in fact the case. This research will help you determine what the opportunity is, who the competitors are, and what investment is needed. By not doing your research, you could be putting organizational resources at risk by targeting the wrong verticals. And your research will also help you determine whether or not this endeavor has been successful for others in your space.

2. Talk To Your Customers

This could be considered an extension of doing your research, but it gives you so much more. Once you have done your homework and determined that there is a viable vertical market opportunity, you need to talk to customers to learn how they are actually using your product, and dive into what your customers like about the solution, as well as where they are finding gaps. You can then use this information to come up with specific use cases, develop your solution roadmap, and refine your messaging.

These customers will then become your market references, and the information they provide will become the basis of your messaging and content for vertical collateral.

3. Manage the Organizational Matrix

You need to pull together your internal vertical team of experts – from marketing to sales to development – to help you develop and execute the plan to bring this solution to market. And you want the best people, so make the project exciting for them – something they’ll want to be a part of and see succeed!  It’s often not feasible to hire a net-new team, so make it easy for shared services teams  to say yes to spending time on this project rather than others. Effectively communicating with and managing this internal group will help you successfully enter the market. From there, you can refine and iterate your path and course correct if necessary.

Focus On The Basics

One of the barriers to verticalization success really comes down to only focusing on the end result, and missing some of the basics or skipping steps. It doesn’t make sense to go in with the attitude of, “We’ll give it a year, and if we don’t see X% growth, we’ll discontinue the initiative.” One year doesn’t give you a full picture; in many cases it’s not even one sales cycle. If you decide to go this route, do your homework, develop a plan with reasonable metrics, enable your team and commit to making it a success. If you’ve done your homework, can see the long-term viability of this vertical, have customers reaping tangible business benefits, and a competitive advantage, you will succeed.


  • Patricia Waldron

    Patricia Vekich Waldron is an advisor with Leap, the advisory service recently introduced by Revenue Marketing consultancy Demand Spring. She has held executive positions in marketing, solution and business development at esteemed global organizations including IBM, Cognos, Lawson Software and Fujitsu.

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