Finding the Perfect Balance Between Vertical and Horizontal Marketing

As we head into the second half of 2021, and with live events still up in the air for the remainder of the year, you might be asking yourself “where should I spend my marketing dollars to get the best ROI? And what should I be thinking for 2022?” You want to gain the most impact short-term, while also positioning for longer-term success. So, does that mean spending your time and money on reaching media and analysts across the breadth of your industry or would it be more worthwhile to focus on one or more of your key verticals?

The answer generally is both, but to make the case for a vertical play, you must have a well-defined strategy for reaching vertical influencers. Editors in these vertical publications want specific use cases and case studies that appeal specifically to their audience members. There’s no room for generic articles that could fit into any industry—they want articles that are well-thought-out and help their audiences solve specific problems.

Many companies are formed because they see a specific need in a particular market and know they can help solve it. That need may be vertical (the automotive industry really needs THIS), or it may be horizontal (IT departments and CIOs would really benefit from THIS). When you’re starting out, you may need to choose the more general industry route to see which vertical markets respond best to your company’s story. Once you find that, you can add in vertical markets one by one as interest grows.

Here are six ways you can use horizontal and vertical marketing effectively and in tandem to market your company:

1. Focus, focus, focus: Once you make your decision on strategy, plan to attack one or two verticals or one or two themes within the broader market—and stick with it for a few months. Plan out your themes quarter by quarter, develop meaningful content for each market you select, and you’ll get stronger results than if you tackle things as one-off projects.

2. Use industry events as a guide: Eventually live events will be back—and some already are. Don’t, however, let them drive your initiatives. Your overall marketing initiatives should instead drive what you’ll be talking about at the show, whether it’s live or virtual. If you find yourself saying “We need a theme for Mobile World Congress,” think about that a little deeper. How can you flip the story to instead say “what are we doing at MWC that helps meets our strategy’s goals?”?

3. Treat your approach to each market differently: Don’t just mix some vertical terms into your website and solution briefs and expect that strategy to deliver results. Put in the time to develop vertical-specific materials that tells potential customers that you know their market and understand their needs.

4. Have the key ingredients for success: You need a strong content marketing plan for any vertical or horizontal market you tackle. This plan should include:

  • A landing page on your website where you can direct potential customers from that vertical segment
  • A video that succinctly explains your role in the industry to your potential customers
  • A customer case study or use case with a named or unnamed client
  • One or more white papers that tackle key issues in the vertical which you are targeting
  • Blog posts that directly deal with solving your audience’s key challenges

5. Don’t forget the value of contributed articles: Contributed articles can help you build Thought Leadership both in horizontal publications and vertical ones. Get creative about how you can repurpose your general content for vertical-focused publications and get more bang for your buck.

6. Use your blog to help strike a balance: Choose topics that impact both your general audience and specific vertical markets. If your blog platform allows, segment them specifically for the markets in which you want them to appear.

Your marketing dollars are limited, so you must spend them wisely. Establishing a strategy that adequately covers your needs for both vertical and horizontal marketing allows you to deliver strong ROI. Want to learn more about delivering strong ROI from your vertical markets? Download our free white paper.

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