What on earth are marketing “verticals”? Everyone seems to have a different answer.


What on earth are marketing “verticals”? Everyone seems to have a different answer.

In: 6

Verticle marketing is when every member of the process – from production to distribution to marketing to sales – works together to push a singular vision of the product and sales process. They coordinate towards a common goal.

The best example of this would be McDonalds. McDonalds sets a global strategy for each of its products and _everyone_ in the process works toward that strategy: suppliers work to produce uniform goods that match the vision for the final product, marketing pushes a vision, franchisees use that marketing and produce the final products to exact specifications, etc. Every step of the way, each part of the process is working to the same final vision of the McDonalds cheesburger you order.

There are two general classifications of marketing strategies called “horizontal” and “vertical”.

Suppose you have a store where you sell shoes. You sell all kinds of shoes: Formal shoes for weddings and church, or shoes for tennis, or boots for hiking, or even beach shoes. Whatever you are doing you probably sell a shoe for it. This is horizontal marketing.

Now suppose you have a store where you sell rock climbing stuff. You sell rock climbing shoes, rock climbing clothing, rock climbing bags, rock climbing ascenders and descenders, rock climbing gloves, whatever a rock climber could want. But if you want something for golf you need a different shop. This is vertical marketing.

Horizontal marketing sells to a broad array of different customers while vertical focuses on a narrow set.

I work for a very large engineering firm. We are big enough to go after all the market verticals relevant to architecture, engineering, and construction. Most companies arent large enough to go after all the potential verticals so they stay in their “swim lane” which might be relegated to audio-visual products for K-12 education or perhaps software for the Department of Transportation. Examples of market verticals (there are many more) are:

Transportation (Airports, Rail, and Highway)

Federal Government

State Government

Department of Defense

Sports and Entertainment (large facilities like stadiums and concert venues)

Higher Education (Universities, colleges, and community colleges)

K-12 (elementary, middle, and high schools)

Large Enterprise (big financial companies, law firms, or just any big company with multiple locations and thousands of employees)

Small to Medium businesses

Healthcare (Hospitals, research facilities, pharmaceuticals).

It is important to note that it’s not simply a matter of what verticals a company “wants” to pursue in business. You have to have the sales teams who have the right contacts and industry experience. There might be aspects of a market vertical that keep you out of that sector such as a need for large logistics capabilities (warehousing, distribution, etc.). Or perhaps you lack the required contract vehicles (a list of capabilities, registered pricing, and a particular geographical footprint that has been approved by a state or local government) to go after some types of business. Then of course, there’s the very important need for experienced personnel. You might want to get your hands on all that broadband money the government is handing out, but your IT support team only knows fiber termination and do not know how to navigate government grants or obtaining right-of-way in municipalities. Many companies make the mistake of spending too much time pursuing business that they really arent equipped, qualified, or experienced for and they end up wasting a lot of their money pursuing business while at the same time, wasting their customer’s time.