by John Eberhard

Vertical Marketing is a term that refers to marketing that targets only a specific type of public or audience, as opposed to marketing to the general public at large.

For example, let’s say that you have a product or service that is specifically used by dentists. So your marketing efforts would be directed only to dentists. Or you could have a product or service that is used only by pet owners, or computer managers, or small business owners, or people who own Apple computers, or Toyota Camry owners, or women aged 20-30, etc.

In each of the cases named above or in other similar cases, the necessity with marketing is to find ways to reach only that specific public. In other words, if you are targeting dentists, you are not going to place an ad in the general newspaper, because only a small percentage of the people who read that newspaper are dentists. So a large percentage of your money spent would be wasted. Instead you need to find ways of reaching only the targeted public.

Some examples of the types of media you could use to reach a vertical public would be:

  • Direct mail using mailing lists of the target public
  • Promotional email using email lists of the target public
  • Exhibiting at trade shows for the target public
  • Advertising in trade magazines for the target public
  • Advertising on web sites for trade organizations for the target public, or web sites that are “portals” for the target public, meaning sites that have lots of information related to that industry and are popular with that public
  • Pay per click advertising on Google or Bing. Here you would select keywords that your target public would type in to search for your product or service. In this case you can’t be guaranteed to reach only your target public, but intelligent selection of keywords will make it more likely.
  • Social media marketing. Here, with a vertical market, you would need to target people who would most likely be your target public, with your friending, following, connecting and fan attracting efforts. With Facebook and LinkedIn, there are groups you can “like” or join that are on certain topics. Most likely you can find some related to your industry. You can join those groups and then friend or connect with group members. On Twitter, you can follow people who have certain keywords in their bio, or people who say certain keywords in their tweets. Once you have developed a large group of connections on social media that are the right public, then you can put out regular messages to that public.
  • You can create videos about your company, put them on video sharing sites, and use keywords in the text description that your public would look for.
  • You can do search engine optimization on your web site, using keywords that your target public would be looking for.

How to Choose the Media That Are Right for You

I think the first thing you should do if you are trying to figure out how to market most effectively to a specific vertical public, is to find out all the media that are available that can be used with that public – all the magazines, trade shows, mailing lists, email lists, association web sites, web portals, and so on.

Once you have a list compiled of all the available media, there are a couple ways to get a good idea of which media to use if you are marketing to a specific vertical market.

You can survey a sampling of the target public and ask questions that would elicit answers regarding what industry-specific media they use, and where they might look for information on a vendor or product or service similar to yours.

You can observe what your competitors are doing, i.e. how they are promoting themselves or where they are advertising. For this, you should select competitors that are successful, preferably more successful than you are. Particularly if they are using certain media repeatedly, over a long period of time, it must be working for them. Promotion and advertising costs money, so they would likely not be using certain media over a long period of time if they weren’t getting a return on their investment.

So for example, if one of your successful competitors is using pay per click advertising and has been doing so for several years, you can be fairly certain that pay per click would be a good way for you to reach your public. If he is routinely sending out direct mail, you can bet that would work. This is not to say that you have to copy what your competitors are doing. But it will point you towards things that will work, and in business today you need every edge.

Good luck with vertical marketing.