To sell more, you need to dominate mindshare and build loyalty with customers and partners (we’ve talked about this before). A meaningful way to do that is through thought leadership assets, establishing your team as trusted advisors in social channels and online communities, or through targeted communications that are valuable to your audience.
Increase your industry expertise and demonstrate that your company understands the pain points, trends and needs of your customer’s industry, and you’ll increase feelings of loyalty while positioning your company as specialists.
There are significant advantages to being a recognized industry expert and to vertical marketing:
- An industry-based marketing strategy provides focus
- Industry expertise can be a point of differentiation
- Specializing can justify charging a price premium
Here’s why doing an industry deep dive is important
Being well-informed about the ins and outs of an industry and staying on top of trends gives you something to talk about with potential customers.
The better you understand an industry, the better you know what customers in that industry want. You can see gaps that your company can fill. You’re able to discuss industry-specific pain points and trends. With your vertical knowledge, you can better speak to how your solution can benefit that customer, articulate practical use cases, and talk about the ways your solution supports industry trends.
Your offering may apply to many industries. However, your ability to define industry-specific use cases or speak to industry-specific trends will be far more compelling than speaking in generalizations.
For example, you may have a data storage solution that can be used across all industries. But Healthcare cares about how it interacts with EPIC, whether it meets HIPAA requirements, and how it helps their stretched resources do more, whereas Manufacturing cares about the speed at which your solution can communicate with IoT devices and large CAD files. Your solution becomes far more relevant if you can talk to each industry’s most prominent goals and concerns.
What industries do you already specialize in?
Your first step is to examine all of your existing customers and categorize them by industry. You will probably find that you are already serving some industries more than others. For example, 30% of your clients might be in manufacturing, 30% in financial services and the remaining 40% spread across multiple industries.
It would make sense for you to examine exactly what you deliver to your manufacturing and FinServ clients. Determine what is unique to them and their industry and then begin to define focused solutions that these industries need, using language and terminology that is specific and unique to their business objectives.
How do you become an industry expert when you aren’t in that industry?
You don’t need a degree in healthcare administration to speak with authority about how your solution can fulfill needs or support trends in Healthcare. You just need to do some research and demonstrate that you are deeply knowledgeable about the vertical. You need to show potential customers and partners that you are well-informed, well-connected and up to date on what’s happening in their industry.
We advise that you create industry dossiers on your company’s ideal industries—the ones you’re most likely to sell to. You don’t need to know everything about every industry. Be selective, focus on the sectors your solution best serves and learn the following:
- The size of the industry, domestically and globally
- Leaders and market share
- Barriers and opportunities
- Industry regulations and governing bodies
- Factors that significantly affect the industry (politics, supply chains, seasons, population shifts, etc.)
Your dossier should include industry information and metrics from respected business, financial, economic, legal and news sources. Other places to collect the information you need are professional organizations, industry-specific communities and social groups, workshops and conferences, industry reports and research sites like Forrester and Statista. Also, you can find some industry mentors who are willing to impart their wisdom and experience.
Be sure to keep those dossiers current. To remain an expert, you need to stay in the know.
I’m in the know, now what?
Now apply that knowledge, targeting your industry audience in meaningful ways. Use the information to create industry-specific assets, social campaigns that meet potential customers where they are, and communicate with your lists with information tailored to their needs.
Analyze your distribution lists and send out more targeted communications. For example, if 40% of your distribution list work in FinServ, 30% work in Healthcare, while the remaining 30% span Education, Energy, Retail, Transportation and Manufacturing, why not send out three different tailored communications instead of just a general newsletter?
Create a FinServ version, a Healthcare version, and a more general version for the mixed industries group. Even if you only change the introduction and your stats, you’ve already made the communication more relevant to your unique readers’ needs.
We’ve had a lot of success helping clients focus on specific industries or verticals. For example, we recently came across a government program that was funding digital transformation in Manufacturing. We sent out an awareness email highlighting the funding opportunity on behalf of our client, giving the reader information on the criteria and how to access it. We then highlighted our client’s solution and how it could help modernize manufacturing plants.
The email had great open rates and, best of all, resulted in several large deals. Their customers had all that government funding to invest, after all.
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