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Steps To Build Presence in a Vertical Market Cheat Sheet by

Steps To Build Presence in a Vertical Market
building     marketing     new     market     steps     presence


Microsoft has long beaten the drum for partner specia­liz­ation, and the cloud is amplifying the call further. Partners that pursue a vertical market strategy consis­tently report higher sales win ratios of opport­unities within their specialty.

With all the pressure and evidence, it's surprising that most partners still don't have a strong industry focus. One hesitation is the concern that there will be missed horizontal opport­unities if you focus on one industry. But industry focus doesn't mean that you have to stop horizontal marketing. They are two separate approa­ches. You can continue your horizontal marketing -- just carve out a segment of your prospect base that fits your industry criteria.

A Systematic Approach to Industry Specia­liz­ation

While there is no magic formula, by taking a systematic approach, you can build your reputation to become an industry specia­list. It takes commitment across the company because it will affect every aspect of the business. Identify a committee to work through these steps and hold them accoun­table for reporting on progress.

1. Choose the Industry

Choose the industry, and be as specific as possible. While that may sound obvious, it seems to be the biggest stumbling block for partners. There are countless technology providers who claim to be "­Dis­tri­but­ion­" or "­Ret­ail­" industry leaders. Find a smaller pond to fish in with a more specific defini­tion. For example, "Food and Beverage Distri­but­ors­" or "­Spo­rting Goods Retail­ers."

2. Tap into your internal resources

You will be much more successful in the long run if you have employees who are genuinely interested in the industry you target. Do you have employees who already partic­ipate in industry profes­sional groups? What kind of projects really get the team fired up?

3. Do your research

You likely already have some insight into the industry you choose to pursue, but you need to do your research. At a minimum, buy the First Research report or other current market research that is available. Find and follow all of the profes­sional Web sites that serve the industry. Identify someone to monitor these regularly to get to know the hot topics, as well as industry leaders and social influe­ncers.

Vertical Market

Define Value Propos­ition & Solution set.

To be successful in sales and marketing, you need to have a very specific value propos­ition. What problem does the client have and how are you going to solve it? Identify the components of the solution set and define the entire set in terms of the benefits to clients. Validate with current customers in the industry. Ask them if they think your value propos­ition is compel­ling.

5. Build specific content

Create a Web site that is specific to the industry. It doesn't have to be a complex site, keep it simple and direct. If you have the resources, start a blog and update it often. Make sure all content, including Web text, collat­eral, e-mails, e-books -- whatever you create -- directly supports your value propos­ition.

6. Partic­ipate in the community

Immerse yourself in the industry's profes­sional community, both virtually and in person. Join the profes­sional associ­ation Web sites and LinkedIn groups that serve the industry. Follow the common industry hashtags on Twitter. Listen and learn before you start to partic­ipate. Attend industry events to meet people face to face. Seek meetings with the industry influe­ncers that you have identified to see if there is a way you can work together.

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