Vertical Marketing - Business as the Ultimate Sport

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Business is the ultimate sport. Every day, we coach a team of over 1,000 full- and part-time employees to win against the ultimate opponent: the marketplace. To stay ahead of the marketplace, we need to form a game plan, call high percentage plays, execute them flawlessly, and adapt how we play as the game evolves. Maximizing earnings is the name of the game. Winning the game requires us to optimize business operations to ensure we sell the right products to the right customers at the right time, place, and price as often as possible. Winning also involves identifying missed or new opportunities to add value in the future. In other words, we need to score efficiently on lots of possessions and learn from missed shots or blown plays.

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What is vertical marketing?

Form a game plan

Vertical marketing is marketing to specific industries, demographics or niches that are best suited for your service or offering. Companies that utilize vertical marketing distribute targeted content and messaging to strike a chord with their ideal customers.

How do you qualify which leads are best suited for your offering? As Bonafide's Business Development Representative (BDR), I do this by understanding our agency’s positioning statement – who we are, what we do, and who we help. Doing this before the qualification process ensures that you bring high quality leads to your organization.

Ex> Bonafide works with established B2B engineering firms seeking to measure the ROI of their efforts and improve sales efficiency.

Ex> Bonafide works with B2B technology and SaaS companies seeking to secure online market leadership but are frustrated their website is not driving as many leads as it should be.

Ex> Bonafide works with B2B manufacturers who aspire to grow to new territories. We create and execute higher level marketing strategies for companies that might not have someone formally in charge of marketing. If they do, they might wear many hats and simply don’t have enough time to give it the attention it properly deserves.

In the above example, the vertical markets are technology, SaaS, engineers and manufacturers. 

Once you know the stance of your agency, you will understand who you can help. While you can’t help everyone, you can learn to use your time more efficiently by targeting those prospects you can help.

What verticals can you help?

Call high-percentage plays.

Review past clients. Who have you had the most success with? What industries do you currently have business collateral for (infographics, case studies, white papers, etc.)? Know your team's strengths inside and out and gain the edge over your competitors. Differentiate yourself. Ask yourself, “How can I apply my strengths better? How can I master my craft? How can I become a trusted resource of information?”

Mastery involves exploring the nuances of your craft. It involves intelligence and engagement. It is well known that thoughts impact performance, so if you are targeting your ideal client and know that you have a solution that can help, then you can better communicate your message and nurture your most qualified leads through their buyers’ journeys, building trust and rapport.

Narrow your focus by knowing the specific industries you can help. Efficiency is prosperity.

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 State of Sales Report, 77% of decision makers won’t engage with salespeople who have no insights or knowledge of their business.

By having more of these conversations, a BDR or sales rep develops super-targeted campaigns addressing industry-specific pain points. You increase your understanding of an industry and become better at articulating solutions to these pain points.

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How do you reach the prospects in your vertical?

Execute your plays.

Know where your prospects hang out – tradeshows, LinkedIn, industry happy hours. What specific hashtags are they following at any given moment? Knowing where they are, even digitally, can put you in the right place at the right time at the trigger event.

Your service or product should be an extension of your client’s company. The goal is to empower its sales team, or provide a product or solution, so if the BDR can understand the prospect, its pain points, and its industry, you can evoke the idea that you understand and can help prospects find their ideal client.

96% of decision makers say they’re more likely to consider a brand’s products or services if a sales professional has a clear understanding of their business needs (LinkedIn State of Sales 2018).

This spreading activation model sends a cascade of activity in the prospects’ minds. You know and they know that you can help them reach their growth goals. Hopefully when it is all said and done, they experience enough satisfaction to give a review or a referral. 

Review the success of your targeted verticals

Adapt how you play as the game evolves.

Building high-level marketing plans and strategies is a substantial portion of what we do here at Bonafide. Centralized sales and marketing data allow our clients to measure the successes and pitfalls of their campaigns. It is important to know what is and is not working in real time and why. Like a coach during the championship game, we must call timeouts (review), read the defense (the marketplace), and call the play (strategy) accordingly.

What metrics are important for your industry? Let us use smarketing (sales & marketing) as an example.

Common metrics include:

  • Average number of activities (calls, emails, meetings) required to close a deal
  • Closing ratio
  • Qualified leads
  • Qualified opportunities
  • Time utilization
  • Cost per lead
  • Response rate
  • Return on marketing investment (ROMI)
  • Total cost of customer acquisition

Like reviewing film after a tough loss, your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software contains a comprehensive record of all your previous plays and shots. A CRM should allow salesmen to examine customers and gain customer intel on its ideal clients.

If your message is industry-tailored to a prospect, you can expect a lower call-to-meeting ratio. Analyze which industries have exorbitant call-to-meeting ratios and consider spending more time on industries with a lower ratio. Do you have higher response rates with SaaS over manufacturing? Spend more resources (time, content creation) on SaaS.

For inbound traffic – what is your cost per lead? Is your manufacturing case study producing more leads than your IT case study? Consider allocating more time on manufacturing.

“I learned what made them feel secure and where their greatest doubts lay. Once I understood them, I could bring the best out of them by touching the right nerve at the right time” (Mamba Mentality, @kobebryant).

While a successful sales rep needs to leverage the resources at hand (coaches, teammates, business collateral, technology, data, etc.), ultimately it comes down to being human, playing the game, and shooting your shots. Plan, execute, review, adapt, and repeat.

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George Moustakelis

George Moustakelis

Always curious and constantly learning, I love to learn how things work