Tech firms have been taking a vertical approach to B2B marketing for some time now. Big names – such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Cisco and SAP – make major investments in their vertical GTM. The reason is simple. When you get it right, a vertical go-to-market strategy can deliver major rewards. But getting it right means knowing what potential problems to look out for.
As a specialist, we make it our business to stay on top of different approaches to vertical GTM. And over the years of developing successful vertical marketing programmes with technology vendors, we’ve identified some common pitfalls that companies often fall foul of.
In this blog, we take a look at the four key questions you need to consider before making a start on any vertical GTM strategy.
One of the common pitfalls we see is that often vendors try to tackle too many verticals at once. This can lead to a lack of understanding of each sector’s unique challenges. It also often results in having a diluted sector-specific proposition, which fails to build engagement. Another mistake is not taking a thoroughly co-ordinated approach across sales, marketing, service delivery and customer services. Any failures in working together towards a common set of objectives – including failure to understand responsibilities – inevitably weakens the chance of successful implementation.
So what questions do you need to consider to ensure that your vertical marketing programmes deliver the results you want?
1. What level of verticalisation is right for you?
A vertical GTM approach can be implemented to different degrees. You can dive in at the deep end with a fully verticalised approach that includes all new content, different teams and separate GTM plans. You can dip your toe in the water with a vertical ‘top and tail,’ making minor adjustments to your messaging and content, while most elements remain standard. Or you can choose somewhere in between.
Different approaches require different levels of investment. Before you decide which way to go to meet your objectives, you need to evaluate the size of the opportunity, your available budget and resources, and the degree of similarity shared by the drivers across the verticals you want to target.
Testing the water with some basic adaptation of messaging, then increasing your investment as you gain traction, can be an effective way of identifying what level is right for you.
To find out more about the different degrees of verticalisation and the investment required for each one, read our blog How Vertical Should You Be?.
2. How can you maintain the right level of consistency across verticals
When targeting different verticals, you can find yourself performing a balancing act. On the one hand, you want to deliver sector-specific messages – messages that are directly relevant to each sector you target to help build engagement, and that demonstrate you’re a trustworthy expert in that sector worth listening to. On the other hand, you want to maintain your own core propositions and positioning. These are necessarily generic to everything you do, strengthening the consistency of your offering and reinforcing your position in the market place.
Getting this balancing act right necessitates being clear about how you will articulate and maintain a consistent ‘voice’ that delivers on both fronts.
3. Where can you get the insights you need?
To engage buyers and persuade them that you can help fix their business challenges, you need to demonstrate that you’re an expert in their field. That means having an in-depth understanding of their sector-specific issues. So you need to decide upfront where you’re going to get that understanding from.
You should consider a range of sources, including subject matter experts, sales teams and even reaching out to your existing customers.
4. How can you make sure that the whole business is aligned?
Vertical GTM isn’t just about your marketing department creating the right messaging and propositions. It’s no good having a highly-verticalised marketing approach if sales are not equipped to follow up on leads, or products don’t have the appropriate features. As with any and all GTM activity, you need to ensure that your marketing, sales, products and channel teams are all on board, fully aligned and committed to achieving mutually agreed outcomes.
Once you’ve got the answers to these four key questions, you’ll be ready to start planning your vertical programmes. Without them, you could be heading for disappointment.
Download our eGuide The Power of Verticals, to see our eight guiding principles for planning and implementing successful vertical GTM programmes.