All indicators are going upIt’s common to visit a website and notice that a company advertises that its product is particularly useful for various vertical markets. Too often, a dive into the claims made reveals that the same features are shown addressing the same issues; often the only difference is an industry-specific image.

Demand Gen Report recently published an insightful article about vertical marketing, Vertical Industry Marketing Gains Momentum But Requires A Learning Curve, in which industry leaders discussed the opportunities and hard realities of making vertical marketing work well.

The consensus is: You can’t bluff. You really do have to put in the time to gain a deep understanding of the core business need and challenges in the verticals you target, so you can speak to real people about real problems and real solutions through your messaging and strategy. Throwing in a buzzword here and a niche term there just isn’t enough.

Begin with personas

The place to begin is with buyer personas. Do interviews with people in your target industries and get familiar with the proprietary issues. Understand how the problems, the pain, and the buyer’s journey are unique to this industry. Attend industry trade shows and pay attention to the issues on the agenda, and find more people to talk to. What you’re after here is to get specialized knowledge, which should help you understand how your product can benefit this industry; it could also show you that your product won’t be a good fit.

Strategies and metrics

Once you’ve gotten to know a market well and determined that your product is a fit, you can begin to plan your marketing strategies. What works for you in one market may not work in another. Consider messaging, channels, timing, and incentives. You may need to devise different metrics; as Gleanster Research notes in “Lead Lifecycle Analytics: Essential Metrics for Perpetual Revenue Growth,” “…there is no one-size-fits-all definition for these metrics (and) there shouldn’t be, given the differences in industry verticals…firmographic attributes, and target customer segments.”

Content and messaging for vertical markets

You’ll need to develop a spectrum of content specialized for your targeted vertical. As Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On, notes: “It starts with an understanding of the buyer’s journey for that particular industry and immersing yourself in the issues that are important to them. Then you build content and a curriculum around those issues. It is about educating them and getting seen as an expert in the field.”

Chatterjee noted that marketing automation vendors are designing their systems to make vertical-industry marketing more manageable. “It is about giving marketers flexibility to adapt to the different work flows and nuances of a particular vertical. For example, marketing automation vendors can provide marketers with templates that make sense and appeal to various markets, as well as the flexibility to build their own.”

B2B buyers famously delay engagement with salespeople until they’re well along in the buying process, which makes it imperative for content to be relevant. As Tamara Graves, Senior Director of Demand Generation for NetProspex commented “While a B2B marketer may only ask for an email to download a white paper, that email can provide information on the prospect’s company and industry. Being able to send a powerful, personalized and relevant message is a crucial component of successful vertical industry marketing.”

Read the whole Demand Gen Report story: Vertical Industry Marketing Gains Momentum But Requires A Learning Curve