15 Tips for Better Serving a Vertical Market
If you’re planning to align your business with a specific vertical market, or more effectively serve one (or several), it’s important to consider how to do it most effectively. The 15 tips below are drawn from the experiences of companies laser-focused on specific verticals.
1: Businesses in vertical markets may have common expectations – a cluster of branded features that add legitimacy. By knowing in advance what a prospective client is likely to need, the print provider can serve as a guide to help them achieve their branding goals.
2: While the design to be printed may come from an external source, such as an agency, print providers have an opportunity to use printing expertise to enhance the final product. Specialty substrates, expanded color sets and embellishments are all opportunities that can make a product or design “pop.”
3: Is your company “known” to the marketing agencies and creatives that specialize in the vertical market you serve? There is great value in being recommended to small businesses seeking printing services. They don’t want to put the job out for bid – they want someone who understands their needs.
4: Build your own vertical market network. While your company may not produce all the printed products your vertical market customer will need, you can certainly partner with printers from other print segments who serve the vertical. The result is a coordinated, multi-company customer resource.
5: If your reputation for serving a specific vertical market proceeds you, then a strong element of trust is in place from the start. To expand on that, convey to them that you understand their needs and their goals. They don’t have to explain themselves.
6: Specializing on a specific vertical market allows a print provider to direct its sales efforts and messaging directly to that market and to identify itself as such. The is in stark contrast to many print providers that serve as non-specialized “one-stop-shops.”
7: By creating strategic partnerships with smaller producers, a print provider can address the needs of all customers who approach from the vertical market, whether it produces the business directly or passes it to a partner company. This way, the company maintains its image as the “go to” for that vertical.
8: Understanding the needs of larger companies in a vertical market, versus smaller ones, can become a sales strategy. As a company grows, it may want to expand beyond its core brand identity, for instance by creating sub-branding efforts for it’s most popular products.
9: By strongly serving a vertical market, the print provider is more likely to be seen as an “insider” who knows and understands what the customer needs, as opposed to being a “service provider” – just another cold-calling printing company that does not understand their business.
10: By alleviating the burden of the small business owner to have “yet another thing the worry about,” a simple reminder of a coming event, or a casual check on inventory of printed items, conveys good will. Situations where the business owner says, “Wow, thanks, you saved me from running out,” build trust.
11: Serving as a successful partner for your customers, and having the ability to scale as they scale, enables the print provider to grow. Further, by becoming a larger, more prominent player in the vertical market, other large businesses in that vertical will notice you.
12: Vertical markets can grow and transform, such as the expansion of craft brewing into what is now known as craft beverages. Companies strategically positioned to serve a vertical market, and knowledgeable enough to see evolving opportunities, can transform along with the market.
13: Digital printing, and its inherent ability to produce short runs, has been transformative in virtually all markets printers serve. It has enabled more variety, and it has also built a bridge across the historical chasm that existed between low-volume and high-volume production.
14: Today’s startups may be tomorrow’s leaders. Instead of being annoyed by having “train” new customers, view it instead as building trust and forming lasting partnerships. Also, carefully trained customers may ultimately be easier to work with.
15: If the success of your business depends on the success of your customers, then be a partner, not an adversary. Create smooth movement, not friction. Provide resources, not roadblocks. By being a part of the vertical market, your company becomes part of the eco-system of services that makes it work.