14 Oct 2014

Use Content Marketing to Move into New Vertical Markets

Can your company move into new vertical business markets through a focused content marketing effort?

Content marketing is being used more often by companies to establish presence, stake a position and drive leads and conversions. Gary Vaynerchuk recommends for pre-launch companies to do “Content Content Content!” when trying to rally support for their launch. Why wouldn’t a similar approach work for companies looking to spread into different vertical markets?

IT Expert Karl Walinskas offers 4 key ways to evaluate new vertical markets:

  1. Come up with and write down 3-5 industries that you think are worth targeting.
  2. Ask for each: is that industry flush with cash? This is why health care, financial services, government services, and higher education tend to be major market segment choices.
  3. Now ask for each: is the industry undergoing massive change? The change can be internally or externally driven, such as massive new legislation (Obamacare, Sarbanes-Oxley) or world events.
  4. Any of your trial verticals where you answered a Yes to questions 2 and 3 stands to be a vertical market worthy of your investigation.

Creating content marketing expertise in vertical markets can help buyers in those markets get to know you, thus growing an understanding of and trust for your company. It’s about doing content marketing not only across channels (websites, social media, videos, events, etc.) but more proactively within new vertical markets. Creating great videos, blog posts, infographics, and curated content toward a specific vertical or two can:

  1. Help open up new markets for your company’s product or services
  2. Prime the audience for more products later on
  3. Position you as an upstart in an established vertical market

Those in content marketing circles know the story of how fiberglass pool company owner Marcus Sheridan used his blog and content marketing to grow his swimming pool business to heights previously unknown. Today, Marcus himself has moved into a new vertical – Content, Inbound, and Social Media Consulting and Speaking Services. Using great content to establish trust, authority, and build an audience has elevated his status in this market and created a completely new business for himself.

Understanding Vertical Markets

It’s important to understand the vertical market you’re seeking to enter. A key way to do this is to learn as much as you can about the industry, using its jargon, acronym and forecasts. Then tailor your content marketing efforts using these terms specifically to capture new audiences within the vertical market. Just as a dedicated NFL fan can spot a weekend poser by the terminology used about the game’s fundamentals, so too can your content betray your industry understanding.

To be good at content, your content should be top quality, first and foremost. Get to know your industry topics well, and become the relevant expert in a certain category. Becoming knowledgeable in a vertical makes you much more valuable than becoming familiar across a range of horizontal topics.

A big benefit to content specialization in particular verticals is less competition for your content. You’ll find more focused readers and less widespread noise if you are targeting an audience that’s seeking answers on niche subjects like security practices in government buildings or organically produced children’s clothing, for example. That reason alone is compelling enough to position yourself as the expert in a new vertical…through content.

 Enlightenment

Graphic via Curata.com

Behind the scenes planning with your sales team can also bring your company to a point where content marketing can target potential new clients. Work alongside your sales and product teams and increase your understanding and entry points of the new vertical market. This will result in better content marketing penetration, leading to increased awareness and a more focused launch.

Let’s look at key areas to shore up your company’s content marketing practices to help drive a move into a new vertical market.

Utilize the Skills Set Within

If members of your content marketing team have deep experience in your new vertical market in prior roles, be sure to capitalize on that. Learn about your team’s business expertise and how it can apply to your current client base.

SOLAR Image

For example, one of our team members at Vertical Measures recently has undergone a switch to solar power at his home in Arizona. His customer experience has helped inform the VM content team for our work for a solar installation company. From him, we learned about home preparation of solar electricity to the state rebates for solar energy. Knowing our client’s business from the inside out has helped immeasurably in creating customer-centric vertical content.

You never know what knowledge and experiences your team has until you ask. Mine your talent and utilize your internal resources.

Gain Industry Depth and Knowledge

The answer to this successful entry into a new vertical market is depth of knowledge and purpose. Your strong industry knowledge must be the foundation on which to communicate. Don’t try to just throw a new content marketer into the role of data security expert for the data and security vertical you’re entering. Allow that person some transition time and then seek appropriate feedback for creating content plans. Alternatively, find someone who knows the industry inside and out and who can jump on board without skipping a beat. Sometimes it pays to find the right people.

Inform your Vertical Team Members

Keep your team informed with a deep dive into the chosen vertical. In every business vertical, there are a great number of case studies, white papers and reports. Get the team familiar with industry blogs, news outlets, and social media leaders and influencers in that particular vertical space. Look for nuggets of information every day that will yield content topics that are useful for industry content calendars, daily blog posts, social media promotion and more. Whether the vertical is aerospace, residential construction, online education or luxury goods, your team’s deep knowledge of the chosen vertical will help them to become quality content creators.

Get into the Community

Moving into a new community (online and offline) forces you to get out and introduce yourself to those around you. Integrating well into a new vertical community involves a lot of listening and learning, and much less talking and doing. Get your team members to visit the right industry outlets online, and get to know the important analysts in the new vertical market. Here are few more things to do:

  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups for your vertical
  • Follow specific industry Twitter hashtags
  • Attend industry specific conferences for face time with these online counterparts.

By diving in deep, your content team will build up the acquired knowledge that helps you build your business.

CMI graphic

Graphic via Content Marketing Institute

Be the Buyer

Ask your content team to put themselves in the mind of a typical buyer in the vertical. Imagine that person’s questions and challenges as they move through the buying process. Then figure out what questions can be best answered in certain types of content – case studies, reference guides blogs, infographics, etc.

Create a Compelling Call-to-Action

As the new player in an established vertical, it’s up to your company to take a stab at creating a compelling call-to-action. Be bold. Offer an informed point of view or bold opinion. Try to teach your readers something new, or offer an alternate way to consider an industry topic. Readers will appreciate your forthright nature.

Achieving the right team strength and depth of knowledge needed to pursue new verticals will take some time and some growing pains. Learning about new industry leaders, who their customers are, and where new prospects may be are all new challenges. But with a concentrated content marketing strategy for new vertical markets, you can quickly gauge the pulse of the market, gain new followers and hopefully establish your company as a new leader soon.

Has your company used great content marketing tactics to move into new verticals? If so, please share your story below!