If you are serving the business-to-business marketplace, understanding your customers’ vertical markets can make the difference between being seen as a commodity supplier and being seen as a trusted partner. How does it accomplish that? By helping you to do four things:
1. Understand the ever-changing pressures and opportunities in your customers’ marketplace.
2. Know what products and services your customers are using (or should be using) now.
3. Speak your customers’ language.
4. Craft your marketing messaging in a way that emphasizes the benefits that are most important to your customers’ business.
Let’s take the fitness industry as an example. Like any business, fitness centers need to stay current with the latest equipment, recruit new customers, and motivate existing customers to stick with them. But there are other issues, too, such as lack of industry regulation, leading to inconsistencies in trainer experience and qualifications, and competition from non-traditional sources, such as apps and wearables.
How might this knowledge help you? Say you sell fitness equipment. To address the market issues with inconsistent trainer experience and expertise, you might develop a training course offered at no charge with purchase. After completing the course, trainers would receive a professional certification that fitness clubs could promote.
Your marketing copy might look something like this:
Set yourself apart from “the other guys.” Get the most advanced fitness equipment available, PLUS professional training certifications.
Or, knowing the challenges faced from fitness apps, you can use it to create hard-hitting marketing copy:
Five Reasons Our Fitness Equipment Beats an App!
Knowing your customers’ vertical market also helps you speak their language. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should have a basic understanding of industry terms so you can follow the discussion and ask pertinent questions. If you are selling into the investment market, for example, will you have to stop the conversation to ask what EBITDA stands for? Knowing basic terminology not only says “I know your business,” but it shows a basic respect for the client.
The extra effort taken to understand your customers’ market verticals speaks volumes to your clients about their value to you. It also raises you above the level of commodity suppliers, reduces price sensitivity, and creates a stickiness to the relationship that can be invaluable.
So study up!