Vertical Niching: Going Small To Grow Big and Win a Slice of the Market
June 9, 2022
⌚ 5 min read
→ Your growth practice
Narrow down your offer by focusing on a specific vertical of the market.
→ Quick explanation
An ever-growing competition.
For example, the MarTech industry includes nowadays almost 10,000 products worldwide—24% more than in 2020.
From 2011 to 2022, the MarTech industry experienced a 6,521% growth in terms of new companies and solutions.
You may choose to survive the red ocean by:
Creating a new category. For example, Drift is a well-known example, as the company built the “conversational marketing” category to compete with other chatbot platforms.
Competing in a horizontal market, although this strategy is a lost cause if you don’t have enough resources.
Luckily though, there’s a smarter way to overcome the ever-growing competition.
Focus on a specific industry. Move away from breadth growth, and work on in-depth growth. Leverage the opportunities a vertical can offer and:
Build your brand authority inside an industry
Connect with the main stakeholders and thought leaders
Become the main provider of the biggest industry players
► Quick note: SaaS companies may focus on multiple verticals in some cases. That’s a common strategy, especially if you have the resources to meet the needs of different industries and sectors of the economy.
📓 Horizontal market (breadth): A product meets the needs and requirements of buyers across different industries, trades, and sectors of the economy. For example, a project management platform is suitable for professionals from areas such as:
📓 Vertical market (depth): A market that focuses on a specific industry, trade, or economic sector.
→ Types of Vertical Niching
Product-wise: A product that meets the needs and requirements of buyers from one specific industry. For example, a company may develop a product fully aligned with the eCommerce industry, which can’t be used outside its vertical.
Business-wise: A business’ choice of aligning a general product with a specific industry, trade, or economic sector. For example, a company may decide to develop project management software for professionals from the education sector only. Although people from other industries can use the platform, the company specifically focuses on the education sector.
→ Your growth opportunities
Position yourself as a brand authority within one vertical and differentiate yourself from the horizontal competition.
Get to know the specific needs and requirements a vertical/industry may have. Subsequently, improve your product vision, adding must-have features and functionalities. Also, tweak your communication and marketing campaigns to connect better with the vertical stakeholders.
Craft the right messages to connect with your audience.
Attract high-quality leads and prospects.
Dominate your slice of the market by engaging with vertical stakeholders and leaders.
Have better results with a word-of-mouth strategy. After all, it’s easier to get people to engage and talk about your product when operating inside a vertical than in a horizontal, where your customers may have no reason to connect with each other or share their thoughts about your platform.
Save your team’s time and effort by letting them focus on doing a few things exceptionally well instead of doing lots of things poorly. For example, when you try to develop a SaaS product to make it “appealing” for all industries, your software may become too complicated and less functional. When you’re working inside a vertical, though, you get to know its particularities and start improving your product according to its needs, tweaking details and adding only the necessary.
→ Case examples
>> Mason, a content management platform
Masondeveloped a content toolkit for eCommerce professionals. The company offers content blocks, such as CTAs and Bundles, tailored specifically for the eCommerce industry.
>> Paddle, a payment and tax infrastructure
Although it’s a payment system that can be used by anyone who sells online, Paddle decided to focus on the SaaS industry only.
>> MyCase, a productivity and management platform
MyCase developed software for attorneys and law firms, allowing them to:
Engage with clients
Send invoices and receive payments
Overall, the platform provides a management solution for running a business. However, it is fully aligned (in terms of product and messaging) with the needs of attorneys and law firms.
>> Contentsquare, a digital experience platform
Contentsquare works with stakeholders from multiple industries, such as:
Travel and Hospitality
The company’s home page provides a broad perspective on the product.
However, Contentsquare also offers detailed explanations, numbers, and case studies based on vertical.
>> Sleeknote, a popup builder
Sleeknote offers a broad solution anyone can use. However, the company is centered on multiple verticals, such as:
Fashion and Apparel
Health and Beauty
Furniture and Decor
Travel and Tourism
That’s an excellent example of multi-niching and how to segment your messaging based on verticals.
→ What to consider?
Can I offer my product to multiple verticals? Or is it suitable for a specific vertical only?
If my product works for multiple sectors of economies, which vertical is most profitable and easier to access?
How do I enter the industry?
Do I know industry leaders that work within the vertical I’ve chosen? If so, how can I approach them and get them to collaborate with my brand?
Your product must be suitable for a specific vertical.
You must be flexible in changing your product vision to better fit your sector’s needs. Let’s say you’re providing a project management tool suitable for everyone. However, you may discover specific product requirements your vertical has.
→ Your action framework
📒 How to niche/choose your vertical when you:
Didn’t launch your product yet
Have access to multiple industries
✅ Before choosing a vertical, ask yourself the following questions:
What’s the vertical you know best (thanks to your previous professional endeavors)?
Do you have special expertise and knowledge regarding a specific vertical?
Do you know influential stakeholders that may help you enter a particular vertical?
What vertical is closer to your product’s vision?
On which vertical did you test your product?
The answer to these questions will help you identify which vertical to consider when niching.
📒 How to niche/choose your vertical when you:
Launched your product
Have customers from multiple verticals
✅ Make a list of your existing customers.
✅ Identify your customers’ verticals/industries.
✅ Check the revenue each vertical brought into the pipeline.
✅ Focus on the vertical that contributed to your profit the most.
For example, you may discover that you’re customers are content creators from verticals such as:
Real estate industry
However, after crunching the numbers, you realize that most of your customers are from the tech industry, generating the most significant chunk of your revenue.
As a result, you can choose to narrow down and focus on the tech industry, adjusting your product vision and marketing campaign to this vertical’s particularities.
📒 How to access a new vertical?
✅ Get to know the industry stakeholders. You can do that by:
Launching a podcast and inviting them as your guests
Running events and inviting them as speakers
✅ Get featured on industry podcasts, events, and webinars.
✅ Go to trade shows and engage in one-on-one networking sessions with industry buyers.
✅ Work to attract important industry names as your clients. Once you’ve added a few vertical brands to your customers’ list, you’ll have enough social proof to gain the trust of other stakeholders.
► Quick note: To attract relevant brands as your clients, you may want to offer discounts and discuss special contract terms with them.
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