Stuck in the middle
Ever since I began my working life in a bank, I’ve been fascinated by technology’s impact on what makes the world go round: money. In the last two decades, I’ve witnessed the evolution from passbook savings accounts to online banking, and, today, mobile.
As each of these new technologies developed, the major banks ultimately followed suit, but it took time. Technology companies had to help their financial services counterparts identify the challenges and opportunities; that’s no easy task.
Financial services is often considered one of many “vertical markets”. Others include healthcare, hospitality, legal, manufacturing and retail. And, like banking, each of these sectors is finding their own challenges and opportunities as technology evolves.
Now that every company is a technology company, it’s crucial to connect with these vertical markets.
Vertical programs are the best bridge between communications strategy and lead generation.
Five best practices to consider when building a vertical communications strategy:
- Be selective: Choose the vertical markets you want to invest communications capital in wisely. How innovative are the solutions aimed at each market? What kind of traction is your sales team already making? How strong are your proof points and success stories? Prioritize the verticals with the most measureable impact and stay focused.
- Build around your customers: Learn from your strongest customer advocates. How are they winning with your solutions? What are their pain points? Where do they see technology taking their industry in the next 5-10 years? Apply those insights to your program to build compelling points of view.
- Create great content: Once you’ve developed points of view, creating content that is easily consumed and provocative is essential. Without it, your messages will fall flat.
- Connect the dots: Break down the silos between communications and marketing. One is not there to simply serve the other’s tactical needs. Strategies must become fully integrated. Align your media engagement with your marketing campaigns to tell the story about your specific solution and overall brand.
- Immerse yourself: You can’t just “do” vertical PR with a press release and a fact sheet. You must get deeply immersed in what makes leaders in each industry tick. Be curious about the challenges your prospects are facing. Build communications strategies for the problems your brand is helping to solve. Know who the influencers are in each space and what they’re talking about. Then talk with them, not at them.
Communicating with vertical markets in a deliberate and direct way, with content that is compelling and targeted, will help you reach the decision makers that matter most.
Break down the silos. Build the bridge. Get integrated. Go vertical!