Vertical Marketing Makeovers are More Than a Cosmetic Fix

While vertical marketing continues to be an integral strategy across industries, many marketers often approach it as a cosmetic fix rather than focusing on the mindshift that needs to occur to make it a success. Due to constrained budgets, stretched resources and lack of time, vertical or industry marketing is often treated as a repackaging exercise that involves simply incorporating some key buzzwords, appropriate visuals and relatable case studies. 

In reality, developing a vertical market strategy is a lengthy and esoteric exercise that requires research, analysis and a multifaceted understanding of the specific vertical industry a company is approaching. It also requires a commitment to put resources behind creating a two-way dialogue with industry leaders that taps into opportunities for sales professionals. As markets mature and manufacturers focus on increasing share of voice, developing a niche that is both practical and profitable is essential to future growth. 

In our post-COVID world of remote work and declining print volume, developing a vertical marketing strategy is imperative for all companies addressing print, document, and information management. While some in this sector are branching out into adjacent areas or doubling down on differentiating themselves, a sounder approach may be to cultivate true industry expertise first and then identify appropriate product synergies. 

This allows businesses to reinvent their approach to vertical markets with an emphasis on helping industries adopt technology with greater ease, addressing the ever-changing world of cybersecurity, and staying ahead of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world in which we currently reside.  

So how do you do vertical marketing right? 

The first step is understanding how a complex and comprehensive product mix uniquely meets each industry’s challenges. The vertical markets of yesterday have been completely transformed in the last two years. By identifying how hybrid and remote work, rapid technology adoption and the need for greater consumer transparency drive the way data and documents will be used in the future, companies of all sizes can explore untapped markets. 

Let’s look at how the healthcare, legal and education verticals have been deeply impacted by the events of the past two years. 

Healthcare

Healthcare has always been a unique and multi-faceted vertical with specific, complex and highly regulated print and document workflow needs. Prior to the pandemic, the consolidation in healthcare made it highly likely that most large hospitals and health systems had costly print infrastructure in place. COVID-19 reinforced the need to simplify these investments and support greater security and cost control measures while helping healthcare IT professionals evolve their roles from technology maintenance to technology leadership. 

The introduction of additional HIPAA requirements and regulations that reward organizations for taking stronger cybersecurity measures and support greater price transparency are opportunities to revisit endpoint security and process efficiencies. As healthcare organizations continue to be targeted by malicious actors that want to access PHI, PII and sensitive data shared with government agencies, FedRAMP authorized cloud solutions may need to be considered. 

The administrative burden in healthcare continues to be a challenge that has only been exacerbated by labor shortages. Time consuming revenue cycle management processes from patient registration to prior authorizations can be streamlined with workflow management software and AI-powered processes that can index, classify and extract key information for regulatory purposes. 

Healthcare IT continues to evolve to support this essential sector. 

Education 

The advent of remote learning during the pandemic transformed our perspective of where and how learning can be accomplished. In a post-COVID world, educators are more aware than ever of the role technology can play in improving learning outcomes, creating a more personalized student experience, and reaching key audiences. At the same time, administrators are tasked with simplifying technology adoption; protecting sensitive and personally identifiable information; and using new and traditional teaching aides to engage students in lifelong learning. 

In both K-12 and higher education, a robust portfolio of printers, production equipment, cameras and projectors can empower educators to enhance existing curricula with innovative technologies that spark creativity. Introducing large format printers in school district in-plants can help reduce the costs associated with developing colorful teaching aides, posters and other instructional materials. Media classes can incorporate digital cameras and recording equipment to create orientation videos, school news programs, and more. 

In addition, color and monochrome multifunction devices that enable mobile printing and integrate with intelligent grading software, common applications, and existing student information systems can support and enhance the teaching experience across campuses and school district units. 

Legal

The pandemic forced the legal industry to be more cognizant of maintaining business continuity when faced with shutdowns. While rapid technology adoption helped law firms of all sizes recover and reboot their operations in a virtual world, the legal industry’s ability to attract talent now depends on the continued availability of hybrid and remote work models. In order to experience continued success, law firms of all sizes must simplify workflows, control and monitor access to sensitive information and adopt technology that meets the needs of an increasingly collaborative world of work.

Process efficiencies remain important in this vertical, particularly for small to mid-sized firms that might not be able to afford the most expensive practice-management software. Client portals, automated client intake, online payment systems and eSignature have been shown to help law firms increase revenue and improve client service. 

Supporting good information governance means that law firms of all sizes need to do a better job of tracking and auditing print wherever it occurs — even when remote workers may need to print a significant volume of documents in home environments. As meeting technology continues to evolve, lawyers need to explore new ways of replicating in-person meeting environments in a digital world of collaboration. The ability to provide a seamless remote and in-person experience when working with clients and partners in different geographies is going to be a key differentiator in this space.

To that end, dealers need to find the support they need to help identify the key markets where their company excels and re-imagine how their offerings fit into those areas in unique ways. By partnering with truly vertical-focused manufacturers, dealers can not only gain a better understanding of the product-industry connection but also acquire the skills and knowledge to have complex conversations that result in closed deals. 

Madhu Bhawnani-Dutta
Madhu Bhawnani-Dutta, Canon U.S.A.
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Madhu Bhawnani-Dutta is marketing advisor for Canon U.S.A.