I almost hate to admit it, but at RyanTech we stumbled on to one of our most profitable revenue streams…accidentally. We didn’t really realize the power of selling to verticals until we were doing it and doing well.
For many years, we were involved in the automotive sector, designing and selling software primarily to car dealers. I sold that piece of the business, but because I had such a large, established audience – 20,000 dealers – we started selling not only software and web development services but also Office 365 and email services to that market.
Excited about our success in the automotive industry, we decided to “go crazy,” and get into accounting, legal, and construction. We started with blanket emails, social media – we spread the message as far and fast as we could. And it failed miserably. We weren’t successful at all except at spending a lot of money.
It wasn’t until we stopped and looked back that we realized we did well marketing to the automotive industry because we had a deep understanding of the business. We knew the challenges, we understood the metrics for success – we spoke the language, and we had business-win stories to tell. The most successful pattern we had was choosing a vertical, learning the messaging, and running with it.
It takes time and work to learn to speak your customers’ language, but the goal is to have a sales process that looks more like a daily discussion on solving known industry needs rather than on features of the cloud products we represent. You can’t have that conversation if you don’t know their industry. We don’t try to be experts at the outset, we find industry insiders who can help us understand the vertical; we do a lot of asking and a lot of listening. And we get a great head start by using the resources Microsoft makes available to us.
In the Partner Marketing Center, there’s presentation material that’s broken down by vertical. Campaigns are specifically customized. We can go into product areas, target markets, we can choose the number of users or enter a vertical. From there, we can access videos, podcasts, white papers, data sheets, even email campaigns and templates. You can download presentations to load into your own PowerPoint, ready to be customized as you want. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to do your research on the vertical – you do. But these detailed campaigns, together with your knowledge of the vertical, gives you amazing marketing reach for a lot less time and money than you probably imagine.
We used to use an outside firm to handle our marketing, and after an initial meeting, they would take weeks to come back to us – and sometimes get the message completely wrong. Now we have Meghan. With Microsoft resources (and her own admittedly superhuman creative skills), we’re able to get out six marketing pieces a week. We get a much greater rate of return for much less expense because she’s able to customize existing marketing to fit our customers and our message.
Key takeaways? (Because we know Microsoft loves key takeaways…)
  1. Know your vertical
  2. Talk business – not product (And you can’t do this until you know the vertical)
  3. Use the resources that are out there (Hint: the wheel’s already been invented)
  4. Get a Meghan (But you can’t have ours)
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