A Practical Approach to Going Vertical

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

Essential tips on how to transform your business using a segment specific GTM approach

As part of my continuing series on solution oriented go-to-market (GTM) strategy, I felt it worthwhile to spend some time on market segmentation. As previously outlined, a solutions-oriented approach relies on an outside-in perspective, starting from customer needs and mapping them back to your offering capabilities in order to amplify your marketing and channel investments and accelerate sales. And, one highly recommended approach for realizing this is to leverage your partner channel. In all cases, however, it’s critical to understand that your customers’ needs will vary by segment and, in order for your GTM efforts to land effectively, they must be tailored to the customer segments you target.

By customer segment, what I mean is a logical grouping of customers that: a) have common needs that are unique to the segment, and b) are reached via common communications and GTM channels. Customer segments may be defined by geography or by company size, but one useful way of defining customer segments is by the vertical in which they operate. Common examples include Manufacturing, Financial Services, or Health Care.

In order to optimize your GTM investment, it’s always best to package your value proposition and messaging within the context a customer will understand, in this case within the context of a particular vertical solution. By doing so it eliminates the need for your customer to figure out how your product can deliver business outcomes to them. Further, the way you reach customers can vary by vertical, so you may need to invest in the development of vertical-specific communications and delivery channels.

And yet, your company may serve dozens of verticals and it can be difficult, if not outright impossible, for you to acquire the expertise and knowledge – not to mention the time and resources – to develop segment-specific messaging and GTM channels for every vertical your company services.

Here are some useful techniques we employ to help our clients navigate this dilemma.

Horizontal bar graph showing comparative sales in percentages across different verticals
Example Percentage of Sales by Vertical
  1. Spend time sizing your customer base according to vertical segments. Be sure to define the segments carefully – again, groups of customers with common needs and channels. And, consider not just historical sales data, but also potential future growth, and possibly also strategic areas of focus for your company. What you will end up with is a chart that looks something like that shown above.

  2. Work hard to understand your customers’ pain points, needs, and aspirations in each of the top 2-3 priority verticals that you’ve selected. And from that understanding build out value propositions and messaging that is customized to those needs. Be sure to understand how to reach the customers in each segment and customize your communications and GTM channels as well.

  3. Finally, remember that for all of the remaining verticals outside of your top 2-3 priorities, you can rely on your existing “horizontal” (i.e., non-segment specific) value propositions messaging and GTM strategy to continue to service them. Your sales team will have to work a little harder to fill the gap, and you can also shift some of the burden onto your partners.

A vertically targeted messaging/GTM approach will allow you to accelerate sales in your top priority segments, but it does not replace your horizontal GTM which will continue to serve the balance of your customers. Rather, you should think about balancing your marketing budget across the vertical and horizontal approaches, as illustrated below:

Horizontal bar graph showing comparative sales in percentages across different verticals, separated into two categories of horizontal and vertical strategies across go-to-market time invested
Example Percentage of Sales by Vertical, Segmented by GTM Investment

One final word of warning to avoid a potential pitfall of a vertical GTM approach. Many marketing and partner professionals fall into the common trap of defining government or public sector as a single vertical segment. Beware – government agencies vary dramatically depending on the geography in which they operate, the level of their jurisdiction (federal, state/regional, or local), and by the agency type (defense, revenue, education, etc.). Be sure to take special care in how you define and organize your approach to your government customers.

Related Content

Part 1: Optimize your Go-to-Market Through Solutions

Part 2: Turn your Partner Channel into a Solutions Factory

About the Author

Andy Lauta is a Partner at Digital Bridge Partners and has deep experience in strategy development in operations, product management, product marketing, and business development in the IT industry. He has 15+ years of successfully delivering solutions related to 3D technology, cloud services, desktop and mobile software, GTM strategy, technology platforms, and developer engagement across enterprise, small business, K-12, and consumer solutions and channels.

If you’d like to learn more, contact Andy at

About Digital Bridge Partners

Based on industry best practices refined over many years of practical application, Digital Bridge Partners has developed vertical GTM strategies – including vertically targeted value proposition, messaging, and content as well as vertically focused GTM and partner channels – that have transformed the GTM approach of some of the world’s largest software and cloud services companies.

Learn more at

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