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August 9, 2023

4 Tips for Identifying Vertical Market Opportunities

# Vertical Markets

Help for determining the right target markets for your print business

According to a recent survey of 100 print providers by consultancy Keypoint Intelligence, printers increasingly are recognizing the benefits of vertical marketing and focusing their products and services on select industries. Sixty-two of 100 respondents said they had a vertical market focus.

From most to least popular, top industries targeted by surveyed print providers were education, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, financial and insurance.

The Blend of Vertical Marketing & Print 

In its simplest terms, “vertical marketing” means tailoring an organization’s sales, products and marketing efforts to a specific industry. This specialization allows organizations to focus their marketing efforts and production resources where they are likely to have the greatest impact. Doing so can yield several advantages.

Essentially, who you are trying to reach is a precursor of what you are trying to say. So, if who you are trying to reach is anyone who possibly might buy your products and services, your messaging is more likely to seem generic to end users. Conversely, if you’re targeting buyers in specific industries where you are working to establish credibility and a successful track record, your messaging is more likely to get noticed (and get results).

The good news: According to Keypoint Intelligence, print is being used widely across industries to support customer acquisition, create brand awareness, retain customers, build customer loyalty, notify customers and generate leads. In the education market, top applications for print are (in order) direct mail, sales and marketing collateral, and newsletters. 

How to Determine the Right Target Markets

Targeting select markets rather than pursuing all types of customers requires effort to carefully select and evaluate potential industries. Determining the industries that offer the best opportunities begins with evaluating and analyzing current customers, industries under consideration, and the ability to serve an industry.

Here are Keypoint Intelligence's four key tips for selecting the best industries to pursue:

1. Review your current customer base. 

It’s a good starting point. Answers to the following questions can serve as a foundation for identifying the best vertical markets to target:

  1. Who are current customers?
  2. Where are is the organization successful today? Which customers are the most profitable, and what markets do they represent?
  3. What are the characteristics of the most profitable accounts?
  4. What do customers buy and why?
  5. Can more be sold to current customers?

2. Quantify the opportunity.

A key component of identifying industries to target is qualifying and quantifying the opportunity. Is the opportunity large enough and profitable enough to justify the resources required to purse the industry? This requires profiling and learning about the markets under consideration. 

Key aspects to consider include…

  1. Industry size 
  2. Growth rate 
  3. Competition serving the market
  4. Brand loyalty of customers 
  5. Sales potential 
  6. Anticipated margins 
  7. Market stability 

3. Determine your ability to serve the market.

Map your service offerings to the markets they’re best equipped to serve. Perhaps your organization is best suited for financial printing by delivering full-color 401(k) statements, or maybe its specialty is providing the manufacturing industry with web-to-print support for franchises. The purpose of target marketing is to satisfy customer needs better than the competition so that what a company sells has more value and its sales are more profitable.

Key questions to consider include…

  1. Does the industry have unique needs that an organization can meet and add value to?
  2. How do products and services benefit customers in the market?
  3. What differentiates a company’s offering from the competition? 
  4. Are technological investments or additional staff members required? (Will current sales and marketing approaches succeed in engaging the market?)
  5. What does the competitive landscape look like? (Do any competitors produce similar applications and/or target this vertical market?)

4. Get engaged in the vertical market itself.

Penetrating a vertical market requires deep understanding of its nuances and trends. 

It is important to join the industry associations and organizations that serve customers. These groups provide a venue to learn about the industry as well as an opportunity to meet sales prospects. Industry organizations also host education and networking events. These events may offer speaking opportunities for firms that are seeking to position themselves as experts. Getting involved provides access to key individuals that can feed the sales pipeline and help guide product and service offerings.

One print leader who successfully targeted the food and beverage market before recently retiring bought booth space at natural products trade shows and devoured industry publications like Dessert Professional to gain inspiration and ideas.

For your business, perhaps “getting engaged” means following state insurance regulations, creating thought-leadership blogs and video posts about education marketing trends, or introducing loyalty card programs to hospitality clients. Consider holding webinars to discuss industry trends you’re noticing, or start a social media group to discuss common challenges in the market.

Targeting vertical markets is an important strategy for driving sales and efficiently using resources. Success requires focusing on the best industries to target and a strong commitment by your leadership. 


With some planning and effort, you might find that prospects come to you instead of the other way around.

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