Written by Amy Rowe

In January, I read a post by Tom Now about what he believed would be the 20 hottest Internet Marketing Trends for 2009. Over the last few months it has been fun to go back and take a closer look at some of the trends and how our clients and other small business owners are applying them.

As I looked at the list of twenty, it occurred to me that these three: Verticalization, (is this really a word? ) Personalization and the Long Tale are  so tightly related it made sense to look at them together.   All three begin with the definition of your customer, who they are, what they want.   The more you understand you niche, the easier it is to pursue these specific paths.

Now defines the three terms this way:

  • Trend # 14: Verticalization is the natural progression of many marketing channels, providing marketers an opportunity to communicate with a highly targeted audience. For example, if you are a shoe designer or retailer, think ShoeTube.tv instead of ouTube.com.
  • Trend #15: Personalization What customer wouldn’t prefer a customized product or solution vs. a generic, cookie-cutter version?
  • Trend #18: The Long Long Long Tail Chris Anderson coined the phrase “The Long Tail” to describe the strategy of businesses (e.g., Netflix) that sell a large number of items, each in relatively small quantities. The long tail represents an opportunity for small businesses to capture segments and sub-segments of any market. With the economic downturn, expect the long tail to get much longer as small businesses go after narrower and narrower niches towards the end of the tail.

The ability to leverage each of these trends is to embrace the idea, that everyone is not your customer. Once you do, it is easier to offer more personalization, and more variations for a narrower, and narrower niche.

Interestingly this same strategy will work off line as well. For example, my friend Dave, is an insurance agent for Farmers.  He can sell to anyone, but his sweet spot is restaurants.  He has researched different policies and understands which ones are most effective in that niche. Working with a restaurant owner, he can build the best coverage plan for that owner.  At the same time, it has given focus to his marketing efforts. Instead of trying to be everywhere, on  a limited budget, he is visible to this smaller audience on a more regular basis.  He has also surrounded himself with other professionals offering different services to the same niche.  The result a strong vertical pipeline in the Food Service industry, with multiple points of contact and opportunities for referrals.