Improving Sales Performance | Targeting a Vertical Market

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Vertical targeting is one of the most effective ways to capture a focused, intent-driven audience. You can use specific messaging tailored for that segment and curate the content to cater to your target market’s unique needs and interests.

In this episode of Improving Sales Performance, John Matthews, President and CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc., shares his insight on targeting a vertical market to improve an organization’s sales performance.

A True Consulting Expert

John Matthews is the president and CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises and is responsible for the management of all consulting activities for the firm. He has 25 years of experience in retail management which includes marketing and operations management; category management; mergers and acquisitions; facilities management; and real estate and corporate communications in a spectrum of industries, including quick service restaurant, convenience store operations, and general retail. 

In recent years, Matthews has consulted companies like Quiznos, Sylvan Learning Centers, Starbucks, Global Partners, Potbelly Sandwiches, The Body Shop, Deluxe, Hungry Howie’s Pizza, and Burt’s Bees in both marketing and operations functions. 

His views have appeared in various newspapers and industry trade publications including The New York Times, Convenience Store Decisions, Brandweek, Convenience Store News, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, and others. In addition, Matthews has written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and How to Stage a Killer Grand Opening!  His latest book, Game Changing Strategies for Retailers is now on Amazon. Improving Sales Performance Series

Optimizing Marketplace Opportunities

Founded in 2004, Gray Cat Enterprises helps businesses at the exact right time and bring them what they need by focusing on three services:

  • Strategic planning for companies
  • Larger companies – senior project management
  • Interim executive management

One vertical that Gray Cat targets is the convenience store (c-store) industry. During the pandemic and following the pandemic, Matthews states that c-stores are in a position to optimize on marketplace opportunities.

During the broadcast, he explains what he means by that statement. “C-Stores were in a unique position because they were deemed essential. They were still open and able to sell gasoline and products. When people were afraid to go to the grocery store, the convenient store was the quick in-and-out, so they didn’t have to spend a lot of time in one location.”

Where c-stores really shined and performed well during the pandemic is the food service industry. Due to restaurants being closed, c-stores with a credible food service operation were at a huge advantage and gained what Matthews called a “share of stomach.” People wanted to eat, and c-stores were (and still are) a convenient option for them.

C-stores created a new habit for consumers by pivoting and adapting. Many began to offer drive-thru services, grab and go, and pick-up options to make it easier for consumers to come in and feel same. “They really raised the bar in terms of safety, cleanliness, and sanitation,” states Matthews.

Key Trends in the C-Store Category

A key trend that Matthews has seen for years in the c-store category is food service. “If you walk into a c-store, you don’t want a frozen burrito when you can go to Chipotle a get a fresh one,” explained Matthews. “People want quality food; freshly made.”

The bar has slowly been rising at c-stores, and they now have to go through metamorphosis to get into the food service industry and be credible. They must break through the barrier and find a way for consumers to say, “They have fantastic food!”

Tune in now for the perfect example from a listener who commented during the show!

How Can Businesses Use LinkedIn More Effectively? 

The short answer: You must establish relationships for the long-haul.

During the broadcast, Matthews gives several examples of how LinkedIn taught him how to branch out. As an earlier adopter to LinkedIn (a member since 2005), he quickly realized that his reach was not confined to the city limits.

He states that he’s done business in 17 different states, and he landed one of his best client relationships on LinkedIn. With just a quick message stating what he did, followed by a 10-minute conversation and a credible profile – Matthews turned a “cold-call” into a long-lasting relationship.

If you’re a professional who wants to branch out as a thought leader in your industry, LinkedIn is an excellent place to gain visibility, demonstrate your credibility or expertise, and create valuable discussions within your industry’s community.30 Tips to Use LinkedIn for B2B Lead Generation

Improve Sales Performance by Targeting a Vertical Market

Recently published on Gray Cat Enterprises blog is an article, “Targeting a Vertical Market,” which is loaded with great ideas – one being improving sales performance by targeting a vertical market.

Within the article, Matthews advice is to:

  • Get to know the industry association
  • Introduce yourself to the trade media
  • write and publish relevant industry blogs
  • Broaden you network on LinkedIn with the vertical
  • Highlight current/previous work in the vertical
  • Prospect to the vertical

Tune in now for a more in-depth discussion on this topic.

Don’t miss another episode of the Improving Sales Performance series where Managing Partner Matt Sunshine speaks with thought leaders, experts, and industry gurus, who share their insight, tips, and knowledge on various topics that help companies improve sales performance.  

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