Horizontal VS Vertical Growth


When we think about scaling our creative businesses the typical advice is to do MORE of what’s working. Go to the moon they say. Go vertical they say. In fact, we should be going horizontal. Let me explain.

Going vertical in our business means "doing the same but more.” If we make videos for landscaping companies we might be advised to prospect EVERY landscaping company in the city, and then the state, and then the country. This conventional method absolutely works, but it typically hits a point of atrophy where you’ve exhausted your target market without any room for creative freedom.

The second path to grow your business is to look horizontally. This means finding prospects that are closely related to your existing customers. If I make videos for landscapers, why can’t I make videos for general contractors, interior designers, or architects? These businesses are closely related because they all rely on forms of “art” in their business, and sell direct to consumer.

We’ve found at our agency Cafeteria, and in teaching others at The-Codex.com that it’s much easier to think in terms of “look-alikes” when prospecting new customers.

Look at the past work that you’ve done and make a list of similar businesses in closely related industries. Think hard about what your existing customers do, who they serve, what problems they solve and most likely there will be a garden full of similar companies you never thought to approach.

The truth is, potential clients want the confidence in knowing that you’ve done similar work for similar companies. It’s harder to sell a dentist your creative services you if the only work you’ve done is for scuba schools. Conversely, if you’ve done work for a plastic surgeon, getting the dentist to jump on a 15-minute phone call with you is a much easier proposition.

Expanding horizontally can open your mind up to new market possibilities, while also making the barrier to entry much smoother.

Brett Morris