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Have you ever wondered why some start-ups succeed, and others who seemingly have more to offer fail? There could be hundreds of answers to that question, but in many cases it falls down to specificity. When people want something, they typically have a pretty good idea of what they want.

For example, you wouldn’t walk into a sports store with the intention of buying a ball. You would walk in with the intention of buying a certain type of ball. This specificity is what drives consumers and in the end, can mean the difference between success and failure for a business.

If you haven’t heard of horizontal distribution before, it is very similar to the concept mentioned above. Instead of searching for a company name, you search for a type of product for which you’re looking. You may not necessarily be looking for Wilson sports equipment, but if you see a football made by Wilson that fits your budget, you’re going to be interested.

Even if you have a great business idea and you’ve got the drive to market it effectively, if you are going to do it in general terms, you might not do as well as you think.

Let’s look at several different ways that horizontal distribution can be effective when it comes to getting consumers interested.

Horizontal Distribution Of Products

You’ve started your new business and you’re in the process of optimizing your site and gearing up to promote what you have to offer. Returning to our example above, do you simply market your site as the “sporting goods store” or do you delve deeper and start talking about what you have to offer?

So, let’s say your sporting goods store sells a lot of different sports products, but your main specialty is your NFL gear. Instead of relying on a generic URL and keyword set around your company name and your mainstay, sporting goods, you could branch out. Add in a URL designed around your NFL gear. Optimize for keywords that relate to that specialty.

Horizontal Distribution Of Apps

Let’s say you have a news app that does pretty well. You’re scoring well in search results for “news” and you get a lot of attention from users looking for the exact name of the app. Do you stop there? Or do you find new, horizontal ways to bring in more traffic. Instead of having just the one app, you could launch a second app that is totally dedicated to sports news. Now you’ve opened up the door to two totally different markets and users. Add in another app for fashion news. See how it works? By moving horizontally to target these key niches, you are going above and beyond your original idea.

You’re making your company more discoverable. You’re unlocking the door to potential users who are so specific in what they want, they aren’t looking at the big picture. If you don’t provide them a way to see that what you have to offer fits what they’re looking for, they will never find you.

Horizontal Distribution For Blogs

Does this technique work for blogs? You bet it does! For example, let’s say you have just written a blog post on search engine optimization. Of course, you’re going to want to promote that post using the main keyword, search engine optimization. But if you stop there, you are selling yourself short.

Go horizontal with your thinking. What type of SEO are you talking about in your blog? What are the other important things you’ve mentioned in that post? These are the keys to your promotion. When you tweet about your blog, try out different hashtags that fit into the horizontal distribution mode. Specify what you’re talking about and you’ll notice that you suddenly get a lot more attention.

Generalization is very easy to fall into, but taking a few minutes before you even write a post, to sit down and think about where you could take it, will not only make your writing more interesting, but it will also open up many more avenues for traffic.

How Do You Start?

If you’re thinking, this is great, where do I sign up, you are on the right track! The key to succeeding in horizontal distribution is going to be how well you research your keywords and what your audience really wants.

The first, researching the areas you want to target, is pretty easy. Start with your main keyword, and find your related keywords that are tied to your particular specialty. Pull up each one and see where they rank in popularity. Horizontal distribution can work with long-tail keywords, but you’re going to want to focus the majority of your efforts on the more popular keywords.

Now, how do you find out what people want? Asking them is the simplest answer. Get on social media, ask your current customers, offer surveys. Dig deeper into your competition and see what they are doing to attract new customers. If they’re not doing anything with horizontal distribution, you’re in luck! If they are, find out what areas they are targeting and how they are approaching their strategy. Learn from what they do and find a way to do it better.

You’re going to need to test a few different strategies to see just how specific you need to be. What you are trying to promote will largely determine just how specific you need to be, as will the extent of your competition. For example, if you are up against a thousand other apps in the same category, you may need to work a little harder to find the right path.

What Not To Do

It can be all too tempting to look at what horizontal distribution can do for your company and get a little too excited. While it’s perfectly fine to explore horizontal avenues for marketing, you don’t want to make the mistake of getting too carried away. For example, one popular home furnishing store attempted this in the past. They bought domain names for pretty much anything related to home furnishings in an effort to corner the market. Did it work? Sure, but in terms of managing that many properties and the overall cost, it’s only a good investment if you have the power to generate enough sales to cover it.

It’s far better to start your horizontal distribution small and focus on making that a success. Instead of spreading yourself too thin, you’ll be picking key areas to pay attention to and channeling your efforts more efficiently.
If you succeed and feel like tackling other horizontal areas, by all means do. But when you’re starting out, it is vital not to get overwhelmed and take on too much.

Putting It To Work

Now that you know how horizontal distribution works, it’s time to put it to use in your own company. Research your niche, pick one horizontal and test out what you’ve learned. It may take a few tries before you find the perfect combination, but don’t quit. Keep it small, keep it focused and you’ll keep your visitors rolling in.