Seth Godin wrote lately a brief post titled: “Horizontal marketing isn’t a new idea.”

“But it is the new reality for just about every organization.

Vertical marketing means the marketer (the one with money) is in charge. Vertical marketing starts at the top and involves running ads, sending out direct mail and pushing hype through the media. Your money, your plans, your control. It might not work, but generally the worst outcome is that you will be ignored and need to spend more money.

Horizonal marketing, on the other hand, means creating a remarkable product and story and setting it up to spread from person to person. It’s out of your control, because all the interactions are by passionate outsiders, not paid agents.

Most marketers instinctively want control. We reach for the budget and the ad and the press release and most of all, the powerful media middleman. We buy SuperBowl ads or shmooze the reporter.

Horizontal marketing, though, requires giving up control. We spend all of our time and money on a great story and a great service and a remarkable offering. The rest is up to the market itself. You can’t control this, and you can no longer ignore it either.”


I do admire Seth Godin but I don’t agree with him. Successful marketers don’t choose between ¬†either horizontal or vertical marketing. Successful marketers deploy a combination of both. The iPad is an amazing product that is the perfect example for horizontal marketing. Trust me, Apple would love to save money on advertising if they didn’t have to. But they do. Horizontal marketing only gets you so far. You need vertical marketing to get further.

The good news for brands is that you need less money to deploy the full power of paid media to get the most benefits out of owned and earned media. The even better news is when you develop the perfect mix of paid, owned and earned media you get the maximum benefits out of vertical and horizontal marketing.