I was talking to a customer this afternoon about positioning and category creation after he read this article on strategy. He was fairly blunt in what he thought of me: Steve Jobs would have thought me an idiot and I should take myself off and read the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. As it happened I’d read the Al Ries back in the day and it was also on my 2017 reading list.
Positioning and Category Creation
Our disagreement was simple. He believed that I did not understand the category that he was trying to create and the position that he wanted to occupy in that category. As it happened I do. It’s a powerful position that he wants to create in the customers mind. I believe it. The issue is far more about how we get from where we are now to being established as the leader of a new category.
Creating New Categories
As my client pointed out to me an entrepreneur has to approach creating a new category totally differently to launching a new product. A product has fairly standard tools to get itself established. Look up digital marketing and you will see a raft of them. In contrast a new category can be created in one way and one way alone. That is by selling the idea.
I have a dream
Martin Luther King stood up and sold his dream of racial equality. Marc Benioff stood up and sold his dream of
Selling the Dream
There are different ways of selling the dream of a new category. You can use speeches, books, blogs and tweets. In fact you can use anything that inspires people to change. The core is that you have to be reaching out to your tribe of followers and asking them to believe. As they believe and you believe a new category starts to be born. As the mother of it you then move into the position in the consumer’s mind.
Positioning and category creation is first of all about creating the dreamspace in people’s minds. They will not do that unprompted. To abuse the UK patent test. The dream is not something that the man on the clapham omnibus would ever naturally think of. That’s what makes you and it special.
Creating a New Category Starts with Creating a New Thought Leader
The dream has to be crafted, optimised and distributed. The second two are technical aspects of the marketers tool kit. Modern marketing knows how to identify an audience, reach it and convert it. It doesn’t know how to create new categories. It does know how to create a thought leader who can espouse the need for a new category. That is a tried and tested path that any entrepreneur can follow even if he is doing something utterly and entirely unique. If he does not make himself into a thought leader he does so at his own risk, and that of his new category.