Many leaders of disruptive and innovative companies are underestimating the potential of what marketing can do. They carry definitions based on an existing market dynamic. While experiencing growth and customer validation, sometimes companies underestimate how their own data and customer insights can reshape a category and position them as leaders.
Ladies and gentlemen, if the product and solution-set are innovative in a substantial capacity via new efficiencies, addressing serious pain-points and representative of an overall leap, category ownership should be considered as a key focus in marketing and PR. To own a category has tremendous capacity to create momentum and drive brand value.
Owning a category is not one single marketing initiative: It’s a confluence of all the elements of marketing coming together.
What goes into category ownership? Here’s a look at the essential ingredients.
Independent Vision: To own a category, companies must have a crystal-clear narrative of the value proposition and its relationship to customer pain-points – and sometimes that narrative stands as a total repositioning of commonly agreed upon concepts within the analyst or media community. Vision and deep conviction about what the market needs and what the solution can do are essential.
Data & Logic: Let us not forget that the conviction and narrative that pours from that vision must be rooted in data and logic. First, the solution-set must move a category and there must be evidence on its ability to deliver a quantitative advancement. Second, the solution-set must be rooted in a logic within the category and its specific trends. This means the framework of the narrative should encompass a fusion of influencers and industry context to support why, at this time and in this place, the product or solution-set is a category game-changer.
Next-Level Owned Content: If a sector is being redefined, it means new content is required as tools to communicate the innovation and value. It may mean a demo app that has programmers busy for months. It may mean a product video animation and production that costs tens of thousands of dollars. It may mean a pivotal ePaper reexamining or reexplaining a market solution ecosystem. It may mean marketing and account leadership are working arm-and-arm to draw out data for use cases and examples. It may mean companies have to recreate all their branding because it does not capture the new inflection of innovation. It may mean marketing is coordinating all of the above. To own a category companies often have to translate vision, data, and logic into distilled narratives that break down the argument and position it for target audiences.
An Aggressive PR Campaign: Category ownership campaigns focus more on domination in a pivotal segment of media than they do incremental validation. While they may start at validation, the goal is to garner momentum and have multiple layers of coverage by the majority of the media relevant to the solution-set and sector. Typically, these campaigns are a combination of product thought leadership and extremely engaging product announcements with tactics including video press releases, media tours and intense amounts of media outreach. The goal is to associate a company’s name and product or solution-set with the category and reframe the category in context of the company’s advancement of it.
This is a systematic, multi-month process of reaching every relevant expert reporter and presenting the argument.
Sometimes targeted reporters engage right away because the advancement aligns with their own observations of the sector, but often it requires meeting them at their office, or a Starbucks, and walking them through the data and the logic. Reporters are highly intelligent and often skeptical, but they are also curious and interested in what’s next or ahead.
Category ownership is feasible for companies in complex sectors who are truly innovating in their market. To be successful, executives have a multilayered strategy to execute with partners that can deliver results.