Back in 2016, The Marketing Journal interviewed Christopher Lochhead on the subject of Category Design. Here’s how he explained the concept:
“The best companies don’t just invent something to sell us. They are not making products or services that just incrementally improve on whatever came before. They don’t sell us better. The most exciting companies sell us different. They introduce the world to a new category of product or service.”
At the time, we dubbed Christopher Lochhead “one of the best minds in marketing.”
Fast forward to 2022, and that hasn’t changed. What has? Lochhead has built a team – with Eddie Yoon and Nicolas Cole – called the Category Pirates. The pirates (ahoy) have created two “must read” books, along with a “must have” subscription to their weekly thoughts (and rants) on all things category-design.
The pirates explain:
“Fortune 500 companies have the hardest time understanding category design as a growth strategy. They are conservative for a reason. They have “stuff” to conserve. That “stuff” is everything from existing market share to quarterly company profits to investor relationships to balance sheet optics. In most large companies (and in many existing smaller companies as well), executives get paid to “Not screw things up.”
The unfortunate reality is that the fear of losing what ground they have today is greater than the exponential value that could be generated by embracing category innovation tomorrow. These companies live out their days bound (like hostages) to the tyranny of quarterly expectations, trying to convince themselves, their employees, and their shareholders there is still “a bit more juice left in the squeeze.”
For those of you who thought category design was simply another marketing fad, we’ve got news for you: category design is the single-most important tool for value creation in business today.
The Category Design Toolkit: Beyond Marketing: 15 Frameworks For Creating & Dominating Your Niche
You aren’t going to like hearing this, but marketing has changed: branding comes second to category design.
This book (buy now) teaches you:
- How to objectively measure whether you and your company are creating a new category versus competing in someone else’s (existing) category.
- How to prosecute The Magic Triangle: product design, company/business model design, and category design.
- How to find your Superconsumers, and leverage Superconsumer data to discover new potential categories.
- How to engineer a category breakthrough (even if you think your industry is “too saturated” or “all the good ideas are taken”).
- The importance of being a missionary versus a mercenary—and why mercenary entrepreneurs and executives unknowingly compete over 24% of the market.
- The 8 category differentiation levers, and all the ways you can create a defensible moat around your business.
- How you can apply category creation & category design principles even as a small “e” entrepreneur or local business owner.
- How category design can also be applied to your career (and why you should aim to become known for a niche you own, not “build a personal brand).
- What happens if you neglect your category—and how to rage category violence industry leaders who make this mistake.
- How to write a legendary S-1 and raise hundreds of millions (even billions) of dollars in your company’s IPO by making a case for the future growth of your category (which you created & designed).
- Why “Blue Ocean” isn’t what you are looking for. And if you want to truly create a category of your own, you should execute a No Ocean Strategy.
Seriously. Get the book. (DISCLOSURE: We’re not getting paid to say this).
A Marketer’s Guide To Category Design: How To Escape The “Better” Trap, Dam The Demand, And Launch A Lightning Strike Strategy
A mediocre Category Designer will beat a world-class marketer every day of the week.
The reason is because all marketing sits within a context. “He or she who frames the problem owns the solution.” Without this context—without a category—your marketing becomes nothing but screaming, shouting, and pitching customers with deals, discounts, and other short-term tactics in the hopes of landing a sale.
In this book (buy it as well) you get to learn:
- Why so many marketers, entrepreneurs, executives, and even investors fall for The Big Brand Lie (falsly believing it’s the company’s “brand” customers care about).
- The “Better” Trap: why comparison marketing never works, and causes comparison-focused companies to fight over only 24% of the market.
- How to successfully execute a Dam The Demand strategy, stopping customers in the “old” world and moving them over to the new & different future you are creating.
- How to launch a Lightning Strike Strategy—and why “Peanut Butter Marketing” (spread out evenly throughout the year) is a guaranteed path to irrelevancy.
- What most marketers don’t understand about Black Friday, and why discount campaigns and coupons are a bad way to grow your business.
- And finally, the difference between content marketing that captures people’s attention and makes a difference versus content that goes nowhere.
Must read. It could save your company (and your career).
NOTE: This is not a book review. It is a BOOKBUY alert. January 2022.
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