Category creation in B2B

Succeeding at things takes courage to go against the known and explore the new

You’ve just got to love strategies that are counterintuitive to status quo-thinking. Where you’d first think “this makes no sense, this will make a company go bankrupt”…

An example is open sourcing a technology’s source code. Or making a major part of a software service freely available. 

The first time you heard about open-sourcing, I bet you thought it’s nuts. I did. I mean, giving away your most important asset to everyone?

Today, this strategy is commonplace and nobody doubts it.

But here’s a catch: you need the right circumstances to make it work.

And if you’re tech startup #5327 in a niche, chances are, nobody is going to get excited about a free version of your product. Nor will anybody be racing to integrate with you. 

But there is another approach that’s underused and kicks butt. 

It’s creating a category. In a niche, on a small scale initially. 

(I hear some marketers screaming: “noo, you need better positioning, category creation is too expensive and risky for most”…. but just bear with me here.)

Take a look at the strategy of Terminus, an ABM platform. Here’s what they did to create a category and reap major benefits
1. before account-based marketing (ABM) was a “thing”, they organized an event around it
2. they invited press, analysts and COMPETITORS to this event
3. at the event, they carefully positioned their solution
they then evangelized the category/movement, not their product 

The reason this works is because
1. you become known for starting a movement, which you will actively build and evangelize afterwards
2. the movement will be picked up by the community, strengthened by analysts, media, experts.
3. this creates more marketing juice for the whole community: together you will build a much larger pie, than you could ever build alone.
4. in this category/movement, you will have a very special positioning of having started and led it. 

The caveat is that after a while, as the category grows, that latter advantage starts to dwindle. But it doesn’t matter – you’ll reap plenty of benefits. 

(No positioning or competitive advantage lasts forever, anyway.)

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