Episode 28: Lars Nilsson and Mikita Mikado

In our 28th episode, Gil talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the cloud data and document workflow categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Lars Nilsson, VP of Global Sales Development at Snowflake and leader behind the cloud data category
  • Mikita Mikado, CEO of Pandadoc and leader behind the document workflow category

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of team alignment, feature releases, and support networks.

Or watch the video

Takeaway 1. Team alignment is essential to scaling your company

Communication and team alignment are two of the most critical forces when scaling your company. People want effective leadership when change happens quickly. And to make that happen, you need to have a process that keeps everyone working towards the same vision, regardless of their team or function.

One of the most important considerations to make when aligning your company is the number of people that should be in each team. Smaller teams are often the best option for companies that want to maximize agility. And in general, the closer your team reaches ten people, the more difficult it becomes to keep everyone aligned.

Larger teams tend to be more inefficient because most of the time is spent coordinating activities rather than doing actual work. A larger team also means that there will be a more considerable variance in personalities, which could affect how everyone works together. It might take a bit of experimenting until you find the ideal number of team members, but the effort will be worth it.

Takeaway 2. Talk to your customers before launching new product features

Although your internal teams are essential, it’s your customers that should have the final say on every critical decision you make about your product features. In other words, you need to be customer-oriented instead of product-oriented. A customer-oriented approach is all about learning about your customers’ needs and then building features around those needs. On the other hand, a product-oriented strategy involves making features that you think your customers want.

It’s also important to know the difference between features that customers want and features they are willing to pay for when adopting a customer-oriented strategy. These two types of features are not always the same. Sometimes a customer might want a particular feature, but they might not necessarily pay for it. That’s why it’s not enough to ask customers what features they want and then build it. You need to figure out why they want those features and then build around the goals they’re trying to achieve.

By focusing on building features around your customer needs, you reduce the likelihood of becoming a feature factory. As a result, you end up spending fewer resources on features that don’t add value to your company and customers. This leads to improved profitability and differentiation.

Takeaway 3. You need a solid support network when creating a category

We often talk about frameworks and strategies when it comes to category creation. But one thing that often gets overlooked is the importance of having a solid support network when growing your company. Whether you’re the CEO of the company or leading an internal team, you’ll need to make sure your personal life is taken care of if you want to withstand all the stress involved in leading a fast-growing startup.

It’s easy to think that you can separate your personal life from your work life. But that’s usually not how things work. Not taking care of your personal life and support network can have real consequences on your ability to deliver your best work. It can lead to overworking and burnout.

So your goal shouldn’t be to work as much as possible. It should always be to find the right balance between working hard and working smart. Working longer hours won’t make you more productive because there will be a diminishing return to every additional hour you work beyond your limit.

For more insights on building a support network, feature releases, and team alignment, be sure to listen to this episode of B2B Category Creators.

BONUS!

Lars explains why you don’t always need to have the best product to create a category.

Episode 27: David Spitz and Armando Biondi

In our 27th episode, Gil talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the cloud security and revenue acceleration categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • David Spitz, CMO of Egnyte and leader behind the cloud content security category
  • Armando Biondi, CEO and Co-founder of Breadcrumbs.io and leader behind the revenue acceleration category

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of hiring best practices, product innovation, and demand generation.

Or watch the video

Takeaway 1. The most effective teams are made up of generalists and specialists

The decision to hire a generalist or specialist or generalist for your team depends on your company’s size. As a seed-stage startup, it makes sense to hire flexible generalists who can work on a variety of tasks across different disciplines.

As your company grows (Series A and beyond), processes will inevitably become more complex. That’s when you’ll need to increase the ratio of specialists to generalists in your company. Specialists will bring the advanced knowledge and skill required to work on complex tasks. They will also require less training when compared to generalists, but they might be harder to hire because they’ll typically have several offers to choose from during their job search.

If you want to stand out from other employers, you’ll have to invest heavily in building your company’s reputation and streamlining your hiring process. Have a presence in online communities where your talent spends time. Create content around some of the challenges that your company is trying to solve. Showcase the customers that your company has helped in the past. All of this will help build an employer brand that attracts top talent.

Takeaway 2. Customers are the best source for product innovation

One of the critical roles you should prioritize as you’re creating a new category is the customer success manager. This role is essential to ensuring that customers have a good experience with your product and that your company maximizes its lifetime value (LTV) and net promoter score (NPS) metrics.

The insights generated from your customer success team will also help you optimize your product marketing campaigns further and fine-tune your customer journey. With every new customer insight, you’ll move one step closer to developing a solid product differentiation that positions your brand ahead of your competitors.

Part of your differentiation strategy should involve a plan for continually communicating with your customers. They need to be at the center of every decision your company makes. Use social media channels to track all mentions of your brand and how often you show up in conversations. Look at review sites such as G2 as well. They can be an effective channel for identifying power users for interviews.

Takeaway 3. Category creation requires both demand generation and branding to be successful

One of the most common dilemmas that startup operators face is deciding whether to focus on demand generation or branding. It’s a key theme that we often hear about when it comes to category creation. On the one hand, demand gen is required for short-term lead goals, while branding is often seen as a “nice-to-have” long-term strategy.

No rule says you must use one strategy or the other. The best approach you can take when creating a category is to do a bit of demand generation, branding, and product marketing. Following this integrated approach creates a multiplier effect over the long run.

It’s also a good idea to have separate media budgets for both your brand and demand generation campaigns. That way, you can allocate some of your budget towards building top of funnel awareness and then retargeting unconverted prospects who engaged with your brand awareness campaign.

For more insights about demand generation, product innovation, and hiring, be sure listen to this episode of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Armando explains the importance of timing when creating a new category.

Episode 26: Alex Poulos and Meagen Eisenberg

In our 26th Episode, Olivier L’Abbé, President at Metadata, talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the data security and corporate travel expense management categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Alex Poulos, VP of Marketing of Securiti and leader behind the AI data security category
  • Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of TripActions and leader behind the corporate travel and expense management category

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of value propositions, content creation, and keyword building.

Or watch the video

Takeaway 1. Define value propositions according to use cases

It’s not always possible to figure out all the different ways that people will use your product. That’s why market research is critical. Research helps you test all your assumptions and validate your buyer personas before investing resources into product development. It can be the difference between building a product that people love and launching features that no one cares about.

Your primary goal should be to create a value proposition around the key use cases you identify during the market research stage. Figure what problems your customers are trying to solve. What are their job titles? When are they most active on your platform? Once you truly understand your users, you’ll have everything you need to start working on the messaging for your value proposition.

You can start with the most common use case. Identify the type of language that customers use when describing how they use your product and incorporate that into your value proposition. After you’ve created a value proposition for your core use case and validated that it works, move on to another use case. Repeat the process until you’re addressing the needs of your entire target market through your messaging.

Takeaway 2. Prioritize quality over quantity when creating content

Content is a lever that you’ll need to use to differentiate your brand and reinforce your value proposition. And while you might think that you need a lot of content to see the results, that’s often not the case. You can still get great results by focusing on quality over quantity.

Keep in mind that quality is subjective. What you define as quality content might be completely different from how your audience defines it. The only way you’ll know what your audience wants is by actively asking for feedback. You might discover that “quality” content for your audience doesn’t just mean writing long-form blog posts. They might prefer other content formats such as videos and podcasts instead.

If you don’t have the resources to create a wide variety of content formats you can always improvise by repurposing your existing content. Doing this is relatively simple, and it can be a great way to extend the shelf life of your content. The key to making sure your content marketing works is to ensure you have the right processes in place – from content ideation to production.

Takeaway 3. Use a separate domain to build a community and increase your search rankings

If you want to extend your content’s reach further, consider building a separate domain based on a specific segment or use case. You can use it as a microsite for publishing content around your category name and its related keywords. It can also double as a place to build a community around a particular topic.

Building a community makes sense for two reasons. For one, it’s one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness. People trust other people. And there’s no better way to build that trust than through a community. In addition to the word-of-mouth awareness you could generate, building a community also allows you to collect better feedback from your customers.

We all know that traditional marketing research methods such as focus groups and surveys aren’t always accurate. By having a community, you get the ability to collect candid feedback in real-time and completely bypass the limitations of traditional market research.

If you’re interested in more insights about building audiences, creating content, and developing value propositions, be sure to listen to this episode of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Meagen shares a strategy for generating effective customer reviews.

Episode 25: Rami Essaid and Melanie Fellay

In our 25th Episode, Olivier L’Abbé, President at Metadata, talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the financial modeling and digital adoption categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Rami Essaid, CEO of Finmark and leader behind the financial modeling and planning category
  • Melanie Fellay, CEO of Spekit and leader behind the in-app digital adoption and enablement category

Or watch the video

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of leadership hiring, customer reviews, and keyword research.

Takeaway 1. Hire a VP of Marketing as soon as you see signs of product-market fit

A VP of Marketing is one of the first critical leadership hires you’ll need to make when growing a Startup. Many variables influence the timing of the hire. But in most cases, it’s a good idea to wait until you start to notice some signs of product-market fit before bringing a full-time resource onboard.

You can determine how close you are to product-market fit by first looking at your Net Promoter Score. Once you have a benchmark, look at how your user acquisition costs change over time. More specifically, the amount of money you spend to acquire a new customer relative to how much money they spend throughout their lifetime as a customer. You probably know this as your LTV/CAC ratio.

Your LTV/CAC ratio will likely be close to 1:1 when you haven’t reached product-market fit. This is okay in the beginning as you validate your product and experiment. But it’s not sustainable in the long run because it means that you’ll end up spending too much to acquire new users. A better LTV/CAC ratio would be in the range of 3:1 or better. Once you’ve reached this milestone, you can be confident that you’ve reached some level of product-market fit and are ready to hire a VP of Marketing.

Takeaway 2. Use software review sites to define your category

Review sites have been proven to be effective channels for early growth. They are especially great for targeting a mid-market audience. And compared to analyst firms, they offer a more cost-effective alternative for building credibility.

Ask users who leave positive NPS feedback to write a review. Most will follow through if they’re happy with your product. You can even offer a gift card or a similar incentive in exchange for their time. Their reviews will not only help you build a massive amount of social proof, but they’ll also benefit your inbound strategy.

Every time someone searches for products in your category, they’ll see your brand show up. You’ll generate a ton of organic visibility without having to create any content yourself and kickstart your SEO strategy on the right foot.

Takeaway 3. Invest in keyword research early

The role of SEO in category creation can’t be understated. It’s one of the most effective ways of getting qualified traffic and reducing the time to close new leads. The problem? You need to be really patient before you start seeing any ROI with SEO. Depending on your domain age and a bunch of other technical factors, you could be waiting for 6-12 months before your keywords start to rank on search results.

Instead of trying to find ways to shorten your time to rank on search results (because there are no shortcuts to SEO), focus on consistently producing high-quality content and building a solid narrative around your category instead. You can also use keywords in adjacent categories to get an estimate of the potential traffic you could generate from your SEO strategy.

The sooner you commit to understanding how SEO can benefit your growth, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Your advertising costs will reduce as your organic traffic increases and so will your costs to acquire new customers.

For more insights on keyword research, review sites, and leadership hiring, listen to this episode of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Melanie explains the steps involved in developing a differentiation strategy for category creation.

Episode 24: Mike Zani and Allyson Havener

In our 24th episode, Gil talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the talent optimization and review categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Mike Zani, CEO of The Predictive Index and leader behind the talent optimization category
  • Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing at TrustRadius and leader behind the software review category

Or watch the video

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of branding, customer advocacy, and building a company culture.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode.

Takeaway 1. Category creation is a subset of branding

A common misconception about category creation is that it’s a marketing tactic that can be implemented by purely focusing on demand generation. The reality is a lot more different than that. Demand generation does play a role in category creation, but it’s only one part of a larger strategy. To fully understand the scope of category creation, you have to look at it through the context of branding.

Think of category creation as a strategy that helps you strengthen your brand story and win mindshare among your customers. It’s a subset of traditional branding where the end goal is to position your brand as the industry leader. And while some technical founders are reluctant to commit to branding in the early stages fully, there’s a lot of evidence to support the benefits of branding.

As you’ll discover from this episode, the organizations that invest in branding early on and reinforce that brand over time are usually the ones that become the leaders of a category. Even if you don’t end up creating a category, branding is still a powerful exercise that enables you to figure out what your company is and what it isn’t.

Takeaway 2. Find the right customers to tell your story

Category creation rarely happens in a vacuum. You need to involve your customer in every step of the process. In the early stages of your company, that means finding the right customers to define your brand story. Figure out how they’re using your product, what their aspirations are, and how your solution fits within their narrative. These early adopters will often be your first brand advocates, so you want to pay close attention to what they want.

Another benefit of adopting a customer-first approach is that it can help you identify what to call your category. This is an area where a lot of marketing teams get stuck. Either they spend too much time finding the perfect name, or they create a name that doesn’t truly reflect the value their product offers. A simple workaround to this problem is to listen to what your customers have to say.

Channels like software review sites are great places for market research. Make a note of the terms that they use when referring to your solution. Sometimes you’ll find out your customers are referring to your solution in a completely different way than you might have imagined. You’ll know you’ve found the right name when there’s a convergence between how your customers and internal teams talk about your product.

Takeaway 3. Your company culture has a big impact on your ability to create a category

When it comes to building a team to support your category creation efforts, you should prioritize candidates who demonstrate a high level of consistency. You don’t usually see consistency listed as a requirement in most job descriptions, but this trait often separates top performers from the rest.

Consistency is critical when hiring for leadership roles. A consistent leader will know how to set expectations with team members and establish accountability within themselves. When they say something, you can guarantee that they will follow through nine times out of ten.

Employees across all departments of your organization will be more motivated to set goals and reach them proactively when working in a culture of consistency. This will lead to the creation of high-performing teams capable of withstanding all the twists and turns that come with building a category.

There are many more insights about leadership, customer relationships, and branding covered in this episode of category creators, so be sure to tune in to learn more.

BONUS!

Allyson explains why it’s essential to collaborate with coworkers from different departments.

Episode 23: Rhonda Walker and Doug Camplejohn

In our 23rd episode, Gil talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the IT lifecycle management and remote employee management categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Rhonda Walker, CMO of ITRenew and leader behind the IT lifecycle management category
  • Doug Camplejohn, CEO of Airspeed and leader behind the remote employee management category

Or watch the video

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of market research, innovation, and strategic thinking.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode.

Takeaway 1. Prioritize market research in the early stages of growth

Most early-stage companies jump right into demand generation after hiring their first marketer. They focus on getting as many leads as possible and doing whatever it takes to get the first few customers. This isn’t always a bad thing in itself. The problem is when demand generation becomes more important than market research.

Effective market research is necessary because it removes a lot of the blind spots that you may have when solely relying on data from your demand generation campaigns to make decisions. For example, you might have all your data telling you that the copy on your landing page converts well. But you won’t know why unless you take some time to talk to your customers and learn what type of messaging resonates with them.

One great question to ask your customers during market research is how they would describe your company to a friend. This simple question gives you insight into whether or not your brand’s vision aligns with the reality of the market. If your customer’s description of your company is misaligned, then it’s probably a good sign that you need to pivot and change something.

Takeaway 2. Reinvent the wheel whenever necessary

You don’t always need to follow best practices when creating a category. Oftentimes you’ll need to develop entirely new approaches to solving problems to get the results that you’re after. Think of every day as a new opportunity to improve how you do things. If something didn’t work out in the past, you don’t need to dwell on it too much. Simply learn from it and then move on with a better solution.

In the world of startups, the best opportunities are usually disguised as challenges. When things aren’t working how you want them to, that’s when you start to innovate. And that innovation is what leads to more people actually paying attention to your brand. The challenge is finding the right balance between applying what you already know and taking chances on new original ideas.

To become a category leader, all you need to do is create an original solution that solves your customers’ problems significantly better than what’s already on the market. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But you can increase your chances of success by rallying support from your customers and, most importantly, your internal teams.

Takeaway 3. Find a balance between aspirational and transactional thinking

Creating a new category is all about balancing aspirational and transactional thinking. Most startup leaders default to transactional thinking, which focuses on measurable outcomes such as traffic, sales, or demo requests. This type of thinking will help you reach your short-term goals, but it’s not sustainable in the long run.

Aspirational thinking is where you take a step back and think about the strategy and vision behind what you’re doing. What impact do you want to make beyond just getting as much traffic and sales as possible? How does your product improve the lives of your customers? These are questions that will help keep your team grounded and focused on the right things.

As a marketing leader, your goal should always be to understand how you can help solve your customer’s problems in the best way possible. Aspirational thinking helps put everything into perspective so you can see how your short-term goals are related to attracting and retaining customers.

If you’re interested in more insights about strategic thinking, market research, innovation, be sure to listen to this episode of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Doug shares the litmus test he uses when making hard decisions.

Episode 22: Sydney Sloan and Latane Conant

In our 22nd episode, Olivier L’Abbé, President at Metadata, talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the sales and account engagement categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Sydney Sloan, CMO of SalesLoft and leader behind the sales engagement category
  • Latane Conant, CMO of 6Sense and leader behind the AI account engagement category

 

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of peer review sites, customer experience, and KPI alignment.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode.

Takeaway 1. Use review sites to build credibility with analysts

One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when building a category is deciding how much effort to put into building relationships with analysts vs. customers on review sites. The effectiveness of either strategy will mostly depend on your growth stage.

For early-stage startups, review sites like G2 are often a great place to start. They are more cost-effective compared to pay-to-play analyst firms. And because they offer a candid look into how customers use your product, you can use them to find ideal customer advocates for reference calls, case studies, and video testimonials.

Analysts will eventually start paying more attention to your brand if you build enough buzz on these review sites. You won’t have to spend as much time convincing them that you’re onto something great. Your customers will provide the social proof needed to show your credibility.

Takeaway 2. Be obsessed with customer experience

Focusing on your customers not only helps with analyst relationships but it also leads to increased customer retention. A high retention rate is a key driver to exponential growth. It reduces your marketing costs, helps you generate a ton of word-of-mouth marketing, and maximizes your customer lifetime value.

So how do you ensure your teams can deliver a fantastic customer experience? The answer lies in your internal teams. You need to make sure everyone has access to the right systems and tools to make informed decisions about the customer experience. Build excitement around your customer goals. Make it easy to keep track of what customers are saying about your brand.

With the right data and systems in place, you’ll enable a customer-centric culture that puts your customers’ goals first. And customer-centricity doesn’t just stop with your CSM team. Everyone from management to your sales and marketing operation should play a part in delivering a great customer experience.

Takeaway 3. Ensure that sales and marketing have the same definition of KPIs

When it comes to aligning sales and marketing teams towards the same goals, you’ll need to make sure everyone is on the same page about KPIs. This is something everyone talks about, but it’s easier said than done. The problem isn’t so much that no one knows what to measure. It’s that marketing and sales teams often have a different definition of the same KPIs.

Take conversion rate, for example. To sales, the definition of a conversion rate might involve looking at the number of closed-won opportunities. To marketing, it might mean the number of people that convert on a landing page. Both these definitions are technically correct. But they can create two completely different outcomes depending on which one you choose.

To reduce the risk of misalignment between your teams, you need to ensure that everyone is on the same page about how KPIs are measured. This requires education as well as a shared process for engaging potential customers.

For more insights on customer experience, KPIs, and building analyst relationships, listen to episode 22 of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Sydney shares her predictions on how ABM will converge with sales engagement within the next few years.

Episode 21: Shari Johnston, Lauren Goldstein, and Cristina Saunders

In our 21st episode, Jason Widup, VP of Marketing at Metadata, talks category creation with the founding members of Women in Revenue, a community focused on the education and awareness of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Shari Johnston
  • Lauren Goldstein
  • Cristina Saunders

Or watch the video

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of startup communities, job description best practices, and employee mentorship.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode.

Takeaway 1. Leverage your community to find talent

The benefits of creating a community around your brand can’t be understated. Communities drive product innovation. They help you collect real-time feedback, increase your customer retention, and even find ideas for future product releases.

For the team at Women In Revenue, their Slack community was a key part of their growth. They launched three years ago and grew to over 5000 active members within that short time. The community is now an essential part of the organization’s mission to provide greater career opportunities to women in the tech industry.

In addition to creating awareness around their mission, the community also doubles as a source for finding talent. This is a great strategy many companies can apply within their own communities as it reduces the time and costs associated with hiring.

Takeaway 2. Make your job descriptions more inclusive

The key to attracting the right candidates is to be deliberate with how you write your job descriptions. The words you use have a greater impact than you might think. For example, a female-identified talent may be less inclined to apply for a job if all of its duties use “He” as the main pronoun.

“They” and “you” pronouns are your best bets when it comes to creating inclusive job descriptions. It’s also always a good idea to get feedback from your employees before you post a job description online or anywhere else. This has two primary benefits: 1. It reduces the likelihood of unconscious bias affecting how you write your job description and 2. It allows you to get a better idea of the skills that are needed for the job.

Your goal should be to make your job descriptions as easy to read as possible. Avoid jargon. Focus on using universally understood language. This will make it easier for people of all backgrounds to focus on the critical requirements of your job posting rather than unnecessary fluff.

Takeaway 3. Provide mentorship and onboarding to increase employee engagement

Once you’ve gone through all the effort of optimizing your job descriptions and hired the right candidates for the job, you’ll need to ensure that your employees have everything they need to perform at their best. This usually starts with the onboarding process.

Many startups skip onboarding either because they don’t have a process in place or they don’t think it’s necessary. That’s a big mistake. Your onboarding sets the tone for your employees’ engagement at work. Without one, employee retention will decrease and so will performance.

It’s also best practice to have a mentorship program where your employees can learn from each other. This can help your employees gain a new perspective on their fields, develop their network, and improve their skills, all of which lead to increased engagement at work.

For more insights about hiring, workplace inclusion, and building a community around your startup, listen to episode 21 of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Shari describes some of the operational challenges of managing an all-volunteer organization.

Episode 20: Macario Namie and Bryan Goodwin

In our 20th episode, Gil talks category creation with two leaders from the customer experience performance and sports media categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Macario Namie, CMO of ASAPP and leader behind the customer experience performance category
  • Bryan Goodwin, President of TorchPro and leader behind the digital sports media category

Or watch the video

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of customer research, thought leadership, and fundraising.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode.

Takeaway 1. Category creation requires extensive customer research

Understanding your customers is one of the keys to creating a new category.

This is a fact that you can’t ignore. The more you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes, the better your chances of developing a solution that’s widely adopted by your target market.

The primary goal of your customer research should be to determine your market’s size and emerging trends.

Once you have this information, identify your ICPs/ buyer personas and any competitors that already exist in the market. Then can decide how you will reach out to customers to learn more about them.

Keep in mind that most decision-makers will not have time to take part in a customer interview unless there’s a really good reason to do so.

That’s why it’s essential to think outside the box when doing your customer outreach. Besides using customer interviews, you should also consider using surveys, conferences, and your personal network to do your research.

Takeaway 2. It’s important to ask why you want to create a new category

Most companies know that they want to create a new category. But few ask why creating a category is necessary.

And no, creating a category because you want to make more money is not a good enough reason. Your why has to be greater than that.

Does your product solve a problem that no one else is solving? Do you have a new business model? Are you going after a mature market that’s ready for disruption?

These are all questions that will help you determine your “why.”

You don’t always have to create something groundbreaking to be considered a category creator.

Sometimes all you need to do is look at what already exists and find out how you can make it better. This usually requires you to re-educate your audience about what makes your solution a better alternative to what’s already out there.

Use content to educate your target market. It’s still one of the most effective ways to build thought leadership and brand positioning.

The great thing about content is that it has a compounding effect. With every new post you publish, you build trust with your target market and increase your chances of success as a category creator.

Takeaway 3. Raising money is not always an indicator of success

In the world of startups, the amount of money you raise is often seen as the defining metric for measuring success. The problem is that there isn’t always a direct correlation between how much money you raise and your ability to create a category.

Think of money as fuel for your company. It’s necessary. But you still have to decide where that fuel will take you.

Your success should be measured by metrics such as revenue growth, customer value, and retention. If you raise a lot of money but can’t impact any of these numbers, it could be a sign that you need to rethink your go-to-market strategy.

For more insights, listen to episode 20 of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Macario explains why patience is the best quality a leader can have.

Episode 19: Paul Sebastien and Dan Frohnen

In our 19th episode, Gil talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the cybersecurity training and asset operations management categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Paul Sebastien, CMO of Offensive Security and leader behind the cybersecurity training category
  • Dan Frohnen, CMO of Upkeep and leader behind the asset operations management category

Or watch the video

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of quantitative marketing, startup playbooks, and category competition.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode.

Takeaway 1. Word of mouth marketing is underrated

Everyone talks about metrics when discussing B2B growth and category creation. Yes, knowing your numbers is essential. You need some objective way of measuring whether what you’re doing is working or not. But you also have to keep in mind that some critical aspects of your growth aren’t easy to quantify — for example, branding.

We know that branding works. The only problem is that it’s not easy to quantify its effect, especially in the short term. You have to rely on many indirect indicators to determine its effectiveness.

Word of mouth is usually a strong indicator of effective branding. And while you could use social listening tools to quantify how often people are talking about you on social channels, you still can’t measure conversations that happen offline. These conversations have just as significant an impact as other growth channels with qualitative performance metrics. However, most startups don’t consider developing a strategy around word-of-mouth marketing because it’s not easily quantifiable and therefore assumed to have no impact.

Takeaway 2. Don’t be quick to use playbooks

A lot of early-stage startups believe that growth playbooks are the solution to all their problems. The problem with this approach is that it forces you into a particular way of thinking. Most playbooks assume that all companies are the same. They don’t take into account each organization’s unique situation, customers, and market.

An overreliance on playbooks might cause you to make many short-term decisions that get immediate wins, but you’ll lose sight of the long-term vision that’s required when creating a new category. It’s always a good idea to take a beginner’s approach instead. You can refer to frameworks and playbooks occasionally, but they shouldn’t be your primary tools for problem-solving.

You have to look beyond playbooks and put as much effort as possible into understanding your customers. Apply these learnings to make your product better. Then once you’ve found something that works, double down on it and find out how you can replicate your results.

Takeaway 3. It’s tough to create a category without any competitors

A common misconception about category creation is that you have to create something entirely new to be considered a market leader. That’s not always the case. You can create a new category even if you’re building upon an already-existing idea.

In today’s highly competitive and crowded marketplace, you’ll rarely find a profitable market that has zero competition. Companies that try to create new categories fail because of the same reasons. Either they fail because the idea isn’t well-executed, or they make something that people aren’t ready for, or technology hasn’t caught to yet.

You have to accept that there’ll probably be a lot of competition when you create a new category. Instead of creating a category of one, focus on finding out the problems your customers are having, then go out and make the best solution possible.

For more insights, listen to episode 19 of B2B category creators.

BONUS!

Dan tells us why you should take the difficult path when creating a new category.