In our 18th episode, Olivier L’Abbé, President at Metadata, discusses category creation with two experienced leaders who played pivotal roles in developing the sales and training enablement categories.
Panelists for this episode include:
- Kyle Lacy, CMO of Lessonly and leader behind the training enablement category
- Max Altschuler, VP of Sales Engagement of Outreach and leader behind the sales engagement category
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You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of how to define your category name, build relationships with analysts, and measure market growth.
Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode.
Takeaway 1. Use stories to define your category name
When you set out to create a new category, it’s easy to fixate on finding the perfect category name. This is a common mistake a lot of first-time founders make and one that you should avoid. The reason is simple — a category name has no value in and of itself. It’s the story behind it that’s more important.
Take the sales enablement category for example. Before Max Altshuler and his team at Outreach started building out the category, the name had no real meaning outside a very limited context. It was only until it became associated with a story about how software could help sales teams become more efficient that it made a lot more sense and became widely accepted by the market.
“The best thing you could do is focus on yourself, focus on your story, focus on the category narrative, and less about the number one, but what is your vision for the category? How do you see the category unfolding? What does your problem, does your product solves? And why is that? Why does that fit the need or the problem that everybody has, that’s looking for a solution in that category?” – Max Altshuler
Takeaway 2. Build relationships with analysts sooner than later
Your relationships with analysts will also have an impact on your product’s position within its category. These relationships are beneficial because most enterprise clients use analyst reports to make buying decisions. If your company is listed as a leader in one of these reports, it can open the doors to many great opportunities.
So how do you get analysts to pay attention to you? While it’s not an exact science, here are three things you can try:
- Use customer case studies to show how real customers are benefiting from your product
- Adapt your product story to fit your analyst’s narrative
- Consider hiring a dedicated resource that will work on building long-term relationships with analyst firms
In most cases, you’ll have to be a paying customer to build and maintain analyst relationships. If you’re a smaller company with a limited budget, you’ll have to look for creative ways to gain momentum before approaching analysts.
Takeaway 3. Job title updates are the strongest indicator of category creation
An effective way to validate whether you’re onto something big is to look at the growth in job titles related to your category. Job title growth indicates two things — it shows that your product has a repeatable use and that you have a viable TAM. If there’s an increase in related job titles, you can safely assume that people will find value in your product.
As Kyle Lacy mentions, “Once the titles are made you have third-party analysts talking about it, whether it’s a cool tech vendor from Gartner or with the Wave or whatever. And then you’ve got your customers changing titles, then you know you have something there. It’s hit mass capacity basically.”
If your company is still in its early stages, start by setting a benchmark for the current number of job titles related to your category. For example, related job titles in the sales enablement category could be VP of Sales Enablement or Director of Sales Enablement. If you notice an increase in these titles over time, it’s a strong indicator that your category creation efforts are working.
For more insights on category creation, listen to episode 18 of B2B category creators.
Max explains why everything doesn’t need attribution, especially in category creation.