Category Creation: How to Build a Movement

So much of sales is about solving existing problems. But category creation is about something new entirely.

Joining this episode of Demand Gen U is a panel of experts, including Sydney Sloan, Executive in Residence at Scale Venture Partners, Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, and Mike Volpe, Senior Advisor at Silversmith Capital Partners.

Together with Jason Widup, VP of Marketing at Metadata, they break down exactly what category creation is, the different phases of it, and when it’s necessary, plus much more.

Top three takeaways:

Takeaway 1: Solving a new type of problem

Category creation is an attempt to solve a new type of problem – a problem that people haven’t yet thought of.

But creating a category is no easy feat. As Sydney explains, it’s hard to create something new, and sometimes it’s easier to disrupt an existing category. In fact, many of the big players in the market, such as Salesforce, that are seen as category creators, have instead redefined the category (CRM) rather than creating it from scratch.

So if you’re looking to create a category, think about what’s unique about your idea. Do you have a unique point of view?

But also consider whether there are other players in the space because, as Sydney says, “categories aren’t shaped with a number of one.”

Takeaway 2: Important steps for category creation to work

According to Mike Volpe, category creation isn’t always complicated. You need to start by defining the category – what it is and what it isn’t. A lot of this stage is about educating people and talking more about the category.

After that, the next step is to encourage others to join this new movement and to go out and educate other people about it. When Mike worked as the CMO for HubSpot, it only felt like it became a real category and a movement when he heard other people talking about it independently.

Sydney also says that it’s important to work closely with your analysts up to a year before the category is officially formed and to also invest heavily in strategy days.

As time goes on, you’re also going to want to run a proper playbook. That way everyone’s on the same page about what the category stands for.

Takeaway 3: Why category creation requires 100% of your effort

Creating a brand new category and getting to the point where others start talking about it isn’t quick or easy. And that’s why Mike says it should take 100% of your time and effort (and even dollars).

In his words, the “founder does not have a conversation with anyone without mentioning the category and why it’s important.”

In other words, creating a category cannot be a side thing or a secret project – you have to go all in. You’re no longer just representing the company you work for. You’re out there representing the category and its new place in the market.

Don’t just take our word for it

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