How entrepreneurs can and should become a leading influencer of their market category
Or: “You should become the Queen of Tea”
I was standing in Lipton’s testing room in Bristol with the Global Marketing Director, in 1996, learning one of the most important lessons in marketing.
From my 32 years in marketing, I know that the best and easiest way to succeed in launching a new product and building a successful brand is by leading your market category.
The idea is taking ownership of a market category in the minds of the customers. One of the four basic market strategy definitions is ‘what market category should we play in’. If you can’t lead the market, you should invent a new market category.
The most famous example of that is probably the story about Miller Beer. Miller wanted to grow and lead the US market. However the beer market was totally saturated. And any farmer who grew barley could quite easily build a brewery on his farm and start selling beer.
Miller looked for the differentiation point. Marketing was in its infancy; Miller had done research and found there is a need for a light, less bitter beer with a smaller amount of alcohol, so they invented a new kind of beer.
They could have launched the new beer by calling it the new Miller Beer. But they didn’t. Instead, they called women, young drivers (and other potential audiences of such a product) to try the first light beer in the world. They didn’t promote Miller beer; they were the ‘new needed category’
They took ownership in the minds of the customers as the leader of a new kind of beer and increased dramatically the value of the Miller Brand overnight.
With time, other beer producers penetrated the light beer market, however Miller Lite was, for a long time, the market leader of the light beer category.
Today, Miller Lite is the third most popular beer in the US.
The most interesting thing is that all three leading beers in the US today are lite beers.
Entrepreneurs, who invent new products, also create new market categories. Taking ownership of this new category can be critical to the strength of your brand and the value you can achieve for your entrepreneurship.
I will write in more depth about finding the right market category in one of the coming posts.
Let’s go back to the testing room in Bristol.
At that time, Lipton was marketed world wide as the leading tea brand in the world. By saying to me, “You should become the Queen of Tea,” this Unilever director meant that I should know everything about tea and be the voice of the worlds leading tea in Israel where I was Lipton’s marketing director.
How to become the influencer of your new market?
Become the voice of your new category
Once you decide, based on research and market overview, what market category you can lead and take ownership of, it’s time to become the voice of this category.
You should make sure to speak “in the name” of the new category and not to promote your product. People became more and more skeptical towards advertising and promotion.
The equation here is simple; people want to be updated and learn about a new category and solution that is relevant for them. However, I always say that people love to buy but hate “to be sold to”.
One of the examples I love to talk about is the example of a startup called DBMaestro. DBMaestro developed database management and automation solutions.
In the market research, we discovered the opportunity to take ownership of the world of “DevOps for Database”. It was a few years ago and the company managed to take ownership and lead the category mainly through providing important content, acknowledging their target audience, and building the brand as a trusted source.
The idea of how an expert can become known in their field of expertise is brought to us by Mark Schaefer in his excellent book Known.
- “When I wrote my last book, Known, it was about how creating an effective, powerful personal brand is really the only sustainable, competitive advantage we can have. I was addressing the question: Could anybody become known?”
The practical steps
Now, you should start producing content, to teach and educate your target audience
Examples for contact creation:
- The story of the new category; how it has developed and what does it do
- Strong presence on social networks
- Consider creating a company podcast about the new market category you represent.
- Create a blog that focuses on and covers the market category
- Create the formal home page for the category
- Open groups in Facebook and LinkedIn, named after the new category
- ”How To’s” tips for potential customers
The last part of writing about becoming an influencer is the part about consistency.
When I talk about consistency, I refer to two elements - the first is the importance of creating some kind of similarity between the different content. If we want to create an impact, people need to be able to recognize you.
The other kind of consistency is the kind Mark Schaefer talks about and this is the ability of keep going.
- “It was one of the most profound lessons I have learned; consistency is more important than genius. I never would have made it if I had quit. You have to find a way to keep going.”
Trevor Crane, whom I interviewed on another podcast show, talked about consistency when I asked him about his key success factor:
- “Consistency is the new currency. I did not like the word ‘Discipline’; I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do, not even ME! 2804 days ago, I made the decision that I would become disciplined enough to work out every day. And now, 2804 days later, I have exercised every single day, in a row; doesn’t matter if I was stuck on an airplane, or sick, I still found a way to stretch and exercise. This proved to myself that I could be consistent. “
Becoming an influencer in your field of expertise is a great opportunity to multiply your chances to succeed.