Or in other words, what is the education/definition effort vs. competitive differentiation effort in a known category
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Hila Segal
VP Product & Customer Marketing, Observe.AI | Formerly Clari, Vendavo, AmdocsMay 29

It really depends on how much competition exists in the market. If you're a market of 1 you'll have to fund 100% of market education and this will take time. In this situation rely heavily on your existing customers and early adopters as champions and spokespeople for the category - recruit them in creative ways to evangelize the new category and why change. You need great relationships at the most senior levels to pull this off - don't be afraid to ask your CEO and other executives to help in this effort. Turn these early customers into "celebrities" of the new category and show their success in every possible way. Also, invest in educating Forrester and Gartner analysts by showing them the new way through your customer success. This is a long journey so be prepared but you want to be the one shaping their POVs about this emerging market category. 

If there's already competition then the good news is that they are all investing in the education effort. You'll likely see more healthy inbound as people are actively searching for the new solution. In this case, you'll need to invest in differentiation and why you vs. the others but you also have a great opportunity to rise as the authority in the space with great content. 

Nipul Chokshi
Head of Marketing, AtriumSeptember 8

I’ve found that category creation is always more time and resource intensive than competing in an existing category. When creating a new category, you’re doing a lot of education about how companies can recognize the fact that they have a problem, why they need to prioritize (and budget for) solving that problem and the new approach to solving that problem. It's like you’re defining the rules of a new sport you’re going to play, defining who’ll be in the “league” and then playing.

Competing in a category that already exists is more a matter of learning the rules of the existing sport in an existing league, etc. Customers already have budget (potentially) allocated to solving the problem, know what criteria to use to select a vendor, know which vendors to short-list and then pick a vendor from there. Your product marketing, in this instance, will be primarily focused on “Why choose us.”

Kate Sheridan
Director of Product Marketing, BoltAugust 21

This comparison reminds me of retailers marketing to new vs. existing shoppers. It's 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer compared to getting an existing customer to purchase. When you're creating a new category you need to do a lot of work to convince customers that they have a problem to be solved. You're selling something that isn't a line item on a budget, so even when your stakeholder is convinced, they may have to convince internal decision makers. So obviously it's a bigger effort to market a new category vs. something like fraud protection that's an existing category and a line item on a budget.

But where the analogy differs is in terms of competition. If you're entering an existing category that's crowded, your product will need to have a niche or differentiation to win market share. If you're first or second in a new category that has a large addressable market, there's a lot of upside to be won.

What's the willingness of your target customer to pay? Are you solving a big problem that's a top priority? Especially with concerns about the economy, how can you make sure that your product is seen as a must-have vs. a nice to have? That your product will help the customer's bottom line either by saving them time or money, growing revenue, or both?!

Anthony Kennada
CEO, AudiencePlusJanuary 23

A lot of effort. I think you need to be comfortable playing the long game.

Think about it this way, if we took a “typical” marketing approach and started outbound prospecting into manufacturing companies on the iron belt asking them to be routed to the person who runs Customer Success, we would get a lot of confusion on the other end of the phone. Forget about a cold pitch on technology to operationalize and scale Customer Success!

You need to spend a lot of time educating the market (building the wave) and then monetizing (surfing the wave). You need to win their hearts and also their minds. This takes a long time – and money – and gets frustrating when there aren’t a lot of great benchmarks / anecdotes for what early success looks like here.

Oftentimes in category creation, you also need to teach the market how to buy. In many cases your target persona has never procured technology to solve their problem before. We’ve run campaigns that are typically considered “late stage content,” such as ROI calculators, platform buyer’s guides, sample RFPs, etc., but evangelized at the top of the funnel to educate the market.

These are extra considerations that typical “disruption marketers” may not need to make if attacking a known category.