For me, great messaging always starts with two things:
These two things inform the messages you want to deliver for each audience in your campaign [buyers, users, analysts, internal sales reps, partners, etc]. When it comes to developing the messages themselves, the process I follow generally includes brainstorming with key internal stakeholders (depending on whether this is company-level messaging or product-level or campaign-level- this may include the exec team, product team, sales/ customer team, etc.) with the objective of developing as many candidates for messaging as possible. From there, we’ll winnow it down to two to three top contenders and create assets that will enable me to test out the messages with the market [e.g. sales presentation slides, landing page, etc.]
In my experience, category creation requires two things at the start:
The messages and stories that flow from this become the basis for your campaigns. Generally, you’ll create thought leadership content designed to educate the market on recognizing the problem, why they need to solve it and how. While digital channels are most scalable (webinars, ebooks, website) you’ll also want to make sure you’ve got the right assets for your sales and customer teams as they’re on the front line delivering the message to prospects and customers on a daily basis.
I found that making the shift to “solutions” or “platform” requires becoming more business outcome focused in terms of your messaging. Rather than speak to individual user-level features/benefits (e.g. “the app launches 2x as fast”) you want to speak to the business impact that it delivers (e.g. “enable 2x increase in pipeline or revenue”).The key mistake most folks wind up making is not really connecting the dots between what your app does and the business outcome it helps to deliver [or worse, you “connect the dots” in an non-credible way]. E.g. if your app enables you to launch campaigns faster, how exactly does that increase pipeline or revenue?That’s why I believe the most compelling way to communicate these outcome-focused messages is through customer stories and examples. That makes your pitch a lot more credible.
One approach here is to re-define your market in such a way that you’re the leader of that market. That’s kind of what category creation if all about.Another approach here (again, leaning in to how you’re unique in the value you provide) is to emphasize how you’re enabling your customers to think differently about solving their problem and innovate their way to business success.
Assuming the right answer for you is to indeed switch categories (and I’d really make sure to get this answer right), I’d recommend by laying out your point of view on the market problem, why it needs to be solved, and your positioning (ability to solve that problem in a unique way). I’d also be careful to consider what it means for you in the original category. Is it the case that the “category” is evolving given changes in the market and user behavior? Or is it something new entirely. I’d imagine that you’re not abandoning the old category entirely so you need to connect the dots for customers and clearly articulate your presence in the old and new categories simultaneously (perhaps you have different products or solutions for each category).
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.”
Depends - if you’re able to differentiate enough to be a #1 or #2 player in the market, stick with the current category. I would, however, start to amp up the thought leadership so that you can influence the category more going forward so you can start to play your own game.Not knowing more details its hard to go into specifics here, but you could also consider creating an off-shoot of the current category (again leaning into your differentiation) and tell the story around how “other vendors are doing things the old way” and you’re providing a “new way” to solve the problem [of course this requires you to be clear that the new way delivers a lot more value than the “old way”].
I don’t think it’s super critical for there to be a “new role” when creating a new category. When I was at Yammer, for example, we defined the “Enterprise Social Networking” category but made it a must have for various existing roles in an organization (VP HR, COO, VP Sales, etc.).What you’ll find is that new categories often don’t have a corresponding line item in the buyer’s budget - so you’ll need to help them identify ways to fund the spend for your solution (by borrowing from other line items or creating new budget entirely).
You do need to walk a fine line between highlighting that fact that you’re unique while acknowledging the other choices customers have. There are a few considerations here -