FlipMyFunnel Post, Other

Category Creation: How to Build a Movement

Select the best approach to entering the marketplace:

  1. A) Category creation
  2. B) Building a better mousetrap

The answer? Both.

We sat down to discuss market strategies with one of HubSpot’s co-founders and current CEO of Lola.com, Mike Volpe.

Mike has been involved in both ends of the spectrum: category creation and building a better tool to serve an existing category. He gives FMF co-host John Rougeux the lowdown in the first of four #TakeoverTuesday episodes focused on category creation.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • The differences between category creation and building a better mousetrap
  • When and how to use each approach
  • Characteristics needed to create your own category

This post is based on a podcast with Mike Volpe. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out here and below.

Category creation vs. the better mousetrap approach

Mike defines category creation as a movement, not just a product. Building a better mousetrap refers to creating an improved tool that serves an existing process.

When he was helping get HubSpot off the ground, Mike realized that other products weren’t the competition; the process of marketing was. Mike and the team were actually fighting against cold calling, spam mail, and other outbound marketing methods, not other companies.

The current method of marketing needed to be revolutionized before HubSpot could market a product.

Now that he’s the CEO of Lola.com, Mike sees the value in taking more of a “mousetrap” approach. The process has already been carved out and Lola.com has the market clout to offer better mousetraps than their competitors.

Using category creation

At the place HubSpot was in 2007, it made sense for them to use the category creation approach to enter the market. Inbound marketing software was going to remodel everything companies knew about marketing.

Factors involved with using a category creation plan include: 

  • Buying into a movement isn’t directly correlated with buying a product. People may buy into your process, but not your product. However, chances are that you’ll garner plenty of attention and leads by being the first in the space.
  • People link emotions to the process, not the software. Normally, people aren’t going to have much of an emotional response to a product. But, they will for a process.
  • It’s a top-of-the-funnel process. You’ll need to think about the long-term goal when initiating a category creation process.
  • It’s going to take work. As with any new movement, it will take work and time to gain the kind of traction you need to release a product.

Using the mousetrap approach

Mike provides several suggestions for companies looking to use the build-a-better-mousetrap approach.

  1. Make sure you have some brand recognition. You’ll need credibility and experience to back up your claim of creating a better product.
  2. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Your products should reflect your brand’s specialties.
  3. Invest in your people. If your team doesn’t support your improved tool, who will?

Characteristics of a category creator

Planning on carving out your own category in the market? Mike encourages teams to own these characteristics:

  • At least one person in your team needs to be extremely passionate and knowledgeable about the pain point.
  • Be authentic.
  • Understand how to communicate with the people you’re attempting to reach.
  • Have a balance of storytellers and data analysts.

Will you be the next HubSpot of your industry?

There’s only one way to find out.