Reproducing the #CategoryMeme – Simplify, Enable and Reward Your Marketplace

In order for a #CategoryMeme to spread, the third step of our Penetrate, Replicate, Spread framework, first, it must replicate itself, and do so as Brodie says, “faithfully”. What does this mean? Our prospects and other market participants must be able to easily describe our category, in other words, to parrot our definition. There are three key steps to creating the market environment for #CategoryMeme replication. These are:

  • Simplification – Make it super easy to explain
  • Enablement – Providing the “pre-packaged” artifacts for market adoption
  • Reward – Create rewards for replicating the #CategoryMeme

Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid! – Can you write a 1 sentence definition of the category? Can you provide a simple and clear metaphor for it? Can you sketch it clearing on the back of a napkin? Can you explain it to someone who is not part of your market?

Southwest – A New #CategoryMeme: the First Regional Discount Airline!

Enablement – Once you’ve simplified it, create very sharable, very replicable assets and distribute them out broadly into the marketplace. Create a #CategoryMeme hashtag for your #CategoryMeme. Create a set of backlinks to a more detailed description. Create JPEG, AudioClips, Clipart, all showing and communicating the #CategoryMeme. AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, don’t just create them and share them, but let them fly into the world. Don’t trademark the #CategoryMeme or the artifacts, let the world own them!!! Share with customers, prospects, analysts, and YES EVEN COMPETITORS!!!

Reward – Provide feedback to those who replicate (and spread) the #CategoryMeme. Connect with them, make them part of a club, a community of #CategoryMeme lovers.

As Reward bleeds into more structured programmatic work, we then enter the third phase of #CategoryMeme success, Spread, which I will explore in the next blog of this series.

Name It, Frame It and Spike It ! #CategoryMeme Penetration – Entering the Market’s Mind

In my last post, I discussed the 3 steps to Category Success, borrowing from the work of Richard Brodie. These steps were:

  1. Penetration – The Category must enter the mind of market participants
  2. Faithful Replication – The participants must be able to mirror and replicate the Category idea
  3. Spreading – The Category needs to spread efficiently and quickly from participant to participant

Let’s dive into Step 1 now in some more depth and examine the question, how do I get the category to enter the mind of market participants? Brodie suggest that Memes enter the mind through 3 typical paths – repetition, cognitive dissonance and trojan horse. For a #CategoryMemes, the equivalents are Repetition, Contrast and Problem. Let’s take a quick look at each of these and how they work together.

Repetition – Did I say that enough yet? – #CanYouHearMeNow?

Say it, say it again, and say it some more. Say what? – The category name. Once you name it, you keep repeating it. You get sick of saying it. You think you’ve said it enough. You have all your sales people repeat it. It’s in every tweet, every deck, every-thing! Then magically others start repeating. It becomes a market “earworm” and soon enough even your competitors start to repeat it too, and what a joy that is, they are building your lead!

Contrast – Framing the Difference#NameItThenFrameIt

Once you name it, over and over again, you’ve got to frame it. “Unlike X, #CategoryMeme does this…”, “While an X has these capabilities, a true #CategoryMeme has these…” or simply “A #CategoryMeme is different that this because…” Human brains need comparison points, and we have to set up the difference for them, or we risk getting lumped together with older or competitively owned categories.

Problem – Attaching Your #CategoryMemes – #SpikeProtein

You name it, you say it, you say it again, but does anyone pay attention. Pardon the analogy, but the #SpikeProtein of your #CategoryMeme is the customer problem. And not just any problem, but a “Capital P” problem. A strategic problem that the economic buyer cares about, a lot! And one that your category solution helps them solve, and transforms their success, both personally, and for the organization. (for more on this, see my post on The Problem with Problems) . If there one thing to get right, it’s this! Without a “Spike” you simply won’t attach your #CategoryMeme to your marketplace.

So in summary, to penetrate your #CategoryMeme into the market, use repetition and framing to explain to the market how your #CategoryMeme solves a big P problem and other older categories don’t. Do it again, then do it some more.

And check back here for the next two posts in this series on #CategoryMeme Faithful Repetition and Spreading.

Launching to Leading; Five Years Later and Still More Relevant Than Ever

When you write a business book, especially one where you set up the problem with market trends, you always worry that the trends you have identified are temporary or will end soon, making your books relevance plummet. To combat this, you really need to try to pick trends that you feel strongly will last at least a few years or more. And if you are really good, lucky, or a combination of the two, you’ve found trends that are not just timely, but will continue to accelerate for even longer.

So I will write it off to 20% prescience, 20% market feel and 60% good fortune that 5 years after publishing Launching to Leading trends I point to in the book are even bigger:

  • Information is (EVEN MORE ) Abundant
  • B2B Markets are (MORE) Crowded (than ever)
  • B2B Buyers are (MORE)independent, connected and in control

YET still too many B2B Companies get stuck in launch and never become the market leaders they should because they:

1) continue to hide information (about pricing, demos, etc…)
2) continue to compete on features
3) overvalue value, thinking the best ROI wins

Instead of following the proven path in the book of:
1) Creating a compelling, transformative Viewpoint story for the potential buyers of their offering and category
2) Identifying the UNIQUE value only they can deliver to those buyers
3) Demonstrating, not simply describing, that value during the entire buying EXPERIENCE

For the longer version, it’s just 99c for the Kindle version to celebrate – So get it today for the price of well 99c, and if you write a review, I’ll send you an autographed hard copy of the book!

May all of yours and your customers’ Hero’s Journey be transformative and amazing – Ken

I’ve Been Infected, Not with Covid, But with A Mind Virus- #CategoriesAreMemes #PassItOn ;)!

Before DancingCats, TidePods, BucketChallenges and other “memes” took over the internet, a branch of social science called Memetics was actually built around the idea of Memes. The term Meme was coined more than 40 years ago in the landmark book by Richard Dawkins “The Selfish Gene“. Dawkins defined a meme as “a unit of human cultural transmission analogous to the gene”, and sees the meme as information that replicates and is passed on. Further developed by others including Dennett in “From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds”, memetics, the study of cultural evolution via the passing of memes from host to host in a society has been bouncing around academic and pop culture circles for decades.

After reading Dennett, I started thinking about how the ideas of memetics applies to Product Category Design and Strategy for my clients. Some quick Google searching convinced me that this is unchartered territory and to a book called “Virus of the Mind – The New Science of the Meme” by Richard Brodie. In this often quirky and new agey book, Brodie offers some basic frameworks on how Memes, what he very pejoratively labels Mind Viruses, spread.

Judgement aside, Brodie’s work is quite interesting when you think of Category Design and Marketing strategies. Brodie says that Mind Viruses work in three phases – Penetration, Faithful Repetition and Spreading. What a great roadmap this is to category success.

  1. Penetration – The Category must enter the mind of market participants
  2. Faithful Replication – The participants must be able to mirror and replicate the Category idea
  3. Spreading – The Category needs to spread efficiently and quickly from participant to participant

So, how do we design a Category Meme that can do all of these, in other words, how does the category enter, replicate and spread across the marketplace. That is the $64,000 dollar question, or in many B2B categories, more like the $6.4B dollar one.

I must admit, I am interested and very infected by this idea, but as Mind Viruses go, this is a pretty rich and exciting one to study! In the next series of posts, I will try to unravel the mysteries of Category Design and Success, and how Category Memetics can help us to succeed.

PS – How many Memes can you count in this short post? Let me know your count in the comments – hint, you definitely need at least 2 hands to count them!

Everything I Ever Learned About B2B Messaging…In One Picture!

Sometimes, you just have to net it out! After nearly 14 years as a GTM messaging advisor, this is one of those times. The other week, a client looked at my Messaging Hierarchy and asked, “what are the message deliverables out of this project?” a question I get a lot. And then I realized I had never mapped deliverables to my 4 M Model of “Method, Money, Magic, Mythos”. So I did it and here it is:

At each layer of the model, I’ve listed the core deliverables that any B2B product marketing team eventually needs to drive go to market success. Some, the the Viewpoint Story and the Value Messaging Palette are in my mind, first priority. If I do I great job with these, many of the rest are by-products and/or derivatives of these. And remember, we are still at the “scripting” level of work, we still have to make the Go To Market “Movies”. But remember, just like without a great script, the right audience focus, the right stage design, and the right costume and make-up designs, the movie will probably stink, without these foundational deliverables your demand gen, content marketing, website and other content will be weak, inconsistent and ineffective.

In future blogs I plan on discussing each layer in detail, it’s importance, the related foundational deliverables and their roles in driving customer facing deliverables. But for now, here you have it, everything I’ve ever learned in one model!

Story AND Strategy, The Yin and Yang of B2B Go To Market Success

A few years ago, after completing an engagement with Lee Hecht Harrison in working on the narrative for the launch of what became known as their “Active Placement” service, their then CRO Kevin Gagan said to me:

Ken, when we started, we thought the strategy should drive the story, you taught us that the story should drive the strategy.”

That comment has stuck hard with me. Somedays, I believe Kevin is correct. I see this especially with clients who have great ambition for their offerings, and struggle to narrow down their message for better impact. But when they do, often it creates new strategic focus in many aspects of the go to market, be it product roadmap, packaging, pricing or channels. The story drives the strategy.

Other times, the vision and strategy are very well defined. Often driven by entrepreneurial leaders with an innate sense for the buyer and the customer, the product, packaging and go to market plan are strategically sound, but the story is so narrow that it undersells the offering and doesn’t break through. When you fix that, clearly the strategy is driving the story.

So I decided to ask my LinkedIn connections what they thought.

As you can see, they were somewhat divided, with a plurality saying that Strategy drives story. But I have now landed in the 29% that says it’s a give and take. When story and strategy evolve together, they can create a “virtuous cycle” of a powerful and impactful GTM narrative and mix. Story drives strategy drives story in a never ending dance.

In one Hatha Yoga You-tube class I do, the instructor says,

“Call to mind the sun/moon quality of this pose, the legs are muscularly engaged, while the upper body is crazy soft..”

Strength and flexibility, engagement and relaxation, each reinforced by the other. Story and strategy, the Yin and Yang of B2B Go to Market Success.

May all of you and your customer’s Hero’s Journeys be successful, transformative and rewarding – Namaste – Ken!