+ Point of view

Categorical thinking

Written by Elliot Harrison

Amazingly the seminal tech marketing tome, Play Bigger, is coming up on its four year anniversary.  Few Tech books have had so much impact and none brought the idea of Category so clearly into focus for a generation of Tech Marketers. 

We were the first in Europe to prosecute the discipline, and it really is an all-embracing vision of Category Design. Two of the authors, Dave Peterson and Kevin Maney, flew in to attend the European launch at Tech UK headquarters in London and we were off and ‘running’.

The truth is our initial forays, to the boards of native British tech firms, were disappointing. Many times we heard ‘Nice idea, but too American’, as if success was limited to Silicon Valley zip codes. We put this down, a tad unfairly as mental weakness by many so-called Britpreneurs. We had many exploratory meetings but saw little appetite to actually do the hard work of Category Design.

It seemed many European founders preferred to ‘drop their pants”, meaning abandon any plans of Category domination at the first sign of a larger tech buyer. In fairness, the European VC landscape was just building up and the options for local IPO listings distant. Still, many took the easy route and possibly paid the price with underpriced exits.

A lot has changed and three years later, our Category Design practice is growing nicely. As a team, we have completed engagements with founders in Slovenia, Turkey and even, finally, the UK. Now we are, at last, three years after we started the journey, working on a newly booming and more confident cohort of techpreneurs. One key sign. The speaking invitations are rolling in.

While much of our work remains in stealth, the high-profile use of Category by successful US companies has continued, most recently by Qualtrics who, in a turn of events, Europe’s largest tech firm, SAP swallowed up for $8 billion cash.

One long-standing client though is well worth closer examination. Altify, is forging a bold new post-CRM world in its category of Customer Revenue Optimization, redefining how enterprise sales teams can address the increasing expectations of enterprise buyers in a subscription economy. 

While it is early days, the initial signs from the analyst and tech media community, show just what can be achieved with the right vision and no fear. We are proud to have been part of this journey and will continue to bring CRO to the fore as we co-create a Category in the red hot sales and marketing tech marketplace.

If you are a CMO, or report to one, please contact Positive for your complimentary copy of Play Bigger, pmaher@positivemarketing.com.