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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  July 26, 2016

Two Ways to Become ‘King of Your Category’

2 ways to become king or queen of your category

Newsflash: Successful startup companies brand themselves differently than less successful companies. How they do that was uncovered in a fascinating study by Harvard Business School’s Rory McDonald.

A Harvard Business School article about the study talks about the perks of being “king of the category.” It turns out brand awareness is just the beginning. When we are “cognitive referent” (aka The Next Big Thing), the press wants to promote us. Clients use working with us as a sign of “being serious.” In short, opportunities come to us. Talk about strong ROI.

Move past the article’s emphasis on startups in new markets. All of us want to stand out and stake our claim in a crowded marketplace. Pay attention to these ideas any B2B firm can use:

1. Create a founding story. Not any story will do. According to McDonald, stories that focus on moving past an existing solution to do something different are best. Let’s go one step further, though: Tout your startling discovery. Example: While struggling to do XXX, we discovered YYY. So we did this differently, and the rest is history. Focusing on the discovery explains the emotional context behind your platform. I tell clients this is their “Eureka story.”


Related: How to Tell a Great Brand Story


2. Control your labels. The article notes that many companies are so grateful for attention that leaders give the marketplace (and competitors) the upper hand in defining them. My take: too little, too late. A pre-emptive strike of creating a label that clearly defines your contribution will be quickly adopted by the media. The key: fewer words the better.

These two things are strategic and doable. Use these tactics and find out what opportunities cross your path. To get the full report, click here.


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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.