What’s Your Business Category?

Business Categories

Unfortunately, our brains are lazy. They’re high-energy fuel sucking neurons. Fortunately, over thousands of years of evolution our brains have developed a number of short cuts to help us balance their need for energy and still retain their function.

One of these shortcuts is the use of categories or generalizations. For instance, when we see a four-legged creature coming down the street toward us, we can quickly register that it’s a dog or a cat and not confuse it with a tree, a snake or a car. This is quick and easy as compared to trying to distinguish what breed of dog it is and who is it’s owner.

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Business Categories

In terms of marketing our businesses categories are really useful also. For instance, at a networking event I can in a single word describe what I do by saying I’m an accountant, a business coach or a CEO.

QUESTION: What broad category does your business belong to?

Useless Categories

Some categories are more useful than others. Two that come to mind are ‘leadership’ and ‘innovation’. These categories are so broad they have limited value. They might be useful if you are introducing yourself to a brand new audience. However, once you’ve found your right audience you need to drill in a little deeper than that. For instance, if I met you for the first time and announced I work in ‘Innovation’ this may distinguish me from the ‘sales’ guy standing next to me. After that, I need to be more specific because there is a big difference between process innovation and business model innovation.

QUESTION: What’s the deeper category your business belongs to? When is it useful and when is it not?

Unique Categories

One of the goals of marketing and branding is to own a category such that when someone thinks of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ they think of you. And, ideally this leads them to contact you and eventually work with you.

The downside of belonging to a unique category is that your intended audience may not know what it is means. For instance, I’ve been calling myself the ‘Ideas Architect’. This has been great to position my uniqueness and it’s been a tradeoff because often people say to me they don’t understand what I do.

QUESTION: Are you presenting yourself in a unique category? Is this working for you or not?


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