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Positioning statements: how to be first in a new category March 20, 2013

Posted by Mike Gospe in Positioning.
Tags: , ,

When crafting a positioning statement, one of the most challenging items is the category. When done well, new categories feel obvious. Here’s one of my favorite examples of a company that forever changed the way we watch television.

You can capture a strong position in the market by creating a new category and naming yourself number one. After all, there is no point in launching a new product or service in a new category unless you can be first in that category. With that in mind, the first question to ask yourself is, “first what?” The search for a unique product or service category offers the opportunity for creative thought.

The RCA 35" Home Theatre. So real, it's scary!

Here’s one of my favorite examples from the archives. Back in 1992, marketers at RCA launched an ad campaign with the headline: “The RCA 35″ Home Theatre. So real, it’s scary.” This was the first time that I ever saw the words “home” and “theatre” used in the same sentence. Understand that at this time, televisions were typically 20″ or 26″ wide. They sat on table tops and dressers and offered only a small window to the world of news and entertainment. While each of the words (home, theatre) were certainly common, the new two-word phrase offered a new thought and a promise of a new experience. One has only to look at the famous RCA dogs tilting to the side as they watch and experience the roller coaster on the screen. A new category was born.

What’s your category?

For more information on how to build, critique, and defend your own positioning statement, I invite you to check out my book, The Marketing High Ground: the essential playbook for B2B marketing practitioners everywhere. This book contains examples, case studies, templates, and techniques to up-level your marketing game.


1. Kathryn Heltsley - March 20, 2013

Great post, some challenging thoughts to chew on. Do you have any examples of new categories that did NOT go well, ie, things to avoid? Maybe in a follow-up post? Thanks!

2. Mike Gospe - March 21, 2013

One of the most recent examples of a new successful category was with Apple’s iPad. While the “tablet computer” is now an accepted category, you may recall that when the iPad was first introduced, people didn’t know what it was. Some people wondered if it was a bigger iPhone. Others thought it was a stripped down laptop without a keyboard. Apple’s marketing mastery focused on the use cases of this new gadget. Their billboards and TV ads are brilliant because they convey stories that provoke an emotional response from the audience, thus reinforcing the new category and Apple’s leadership position. But, establishing a new category is tough, taking both time and marketing investment. Apple had a healthy supply of each. When new categories fail, sometimes its because the company didn’t have the time or marketing investment to reinforce the category.

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