This week I keep reflecting on what I’ve learned about Category Kings from the book Play Bigger

I didn’t really intend to write about it all week.  And in fact, tomorrow I’ve already planned to write about something completely different.  But I had just one more really valuable insight I wanted to share…

The book has made me think — a lot.

(By the way, I’ve already recommended it directly and personally to two of the most influential marketers I know, and both snagged it the moment they got my recommendation.  Don’t be surprised if you hear about this book a lot more in the coming weeks and months throughout the direct response world.)

You see, I picked up the audio book.  I listened once, on Sunday.  (2.5X speed helps get it done quicker!)  Then, I immediately hit play and listened AGAIN.  And I’ve already finished my second pass.  Plus I bought a hardcover copy, because I want to pull a lot of the process-based thinking and questions out of the book, so I can use them more effectively going forward.

I don’t do this with books.  When I do, you should probably get the book, too.  Get it on Amazon here.

Anyway, one of the things that they talked about with Category Kings is how they market.  The folks at Play Bigger, the agency, who wrote Play Bigger, the book, have some great direct marketing chops, or so it seems from how they speak.

And they understand the role that marketing and messaging and strategy play in creating a great success, once you have a great product and great company, and have defined a great category.

In fact, if you have product, company, and category right but you can’t get the marketing right, someone is likely to swoop in and steal the category from you.  Then you’re a “remember them?” instead of King.

And the biggest goal of a Category King’s marketing efforts?

Commanding attention in a crowded, noisy market…

A few years ago, the stat was that in industrialized societies (especially America), we’re exposed to 5,000 commercial messages per day.  I heard a recent stat suggesting that number has more than doubled.

So how can you, a marketer, compete with the 9,999 other marketers that are trying to get your prospect’s attention today?

What are you going to do to stand out?

There are really two methods.

  1. Be a trusted source and valued destination. This is what I try to do every day in Breakthrough Marketing Secrets. I have many readers who wait with baited breath for 4 PM US Central time, when my email hits their inbox.  They open it up and read every word, because they trust me to delivery daily value.  This is RELATIONSHIP.  And a great relationship overcomes all other factors in trying to win attention.  But there’s likely a much bigger segment of your audience that you don’t yet have this relationship with, whose attention you need to get first before you can build this reputation.  Which leads me to…
  2. Be a big event in their life. I’m going to spend the rest of this essay talking about this…

The secret of “Lightning Strikes” and event-driven marketing to command market attention…

In Play Bigger, the authors use the language of the “lightning strike.”  This is one big marketing event that the whole company gets behind, on the calendar, to momentarily capture the market’s attention and fascination.

Think Apple’s product launches — when the whole world momentarily stops to see what Cupertino is coming out with next.

But you don’t only have to look to Silicon Valley.

This is the whole secret of Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula.  Instead of spacing out your marketing over time and spreading out your impact, you circle a date on the calendar and marshal your resources to make a big impact in a tiny window.

The principle that makes this work…

One of the biggest challenges in marketing is coming up with a sense of urgency.

Why should I pay attention to you today, and not put you off until tomorrow (and forever)?

What about your message is something that demands immediate attention, rather than just promises a benefit and stokes my curiosity, with the possibility you’ll offer me something I can buy to make my life better on the back end?

This isn’t a small question.  Not trivial, either.

This is a very important question.

Your prospect is busy.  Distracted.  They have a million different priorities, other than you.

Even if you have a great product.  Even if you can make their life better, starting today.

You have to give them a reason to pay attention to you right now.

And while there are a lot of other ways to do this, literally circling a date on a calendar and showing it to them can be incredibly powerful.

Plus, doing this lets you focus resources.

Think about this illustration: dry leaves can sit in the sun all day long and not catch fire.  But hold a magnifying glass in just the right way for the lens to focus the sunlight on the leaf, and that leaf with catch fire.

Let’s say you had a marketing budget of $100,000 for a calendar quarter.  It’s an arbitrary number.  But it works for illustration.  Let’s say you spread it across the 90 or so days in the quarter.  That’s roughly $1,000 per day.  You can keep your business running with that budget, but it’s hard to make an impact.

Now, let’s say you cut that same budget in half.  You put half of it to a daily marketing budget, to keep momentum going at $500 per day.  But then, you split the remaining half around one week-long campaign/event, tied to an important happening in your market.  For that one week, when everyone is paying attention, you’re paying $10,500 per day to be EVERYWHERE in front of your market.

Tie that to a powerful message, and you’ll take a big leap forward with that one campaign.

Do it over and over again, and you get into a situation the Play Bigger folks call the “flywheel.”  A flywheel is a wheel that maintains momentum with very little additional force to keep it going.  A few quarterly events, and suddenly your company is taking huge leaps forward and dominating the category.

The alternative to this…

I know a lot of my subscribers are not doing these big marketing events.

The good news is, there’s a way to apply this in an evergreen way.

Here’s a webinar example…

One of the ways you can do a big event is with a webinar for your market.  You schedule a date, then put out a bunch of promotion around that webinar.  You can do this on a regular basis, and create that flywheel effect.

Or, you can make it an evergreen webinar that looks live.  You create a funnel that’s designed to make it look like the webinar is happening — today, in an hour, in a few minutes, or sometime soon.

To the prospect arriving for the first time, they don’t know the difference.  They’re experiencing it as a big event, even if it’s on autopilot for you.

You capture the urgency and excitement in your prospect’s mind of event-driven marketing, but are doing it in an automated way.

This has much of the same effect on an individual prospect level as a big event.  (Although you lose the appeal for media, other players in your space, etc., to cover it.)

Today, many of the most effective marketers on the internet are using some variation on this.

You can choose this, or choose a bigger-impact lightning strike designed to hit your whole market.

Either way, tying your marketing into the feeling of a big event is a breakthrough way to command attention in a crowded market…

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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