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The Simple Framework Netflix, Stitch Fix, And Vinebox Used To Claim Their Categories
You can teach others to think by the words you use with them.
Dear Friend, Subscriber, and Category Pirate,
This week’s Buried Treasure is about how to claim a category.
The language you use to talk about your category should make the customer STOP, tilt their head, and immediately wonder, “This is for something different—do I need this?” It should be clear “this thing is not like what came before it.” In order to do that, you have to be the trusted authority on that new language—and subsequently, that new category.
It all starts with how you Frame, Name, and Claim it.
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Whoever Frames The Problem Owns The Solution
There’s a reason why men can have “erectile dysfunction” and not “impotence.”
Impotence has very negative implications attached to the word. It implies that he’s “not manly” or “unable to be a man.” That’s not a word very many men want to be associated with—meaning men don’t want to admit to having such a problem. (Hard to sell a solution to a problem no one wants to admit to having!)
In order to solve this problem, Pfizer (the makers of Viagra) had to invent a disease, called “erectile dysfunction.”
They made impotence a more approachable problem. And then they shortened it to “ED” to make it even softer and safer to associate with. It’s a whole lot easier for a man to say, “I am experiencing ED” than to say “I am impotent.”
To change someone’s perception in this way, you have to Frame, Name, and Claim the problem and solution.
Category Queens deliberately use the Frame, Name, and Claim Framework for a few reasons:
To differentiate themselves from any and all competition through word choice, tone, and nuance.
To speak to (and speak “like”) the customers they want to attract—especially the Superconsumers of the category.
To further establish their position in the category they are designing or redesigning.
To insinuate and give context to the rest of the 8 levers: price, profit model, branding, etc., and how the company executes any number of them in a different way.
Your POV, and the language you use to reflect that POV, makes your “messaging” inspire customers to take action—not the other way around.
But how can you possibly know what to say unless you know what you stand for? What difference do you make in the world? What problem do you solve?
Let’s walk through how this works.
How To Frame, Name, And Claim A Category
When you invent the language to solve a problem, you become the trusted authority to educate people on the definition of that new language—and subsequently, that new category.
Step 1: Frame a different problem/opportunity.
The goal is to create distinctions between old and new, same and different.
Here are a few examples from category leaders:
StitchFix: Busy people don’t have time to shop for clothes, but they want nice clothes that fit their unique style.
Vinebox: Buying an entire bottle of premium wine, only to not enjoy what you’ve just bought, is a terrible experience.
Netflix: You should be able to watch anything you want, whenever you want.
Step 2: Evangelize a different future.
Stand in a different future, and live “as if” that different future already exists today.
StitchFix: Receive curated boxes of clothing, selected just for you by a team of stylists.
Vinebox: Get vials of premium wine by the glass delivered to your door.
Netflix: Instantly “stream” movies and TV shows, instead of waiting for an “appointment viewing” at a set time.
Step 3: Show customers how your “solution” bridges the gap from the problem/opportunity to a different future.
This step lets you highlight the unspoken qualities of your category point of view.
StitchFix: Keep the clothes you like, and return what you don’t.
Vinebox: If you like it, you can order a full bottle.
Netflix: Stream shows on your schedule, instead of planning your life around them.
You are responsible not just for strategically using new words to frame new problems (or reframe old problems) but also for communicating the benefits of your new and different solution.
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