How To Become (and remain) The Market Leader In 3 Steps

Chris Monk
Mar 8 · 6 min read

Regardless of whether you sell a product, service or SaaS solution, there are three steps to turning your solution into the market leader.

These three steps have been used by companies like Salesforce, Hubspot, Zuora, Drift, CEB and many others to become the leader in their market — and stay that way.

For example, launched in 1999, Salesforce has stayed at the top of their market for two decades & counting. Their increase in 2017 market share, for example, was more than the top 20 other CRM providers combined.

And Hubspot has remained at the top of their category with over 23% of market share for over a decade (despite competitors attempting to copy their success).

So what are these 3 steps?

Step 1 — Create a new category based on an ideology

Today we live in one of the worlds most competitive business markets.

The sheer volume of competition is mind-boggling.

Just in the marketing technology space alone, the number of competing companies have increased from 150 in 2011 to over 7000 in 2018. That’s an increase of over 4500%.

The single best way to compete in such a saturated market is to create a new category within which you can be the market leader.

But there are two problems with the traditional approach to category creation (where a new category is created upon the features of the solution, e.g. the first digital watch creating the category of digital watches).

1. It tends to be only applicable to new solutions — most of you reading will already have a solution.

2. Even if you are in the process of creating a brand new solution — the differences between your solution & existing solutions aren’t sufficiently large to create a new category upon those differences.

The answer is to build a new category upon an ideology.

What’s an ideology? It’s a set of beliefs.

In order to do this, brand your business with a set of beliefs (ideology) about the best way for your target market to achieve their must important goals.

This is called Ideological Branding and it’s what companies like Hubspot, Salesforce, Zuora and many others have used to create massive growth and dominate their industries.

For example, Hubspot branded themselves with the ideology of Inbound Marketing — an ideology they created themselves that promoted a new set of beliefs for how marketers should go about marketing.

This enabled them to rebrand their marketing automation solution as an Inbound Marketing Platform: a tool to help their customers implement this new way of working — thus creating the perception of a brand new solution and a new category.

The reality was that their solution was almost exactly the same their competitor’s solution at the time.

To learn more about ideologies and how to create one for your business read this article.

Step 2 — Promote your ideology like crazy

Now that you have branded your business with an ideology & created the perception of a new category, it’s time to promote this ideology & new category like crazy.

Your entire marketing, PR, brand communications and sales pitch must be geared towards converting people to this ideology.

What about your solution? Shouldn’t you promote that?

No.

The focus of your communication should be on converting people to this new ideology — if you’ve got the right ideology then it will set up the need for your solution anyway.

Your ideology does the selling of your solution for you.

The benefit of Ideological Branding is that an ideology is not just a set of beliefs, it’s a story.

And it’s a story that people want to share and hear — it’ll get you massive attention from the media and your industry.

You still need to promote it heavily, but it’s a whole lot easier to get traction with a story like the one that Ideological Branding gives you than it is with dry features & benefits.

To quote Marc Benioff, founder & CEO of Salesforce — a company that used Ideological Branding to become the $10billion giant in the CRM industry.

The reality was that in terms of revenue and customers, we were still just a tiny little start-up. No-one at the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or BusinessWeek really cared about a small start-up…That’s where The End of Software story came in…reporters loved building drama around this story. That makes sense. After all, reporters like to tall a story with a protagonist and a villain.

With all the attention your ideology is getting you’ll start to get competitors realising that this is something they need to get in on. This is why step 3 is an important step.

Step 3— Own the ideology

Whilst this is marked “step 3”, this is really something you should be doing at the same time as step 2.

You will have had a head-start on competitors. But, as your ideology becomes popular, competitors will cotton onto the trend and start branding themselves with your ideology as well.

This is what happened to Hubspot — as Inbound Marketing started getting buzz, other marketing automation companies started calling their products Inbound Marketing solutions as well.

But, because Hubspot had taken the time to own their ideology, all this did was create more customers for them.

How did they own their ideology?

They flooded their market with content about it — becoming the most complete resource for Inbound Marketing.

They wrote a book about it & created a conference dedicated to Inbound Marketing that was open to everyone & not just their customers.

They purchased the domain name inboundmarketing.com.

And, very importantly, they continued to build their solution out to become the most complete platform for Inbound Marketing.

Whilst at the beginning they had pretty much the same functionality as their competitor’s, as time went on and they built their solution out around the ideology of Inbound Marketing, their solution became the most specialised solution for Inbound.

So, by the time that their competitors started to realise that Inbound Marketing was getting traction, Hubspot was miles ahead of them.

So, when Hubspot’s competitors started promoting Inbound Marketing, they were inadvertently driving customers to Hubspot. Marketers would learn about Inbound Marketing and then, naturally, research online. Because Hubspot had the most information online, they would inevitably come across Hubspot and would discover that their solution was the most complete one for Inbound — making the purchase choice pretty obvious.

Want to implement Ideological Branding in your business?

Check out the USPNR framework.

This framework gives you the steps that you need to take to find the right ideology for your business.

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About Chris Monk

Former Global Marketing Director with over 12 years experience in marketing and sales, including work with Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Google and SAP.

I help businesses implement Ideological Branding — a strategy that some of the world’s most successful businesses use to create massive growth and dominate their markets.

Learn more at www.ideologicalbranding.com

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +432,678 people.

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Chris Monk

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Helping businesses create massive growth with Ideological Branding. Contributing Author at The Startup. http://www.ideologicalbranding.com

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