The new category sale is one of the toughest challenges for any marketer because you first have to sell the customer on the category. It's new. It's something they have not purchased before, maybe not even heard of before. Your marketing is educational. You spend a lot of time describing the category, its benefits and ROI. Only after the customer sees the need for the category do you sell your company. So you have two parallel marketing campaigns.
As competitors enter the space it gets really challenging because you have these simultaneous marketing campaigns going on. One that sells the category (get the people interested in the product) and the other—only after they buy into the category—selling and differentiating your brand versus the competition. This stage of the new category sale can last for years.
As the market matures you no longer need to sell the category. People get it. They know there is a business value to it; they need it and they are going out and searching for companies. At this time you need to spend most of your marketing budget on selling and differentiating your brand. If you allocate too much money at this point into growing the pie (i.e., selling the category), you risk handing money to your competitors who are spending all of their money selling their solutions. You're spending money baking the pie. They're making money selling the pie. It is a delicate but harsh transition that happens quickly.
The video interviewing space is an example of a new category sale that is quickly maturing and will require a very different marketing strategy.
Video interviewing is arguably still in the "new category" stage. The adoption rate is accelerating and, while the benefits are clear to most companies, vendors still find themselves selling something new to a company that may not have budgeted for or implemented such a product in the past. This is about to change-fast. I base this on my observations at this year's HR technology Conference, where I saw a bunch of video interviewing vendors exhibiting. They include Ansync Interview, GreenJobInterview, HarQen, HireVue, Interviewstream, Jobvite, Montage Talent, RIVS, Sparkhire, Take The Interview and WePow.
For a listing of more video interviewing companies see this list compiled by Ed Newman at INSIDETMT.
Several years ago there were not nearly as many. The market is maturing fast and the pie is growing, thanks to all the marketing from the early entrants (if you are a newcomer to this space, you can thank your predecessors for creating the market you now benefit from).
But what I noticed at HR Technology was some video interviewing providers are still spending a big chunk of their marketing budget on selling the category (video interviewing) versus selling their their solution. These vendors need to be careful because the marketplace is at a critical inflection point where you risk potentially strong sales growth by spending too much of your budget on selling the category versus your unique solution. The art in product marketing is to know when to shift the budget allocation. I think we're getting to the point where most organizations don't need to be sold on video interviewing but need to be sold on your unique solution—which is likely a lot more than simply "video interviewing."
Labels: brand marketing, Mark Willaman, video interviewing