Christopher Lochhead: A Legendary Communicator
Christopher Lochhead hosts the top podcast Follow Your Different, wrote two life changing books Play Bigger and Niche Down, and he's a 3-time Silicon Valley CMO. The dude is legendary. He's also animated and authentic. Don't let the kids hear him...
Christopher has been an advisor to over 50 venture-backed startups, is a venture capital limited partner and a former three-time Silicon Valley public company CMO, entrepreneur, and co-author of two bestsellers: Niche Down and Play Bigger.
He has been called “one of the best minds in marketing” by The Marketing Journal, a “Human Exclamation Point” by Fast Company, a “quasar” by NBA legend Bill Walton and “Off-putting to some” by The Economist.
We dive deep into growth, marketing, category design, and more in this episode.
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Category - Brand - Product
A great example of how we think of businesses that Christopher offered was this: If your tooth hurts, what do you think of first? You go category (I need a dentist) then brand (my dentist Dr. Smith is great) and then product (I need to get a cleaning and filling).
If you can own your category, you win.
Design Your Legendary Life
When thinking about designing your market so you can own it, Christopher says look to Google as inspiration. They own search because they thought about the category, then the product.
At the time, we surfed the web through portals. When Google started, they said "We're not a portal. We're a search engine. Find what you want through us."
They changed the category and created a new one, then designed a product that fit that category and do one thing well, then changed our behavior. Google distinguished themselves from companies like Yahoo, Excite, Alta Vista and others instead of saying they were "a little better."
Google purposefully positioned a new paradigm called search.
"They focused on this one thing. They got product design, company design, and category design right. They didn't say 'We're a portal 2.0.'" - Christopher Lochhead on Google's category design
Now they've become that portal (Google, News, Music, Play store, email...) that they unseated early on.
Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Product
If you want to truly grow as a business, Christopher talked about a new mindset. Instead falling in love with your product, you need to fall in love with the problem you're solving for your customers.
This helps you see the solution beyond just your product. You could have an entire category in front of you, but not even realize it because you've created a product just incrementally better than the last business who solved the problem.
See the problem, and figure out what solves it, then create the category around that. The product should follow that.
"Big E Entrepreneur" Versus "Little e entrepreneur"
We're not all "Big E Entrepreneurs." Those are companies like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram.
Christopher describes it: "I have some technology, I go to Silicon Valley or another tech mecca, find startup funding, and create a mutlibillion dollar category."
This world is where Christopher spent the majority of his professional career. He's learned lessons and shared them in Play Bigger.
Then there's the businesses Christopher calls the "Small e entrepreneur." It's like if three friends get together and start a bar in their hometown with craft beer and vintage arcade games, and call it Barcade. This idea might grow into a chain of bars from the one legendary location.
This example is similar in getting the holy triangle of category-product-brand dialed in, just on a different scale. Either way, you're navigating your growth journey by designing your category and your business.
Here are the links Christopher mentioned on entrepreneurship in America.
Connect with Christopher:
- Follow Your Different with Christopher Lochhead
- The Lochhead on Marketing podcast
- Lochhead on the Web
- Lochhead on Facebook
- Lochhead on Twitter
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