Producing Results Blog

How to Be Number One

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Yesterday I posed the question “What is it that you can do better than anyone else?” I asked you to take some time to figure out what you can be the best in the world at, just like the Beatles did when they made the decision to focus on their songwriting. I realize that that’s a big question, so let’s see if we can’t make it a little easier by re-phrasing it slightly. Instead of looking at the entire world of possibilities, let’s narrow it down and instead ask this question:

“In what category can you be the best in the world?”

The Beatles didn’t set out to be the best composers of music in the world. That would put them in competition with everybody from Gerswhin to Mozart. Instead, they narrowed the category by focusing on the category of pop music. They still had heavy competition, but this was a category in which they could win.

I was just re-reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Law #2 is what they call The Law of the Category, and the basic premise is “If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.” The example they use really clarifies this law. They first ask, “Who was the first person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo?” Well, we all know the answer: Charles Lindbergh. They then ask, “Who was the second person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo?” Somebody you’ve never heard of—a guy named Bert Hinkler. Lindbergh got there first, and Hinkler couldn’t compete in that category. But here’s the cool part. They then ask, “Who was the third person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo?” So now you’re thinking, “I didn’t know the second person, so why in the world would I know the third person?” But you do. Her name is Amelia Earhart.

The reason you know her (aside from her unfortunate ending) is that she wasn’t competing in the same category. Instead of coming in third in the People Who Have Flown Solo Across the Atlantic category, she came in first in the Women Who Have Flown Solo Across the Atlantic category. In essence, she narrowed the category down into one in which she could be first.

Prius isn’t the best selling car in the world, but it is the best selling hybrid car in the world. Smaller category, and one in which Prius can be the best in the world.

Yesterday I asked you to figure out what you can do better than anyone else. Today I want you to take a look at the business or industry you’re in and see if there is a sub-category—either an existing one or one that you create—in which you can be the best in the world. If you really nail it, like the Beatles did, your competition will never know what hit them.

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About the Author:

For 15 years, Executive Producer and Hall of Fame speaker Bill Stainton, CSP led his team to more than 100 Emmy Awards and 10 straight years of #1 ratings.Today Bill helps leaders achieve those kinds of results--in THEIR world and with THEIR teams.
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