This is the last of five articles that make up The Newcomer’s Guide to Category Design.
Part four provided a guide for the most important part of category design - getting your team on board. As you execute this strategy, though, you’ll probably wonder how to use community sites like G2 to promote your category. That’s what we’ll cover in this final section.
If you’re interested in reading the entire series in PDF or ePub format, you can access the entire category design guide for free at Flag and Frontier.
If you’re reading this on G2, you may already know the important role that this site plays when buyers look for B2B software. You’re probably also reading because your category isn’t yet reflected on G2, and you’re wondering how to change that. And for good reason: millions of buyers visit G2.com every month, where they’ll find over one million software reviews.
G2 isn’t a “pay to play” platform where only the most deep-pocketed companies can get coverage. Their focus is on helping buyers select the right software using reviews from their peers – not analysts.
And unlike other firms that provide software reviews and research, G2 focuses on offering a “real-time” taxonomy – one that reflects the way buyers perceive software today, not years ago. But before we talk about the process of having a new category created on G2, we need to first take a look at G2’s own methodology for adding new categories.
To understand this better, we spoke with Kara Kennedy, G2’s Director of Product Research.
How G2 adds new categories
The first thing you need to know about G2’s categorization process is that it’s defined by feature sets. A new category must represent a distinct feature set that is unique from other categories listed on the site. In other words, if you’re approaching category design only as a branding and messaging play, there’s little chance G2 will create a new category for you.
Even if there are multiple names that buyers use to refer to a category, G2 will present just one of them on its site. Alternative category names or references will simply be listed within the category definition – if they’re listed at all.
Because products are categorized based on their features, G2 does not allow vendors to pick and choose the categories they are listed in. This might sound like a penalty, but it’s actually in the best interest of both buyers and sellers. After all, if a buyer can’t find what they’re looking for because products are over-categorized, then a review site like G2 won’t be very helpful.
According to Kara, “We take this aspect of our methodology very seriously to ensure that buyers are able to make true comparisons between products.”
To find out which products represent unique feature sets, G2 starts by listening to its team of industry analysts, who are regularly speaking with vendors and buyers, attending industry events, and generally keeping a finger on the pulse in their given market. As they see categories emerge or evolve, they make recommendations to adapt their category taxonomy.
G2 is not driven solely by analyst coverage. They rely on feedback from their community, too. Both vendors and buyers have channels to make recommendations for new categories, and that feedback is listened to closely by G2’s researchers and leadership.
The process for requesting a new category addition
Let’s explore how to request new categories on G2 while we’re at it.
Build something category-worthy
The process for having a new category created on G2 starts with the software you are actually building. Remember, G2 will only create a new category if a product has a unique set of features that aren’t represented in existing categories. That’s just another way of saying that new categories need to represent new solutions, not “better” versions of existing products. With that out of the way, let’s talk about another criterion you need to meet: having enough competitors.
Yes, you read that right. Even if you offer something unique and have all the language in place to define this new category, G2 still won’t be ready to create a new category. You also need to have competitors who offer something similar. In fact, G2 looks for categories that have at least ten companies in the space. That means that early on, your main job is to grow the category itself (competitors and all) before you focus on promoting your particular brand.
Sangram Vajre of Terminus put this best: “There is a new type of leadership that I call “belongship.” It’s about building a community first. Get laser-focused on problem market fit and instead of a customer event, do an industry event that brings competitors together. Why? It will bring analysts, the media, influencers, and collective set of future customers together all at the same place. If you do this right, with a clear focus on giving in an authentic and kind way, you have a chance to not only create a category but rather become a category leader.”
Here’s the interview with Sangram about category design.
List on G2 even if your category isn’t ready
Better to have some presence on G2 rather than no presence at all. Generating reviews for your product will only help drive awareness and legitimacy for what you’re building – which are building blocks for growing the category itself. If you know a new category needs to be built, but there aren’t enough competitors yet, then G2 may list you in a “Other” category that serves as a catch-all for products that don’t fit into primary categories.
For example, BombBomb is currently listed in the video email category. While it represents a portion of our offering, it doesn’t fully represent the category we are building long term. In the meantime, though, we are still taking advantage of our leading position in that space and continuing to drive reviews.
Once you meet the criteria of having a unique feature set and enough competitors, the process of requesting a new category is pretty simple. Whether you’re a G2 customer or not, you can just visit the vendor portal at my.G2.com to submit a request.
There’s no guarantee they will honor the request, as about 40% of submissions are either rejected (or backlogged, in the case of emerging markets). But new categories are added when they make sense.
For a few recent examples, check out the following categories:
Once your new category is listed, your work isn’t done. In fact, it’s just beginning. Now, you need to double down on your commitment to evangelizing the category and emerging as its leader. To start, consider running a PR campaign announcing your new category. You can also reach out to G2’s research team on creating an announcement video.
Keep in mind that G2 tends to rank highly for “[category name] software” search terms on Google and other search engines. Once your new category is listed, promoting this category name out in the market can only help you. The more buyers who search for this term, the more buyers who will find your listing on G2 itself. Finally, don’t forget to invest in driving more reviews for your listing. Once that G2 Grid is built, you’ll want to see your brand in that top right quadrant.
Think beyond the category name
Remember, while category names in G2 are important, they aren’t the entire picture. Salesforce built the cloud-based software category long before G2, and at this point, that’s too broad a category to be listed there.
The term “inbound marketing software” is yet to be listed on G2, despite the fact that HubSpot built a distinct category from “inbound marketing”. And despite Gong’s high-profile effort to move past the “conversational intelligence” category and into a new one (which it’s calling “revenue intelligence”), they are still listed firmly in the latter.
Even Ryan Bonnici, former CMO of G2, reminded me in this interview that, “as B2B marketers, we often get too caught up in features and functionality, and we don’t focus enough on the problem [that we are] solving for.”
Ultimately, category design is a business strategy, not a plan for getting listed on a review or analyst site. Remember that, and you’ll do just fine.