The very first question to ask yourself.

If you own a business.

Is this:

“What category am I in?”

The First Question. 

The reason this is the very first question you ask yourself.

Is because it’s the very first question your customer asks themselves.

And after they have answered it.

They build pictures.


And stories.

So answer the question first.


Then build and communicate your brand and business accordingly.

And that way.

What your customer imagines you are.

Will be accurate.


Here’s an example of how the answer to the question you ask yourself.

The one about what category you’re in.

Should influence your behaviour as a brand and a business.

And as a consequence.

How customers react to you.


I recently contacted a company that ran sleeper trains.

Straight forward enough.

No fuss.

‘A train you can sleep on’.

And in my own mind.

Because I couldn’t quite fathom any more detail than, ‘A train you can sleep on’ from the business communications.

I chose their category myself.

I positioned this company firmly in the ‘Leisure Experience’ category.

Because I wanted to go on a sleeper train and experience an Agatha Christie Murder.

Someone bludgeoned to death as I sipped tea.

And I wanted some bloke in a hat.

With a curled moustache.

Calling me ‘Sir’.

And calling my little Izobel madam.

To serve me.

(And Izobel).

With posh, brightly coloured drinks on a silver tray.

(Mine had an olive in it for some reason).

Through the sliding door of our neat, private cabin.

Before shuffling off.

Leaving me to read The Daily Telegraph.

(‘Never read it in my life).

Leaving Izobel to dance and chatter to two plush toys.

One in each hand.

On the fold-down table in front of her.

The Other Category.

I got the category wrong, though.

Because the fast-talking call handler didn’t plug into my self-storytelling at all.

Instead they did this.

The call handler spoke of looking to minimise my sleep-time between place of departure and destination.

When I wanted to maximise it in order to snooze to the clicker-clack of the tracks.

(And maybe listen in as some Lord or Lady was murdered a couple of carriages along).

The call handler spoke of ‘having to sleep on a train’ as an unfortunate yet necessary part of through-the-night journeying.

When I wanted it to be the focal point.

And as they chattered.

The walnut panelled carriage in my mind turned to formica.

The cocktails on a silver tray turned to paper cups of weak coffee.

And my place on the pages of the next Murder Mystery to flow from the pen of the next great writer of such things turned to shit.


The very first question to ask yourself.

If you own a business.

Is this:

“What category am I in?”

Because when this train company put themselves in the ‘A-to-B Commute’ category.

Everything they did from that point forward matched their reality of what they thought a customer wanting A-to-B Commuting  would want.

But that’s only fine if the business communications at the first touchpoint are clear.

Remember this bit:

…build and communicate your brand and business accordingly. 

And that way. 

What your customer imagines you are. 

Will be accurate.

Because if you don’t.

Your business resources will be wasted on inappropriate phonecalls.

Your front-line staff will grow tutty and exasperated.

And your reputation will turn to shite.

Because of the lack of clarity.

And resultant confusion.

And frustration.

Around categories.



What category are you in?

Write A Comment