Don't Miss a Thing
Free Updates by Email

Enter your email address


preview  |  powered by FeedBlitz

RSS Feeds

Share |

Facebook: Seth's Facebook
Twitter: @thisissethsblog

Search

Google


WWW SETH'S BLOG

SETH'S BOOKS

Seth Godin has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list

all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

linchpin

Linchpin

An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

poke.the.box

Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

purple.cow

Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

small.is.the.new.big

Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.moo

The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.dip

The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

tribes

Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:


THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

« That doesn't look like a chocolate bar | Main | Don't tell me you don't have any good ideas »

Categories and the short head

Shorthead Zipf's Law tells us that something that ranks #1 in a category often sells 100 times as well as the item ranked #100. Human nature makes that likely--we want to read the most popular book, hire the most successful speaker, travel to the most desired place.

Which means that the category you're in matters.

The New York Times doesn't have one bestseller list, it has many. Hardcover and paperback, sure, but also non-fiction, fiction and "advice, how to and miscellaneous." When one book threatens to dominate a category (as Harry Potter did) they invent a new one just for that book.

This week's Times reports that James Frey's controversial book is still "non-fiction" (with a disclaimer) and that Malcolm Gladwell's fine books continue to be non-fiction as well (though mine are considered advice, how-to or miscellaneous, not sure which, not sure why). Dave Barry, surprisingly, doesn't write humor (which is miscellaneous, right?) or even advice (his new book parodies money books) but is, in fact, non-fiction.

It matters at the Times because the advice category is the most competitive and also the shortest.

The reason you should care about all this: you are in a category too. So is your organization.

And you have a lot of influence over what category you're going to be placed in.

For example, there are a lot of software products (fireclick, hitbox, etc.) that measure analytics. Unfortunately for these guys, in the very same category is Google analytics, which is free. Google is now the official short head of analytics, and as long as you are in the same category as they are, you're in trouble.

For example, there are a lot of software engineers looking for jobs. And some of those engineers have absolutely stellar backgrounds and great skills. As long as you are in the same category as they are (and there's only one slot available) then they get the short head advantage.

For example, there are a lot of blogs. Blogs that invent brand-new categories grow far faster than those that just live in an existing category.

Sometimes you want to be in a category unto yourself. This works with blogs or (sometimes) with blockbuster movies (ask Mel Gibson).

Squidoo was most intentionally placed in the Web 2.0 category. Not because it changed what the service does, but because the attributes and attention of that category were both a good fit and moving in the right direction (up). If you can join a category that is already generating conversations, you're more likely to get talked about.

Other times, you want to be in a category with a lot of churn that is proven popular. Like non-fiction books or cosmetics for teenagers. Here, the current short head leader won't last long, and if you're in the right line, you might be next.

What you don't want to do, it seems to me, is not pay attention to which category you are in. Pick your category and live and breathe and act appropriately for that category. Choose wrong (the way Pringles potato chips did) it might take years or longer for people to notice and embrace what you've built.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b31569e200d8345bd04669e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Categories and the short head:

» Categorical Truth... from Matthew Moran's Blog
Seth brings up a great point here. One I’ve bemoaned with my own book.For the bulk of 1995, would have been the top selling IT related career book on Amazon – by a long-shot. However, getting Amazon to include The [Read More]

» Happy Links from WorkHappy.net: killer resources for entrepreneurs
20 Ideas for a Great Podcast. Podcasts are fragile things because you've got someone's full attention, here are some ideas for how to use that attention wisely. (written by yours truly). Fire And Motion, a classic from worship-worthy entrepreneur Joel [Read More]

» Building Traffic Through a Careful Category Selection from blogSEO
I was very impressed with Seth's article on advantages of smart category selection. The most obvious one is traffic building and how it relates to consistent category placement. On the web, everythi... [Read More]

» Tracking Web 2.0 from Web Things Considered
Maybe its just because I made one myself and tend to notice these things more now, but it seems there are an over abundance of web 2.0 tracking sites popping up. However, there is still not a clear winner when it comes to providing a way of fi... [Read More]

» The Hobgoblin USA Catalog Contents Page from USA Catalog
This Catalog is for use in the USA only, we try to keep these items available from our inventory here in the US. If you want goods sent outside the USA, ... [Read More]

« That doesn't look like a chocolate bar | Main | Don't tell me you don't have any good ideas »