Jordan Ogren

May 9, 2022

The question no one is (directly) answering.

Last week I met the 43rd-best player in the world. Player of what?

Why does that matter?

Would it be any different if he was the 43rd-best basketball player rather than the 43rd-best dart thrower? 

Other than making far more and being 1000x more recognizable. There is a big difference between the two.

But, they are still ranked the same in their respective field (category). So, they're both better than many and not as good as 42 others.

The person I met was ranked 43rd for ax throwing 🪓. He hopes to climb his way to the top ten. I applauded his dedication and drive.

As we talked, he shared how ax-throwing is still premature and snowballing in popularity. He mentioned how the #1 player in the world only makes $20,000 a year playing. But he expects it to be an Olympic sport in the future.

Whether you believe that or not, there's a massive lesson for us marketers.

Imagine ax throwing as a category. Basketball is another category. Clearly, one is more profitable than the other. 

If you're the 10,000-best basketball player, you're probably making more than the number 1 ax thrower. 

While it's excellent to dominate a category (market), sometimes it pays to play in a more significant category and be further down the rankings. 

But, if ax-throwing does eventually turn into an Olympic sport, then everything changes. The people who are spending time harnessing their ax-throwing ability are betting on the category's potential.

And by positioning themselves well within that category, they will reap enormous rewards if it expands.

But if it doesn't, then they *wasted a lot of time and energy chasing a category that eventually dies.

The lesson is not to aim for product-market fit and fall within a preexisting category. Sometimes category creation­–betting on the future potential of a category–is the right path as you will reap the majority of the reward.

The lesson is to be intentional with your decision of where you play to win. 

Every business is playing within some category or market, and you need to decide where you have the best chance of winning and extracting enough value.

That's the most important question a company can answer: where will we play?

Most people can't live off $20,000 a year. But, if you believe that's where you have the greatest chance to win, then keep at it in hopes that the category explodes.

Got any thoughts to add to my underdeveloped view of this?

Have you ever gone ax throwing?

🧠 + ❤️ // JO