Developing Your Positioning Marketing Strategy
“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” - Anton Chekhov
Developing a position marketing strategy is determining exactly what “positioning” is and why it is important. According to Wikipedia, positioning is the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target markets for its product, brand, or organization. It is the relative competitive comparison that a company occupies in a given market as perceived by the target market.
Determine Your Relative Standing in the Market
Position is the customer’s overall perception of a business, including its products and services. Position is what is in the mindset of the customer. If your positioning takes full advantage of the customer’s perceptions and this positioning is communicated effectively, it will set you apart from the competition and establish a solid first link in the purchase decision chain, also known as the awareness link. The awareness link shapes your relationship, and often the real purchase is made by the unconscious mind on the basis of awareness – long before the actual sales transaction is completed.
Having good positioning makes for favorable awareness and sets you up for success right from the start. Position can be very tricky in that in some ways it is under your control, yet in others it is not. To the extent that the customer may already have perceptions about your business, industry, products, and services, those perceptions already are your position. Identify these perceptions because you can change your positioning strategy if the perceptions are not what you anticipated. As a result, changing customer perceptions – with effective communications through your company’s sensory package – can influence behavior that is consistent with the image you are trying to project to your customers.
Positioning has to be genuine. It MUST be consistent with the reality of your business and it has to be consistent with the perceptions of the target markets or it will not be credible or believed. Positioning, based on false claims or a misunderstanding of target markets, is a liability to your company. It can turn away prospective customers and weaken relationships with existing customers.
Differentiation is simply more than just being different from the competition. It is critical to be preferentially differentiated, which is why it is important to be positioning your company in target markets. Being able to identify how your product or service is different is one of the factors that will make or break a business. It is because being different AND being able to communicate that difference successfully will secure a welcome niche in the marketplace for your business.
Differentiate Your Business
To create a differentiation that will not be imitated, think beyond the core benefits of your business. The companies that have succeeded in maintaining their differentiation over the years, and which weren’t intimidated, are those that innovated qualities beyond the core benefits of their market. Be the innovator of qualities; think ahead and look outside the forest. There is a systematic process for developing an effective positioning for an overall business. It is a step-by-step process, but it is not automatic and does not happen overnight. It requires careful thinking and insight from the inside of a business to position for the outside perception of a business.
It requires that you know your target markets. It takes time, but with proper understanding of target markets, you can put a foundation in place for building a positioning strategy that will draw the targeted customers to you. EXHIB-IT! has been working on its positioning strategy for the last several years after a competitor moved very close to our location we occupied for many years.
We took for granted that one of our competitors was across town and knew our locations were on opposite sides of town. We focused on position strategy, which allowed us to grow 122 percent over a two-and-a-half-year period. It was not an easy process in the beginning, but once we identified our target markets, along with our secondary “flanker markets,” it made it easy for us to have a position strategy.
Create Your Positioning Strategy
To create an effective positioning strategy, the first step is to determine the general classification of the products and services offered. They can be classified into (1) a true product, (2) a commodity, or (3) a brand. Think about what you sell, which category it falls into, and how that affects your position in the mind of the prospect or customer.
Many companies confuse a solid marketing strategy with pure tactics, also known as a “brand juice.” The key ingredients in brand juice creation are to visually identify with clever taglines and a creative “essence” advertising package through your sensory package, but they are only supporting elements. To be effective, such supporting elements must be part of a more comprehensive plan.
Next, put in place a “brand juice” creation by putting into play your relative standing in the market and then decide to either reinforce your current relative standing or change it. This includes how the market sees your company compared to the competition.