Positioning Your Business in Five Easy Steps
Your positioning is what comes to mind when your target market thinks about you compared to your competitors. When somebody says Rolls Royce, what do you think typically comes to people’s mind? Most likely: very high-end luxury and exclusivity. The reason for that is because of their premium positioning. There’s certainly a very big difference between the positioning of Rolls Royce and Honda.
Why is Positioning important?
Your positioning is one of the most crucial elements when coming up with the buying process for your clients, it should never be forgotten about. It is your opportunity to influence the market’s perception of you and your business.
Failing to properly address the positioning for your business will certainly hold your business back. With or without your input, your clients will position your business based on information from your competitors (which likely will not make you too happy).
Having clear, concise and intentional positioning will definitely help you cut through the loud (and sometimes obnoxious) advertising and marketing noise of the marketplace. In your client’s mind, proper positioning gives your messages context so that they can be heard and even accepted much better.
The goal of positioning for your business is to keep your product on top of your client’s mind when they are thinking about making a purchase. In order for your business to be successful, it needs to achieve these three very important objectives:
- Articulate key service (or company) characteristics
- Differentiate your business from your competition
- Address important customer buying criteria
The messaging with your marketing and positioning of your business are very similar
When coming up with the positioning strategies for your business, carefully review each bullet point below.
Is the positioning for your business:
• Single-minded—is it conveying just one primary message at a time?
- Meaningful—is it going to connect with the audience that you are targeting?
- Differentiating—does it contrast your strengths against the competition?
- Important—is it pertinent and significant to the audience you are targeting?
- Sustainable—will it resonate with the audience that you are targeting well into the future?
- Believable—will it ring true with the audience that you are targeting?
- Credible—can you clearly back all of your claims?
Strategies for Positioning
Below is a list of some established strategies on how to effectively position your business. Think about your business in terms of each one below and see how they fit.
- Against your competition: Positioning your business directly against your competition typically requires a specific characteristic that gives you superiority over them.
- Away from your competition: Positioning yourself as the opposite of your competition can help you get a lot of attention in a market that is already being dominated by another business.
- Benefits: Focusing on the benefits that your product provides to your target audience.
- Service Attributes: Highlighting a specific attribute of your service can be quite compelling.
- Usage Occasions: This kind of positioning stresses when or how your product is used by your target audience.
Time to get into position.
Remember how I said that successful strategies on how to position your business should address important customer buying criteria, differentiate yourself from your competition, and articulate the important key attributes? In order for you to achieve all three, you need to have a clear understanding of:
- How your target market goes about making buying decisions
- How your competition is currently positioning their business
- What it is that your business truly has to offer to it’s clients
These three elements of the Positioning Triangle must be in balance in order for you to attain the competitive advantage that you are looking for.
Conduct the following analysis to help your develop much more powerful positioning strategies.
Step 1: Get A Clear Understanding Of Your Target Market
Learn what buying criteria your target audience used:
- Which service features do they emphasize?
- Which service benefits do they emphasize?
List their buying criteria in order of priority.
Uncovering this information typically requires primary research. If gathering this data directly from your target audience isn’t possible then consult with your sales team and industry experts to get the most accurate assumptions.
Step 2: Understand Your Competition
Conduct primary and secondary research to determine how your competition is currently positioning themselves (their strategies, how successful they have been, etc.).
Step 3: Map Buying Criteria Against Competitive Positioning
Make a note of each competitor that positions their business against similar criterion as you.
Don’t be surprised to find out that:
- Two or more competitors are battling for the same position
- A competitor is trying to position themselves on multiple buying criteria
- One or more buying criteria are not being addressed by any competitor
- The market share leader is strongly positioned within the top priority criteria
Step 4: Assess Your Business’ Strengths Against The Buying Criteria
Write out your business’ relative strengths and ask your clients how they rank your different weaknesses and strengths.
Step 5: Analyze The Gaps
Review the completed Positioning Triangle analysis to determine if there are any vacant positions in the market. Is there one that your business can satisfy pretty effectively? Would positioning your business there bring you the results and returns that you are wanting? If there aren’t unfilled positions, then decide which competitor to battle and which positions you can most effectively win.
Positioning Triangle Analysis: The Specifics
Going through that exercise should reveal a list of opportunities on how to position your business.
1) One company may have positioned themselves as having the best _____, which might be your weakness. The best move is to not compete there. Instead, maybe consider improving that area over time to make the gap between you and your competitor in that area not so big.
2) Maybe no one has claimed the "best at customer service” position. If so, consider taking it. This may be an attractive situation and may align with your strength.
3) One company may hold higher priority lengths on warranty and being the high-end service. Are they vulnerable to attack? Have they muddied their position by focusing on two areas? Can you possibly prevail in head-to-head battle for length of warranty supremacy? Might it be worth changing your warranty policies?
Once you’ve determined how you want your business to be positioned, use all marketing elements (communicating, pricing, distributing, features, etc.) to make everything happen.
The better you understand your market and competitors the better you will be at positioning. Go set the tone for who you are in the marketplace and allow that to help you grow your business.
-Ken Conklin, The King of Premium Branding™