Developing a Position Marketing Strategy is determining exactly what Positioning is and why it is important. According to Wikipedia, positioning has come to mean 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.
Position is the customers overall perception of your business including its products and services. Position is what is in the mindset of your customer. If your positioning takes full advantage of your customers perceptions and you communicate this positioning effectively, it will set you apart from your 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 transition 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 its under your control yet it is not. To the extent that your customer may already have perceptions about your business, industry, products and services, those perceptions already are your positioning. You need to identify these perceptions because you can change your positioning. As a result changing customer perceptions with effective communications through your companys sensory package can influence the behavior that is consistent with the image you are trying to project to your customers.
Your 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 your target markets or it will not be credible or believed. Positioning, based on false claims or a misunderstanding of your target markets, is a liability to your company. It can turn away prospective customers and weaken relationships with existing customers.
Differentiation is more than just simply being different from your competitor. You need to be preferentially differentiated and this is why it is important to be positioning your company in your target markets. I read many articles and blogs that constantly say being able to identify how your product or service is different is one of the factors that will make or break your business. You may ask why? It is because being different AND being able to successfully communicate that difference will secure a welcome niche in the marketplace for your business. To create a differentiation that will not be imitated, you have to think beyond your core benefits of your business. The companies that have succeeded in maintaining their differentiation over the years and werent intimated are those that innovated in qualities beyond the core benefits of their market. Be the innovator of qualities and think ahead and look outside the forest.
There is a systematic process for developing an effective positioning for your 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 you from the inside of your business to position for the outside perception of your business. It requires that you know your target markets (see last weeks blog Your Target Market and the Need to Focus. It takes time, but with proper understanding of your target markets, you will have a foundation in place for building a positioning strategy that will draw your target customers to you. EXHIB-IT! has been working on our position strategy for the last few years after our competitor moved within .2 miles from our showroom where we had been located for a number of years. We took for granted that our competitor was across town and knew we differentiated our businesses and it did not hurt that we were on opposite sides of town. However, when our competitor moved this close to our location where we had been for 7 years at the time, misperception in the community occurred. Our company names are similar (as are about 500 exhibit names in the USA). We focused on position strategy, which has allowed us to grow 122% over a 2.5 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.
To be effective and create a position strategy, the first step is to determine the general classification of your products and services. They can be classified into one of three ways (1) a true product, (2) a commodity or (3) a brand. Think about what you sell and which category it falls into and how that affects that way you are positioned in the minds of your prospect or customer.
Many companies confuse a solid marketing strategy with pure tactics, also known as a brand juice. Visual identity with clever tag lines and a creative “essence” advertising package through your sensory package are all key ingredients in brand juice creation, but they are only supporting elements. To be effective, such supporting elements must be part of a more comprehensive plan.
After determining your relative standing in the market and how the market sees you compared to your competitors, this will affect how you develop your marketing communications as you decide to either reinforce your current relative standing or try to change it, work on these five steps below.
1.Determine what the dominant gratification mode and purchase preference of your target market segments are. To do this, you look at the psychographic characteristics of your customer – which are the perception and behavior modes. You look at the interpersonal, objective and introverted modes and what the purchase preferences were regarding experimental, performance and value of your products and services and apply these to the way you create your positioning statement.
2.Develop other key psychographic characteristics of your target market. Study your existing customers (as this is your most cost effective approach to studying the characteristics) and look for clues to customer perceptions that will help shape your positioning strategy.
3.Redefine your product or services. Begin setting yourself apart and create a unique place in your customers minds to define your product or service in terms of its features and emotional factors that are important to your prospective customers. Then write your positioning strategy which should be a brief paragraph for each target market segment that provides an overview of your positioning by gathering all of the key positioning elements and pulling them all together.
4.Develop your unique selling proposition also known as an USP. This is your slogan, your tagline, and is an expression that will become closely linked with your business. It should be something catchy and easy to remember and should also contain a basic message about your company that elicits in your prospective customers the emotional gratification that they can expect from your business through its products and services.
5.Develop your positioning statement to be more explicit and an expanded version of your USP that explains and gives the rational justification for it by identifying what your business does, the result customers can expect from doing business with you, and how you are going to achieve that result.
Again, be sure to review this information and update it periodically to keep the information current. Your Position Strategy should be evaluated constantly by using metrics and updated periodically to keep you current with your prospects and customers needs.