3 Fundamentals of positioning Competitive positioning
Research your core customers and competitors and know the value of your product or service and understand the unique niche you fulfill in the market. Then you will be ready to position your product or service – the foundation from which you will build your brand and stand out from your competitors that reflects your fundamental ideas and principles.
Positioning is how your target audience comprehensively perceives your brand in relationship to your competitors. You can influence this perception through strategic marketing.
How can you successfully position your brand? Be memorable by accomplishing these three things.
1. Be different – stand out from your competitors. Stay above the fray. Find out what makes you unique in comparison to your competitors, and you will attract attention. There are hundreds of MP3 players in the world, but if you ask someone to name one model, the iPod is the first brand that comes to mind. The iPod is associated with a hip lifestyle and a unique look that has become a recognizable status symbol.
2. Be focused – narrow your services or expertise. Find a niche, and customers will seek you out and be willing to pay more. What distinguishes you? The power of association, easily identifying with your brand, means customers will acknowledge and pay for your specialty and expertise. Whole Foods markets itself as organic and environmentally friendly that sometimes comes at a higher cost, but customers are willing to pay more for that quality.
3. Be relevant – test the waters first and find out if there is sufficient interest in your specialty. Your product or service should stand the test of time and customers will be interested in your product today and tomorrow. Is there a demand for your products or services? Sample your customers. Ikea’s flat pack self-assembled furniture professes design at affordable prices no matter what the size of your home. Ikea promoted a new store in Brooklyn, NY by placing around New York City 20’ x 20’ cardboard pop-up rooms containing its furniture.
Now that you know how to position your product or service, be aware of its relationship to competitors.
Competitive positioning shows a shift from a consumer driven market to the relativity to competitor’s products, a result of the high tech market growth and fuelled by blogging, twitter, and other online social platforms. How your product or service is perceived happens in real time and always in relationship to competitors. You have the power to control that perception through strategic branding actions.
Re-positioning is used to change the identity or a product in relationship to its competition. Repositioning can have mixed reactions. Tropicana changed its packaging design and replaced the straw stuck in an orange to a tall glass of juice on its carton. When the majority of customers rejected the new design as generic, PepsiCo, the parent company, reverted back to its previous trademark design. Customers identified with the bright orange as fresh squeezed juice and immediately recognized the Tropicana carton on store shelves, but the new design lost its contrast and made it look like any other brand.
De-positioning strives to change the identity of competitors relative to your product in the target market. Apple’s latest series of TV commercials pitches two men speaking on behalf of their company’s computer, one representing Mac and the other PCs. The Mac guy dressed casually in jeans, looks young, hip, and relaxed and professes all the features that make the Mac easy to use. The PC guy dressed in a suit and tie looks uptight, overwhelmed, and tense, and shows all the limitations of a PC that he’s unwilling to address. This contrast positions PCs as unreliable, complicated and old school. Microsoft’s commercial response was to show its customers, as everyone is a PC and not one stereotype. Customers for a PC walked into a store and immediately found what they needed – hardware, software, and an affordable price positioning itself as more accessible for the savvy consumer than just paying for a brand like a Mac portrayed as only about aesthetics.
The position of your product is determined by to what extent it is remembered or known in the minds of your target market, where it fits among similar products, and to what extent it fulfills the ideal combination of characteristics that will satisfy your client. Take control of how you are remembered and your business will not only survive, but thrive.
4 Keys to a Powerful Position
1. Find your niche. Are your competitors generalists or specialists? Do they stand out in any way? What opportunities exist for your company to create contrast and specialize? What does your company do better than anyone else?
2. Talk to as many customers and prospects as possible to find out if your business focus is viable. Make sure there is demand for your services.
3. Develop a brief, 1- or 2-sentence positioning statement that lays out what you do and what you stand for. Then ask yourself why a customer would care.
4.Think of ways you can create contrast in the marketplace. Can you use messaging, unique services, or design to distinguish your business?