Marketing Positioning: it can be a scary term for business owners. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. If you don’t fully understand the concept of positioning think of cereal. Kashi is positioned as a healthy cereal brand. On the other hand, Lucky Charms is positioned as a kid-friendly, fun and tasty brand. Notice how they don’t promote calories on the front of the packaging, rather showcase the fun marshmallow shapes and prizes that come with purchase. You could apply this to anything: Fast food chains, retailers, yoga studios. No two are exactly the same or they would not be in business. There is something that sets one apart from another and that’s what we’re looking to focus our marketing on.
As we’re currently in the midst of football season (Go Eagles!) I would like to make the analogy that your positioning is like your game day playbook. It’s a plan, based off research and experience, that is going to lead you to your goal. Ready to play? Read on to find out how you can formulate positioning for your brand.
Research The Opposing Teams
First thing is first, you have to do the research on your competitors. Make a list of the top competitors that you know of, then, do your research on Google and see who else is showing up in search results for your product or service. Once you have your list- map out the strengths and weaknesses of each. Perhaps you will notice a trend in that not a lot of your competitors are very active on Facebook, where you have a highly engaged following. It’s logical to follow that you may invest some dollars into advertising or creating special offers to draw on the advantage that you have. Lastly, I also like to note “Point of Differentiation/Messaging” and “Marketing Tactics” for each competitor. See if they have any special offers they are promoting on their website, if they have email subscription sign ups, or if they run Ads. This will give you a feel for the “where” and “what” they are using to draw in customers. In terms of messaging, see how they talk about themselves. Do they say they are the fastest? Oldest? Cheapest? Do these attributes hold weight with your target audience? I like to make a visual, so I create a positioning map for reference. Choose the axis points as attributes that mean the most to your target audience (Let’s say price and quality for retail, for example) and plot out yourself and your competitors. Are you all in the same space? If so, it’s time to position yourself away from the competition.
Audit Your Own Strengths & Weaknesses
We looked at the competition, now it’s time to take a good, hard look at ourselves. A SWOT Analysis is a fancy term for your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The first two items, strengths and weaknesses, are internal to your business. A strength may be that you have a great, highly engaged staff or a high conversion rate on your digital ads. Opportunities and threats are external forces, and could include international expansion, and increasing competition.
So, we know what we do well, and not so well, and we know the same of all of our competitors. What now? Now, my friends is the fun part. It’s time to define your market positioning. Refer back to the positioning map I mentioned earlier. The positioning space you want to hold should be:
- Unique in the mind of the customer
- Important/Essential in the customer’s purchasing process
- Authentic to your brand
Basically your ideal positioning scenario lies at the intersection of what is important to your audience, what your brand has to offer, and what is not already being used by the competition. It’s one thing to say your business provides “top quality” chairs, maybe you do, and your quality is superior to others, but if someone has been saying they provide top quality chairs your claim will fall on deaf ears. Make a list for each of the above mentioned points and see where there is overlap. If you can find nothing that sets you apart and makes you unique, it’s time to find something! Otherwise your business will be in big trouble. Think about the customer first, and what you can add to meet their needs better than anyone else. Maybe it’s offering a larger product selection, or elevating the customer experience for them. Get creative with how you can be unique.
Map Out Your Playbook
Now that you know how you want to position yourself- how will you communicate it? You have several channels to communicate with your customers (website, in-store, email, social, ads), work to create verbiage that reflects your unique position and shout it from the rooftops. If possible, back up your position with facts (We have 10,000 products in stock, if you are using the claim you have the largest selection, for example) and support it with graphics if possible. Afterwards…listen. Get feedback from your audience what they think and how it makes them feel about the brand. The whole reason for doing this exercise is to create clarity in the customers mind of what makes your brand unique. If they don’t get it, something is wrong and it’s time for a fresh set of eyes on your marketing positioning.
If you are looking for more information on creating your marketing positioning I highly recommend Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout, an oldie but a goodie it’s a great read with lots of useful case studies. Should you be looking for guidance on creating a position or more detailed marketing playbook for your brand, contact Sunny today for a free marketing review.