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What is Positioning in Marketing?

Today’s business world is characterized by high competition among businesses in the same industry. The modern customer has greater access to information than ever before, making them empowered and discerning. In such an environment, marketing plays a critical role in ensuring businesses grow their market share and remain relevant. However, the marketing world today is significantly different from what it used to be a few years back. Businesses that are keen on building healthy relationships and ensuring customer loyalty have to work to create and maintain a positive brand image continuously. This is usually done through the use of promotion, place, product and price in a process known as market positioning. For any business to successfully create a strong brand positioning in a market that is cluttered with lots of products, it is important to have an effective positioning strategy. The first step would be to understand exactly what positioning is and how you can use the related techniques to ensure your brand or product stands out from the rest.

What Does Positioning Refer to in Marketing?

In marketing and business strategy, positioning refers to the perception that consumers have of a brand or product and how they are distinguished from the brands and products of the competitors. Positioning also refers to the process of emphasizing the distinguishing features of a brand or product to establish an image or identity so that consumers perceive it in a given way. This perception is achieved through the use of ongoing strategic marketing initiatives that will help to reinforce the target market’s view of the brand or product. Generally, the market positioning of a brand or product has to be maintained over the life of the brand or product.

Apart from positioning, there is another related marketing concept known as repositioning. Simply put, this is the process of changing the image or identity of a brand or product, effectively altering its place in the minds of consumers. It is usually difficult to reposition a brand or product once it has achieved a strong and solidified position, with companies that try to do this running the risk of confusing or alienating some consumers in their target market.

There are two main strategies that businesses can use as they seek to position themselves in the market: cost leadership and differentiation. With cost leadership, a company will try to position itself in the mind of consumers as one that offers the products they want at a lower price than those of the competitors. Since consumers will usually want a product that simply meets their needs, this can help to distinguish the product from competing products. Differentiation, on the other hand, is a business strategy that positions a brand or product as one that is unique. It offers consumers something different from the competition, meaning that they will have to pay more for it. However, since consumers will be willing to pay a premium for a differentiated product, it should offer tangible value.

3 Ways to Determine Your Business Market Position

Creating an effective brand for your business is a serious issue that should not involve experiments. This is why you should determine your business’s current market position so you can find an effective way of creating the right position in consumers’ minds. Here are a few ways to determine how consumers view your brand or product presently.

#1 Figure out Your Point of Difference

The first step would be to identify the unique attributes that set you apart from the competition and attract customers to your product. However, in addition to being different, attraction and distinction will help you to position your brand successfully. While attraction involves providing the values and attributes that your customers look for, distinction means involves delivering the values and attributes that customers can find only when they buy your product.

#2 Decide Which Customers You Serve the Best

Focusing on the market segment that you serve best will go a long way in helping you position your business successfully. Most great brands please a defined segment of the market as opposed to trying to please all people in all ways. Take time to identify the unique and meaningful attributes and experiences that consumers enjoy when they work with your brand or buy your product.

#3 Find Your Place in the Competitive Landscape

Part of determining your business market position will involve finding your place in the competitive landscape. Evaluate how your offering fits within this landscape, taking time to consider how customers think the offering ranks and how you think your offering ranks.

If you establish that people misunderstand your brand, you will have to develop strategies that will help move your brand from the place it occupies in consumers’ minds to where you want it to be. Your analysis should also help you identify whether the market positioning you wish to occupy is already taken by one of your competitors. In addition to having a strategy, you will need to work hard, making sure you do not liken your brand to someone else’s.

7 Basics of Market Positioning

It is clear that once a brand has established a strong position, altering customers’ perceptions can be difficult. As such, companies should understand the basics of market positioning before embarking on the process. Here are the basics of market positioning:

#1 Mission

The process of positioning your business will start by defining your mission. Think about why your product exists and the specific ways in which it helps to improve the lives of your customers or solve their problem. This will give you great ideas on how to bring it to life in the market.

#2 Market category

This means your competition zone. Describe the products you are selling and establish whether you are getting into an emerging market or creating a new market category. In this way, you will be able to come up with an effective positioning strategy.

#3 Customer pain points

Find out your customers’ pain points and identify ways through which your product will address some of them. The next step would be to look for a way to position your product as one that will serve as a solution to these challenges.

#4 Company and product differentiators

There is a good chance that someone else has tried to address the problem you are looking to solve. In a saturated market, you should clearly define why your product is a better solution to specific consumers’ problems.

#5 Brand identity

Today, most customers have an opinion or emotion about some of the strongest brands in the market. To create a strong brand identity, you should think about the values and things you would like to be known for.

#6 Vision

While it is easy to state why you created your product, defining your vision for the product in the future is not as easy. However, this will help you in outlining the immediate value that the product offers and its potential for growth.

#7 Product positioning statement

Once you have taken all these elements into account, it will be time to come up with a solid product positioning statement. This document should clearly and comprehensively describe the value your product will be offering your target audience.

5 Benefits of Positioning

There are many reasons why you should consider making branding and product positioning part of your marketing strategy. With the right brand position, you will be able to create better marketing messages, shape your services in a better way and structure pricing so that you remain competitive. Here are the advantages of positioning:

#1 Strong Competitive Position

Proper product positioning influences how consumers perceive your product relative to the competition. When you create a positive image of your product in the minds of consumers, you are likely to enjoy an ongoing market advantage. This way, you will claim your position in the competitive landscape, a factor that will help you to remain relevant.

#2 Improved Sales

One of the main goals of any business is to improve sales and increase revenue. By having a more relevant offering and communicating it in a more effective manner, your business may be able to enter a new market, which may translate into new customers and additional sales.

#3 Clearer Target Market

Positioning allows you to lay claim to a particular feature or benefit, which allows you to focus your services accordingly so that you appear as an expert in the services. The result is that your value to prospects will increase significantly. In the end, your product is likely to perform to expectations.

#4 More Effective Decisions

Once you have the core message that will help to ensure successful brand positioning, you will be in a position to make more effective decisions throughout the process. Clear positioning will also drive effective communication, ensuring healthier and stronger relationships with customers.

#5 Connection to Consumer Needs

Through product positioning, companies have an opportunity to communicate the key benefits that their product offers. Communication not only helps to energize the product but also connects it to the specific consumer needs it seeks to meet.

What are the Different Types of Positioning Available?

Today, a good number of companies are spending huge sums of money on paid media advertising. While this remains an important way of reaching customers and promoting products and services, businesses that want to stand out from competitors should rely on other strategies. Market positioning solidifies the identity of an organization and influences how the target market views your business. To do this successfully, companies should establish their current market positioning and use the data to determine the type of positioning that will be most effective. Here are the different types of positioning available.

Customer Needs

One of the best ways of making sure consumers can differentiate your products from the competition is by ensuring they fulfill a given set of needs. Focusing on customer needs will involve identifying your target customers as well as their needs or problems. However, since someone else may have already tried to solve these problems, you should offer a unique solution to the problems and needs. Offering a unique solution will not only help you to stand out from your competitors but also attract more clients to your brand. Customer needs can be in terms of functionality and experience, so conducting market research will help you to understand their pain points better.

Customer Perceptions

There is no doubt that customer perceptions are at the center of any brand or product positioning initiative. As such, you should focus your efforts on influencing how consumers view your brand or product, making sure that they have a positive image of your business. Depending on the nature of your business and the type of products you offer, there are many ways that you can use to capture the imagination of your target customer. For instance, your core message could include the positive things your brand does for the environment or compellingly tell a story.

Brand Recognition

Today, most consumers are likely to do business with companies whose brands they recognize and associate with. This perception has made it necessary for companies to dedicate resources and focus their efforts on building brand identity and creating brand awareness. In fact, companies are constantly working on maintaining a brand presence, both online and offline. In essence, brand recognition can be used as a way to influence how consumers perceive your business. The process involves the use of symbols and information that customers can use to recognize your business in a crowded market. It is important to ensure that your brand elicits opinions and emotions among consumers. A positive brand image will help your company to come across as a trustworthy and reliable entity.

Pricing

Apart from a product that meets their needs, most consumers will look at prices when making a decision on the products to buy. This outlook has made pricing a primary form of competition among companies that offer similar products. It goes without saying that the lowest price competitor whose product has a reasonable level of quality will win most of the time. In case you choose pricing as the basis upon which to execute your positioning initiative, you should ensure that customers view you as a brand that sells products at competitive prices. Since there are many options in the market, you should never compromise on quality even as you work on keeping your prices low.

Quality

In a market that is characterized by intensive price competition, often the only way to avoid such competition is to offer a superior level of quality. S will set your product apart and make it one of those that customers strongly prefer. Depending on the customer needs your product addresses, there are times when consumers will be willing to pay a premium for the high quality. Rather than associating your products with price, customers will associate your brand with quality. In essence, quality reflects a positive image and identity that will work to your advantage over the life of the product. Quality can also help you win new customers and boost sales numbers.

Convenience

The modern world is such that most people have busy schedules that leave them with very little time for anything else. As such, customers are gravitating towards offering that make life easier. When seeking to position your product in the market, you should take time to establish whether it offers the kind of convenience that most customers look for. Convenience could be in terms of location, usability and terms. You can then work on improving your product to increase the chances of consumers buying it based on the convenience they will enjoy. To do this successfully, you should identify who your ideal customer is and understand them well. For instance, customers are likely to be drawn to an ecommerce store that stocks a variety of products at low prices, promotes easy ordering and allows free returns.

Customer Service

Customer service plays an important role in helping to maintain strong relationships with customers. Considering that the modern consumer is more informed and discerning than ever before, they are more likely to work with companies that make them feel valued and appreciated. As such, apart from offering quality products at affordable prices, consumers are looking for brands with excellent customer service. Given this, you can rely on customer service as the main concept with which you will capture the imagination of your target customers. Generally, making sure that the opinion of any customer who interacts with your brand is that of great customer service. Your business should strive to influence customers to perceive you as being more diligent, friendly and responsive than the competition.

In the end, it is important to remember that brand or product positioning is a continuous process. Businesses have to constantly work hard to ensure that customers do not misunderstand their brands. Regardless of the type of positioning that you find to be effective, you should have the right strategy to help you achieve your goals.

How to Write a Positioning Statement

The importance of a positioning statement when it comes to influencing consumers’ perception of your business cannot be denied. A positioning statement will play a major role in ensuring you move your business from its current market position to where you want it to be. Below are a few things you need to know.

What is a Positioning Statement?

A positioning statement is an expression of a product or service and target market, with details on how the product or service fills a particular consumer need in a manner that the competition does not. While it is common to see a vision, mission statements, values, strategy and value proposition, written positioning statements are quite rare. However, it is critical that your company has a formal positioning statement that every employee can articulate. A unique positioning statement will help to define and guide your special selling propositions, brand values, as well as your position in the market.

Taking into account the definition of a positioning statement, it is clear that it is comprised of four parts. These are the target, the category, the differentiator and the payoff. Below is a brief description of each of the four elements.

Target market

Before you aim and fire, you should first establish where and what your target is. Rather than trying to please everyone in all ways, you should target specific segments of the market. Define your target market using criteria such as location, demographics, needs and pains.

Category

Another important part of a positioning statement involves stating the market in which you play. This will provide a context in which people can evaluate your product or service. In the event that your prospective customers find it difficult to place your offering in a context, they will not spend time evaluating it.

Differentiator

You should have only one differentiator, with the other unique features and selling points coming in to support it. The differentiator should be stated from a market perspective, clearly stating what sets you apart from the competition.

The payoff

This element connects the differentiator to the needs of the market. It explains to the target audience how the differentiator will help them to achieve their goals. This is part of the value you offer and may convince potential customers to buy your product or service.

How to Write a Positioning Statement

Now that we know the key parts of a positioning statement, it would be important to look at how to write it. Remember that as a guide, your positioning statement will go a long way in helping to make your brand positioning efforts successful. Follow these steps to write your positioning statement.

Select Your Target Market

With this being one of the main elements of a positioning statement, you should start by selecting your target market. Take time to think about the kind of businesses or consumers you want your brand to reach. This approach will keep you focused when it comes to market positioning.

Identify the Needs of Your Customer Group

When selecting your target market, you should try to understand it intimately. Ask yourself what their interests are, how they make decisions, what influences them, and what their needs are. Figure out if there are certain needs of your customer group that you intend to meet.

Explain the Unique Value You Provide

The next step would be to list the benefits your product offers that will uniquely meet these needs. Since you and your team are the biggest differentiators between your business and the competition, you should embody your personality as it will make it easier for customers to connect with and relate with you. This part should end with what your customer group should think when they think about your product or service.

Give Reasons why Consumers Should Believe You

There is no doubt that your positioning statement will include your brand promise to the target market. As such, you will need to give your customers reasons why they should believe you. For instance, you can back up your promise by sharing data statements.

Evaluate Your Positioning Statement

Once you are done writing the positioning statement, you should go through the document. Make sure the text makes sense and communicates the intended positioning message. A good positioning statement should project your company as professional, and an industry leader.

Guidelines for a Good Positioning Statement

Even as you write and evaluate the document, it is essential to understand what makes a good positioning statement. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

#1 Single-minded and simple

It is already clear that your brand will not be trying to be all things to all people. This means that your positioning statement should be single-minded. A simple document will also communicate effectively, ensuring it serves the intended purpose.

#2 Clear benefit ladder

Your positioning statement should connect the functional and emotional benefits in a relevant and meaningful way. The benefits that your product offers to help meet the needs of your customers need to be clear and meaningful.

#3 Unique point of difference

There should be a unique point of difference between your products and those of the competition. In this way, you will be able to attract and retain clients based on the perception they have of your business.

#4 Credible

In a market with many players and numerous options, marketing is a serious activity. One way of giving consumers a reason to believe you is to ensure your positioning statement is credible.

#5 Consistent execution

A good positioning statement should feature a consistent execution of the message. To make the strategy effective in practice, the positioning statement should not stray from the core positioning.

#6 Room for growth

Market conditions are constantly changing, with new opportunities and challenges emerging every passing day. It is important to ensure that your positioning statement leaves room for growth so that your business can adjust to the changing conditions.

Need a Strategic Marketing Partner?

There is a lot that goes into ensuring consumers positively perceive your brand. Today, your marketing campaign will not be complete without incorporating a brand positioning initiative. With the importance attached to brand or product positioning, it is important to ensure that the process is done in the right way. Once you are ready to create a certain image or identity of your product in the minds of your target customers, you should identify reliable marketing experts to work with. At BizIQ, we offer effective and affordable marketing solutions to help small businesses grow and stay ahead of the competition. Contact us today to learn more about our services and find out how we can help you to position your brand and product effectively.