Positioning – what it means for your Products & Services

As the famous authors, Al Ries & Jack Trout say, Positioning is a battle to gain mindshare in the customer’s mind. How do you develop a positioning strategy? something, that you would be liked to be known as or known for’ by your customers. Positioning could relate to individual products or services that are being offered or could be elevated to the company level. At each level, the purpose remains the same, to gain the right mind share in the customer’s mind.

How do you develop a positioning strategy?

Now why are we talking about all these battles? The biggest challenge is that our customer’s mind is cluttered with all the messages that he is constantly receiving across all the mediums that he has access to. How do we make sure that you get an entry into his mind and get him to either buy your product or at least influence the purchase? If he believes that the product you offer is good, then he will feel it worthy of purchase at the value/price that you are offering it at.

This brings me to another related concept, which is perception, which again deals with the mind. As they say, marketing is all about creating perceptions or you could say perception is the only truth. If you are creating a perception that your product can be trusted and is being offered at the right value/price, and that perception is widespread enough to be almost a truth, then you are well on your way to win your marketing war.

Now let’s get to how does go about doing this exercise – How do you develop a positioning strategy? There are clearly two parts here,

i) Definition of positioning that you want for your company or for your products/services

ii) Propagation of that definition to create a perception closer to truth among your customers, employees and other stakeholders

In this post, I am only covering the first part. How do you go about defining the positioning for your company or for your products & services? There are two parties that need to be involved keenly in this exercise, your current customers and your current management team. Your competitors also play a role, but not very active. Let me explain how

1. Your current customers

They have been engaged with you and feel comfortable to work with you. Why do they continue to work with you? What values are you depicting that makes them stick to you, when they have so many options. This is a classic listening and probing approach. These inputs are very useful, as this will give you your current positioning. Information (Remember what you have on your collateral is what you want them to believe and what they believe might be completely different) [irp]

2. Your management team

They know about the larger plans for the organization, what sectors, the company may venture into etc. Also they will have a view for the company as to what is should be known and respected for. Does your senior management team share the same thoughts as you management team. If not, then you might need to make some adjustments. Some part of this may be a wish list and feasibility of converting that wish list to a reality will need to be investigated.

3. Competitors

As we said the customer’s mind is very cluttered and has very little scope to take additional messages. Also remember that propagating brand positioning is a costly affair as there might be variety of expenses that may be involved. Related to your product or services, what positions are already taken by some of your competitors, what positions are available and are they worth it to create a position for yourself, or you would rather displace some competitor from their current position with your marketing dollars. It is a strategy decision, that should be debated, but once made, you should move quickly to execution mode.

While I have oversimplified this in this blog post, this does require a detailed exercise and significant commitment from the management team as well as the senior leadership team to commit to a positioning that you will use in your target market for a sustained period of time. I hope you were able to start getting some answers for your question How do you develop a positioning strategy?

Your comments are welcome. I will share more in terms of an implementation in a subsequent blog. So much for now, Hope you enjoyed it. Having created a positioning strategy, the next steps is to create a set of collateral from the messaging that you arrive at . You might like to read Ways to quickly get your integrated collateral strategy rolling and 7 must-have collateral items for every small business.

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