Positioning, what does it mean?
Often considered an advertising or marketing ploy, many businesses underestimate the power of strong positioning. In reality, it is the cut-through language of good positioning that makes customers buy, and smart businesses skyrocket to success.
Let me give you an example; if you wanted to buy a book to take on your holiday this weekend, where would you go?
Unless you have a handy bookshop around the corner, your answer was probably Amazon. Do you know why? Because Amazon have positioned themselves to customers as the place to go if you want products delivered to your door within 24 hours. Whilst you may have come up with 1 or 2 other answers, undoubtedly Amazon was in the mix.
You have a birthday coming up and he wants some personalised trainers, so where do you go? You either know, or you ask somebody (or Google), and most probably end up at Nike.
Positioning refers to the ‘position’ held in the mind of the prospect or customer. It works when a customer connects a certain position or need, with your brand (not your branding, your brand; the way your customers recognise your business). If the customer wants home-delivered books; they think Amazon, they want high-end jewellery for her; they think Tiffany, they want a speedy burger on the go; they think MacDonalds.
Some businesses have done such a good job at positioning, that customers prefer to use the brand name rather than the actual verb; Google, Hoover, Velcro, Frisbee, Thermos, Sellotape - in a process named ‘anthimeria’.
To achieve positioning, a business has to find a space in the customer’s mind to occupy. The trouble is, there’s a whole load of brands already out there occupying mind space, so how do you find a gap?
Truly understanding your competitor landscape can highlight potential opportunities. The gap may be where your competitors or ‘rivals’ (to use Simon Sinek’s term) aren’t! If you ask yourself what ‘position’ your rivals hold, is there a clear alternate ‘position’ for your brand? If your rivals are the cheapest, could you go premium? If your rivals deliver within one week, could you deliver within a day?
It may be that your rivals occupy a similar position because that is the only position the customer wants within your industry. Even in this case, using James Trout’s 16-box model should demonstrate a suitable space.
Even a relatively subtle shift (one box in the above model) lead an estate agency client to transform their business performance such that they now sell more properties in their geographies than all their competitors combined.
The one golden rule; don’t try to radically change your customer’s mind unless you are CERTAIN about success, find a space within their existing ideas about how things work. Key is to think the way your customers think, and look for the gap. If you can’t see it – ask them!
It doesn’t matter how you position your business, so long as you do position it and that ‘position’ is the one you want your customers to connect with you, the one you want to be famous for. Once you find your position, go leverage it, become the brand answer to your customer’s need.
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