The goal of any business owner is to create a brand that resonates with prospective clients and converts them into paying customers. Effective positioning helps achieve these goals by relaying knowledge about your brand to the members of your target audience. When people know what your business is all about, this leads to more purchases and eliminates buyer’s remorse.
What is positioning?
Simply put, market positioning is how your customers, your staff and your competition perceive your brand. Thinking you know how your the public perceives your brand and actually knowing how your brand is perceived are two different things.
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is to project how they think their brand is viewed onto their audience. This can be a costly mistake, because the bias in how you view your own organization and products might prevent you from making necessary changes for the overall benefit of your business.
Knowing how people perceive your brand requires having an open line of communication with your customers and your staff. Whether actively or passively — preferably both — find a way of obtaining insights on how people view your brand, products or services.
Why is positioning important?
Market positioning is a key factor that determines the sustainability of a company. Positioning also is important for any company wishing to increase its market share, because it guides your attempts to approach other market segments and possibly other markets altogether. An organization that is flexible can shift its marketing strategy to match customer needs — a practice many corporate giants regularly execute.
Shifts in trends and technology can render an entire business model irrelevant. Knowing how to adapt your company’s positioning can keep your organization viable for years to come.
How to find out what others think of your brand
The simplest way is to ask. Questionnaires, surveys, focus groups and other methods of recording customer feedback can be used to get direct answers. Organic ways to ascertain their opinions about your brand can be found from your customers’ marketing data.
Passive methods of determining your customers’ perceptions include social media monitoring, online reviews and the analysis of sales data. If you have a wide array of products, looking into your customers’ buying habits can tell you more about which solutions they prefer. This can, in turn, point to how your clientele perceives you overall.
Research your competition
Your strategy accounts for half of your positioning. The other half requires knowing how your competition has positioned their own brands in the field and how they place your brand in relation to theirs. The more dynamic a market, the closer an eye you will have to keep on your competition. In industries with volatile landscapes, a swift maneuver by a single company can redefine the market and render the other players obsolete. This is especially true in the tech space.
Know your target market audience
By virtue of knowing how your customers perceive your brand, you should already be a step ahead in knowing your target market. When you regularly examine concrete data that defines target market demographics, location data and behavioral patterns of your prospective customers, you are already ahead of the game. If you know what your target market prefers, you can adapt your positioning to meet popular trend shifts.
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How to position your brand for maximum success
Always keep your goals for business and marketing in the forefront when positioning your brand. There are several ways to adjust your positioning in order to reach your intended goals. By honing these aspects of your brand, you can maneuver into a favorable position in relation to your competition and in the eyes of the audience.
Create a positioning statementYour positioning statement is a weapon in your company’s arsenal used internally to guide your strategy. It is the statement that links your company’s value proposition to your marketing implementation. In essence, your positioning statement is how you want your company to be perceived.
Positioning via SpecializationSpecialization allows you to differentiate based on the features your products have or the degree to which you solve your customers’ problems. Every player in your industry offers similar services but the specific value proposition you offer your customers should noticeably set you apart.
Positioning via Marketing/Advertising
Even if the products you offer are more or less identical to those of your competition, you can attain better positioning through marketing or advertising. Create a strong message that appeals to your audience’s unconscious mind and you will place your product in a different standing.
Take for example, how commonly used products — such as oral hygiene or cosmetics — are positioned. The reason you purchase a certain brand of toothpaste or mascara is likely due to positioning via marketing or advertising.
Price PositioningThe price positioning aspect of your strategy demands significant planning and thought. If you engage in a price war with your competition, that is a sure way to lose market share and even go bankrupt. Instead carve out a high-quality value proposition in your niche, so you can avoid competing on price. The most desirable goal should be to achieve premium pricing for your products.
Tools to help your positioning strategy
An array of tools can help:
- craft your positioning strategy,
- maintain ample knowledge of what is going on in your market,
- give actionable information,
- implement your positioning strategy, and
- deal with competition.
Social media monitoring services and software, for instance, track the online conversation surrounding your brand and products. Find out what people are saying about your products on social media — which will help you come to critical conclusions regarding your positioning. Then, you can make preemptive course corrections to catch trends before they affect your business.
Additionally, online advertising platforms like Google and Facebook provide highly compartmentalized data about your audience. By running ad campaigns, you are privy to a plethora of data about how users interact with your ads and website content.
With any promotional effort, whether on your website, social media or digital ads, consider split-testing. Creating multiple versions of your promotional efforts will offer you clarity on what the ideal positioning is for your brand. Data on how people interact with each version of your content can offer useful insight on customer preferences.
Examples of successful positioning
Disruption to your niche is the utmost form of effective positioning.
When Apple first introduced smartphones, other types of phones became obsolete. When other players in the market began popping up with feature-rich mobile devices, Apple refused to compete in that saturated space. Instead, Apple positioned itself as the creator of devices that transcended telephony; their messaging explained that the iPhone is more of a computer that also makes phone calls than it is a mobile phone with a couple of added features.
A popular example of constantly-evolving positioning is Amazon. When the company first made an appearance at the beginning of the dot-com era, it found success as an online book retailer. Instead of moving to a more specific niche, Amazon expanded its identity and became the most extensive e-commerce provider in the world. In addition to a wide range of product offerings, Amazon set itself apart from other players with a customer-centric model, passion for innovation, and excelling its operations.
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