Positioning Strategy: Helpful Tips to Blow Away Your Competition
Whether they know it or not, every person has a mental map of how all brands stack up against each other. Most people perceive different brands in different places, depending on their quality level compared to their price and competitors who sell similar products.
The place that each brand falls in relation to others is, in marketing terms, its position. Companies need to know where they fall on that mental map to know what decisions they need to make as a business. High-priced and high-quality brands shouldn’t make the same marketing decisions as lower-priced competitors because the audiences and products they are selling are fundamentally different.
One of the most important parts of creating a successful positioning strategy is learning how to operate within the marketplace. Every business is different, meaning all companies will have different weaknesses to work around and different strengths to capitalize on. This uniqueness in the modern market allows different companies to do something new and create a new position in the marketplace. To succeed, companies need to learn how to use their unique identity to carve out a special place for themselves in the marketplace. That is what positioning means.
The concept of positioning in the marketplace is about learning how to maximize efficiency as a company. Often, learning how to beat out competitors is about learning how to capitalize on pre-existing strengths and go after the right target market. Many companies aim at the wrong market, which pulls them down in the long run. Positioning properly will allow a company to maximize their income and audience while not aiming higher than they need to, thus incurring high costs. Here is how companies can do that and genuinely start to maximize their potential as a business in a modern marketplace.
What is Positioning Strategy?
Fundamentally, working on the positioning is all about marketing strategy. A company’s positioning strategy is focused on how the company wants its brand to be perceived by customers in comparison to similar or competing brands. The most efficient and effective positioning strategies are focused on finding the best balance of capitalizing on the company’s strengths and compensating for the company’s weaknesses, all to create the best product for the customers. Positioning strategy is also focused on creating a brand that is perceived as better than competitors, and a more viable product compared to similar brands and products.
Every customer is constantly comparing different products in the marketplace. One product might be of higher quality, but another is more affordable and realistic to the buyer. Even if one product is objectively better than the other from a quality perspective, buyers will most often choose the product that fits their own needs and wants more.
That’s why different market sectors exist–there are very few products capable of being both very inexpensive and very high quality. While countless variables are involved in every product, brands will often put lots of effort into trying to a specific place in the market. This creates different market positions for brands to fit into and compete in.
Often, brands associated with creating value products don’t find success when they try to sell products aimed at a higher quality market. Similarly, products that high-quality brands create don’t tend to fare well when they are marketed at a much more “value” price. Companies should learn about themselves and their potential customers and target markets to see what they should market themselves as and where they should aim for in their positioning strategies.
How Can a Company Create an Effective Positioning Strategy?
Creating effective positioning strategies is all about looking at the context that the company is working in. The most effective strategies look at preexisting facts and statistics and intangible qualities of the marketplace and decide where they best fit in. Functionally, the whole point of a good positioning strategy is to find out where a company should aim to fit into a marketplace to capture its target market in the best way possible. Understanding what is known as the “3 Cs” of positioning can help businesses fit into the right spots in the marketplace and have as much success as possible. Here is how to use the 3 C’s to create effective positioning strategies.
Understand the Customer
On a fundamental level, the customer is the most important part of any positioning strategy. Understanding what they want out of a company’s products and services is critical to understanding how a company should position itself in the marketplace and in relation to competitors. Businesses need to use their resources to research and focus on figuring out what their group of customers wants and needs to cater to those needs as effectively as possible. It often requires a fair amount of marketing research and trial and error to figure out exactly what to do, but it will always be worth the effort in the end.
Since customers and consumers are the lifeblood of virtually any business, learning how to sell and create exactly what they want is critical to success. Target market research should inform and influence almost every aspect of how the positioning strategy is developed. Understand your demographics, such as age, location, gender, and other defining criteria that can help you better define your consumers’ needs and buyer persona. Put in the work to make an informed opinion so that the brand positioning can be as effective as possible.
Understand the Competition
Understanding the competition in a marketplace is critical to know where to position the brand. Often, if there are too many competitors that are too similar in the marketplace, customers will make buying decisions purely based on advertising and marketing. For smaller brands with less ability to compete in popular marketing channels, this can be a challenge.
Businesses need to figure out how to be unique in this competitive landscape and offer something that competing brands don’t have. This competitive positioning may be a different price point in your product categories through premium prices or competitive pricing, different types of use, or a different target market. These attributes are commonly examined on a positioning map.
Depending on the market and product in question, it could be a wide variety of other factors, like product characteristics, including reliability and durability, your value proposition, or other unique marketing tactics. The point is, businesses need to find ways to become unique and relevant in the marketplace. A perceptual map can help businesses identify any opportunities within that competitive market.
This is where capitalizing on a business’s strengths is very important. The nature of every company is different and unique, and learning how to use those uniquenesses is important for differentiation from the competition and to ultimately overtake them. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find unique and beneficial characteristics or product benefits that will set a company’s perception apart from the competition, which means that it may need to position itself differently. But as long as the company can find a position in the marketplace where it can succeed, it should find success.
Understand the Channel
The channel is the entire process that entails how products or services are distributed, from start to finish. Channels can often be long and convoluted, but understanding how they work and working for a business can be incredibly helpful when developing a positioning statement. Through analyzing the channels, companies can figure out how to make their products and distribution more efficient, effective, and accessible.
The channel is also often full of data and information that can be very useful to businesses trying to position themselves properly–using that information can be very useful for marketing teams. While it can often be confusing, the channel is one of the most important parts of learning how to create an effective strategic position.
Can Companies Reposition Themselves?
Sometimes, if a company is not finding the success they are looking for in their marketplace, it may be worth it to reposition within the marketplace. This means either completely reorienting the marketing, changing the products themselves, or a combination of both of those.
It can be difficult to do, but the reality is that sometimes, there just isn’t enough room in one specific corner of the marketplace for another brand. Repositioning can take a lot of work, but it will always be worth it in the long run if the company can find a spot in the marketplace that fits them perfectly.
How Harper+Scott Can Help
Harper+Scott has a long history of working with all kinds of companies to understand where they fit in their various markets. Due to the wide variety of disciplines that the teams at Harper+Scott are familiar with, they have worked with countless companies, from startups to Fortune 500 brands, to create strategies and positioning decisions that have accelerated their success dramatically. It can often be challenging to take advantage of a company’s strong points successfully. With the professional and masterful opinions of the teams at Harper+Scott, any brand can find its perfect position in the marketplace.