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STRATEGIC MARKETING TIPS From Business Marketing Impact

POSITIONING - What Can It Do For Your Firm?


Positioning is a Sales and Marketing tool that can propel your firm to the head of the pack. The concept has been around for a long time. Although many companies instinctively position themselves; however, most do not do it to their best advantage.

Successful positioning requires an honest appraisal of your place in the market. If your firm isn’t the leader, who is and why? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do people really think about your company’s products and services? Why do they hold those opinions?

People tend to store names of companies, products and services in a memory bank. In given product categories they often rank those names unconsciously. The reasons for this are mysterious but it happens. The bottom line is those rankings seriously affect your sales.

Who’s on first in your market?
If another firm is a solid leader in your market, it’s usually futile to challenge them head-on. When Company X has first place in a prospect’s memory as the manufacturer or provider of widgets, people tend to reject the claims of Company Y that they are the leader.

That’s why Avis said “We’re No. 2, so we try harder”, thus acknowledging the fact that Hertz had already staked the claim of “We’re No. 1”. This provided a basis for Avis’s claim--thus the message was accepted. Accepting the position of “No. 2” helped Avis increase its sales and profits.

Like Avis, it may be useful to describe your company in terms of what it isn’t in order to position your firm to its best advantage.

The challenge is to determine where you want to be in the marketplace and in defining a position that is consistent with reality. If someone else is recognized as the leader, maybe there’s a place for a strong innovator, or a service-focused organization, or a brash, bold No.2.

Once your future position is determined, seriously review the sales and marketing opportunities and budget to acquire and occupy that position in your market. While it takes money to build share of mind rapidly, ingenuity can work wonders when applied to the task.

Your new position should be the very essence of your sales, marketing and customer service efforts. Integrated Marketing is an effective way to effectively help you establish your new corporate persona. Re-positioning your firm takes courage and discipline but it can help you move to the head of the pack.

There are questions to address.
Do you have the answers?

Here are some of the questions that need to be answered before you can start to develop your position.

  1. What position do you already own in the market’s mind?
  2. What position do you want to own?
  3. What companies must be out-marketed if you try to establish that position?
  4. Can you identify potential purchasers of your products or services?
  5. Can you specifically articulate why they buy?
  6. Do you know what motivates the frequency of their purchase?
  7. Can you use these key criteria to compare your firm with your competitors to see who dominates which positions—and what your strategic options are?
  8. Does your creative approach match your positioning strategy? Never forget that Positioning is the identity you want perceived in the mind of potential purchasers as compared to your competitors.

How do you find a winning position?
Here’s the methodology to use in identifying the position you occupy in the minds of your prospects.

The process would begin with conversations with knowledgeable people within your firm. The dialogue should be comprehensive in nature and will take time. These interviews establish (1) what product or service is under study and in which markets/segments, (2) who the major competitors are, and will (3) unearth every factor which might influence the purchase decision for those products or services.

Next, questionnaires are constructed for use with a limited number of individuals qualified by position and authority to make a purchasing decision. This pre-test is conducted solely to determine whether there might be any answer-flow problems or additional questions not previously considered.

Individuals for both the pre-test and subsequent research are randomly selected from previously selected subjects. The research can be collected utilizing a variety of methods: a. direct mail, b. telephone interviews or even, c. in-person interviews.

Why do people buy your product?
The research findings will establish what the market considers the important purchase criteria, and will rank the listed competitors. The final important criteria are chosen by the purchaser – not the seller.

In actual practice the seller often does not know which criteria are considered most important by the prospect. This is perhaps the one fact most difficult for clients to accept until they see the proof.

Finally, if you have utilized direct mail or the internet to collect data, you should telephone a limited number of people to identify any variance from previously collected replies.

Analysis at this point will show, in specific and relative detail, where the open positions are.

Now you can select a position of strength.
At this point, you have fact based strategic options, many of which may be new to you. Now, you can preempt strategic opportunities before your competition. You can now stop doing things you shouldn’t be doing—before you spend a bundle on guess-work and/or crazy quilt promotion strategies. And you can do it based on market beliefs not on supposition.

So, what can Positioning do for your firm? Everything! It’s how brands are born and business legends are made.

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