Positioning products and services is an important concept in business management, and it is not a new phenomenon. The concept of positioning products and services first came to light in 1969 by Jack Trout, an American advertising executive and an owner of Trout & Partners, a consulting firm that advised companies such as General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Pfizer.
He also helped invent Papa John’s slogan of “better ingredients, better pizza,” (the slogan in itself is an excellent example of positioning products and services). Jack Trout in his book Positoning – The Battle For Your Mind, states that marketing positioning strategy is a battle to create a unique impression in a customer’s mind so that they associate something distinctly desirable with your brand.
Understanding the positioning of products and services will allow you to stand out amongst your competitors and draw in customers whom you are uniquely qualified to service, which boosts your business and furthers its goals.
What is Product and Service Positioning?
Positioning products and services means defining where your product or service fits in the marketplace and why it is better than alternative solutions available. The goal of products and service positioning is to distill who your audience is, what they need, and how you can uniquely help.
Positioning, first and foremost, sits in the hearts and minds of the customer. A brand’s value is only valuable if the consumer believes it is valuable, and thus determines its position in the market.
I have seen this myself when I browse services; the best products for my business and personal life I often find because my fellow associates recommend it to me, and not because it is prominent in the market for its quality.
Often, I find that searching for a product as an ordinary consumer with no guidance from associates in the know brings me to products less suited for my needs who have positioned themselves higher in the market I am browsing in, instead of less well-positioned products that would suit my needs better.
This occurrence is a disservice to both myself and the business. If they communicated and positioned themselves, I would have taken my business to them, and in turn, I would have received a better service.
If your product and service positioning is not well defined, then your sales will suffer. I find there is nothing that will turn a customer away from long-term repeat business faster than a business with inconsistent, or worse, contradictory messaging regarding their products or services. This is one of the examples of what poor product and service positioning causes, and why it is critical that you ensure your internal resources of your external message are clear and consistent.
What are the 5 Common Positioning Strategies?
- Create your USP, otherwise known as your Unique Selling Proposition. This is a unique benefit that differentiates yourself from your competitors. Don’t compete to be “the best” if you cannot definitively prove it. Instead, have some aspect of your business be something exclusive to your product or service that cannot be found elsewhere in the market.
- Create your positioning statement. A positioning statement describes what your target market is, and what their needs and goals are. This requires market research on your target demographic(s).
- Make an internal reference document to make clear the external message to your customer base.
- Make a perceptual map. Pinpoint where yourself and your competitors lie on an X/Y axis of two key variables.
- Decide to position yourself based on factors such as: product or service characteristics, price, quality or luxury, use or application of your product or service, and the surrounding competition.
How do I develop a Positioning Strategy?
Positioning products and services starts with an internal reference document available to all employees who require it (such as your sales staff). This internal reference document informs your external messaging; this internal reference document informs how you will communicate product benefits to your customers. When creating the internal reference document, you should consider doing the following:
- Pen a positioning statement. This should outline the identity you have determined for your business.
- Critique your identity against competitors.
- Outline your existing marketing position.
- Note down the current conditions of the marketplace.
- Develop a unique marketing position.
- Qualitative and quantitative testing of your market positioning.
How can Positioning Help My Business Grow?
Positioning products and services is of vital importance to the success of your business. Positioning your brand differentiates you in the market, attracts your target audience more effectively, pushes towards the more lucrative position of being a specialist within the market, allows you to compete on more than price v luxury, justifies the prices you do choose to set, improves the design of your business, and empowers your overall brand messaging.
When you choose to engage in positioning products and services, you set yourself apart and above the rest that do not in the eyes of the customer. My business occupies a strong and commanding place in the market thanks to my early and ongoing efforts to position my services.
How do I Determine My Company’s Current Marketing Positioning?
When positioning products and services, you should evaluate where you are currently positioned based on these three questions:
Do you have a point of difference?
- There needs to be a unique attraction, such as attributes that customers want.
- You also need a distinction, which are values or attributes that customers can only receive when working with your product or service.
Are your customers right for you?
- Instead of attempting to please the entire market, focus on a defined segment of the market that you are in a unique position thanks to your point of difference to serve.
Where do you stand in the competitive landscape?
- Engage in market research to identify if there is a mismatch between your perception of where you fit in the competitive landscape, versus what your customers have as their perception of where you fit in the competitive landscape.
- If there is a mismatch, you will need to either change position to meet customer expectations, or clarify your position in the landscape.