Do you know your company’s Market Position? If you don’t, then maybe your competitors do!
Find out what you need to know about market positioning so your market will think of you instead of you thinking of them.
What does your target market think of you? To put into perspective, lets draw examples from some leading international companies. When you think of Ryanair? You think Low-cost. Volvo? Safety. Apple? Innovative.
Positioning, when developed correctly, is a clever way of allowing your company to be first in mind. It is not however something that can happen overnight. It is a strategic mind-set that requires the support of your entire company. Market Positioning is about perception – how the market perceives you. It is a fundamental element of your marketing strategy as it provides the basis of how your brand is perceived by your target market. Ryanair didn’t naturally evolve to become a low cost airline – they actively pursued it.
The Beauty of Market Positioning and Repositioning
One of the most significant benefits in Market Positioning is that it allows you to differentiate from your competition. Operating as a ‘me too’ supplier will inevitably see you being left behind so you need to show what’s unique about your company.
When you are accurately perceived in the market, not only do you not have to work as hard convincing your customers why you’re better, you won’t have to work as hard justifying your price. The release of Apple’s iPhone 5 saw fans queuing for days to get their hands on the latest gadget. Is this because Apple is better than its competitor Samsung, or because Apple is internationally portrayed as a luxurious, innovative product?
Even for companies that currently have a misconceived image, there are plenty of ways to reposition and highlight the true value of your company. Skoda notoriously had a poor image in the 80’s and 90’s before Volkswagen took over and repositioned it as been a reliable, attractive car.
I’m using leading brands names here as examples but by all means small companies can mirror this practice to optimise their position in the market. Bulmer’s is one of Ireland’s most famous repositioning stories where cider was traditionally seen as cheap, unsophisticated and often associated with the common drunk. The company led extremely successful marketing campaigns in the 90’s to change the market’s perception and become a premium drink that now combines both tradition and contempo.
CREATE the perception
Leading brands actively influence how they want to be perceived. This is especially effective for companies like Intel who place substantial emphasis on CSR to offset any negative attitudes to their high chemical emissions.
If you think your company or your product is currently misconceived you need to first pose the question, what do you want to be recognised for? The trouble with this question is that it’s all too easy to get carried away with overly ambitions answers. You must carefully identify the areas where you can achieve and succeed in. Once this is established, you’ll have an accurate and consistent marketing message you can build on.
So how do you find the optimal position for your company, product or service?
If I asked 5 people, all with different roles in your organisation today what does your company do? Would they all have the same answer? If you have never engaged in market positioning before, the likelihood answer is no. The Engineering Manager may have you pigeon holed into what he’s comfortable with while the Sales Manager may have more aspirational answers on what you do. It’s this internal confusion that confuses the market which is why it’s important to internally have a clear message on your marketing position.
1. Define your value proposition
You need to discover the key attributes you deliver to the market that are specifically unique to your company. A great way to help you discover this is talking to your customers to see why they work with you and what they value about you.
- Define what you do
- What are the benefits in what you do
- Show proof of what you do
2. Evaluate your Competition
Who are your competitors and how can you distinguish yourselves from them?
What sets your product, service and company apart from your competitors? What value do you provide and how is it different from the alternatives? Identify your competitors and scrutinise their message to find out how you can position against them
3. Identify your Market Segment
You need to identify the area of the market that you can reliably serve.
If you’re not a high volume, low price company then there is no point competing for this area of the market. You need to show that you have something different, something that distinguishes your value from your competitors’ price. Once you identify your market segment, start focusing your marketing efforts there.
Inaccurate market positioning could be what’s inhibiting your fair share of the market. Get your message right and create the perception of what you want to be recognised in. As the market’s perception always correlates to the market’s understanding.