One of the most important parts of building a budding business is defining your target audience. Then once this step is done, it is crucial to develop a market positioning strategy. The reason this is so critical is that it helps differentiate your business from competitors and control the way your target market views you. If you want the ability to influence the way consumers view your brand, then it is necessary to have a marketing plan, strategy, and objectives. It is closely related to your company’s image, which dictates how consumers feel about your brand and product. You want to take control of the narrative through marketing in order to have the best possible brand associations that align with your company’s values.
What is a Market Positioning?
The definition of market positioning is the “act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”. This definition comes from Phil Kotler, a marketing and branding expert who is known as the father of modern marketing. The purpose of market positioning is to influence customers on how they should view your brand and product. It also dictates that customers should look at your company and goods in a specific, predetermined light that comes from your market position. You want to create a certain perception and image that sets your business apart from the competition.
The one issue with perception is that it is dependent on the onlooker and can vary from person to person. Despite differing viewpoints, market positioning is still critically necessary to brands since there are a lot of benefits to having an effective one. That is why creating cohesive branding and producing a consistent message is so important to the business itself.
Market positioning can be the difference between a successful brand/product and one that never takes off. How a company or product makes a consumer feel can be the deciding factor if a purchase is made or not. The advantages of powerful market positioning include increased brand awareness, market differentiation, higher recall, the ability to charge premium pricing, and more. These reasons are why businesses aim to create strong market positioning through a well thought out strategy.
Types of Market Positioning Strategies
Product Qualities and Advantages
This type of strategy focuses on the attributes and benefits of your brand and/or product. It will help create certain associations with your brand and/or product with value and how it can improve the customer’s life. You will want to highlight the specific qualities of your product and what that brings to the table.
The goal of this strategy is to create an association with a certain price. This can be a great value where a customer saves a lot of money by buying a certain product from a brand. Generally, lower-priced goods do well with this positioning strategy because of how influential prices are on customer behavior. On the other hand, it could be a luxury brand or product that has an association with being very expensive to produce a perception of exclusivity.
The purpose of this strategy is to create an association between your brand and products with high quality. The image your brand wants to project is that you have products that last, will not break, and/or are made of quality materials. Oftentimes, high quality is linked with luxury goods in the minds of consumers.
Product Use and Application
The way this strategy works is to make an association between your brand/product and how it is used. Ideally, you want to develop a connection between the way and situations in which you would use a product. Product use can also be associated with a certain group of people like vegetarians, fitness enthusiasts, gamers, and others. So it can be useful to link it to groups that are dedicated to a certain hobby or lifestyle to better position your brand/product.
This strategy works to convince consumers that your brand/product is better than their competitors. This works to compare the quality of a product with another business to demonstrate value and how much better your company’s goods are. You would highlight the fundamental differences that make your product look better or the uniqueness of your brand itself.
Steps to Develop a Market Positioning Strategy
Step 1: Conduct a Competitive Analysis
The purpose of this is to see where your brand falls compared to other businesses in your field. It will help your brand understand the similarities, differences, where you excel, where you fall short, and where you meet expectations in the current market. A competitive analysis will help you answer specific questions like:
- Who is your primary competition?
- How is the industry itself performing?
- What do customers associate with your competitors?
- What competitors have the most influence?
- Are there any competitors that are more well-liked?
- Where are there opportunities to grow your business?
- Where are there threats to your business?
- How is your company doing in comparison to others in the industry?
After you have conducted your competitive analysis and answered these questions, then you have a clearer idea of how your organization is doing in the industry. These questions provide powerful insights into your business and your competitors in order to see how you compare.
Step 2: Outline Your Market Position and Plot a Market Map
In order to properly execute an effective market position, you need to understand the market perceives your company. A perceptual market map is a useful tool to visually demonstrate how your competitors are viewed, how your business is viewed, and the relation between these. The use of a market map can help you understand the beliefs and actions of customers, industry trends, and where your organization falls short. These insights assist with the creation of a new and improved market position through a solidified identity.
There are a few standard categories that go on a market map to effectively compare a business to others in the same industry. Some of these include comparing quality vs price, function vs price, price vs performance, and price vs reliability. You can see that these comparisons are similar to the various market positioning strategies.
Step 3: Write a Positioning Statement
After conducting a competitive analysis and plotting a market map, you should have a thorough understanding of the public’s perception of your brand. If your company does not already have one, then you will need to create a positioning statement. This statement is a combination of your findings and how you should implement them into your business. The goal of the positioning statement is to use these insights to align with your brand’s goals. A positioning statement describes the products and services that your company provides and who the target market is. It also explains how the product or service provided satisfies the needs of the target market. The positioning statement should include a justification or data on why customers should believe what you are offering. Some sort of reasoning or evidence will make your brand appear more trustworthy and reliable.
The statement itself should not be lengthy. It is best to keep it short, clear, and direct. It should not be a generic statement that could fit any company. You want to make sure that it speaks to the uniqueness of your organization. The positioning statement should align with company values and the mission statement so your message remains consistent.
Step 4: Determine if Your Positioning Statement Works
After you have put all this time and effort into your research, you want to make sure that your positioning statement is effective. You can do this through tests, experiments, and feedback with your target market through focus groups and the like. In order to make sure that your positioning works and has the ideal influence on people, it is imperative to collect data and feedback. If your positioning statement is working as intended, then you can move on to the next step of market positioning.
Step 5: Develop Your Unique Market Position
The previous steps should give you a deep understanding of what your company is, competitors, the market conditions, current opportunities, and the best positioning. This unique market position should reflect the insights you have gathered from your research and the best implementation. Some common market positions include pricing, quality, application, and competition. It is important to determine which one is right for your organization. The research you have put in should help you figure out what makes your product/brand different from competitors and how to approach your target market and segment your users with what they respond best to.
- What is market positioning?
- What are some market position strategies?
- Why is market positioning important?
- What questions should your competitive analysis answer?
- What is a market map?