11 Feb Positioning is Your Compass
What’s the most valuable element of your brand? Positioning. More than any other discipline in marketing communications, positioning leads strategy, messaging, creative, even timing. Furthermore, because positioning is intrinsically linked to consumer perceptions, it is the most difficult to control because it’s a shared experience with your customers. Plain and simple. Positioning is your compass.
The Brand Position Tug-of-War
Positioning is all about perception and, as we all know, perception is reality. Therefore, establishing that perception is critical because perceptions are tricky to change once the mold is set. If you don’t know your product’s position or are procrastinating its “reveal” to your customers, no worries… your customers and your competitors’ customers will do that for you. Wait, what!?
Yes. While you’re working out the details, your customers will fill in ambiguous positioning with their own ideas. Competitors will try to do the same. Both instances create resistance, pulling your brand away from its most favorable – and lucrative – position. Proactively driving your brand with clarity and purpose is the only way to own your position.
Who’s in Charge?
Research indicates that the top three brands in any product category dominate market share with a 4:2:1 ratio. That is to say the best-selling brand has twice the market share of the second-choice brand, which has twice the share of the third most popular brand.
The number one brand in a category calls the shots, but it’s a double-edged sword. They are also the target of every competitor brand looking to unseat them.
Successful positioning at the top of the product preference ladder in consumers’ minds is absolutely dependent on listening – truly listening to the voice of your customer. That includes both your customers and those of your competitor(s). It’s the reason Axiom Marketing is a constant advocate for Voice of Customer research.
Learning what your customers and prospects want is the surest method to getting into the minds of consumers. When you know what they want, what they need, and how your product delivers over competitors you can begin the process of positioning.
Clarity, Consistency, Constancy, Credibility
However you define your position, it must be based on truth and believable beyond question. Then, you can work toward creating desire in consumers. Begin with an internal push. Everyone in the company should understand and know your product’s position and the language to describe it with clarity, consistency, constancy and credibility. A little passion helps in a big way too.
Aim to turn every employee, every customer and prospect into an expression of your position and a brand advocate. Consciously positioning your product or service allows you ownership of that position. It’s what you stand for in the mind of the consumer – your True North.
Positioning is truly accomplished when your brand is understood in a simple phrase (sometimes it is a tagline), but at its best – it is a single word. Volvo owns the word “Safety”. Miller won the light beer category with positioning, making it acceptable to heavy beer drinkers and claiming the title by naming their brand Miller Lite. Ford Trucks are “Tough”. Nike lays heavy into a call-to-action with “Just Do It”. 7-Up raised its brand to the level of Coke and Pepsi as the “Uncola” – a moniker that has stuck since its debut in 1968.
When you listen, hear and respond to the perceptions of customers, you not only understand what they want to buy, you can make your product their first preference. Of course, there is a caveat: If YOU don’t purposefully position your product, someone else will.
Positioning is Your Compass
Positioning is conceptual. It does not come easy. It takes time, dedication, courage and constant attention. But there is no doubt about its power to make or break a product, a service, even a category. Positioning is the driving force of your brand. Your path to the top. Your true north.