… that you must set limits on what you’re trying to accomplish.”  --Michael Porter

Few products are introduced that revolutionize markets. Most often, products are introduced with only marginal differences from competitors. Many marketers focus on trying to win over the same customers who are already using a competitive brand by convincing them their product is “better.” In many cases, these marketers spend a great deal of time and money making the case for why consumers need to change their habits, despite the product’s marginal differences. The truth is that most marketers lose the perspective of the customer and promote their product through the eyes of the marketer instead.

The thinking is that if I keep telling them how important the differences are, eventually they’ll see the light and switch to my product.

No, they won’t; at least not before you’ve wasted a boat-load of money and time. If your competitor is willing to fight for their position in the market, it may never happen.

It is far more strategic -- and often more lucrative -- to find customers interested in the benefits your product delivers, than it is to try and convince customers who don’t believe to believe. What does that mean? It means that your brand will do a lot better if you spend the time determining who the customers are that will actually benefit from the differences your product does offer and selling to them.

If your product isn’t an identical copy of your competitor’s brand, use your differences to find the customers that aren’t thrilled by the competitive offering. Show them how your product meets their needs better, then focus on growing your audience. If your product is the same, analyze potential customer groups, determine those that are underserved and target them specifically showing how your product can help them.

Successful marketers recognize where the opportunities lie and follow those paths. First, make headway in a market and then set out to take more and more customers. The best opportunities often follow the paths of least resistance, not the head on, full out battle with a competitor for their customers.

We talk about positioning strategy a lot, but the fundamental aspect of positioning that is most often skipped over is the one that makes the biggest difference. Carefully answering the question: “who is the customer that will find that my product solves their problem better than the products available to them now?” Find these customers first and use them to create the momentum you need to make your brand successful.

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