Here are the cold, hard facts … your target customers have options and the more similar they believe your product or service is to competitive products or services, the less likely they are to start buying from you.
But, that’s only half the story. Being different is important but it’s not enough. Being different MAY get their attention, but it doesn’t make them buy.
The most common problem we see when companies and advertising agencies develop brand positioning is a focus on writing a Positioning Statement and not on creating a Positioning Strategy. This has been true across hundreds of products and services we have worked on over the past 20 years.
What does that mean?
It means that the focus is often put on the words being used and not the strategy they are meant to define. It means that the positioning statement that was created is more of a statement of product differences and likely includes all the features and benefits that make the product or service different from competitors but does little to create real strategic differentiation or relevance.
Let me say that again … loading up a positioning statement with a list of features and benefits that are different than competitors DOES NOT create differentiation! And that’s a BIG PROBLEM.
It’s a problem because the companies that contact us have typically created positioning statements in this way and have gone on to spend hundreds of thousands, if not, millions of dollars on promotion for results that are minimally successful or even a complete failure.
When we dig into these brands the problem is frequently the same, brand management, or company leadership, or the ad agency has identified product differences but hasn’t actually created the strategic underpinnings necessary to be competitive. In other words, the Positioning “Statement” is, essentially, a slogan or a creative message; it’s not the strategic framework needed to create and retain customers in highly competitive markets.
Positioning “Strategy” is making deliberate choices about your target customers and the specific features and benefits your product or service delivers to them that will create Relevant-Differentiation. A truly complete Positioning Strategy also includes a plan for strategic implementation that enables you to create a series of activities designed to deliver unique value to these targeted customers.
If you’re still reading maybe you know exactly what we’re talking about. Heck, you may have even run up against it a few times and are trying to figure out how to fix it.
You’re probably one of the few who sees the evidence all around them, that the most successful companies in nearly every industry have gotten that way by developing a positioning strategy that creates extraordinary relevance for a target customer and makes sure every single customer touchpoint reinforces that positioning strategy.
Not one of the most successful companies, in any industry, achieved their current level of success by creating a simple statement of competitive differences. None of them!
SIMPLE. HELPFUL. AND IT WORKS!
So, let's talk about how we approach positioning strategy to build your brand ... and increase your sales growth.
SUCCESS DEPENDS ON RELEVANT-DIFFERENTIATION
The goal is to differentiate your brand and create a connection between your product or service and your target customers to make it more relevant.
Step 1: Understand your brand
The first thing we do is learn from you about your business and your product or service.
The more we understand what makes your business special the better we can identify the customers that will flock to your brand.
We want to understand why your brand exists and what makes it special and different so we can help make it relevant to your target customers. What can your brand do for customers that they can't get anywhere else? The better we understand what makes your business special the better we can help potential customers see exactly why they need what you have to offer.
Step 2: Identify the opportunity
Next, we need to understand what causes your potential customers to buy.
What are the things that drive how they choose this type of product or service? What needs and desires do they have that affect the choices they make when considering a product or service like yours?
In other words, why are they considering purchasing these products or services and what do they hope to accomplish?
Most businesses get this wrong, which is why there is such a huge opportunity for those that do it better.
Most business owners and professional marketers settle on the most obvious and broad reaching reasons that seem to drive target customers' buying decisions.
This lack of depth causes potential customers to feel like all the products in the market are pretty similar and, therefore, almost any one of them will do.
That's not what you want for your brand! You want your brand to mean more to potential customers than any other brand out there.
In this step we push, prod, and probe into anything and everything that could be a driving potential customers. Because we've been doing this 2000 across hundreds of businesses and brands, we know how to get deep.
In other words, we help you look at potential customers in new ways and consider new opportunities to connect that can make your product or service more relevant to them and increase their likelihood to buy from you.
Step 3: Define your brand's positioning
Next, we focus on developing the Positioning Strategy – the goal for your team to drive toward.
We're identifying the specific need or desire of your target customer that your product or service can uniquely satisfy. That thing that drives these customers to buy and which your product or service over-delivers on. This is a coordinated strategy intended to establish your brand as the optimal solution for the need these customers wish to resolve most.
This strategy delivers the positioning that creates relevant-differentiation for your brand.
We work with you to craft the detail needed to make sure every member of your team can follow and understand exactly how to incorporate the plan into the work they do every day.
By making sure you and your team have a complete understanding of what the customer is looking for and how to make your brand more relevant than any competitor, we are setting the stage for faster growth and higher revenue.
In this stage, the details are important. The more clearly your team can "see" the target customer and how your product or service will make a difference to them, the better they will incorporate it into their work and the stronger the bond you'll create with your customers.
The coolest thing about this ... when it's done right ... you will have a strategic implementation framework you can weigh all of your marketing decisions against to determine how well they drive toward this goal. It makes marketing decisions easier!
Actually, that may be the second coolest thing. The COOLEST thing is that you'll spend your promotional budget more efficiently. Everything you do will be targeted and specific.
No more throwing promotional money out the window on generic ideas.
Every promotional decision can be made by asking one simple question ... "Will this idea make my brand more relevant to my target customer?"
Step 4: Draw the map
Now that we've figured out who the target customer is and what your brand must do to be most relevant to them, we just have to draw the map to get there.
Sometimes the map is really simple and sometimes there are lots of steps. Either way, at this point the goal is to write those steps down, turn by turn, so anyone can follow them.
Step 5: Drive
This last step is where the rubber meets the road.
If we've done our job right, this is where we start changing the customer's mind!
At this point we work with you to ensure that your advertising, promotion, and PR are all aligned … that all your marketing materials and all the messages you are putting out connect with the road map and drive toward the goal.
In other words, we're here to help you make sure that all the hard work that's been done to this point is pulled through to the customer. No veering off the road. We've helped you get this far; we're going to help make sure you have the best chance of success by providing a guiding hand on the promotion your customers will see.
Our goal is to help you reach the sales growth you want and these steps are the most effective way to do it.
There is an art and a science to this ... and we've mastered it.
We'll help you understand how it all works in your business and help you manage your campaigns so they work for you.
Our sole desire is to make sure this is literally the single, most impactful thing you've ever done for your business, period.