The first step to creating a strong brand is to get ultra-clear on your positioning.
Your positioning is the mental place you want to occupy in your customer’s mind. It’s about how you make people feel.
WHY IS POSITIONING IMPORTANT
The brain categories information in order to make sense of the world. For instance, imagine the brain is like massive industrial shed the size of a football field and is stacked with hundreds, maybe even thousands of step ladders. Each ladder is a category, and each rung on the ladder is a business.
For instance, your brain might have a ladder stored away labelled ‘fizzy drinks’. The top rung of the ladder might be Coke, the second Pepsi (who cleverly positions itself second to coke), the next might be Fanta, then Sprite and so on and so forth depending on your likes and dislikes.
The idea is to get your product or service as close to the top of the ladder as possible in the minds of your target market, so when people think of your category you come to mind.
This almost always comes down to how you make people feel, which is the essence of strong branding and starts with positioning.
Good positioning can give you a clear and concise definition of who you are, why you matter and who you matter to. It differentiates you from competition and places you in the hearts and minds of customers. It also helps guide all business decisions and future product innovations.
Companies often sum their positioning up in a positioning statement which acts as a helpful tool for all internal and external operations.
GETTING CLEAR ON YOUR POSITIONING
To establish your position in the market place, you need to assess the following criteria.
The category is where your company sits within the market landscape. It’s essentially the industry you’re in.
Examples of categories:
- Civil construction
- Health and wellness
- Personal development
- Financial services
- Real estate
This is your target market. But one thing is to know who you wish to target, another thing is to actually KNOW your target market.
No matter what industry you’re in you must solve the need for a large and sustainable population. You must understand who these people are intimately – everything from their beliefs, values and the issues that matter to them.
Creating a customer avatar profile to really drill down on who your ideal client is can be highly beneficial. In business data is oxygen. The more you know about your customer the more you can tailor your brand experience to speak directly to them, creating the type of deep and long-lasting relationships that make your brand a household name.
A lot of companies struggle to obtain quality information about their customers. Don’t be disheartened, this is a life-long process and as long as you’re in business. You can start by looking at your audience from a generational point of view to establish their buying behaviours and core consumer traits. Use google and social media analytics to gain insights into your followers. And lastly use survey tools and create opt-ins that allow you to swap valuable resources for information that might be helpful to help drive your business forward.
Great positioning can largely be informed by the strengths and weaknesses of the alternatives to your products or services.
This is about looking at your competition strategically and assessing everything from their website, to their social media, to their customer experience strategy, products, services and everything in between. By doing this you’ll discover what sets you apart from the rest. Other things to look at could be their price point, sales process, revenue and business size. A quick google search will give many different options for carrying out a solid competitor analysis.
You then need to stand back and look at what trends are relevant to your business on a global, national and community level and then look at the different ways your company can align with them to remain relevant and on par with consumer beliefs.
For example, if you’re in the education industry, you might want to look at ways to integrate online learning to meet the needs of a large and growing population of people who want to learn on the go and in their own time.
Or, if you’re targeting millennials, you might want to look at ways to promote sustainability and environmentally friendly practices into your products and services because that’s important to that segment of the market.
The more you KNOW and understand your audience on a personal, demographic and trend level, the more likely you’ll be able to connect with them on a much deeper level.
Once you have assessed your category, community, competition and trends, you will have the information you need to clearly define your position in the market.
Companies do this by developing a positioning statement, which pulls in all of the relevant information into a simple statement that becomes a guiding compass for everyone in the organisation.
Here’s an example of a positioning statement used by Amazon in 2001.
Amazon 2001 – For worldwide web users, who enjoy books, Amazon.com is an online bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books. Unlike traditional book retailers, Amazon.com provides a combination of extraordinary experience, low prices and comprehensive selection.
Here, Amazon address who they are and why they matter by using core positioning elements such as their category, their target market, what differentiates them from their competition and how they’ve aligned with the online boom at the time to connect with those who matter most – prospects and customers alike.
A positioning statement is for internal use only and serves as a great tool to help companies remain on track to solidify and then dominate their place in the market.
MAINTAINING YOUR POSITION
Once you’re clear on your positioning, you’re able to inform all subsequent brand, marketing and communication strategies without getting confused or off-track by trying to be all things to all people.
You want to maintain that spot on the ladder, or if you can climb up higher on it.
Continuously ask yourself questions such as how can we stand out in our category? How can we engage and connect with our prospects and clients on a deeper level? Where is the gap between us and our competition? What do we say we do versus what we actually do? And how can we align with the trends that are fuelling our customer beliefs in order to remain relevant?
That, combined with a strong brand, communication and marketing strategy to bring your core company narrative to life, will supercharge your positioning and help your business stand the test of time.