Positioning can make or break a product, do it right and you’ll have a receptive audience, confident they’ve made the right decision despite a slew of other options. Do it wrong and you’ll be lucky if your product registers with consumers at all.
But don’t worry you're in our safe and capable hands now, where doing it wrong just isn’t an option. We’ve got all bases covered and we’re confident following our rookies guide to positioning will have you knocking your brand definition out of the park in no time.
What is product positioning?
Product positioning is a strategic exercise we use to find a product or service’s place in the market. Positioning defines what makes your product different from the others on the market so you can focus messaging and effectively explain its value to potential customers.
“Product positioning describes the specific market you intend to win and why you are uniquely qualified to win it.”
- April Dunford, Positioning Expert
How to create your product positioning strategy
To create a product positioning strategy you’ll need to know your product inside out so you can pinpoint exactly why your target market should part with their hard-earned cash.
Product positioning is a marathon, not a sprint so we’ve outlined some steps to help you on the first leg of discovering a strategy unique to your product.
Determine your current brand positioning
Are you marketing your product as something that stands out, or as just another product on the market? How do you make that distinction?
Understanding your current position is the key to strategizing future positioning, so you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s your mission?
- What are your values?
- What makes you different from the rest of the market?
To do this, take a good look at your value proposition, your brand personas, and brand voice.
Scope out the competition
Now we’ve looked inward, we need to check out the competition. You’ll need to see exactly who you’re up against so you can determine where you can do it better.
There are a few proven methods for determining your competition, which we’ve outlined below.
Do some market research
Speak to your sales team about competitors they see arise during the sales process, or you could do a quick search using a market keyword to see which companies are listed.
Ask for feedback
Talk to your customers about which products they were considering before they committed to yours. You could also search social media sites or forums to check out reviews on competitor products. Customers’ gripes or glowing recommendations can be really helpful in determining which area your product has the upper-hand.
Now you know who your competitors are, you’ll need to do some in-depth digging.
A good starting point for your research is asking:
- What your competitor offers, product or service wise
- What do they do well?
- What do they do poorly?
- What marketing strategies are they using and are they successful?
- What’s their position in the current market?
Identify what makes your product unique
Once you’ve conducted your competitor research you should be able to see some patterns forming, and start identifying businesses with the same strengths and weaknesses. Once you start comparing your product to theirs you might find yours has a strength the competition lacks.
Take note of any other offerings unique to your product and compare it to your competitors.
Identify what it is you do better than them or anyone else.
How to create your positioning statement
A positioning statement is a one or two-sentence declaration that identifies your product’s unique value to customers in relation to your main competitors. Before crafting your positioning statement you need to ask:
- Who is your target customer?
- What category does your product or service belong in?
- What’s the biggest, unique benefit your product or service offers?
- Can you prove that benefit?
From there, you can create a compelling positioning statement.
Positioning statements are usually only shared internally, so we’ve made up an example of one for luxury, shoe brand Louboutin to give you a clearer picture of how it answers the questions we’ve asked above.
“Our vision is to be the most recognizable, luxury ladies shoe brand in the world. When women wear our shoes, people will ask “are they Louboutins?””
This works because it tells us the company’s intended audience are 1. ladies, and 2. ladies with money. Its benefit is the perceived social status the customer experiences simply from owning a pair of red-bottomed Louboutins, and it’s proven by how well the brand has infiltrated popular culture - Cardi B rapped about them in Bodak Yellow, they were featured in countless episode’s of Sex and the City and JLo wrote a whole song about them!
Does your positioning statement work?
It’s not enough to just position your brand to appeal to a certain customer, once you’ve crafted your statement, it’s time to put it to the test. Experiment with it, and ask your customers for feedback on whether or not it achieves its intended goal - and don't ever stop this feedback cycle.
Product positioning examples
Now we’ve covered product positioning in some detail, let’s take a look at it in action. Below are a few examples of businesses that have successfully positioned themselves into a gap in the very same market as their competitors.
Delta & JetBlue
When Delta stopped serving peanuts and reduced their legroom, JetBlue entered the market and positioned itself front and center as the airline with the gourmet snacks and ample legroom.
Chipotle & Taco Bell
Although both of these brands essentially sell Mexican fast-food, Chipotle entered the same market, competing with quality instead of price. One of the company’s adverts stated, “We’re not afraid to say we’re real chickens.” A tag-line that positioned the brand as superior in quality to its rival, Taco Bell.
Bumble & Tinder
Bumble was positioned as a dating app that empowers women. After the founder had a negative experience with some of the men on Tinder she designed the app so that only female users could initiate first contact. Bumble has now also expanded beyond dating and allows users to seek friendship or professional connection.
The Coca-Cola Company & Mother Energy Drinks
This is a slightly different example in that Coca-Cola was essentially fighting against its own positioning of a product in the market, but it’s a great lesson in repositioning.
In 2006 Coca-Cola launched Mother Energy drink into the Australian market.
The launch campaign was pretty successful, however, the taste of Mother Energy Drink just wasn’t as good as the leading competitors, and repeat purchases were low. Due to its already high brand awareness and no doubt how much they threw at marketing the brand, Coca-Cola decided to reposition the product. They completely changed the packaging, increased the size of the can, and improved the taste of the energy drink.
The relaunch of the product featured the line – “New Mother, tastes nothing like the old one.” They didn’t shy away from the fact the drink was performing poorly and even poked a bit of fun at themselves in the process. Ultimately, they successfully repositioned an energy drink that now competes with the two leading energy drinks in the market – V and Red Bull.
Positioning templates and tools
A lot of leg work goes into positioning a product and we know the prep can seem pretty daunting, which is why we’ve put together some handy templates to walk you through the process.
You could go one step further in your quest for knowledge and get PMM Certified!
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