Market positioning is a strategic exercise we use to establish the image of a brand or product in a consumer’s mind. This is achieved through the four Ps: promotion, price, place, and product. The more detailed your positioning strategy is at defining the Ps, the more effective the strategy will be.

For example:

  • A ladies shoe company might position its products as a status symbol
  • A fast-food chain that serves sandwiches might position itself as the healthier fast-food option
  • A car company might position itself as the safest option for a family

Types of positioning strategies

A few examples are positioning by:

Customer needs

Knowing your target market and how you will fulfill their specific needs.

Product price

Positioning your brand/product as competitively priced

Product quality

Positioning your brand/product as high quality

Product use and application:

Associating your brand/product with a specific use

Competitors

Positioning your brand as better than your competitors

How to create an effective market positioning strategy

Positioning your business takes a huge amount of consideration, research, and commitment, but the guide below is a great foundation on which you can begin to build your business’ identity in the market.

Create a positioning statement

A positioning statement is a document one or two sentences long that succinctly identifies your business’ unique value in relation to your competitors.

Before you begin writing your positioning statement you need to ask:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What category does your business belong in?
  • What’s the biggest benefit your business provides?
  • Can you prove that benefit?

If for example, you were a business-like Etsy you’re positioning statement might read:

“Etsy is the number one online makers-market, focused on unique handmade or vintage items and craft supplies.”

Your positioning statement is what you’ll use to guide key marketing and advertising decisions that positively impact your target audiences’ perception of your brand, so it’s vital that your positioning is clear, to you, your team, and the public.

Once you have a positioning statement in mind, before you unleash it onto the world ask yourself the following questions:

Does it do a good job of differentiating your business from competitors?

  • Does it share your business’ unique value proposition?
  • Is it focussed on your target market and their needs?
  • Is it consistent across all areas of your business?
  • Is it easy for someone outside the business to understand?
  • Does your statement promise something you can realistically back up?

If the answer to all of the above is yes! You’ve got yourself a solid positioning statement.

If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

There’s a whole section dedicated to positioning in Product Marketing Core, and tons of tried and tested templates in our membership plans.

Create a tagline

A tagline is an even shorter, snappier version of your positioning statement, it tells the customer everything they need to know in a short, memorable burst.

These catchy little quips conjure up an image of your business in the mind of your target audience.

Here are a few well-known taglines for reference:

L’Oreal: “Because you’re worth it.”

Nike: “Just do it.”

B&Q: “You can do it when you B&Q it.”

California Milk Processor Board: "Got Milk?"

Maybelline: "Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline."

Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is all about identifying your competitors and analyzing everything you can find about them. You’ll evaluate their strategies so you can determine their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your business and use it to your advantage.

Understanding your competitors is the key to finding gaps in the market your business can fill.

When you’re analyzing competitors take the following into consideration:

Objectives

What share of the market do your competitors have? What’s their growth rate?

History

Take a look at their past marketing efforts, their messaging, do they get a lot of engagement on their content efforts?

Strategy

Study white papers, promotional campaigns, and advertisements

Audience

What’s their relationship with their audience like? Check out social media, features, collaborations, and review sites to see where they fall short or shine.

Find out more about competitor analysis in this super comprehensive how-to guide.

Head over to our members area for access to competitor analysis templates and resources.

Find your current position

Once you’ve figured the competition out you’ll need to figure out where you currently fit in the market. Look at how your business fits in your competitive landscape, including how your customers think your business ranks and how you think your business ranks.

Now that you’ve analyzed the data you should have a better idea of who you are and who you want to be. Using this new-found knowledge you’ll be able to craft a strong marketing strategy.

Positioning in advertisements

Adverts are usually the first place a business positions itself, whether its a huge ad campaign on prime time TV or a quarter page local newspaper ad, it’s imperative you share your value proposition clearly.

If you were a brand new skincare business, you’d need to determine who your target market is and what they need. If your intent is helping older woman combat fine lines, your content may go something like this:

Value statement

“We help fight fine lines and wrinkles,” this statement couldn’t be any clearer, you’re pointing out the product’s value, now you need to back it up with customer testimonials and success stories.

Mature design

Your design would be simple and sophisticated and you may also include an older celebrity your target audience would recognize.  

Mature models

Using mature models would enable your target audience to make a personal connection and picture themselves using the product.

Comparison statements

Here you’d point out why you were different to Olay or other over the counter anti-aging creams, you might point out that you offer a different technology or a more luxurious formula.  

To really hammer home the importance of positioning, this same type of advertisement would be absolutely useless for a skin-care company targeting teens with acne.

Test your market positioning

Once you’ve decided on a concept for your market positioning it’s time to test it out.

Your testing should feature qualitative and quantitative research, using focus groups consisting of members of your target market, in-depth one-on-one interviews, polls, and surveys.

Based on the response you receive your strategy can either be tweaked or used across all of your internal and external communications.  

Market repositioning

Like any marketing effort, you should be prepared to adapt your positioning, as we mentioned before, this can be difficult in relation to an entire business, but in some cases, it can be necessary, like a major shift in the market or a rapid decline in sales.

Use your failures to drive your future success, examine what went wrong, and take note of what went right, you might not need to completely overhaul your marketing, it may just need an adjustment.