By Jeffrey Hedquist
Your clients need to be more persuasive than ever in courting over-marketed potential customers. Positioning is a tool to help you and your client do that.
What is positioning? This article will not give you the ultimate definition, guaranteeing you a top mark in your marketing class. This is a quick & clean summary – some guidelines to use in helping your client differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Positioning has come to mean the process by which we try to create an image or identity in the minds of your client’s target market for its product, service, brand, or organization. Re-positioning involves changing the identity of a product, service, brand, or organization, relative to the identity of competition, in the collective minds of the target audience.
OK, here are two simple approaches to defining a client’s position:
The Chasm Claim (Courtesy of Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm): For (target customer). Who (statement of need or opportunity). The (product name) is a (product category). That (statement of the beneﬁt – that is, compelling reason to buy). Unlike (primary competitive alternative). Our product (statement of primary differentiation).
Example: “For parents who want dental work for their kids, Elemental Dental is a dental clinic that offers painless kid-friendly dentistry, unlike most full service dentists, we specialize in dental work for children aged 6-15.”
The Positioning XYZs (Courtesy of The Marketing Playbook by John Zagula & Richard Tong): “We are the only X that solves Y problem in Z unique way.” Where: X is the category of company, product, service, or other offering you’ve chosen to win; Y is the unmet need of your target audience; and Z is the differentiation, advantage, or key positive distinction you have over your competition.
Example: “We are the only dental clinic that solves the problem of how to get your kids to not hate dental work in a pain free and comfortable way.”
Use whichever of these methods works best for you. Important points to consider as you work with your client: What is your client’s existing positioning? Do you want to change it or define it more clearly? What does your client offer that’s unique and that really matters to your audience? We need benefits here, not features. Be careful not to pick too many things to differentiate your client. Pick one and be bold. This is no time for a committee-created statement. Try to please everyone and you won’t stand out, won’t be noticed. You’ll blend in with the rest of the pack who also say they’re better, cheaper, more experienced, friendlier, more professional, faster and more convenient. Identify your client’s most important audience segment. How does that audience define their relevant needs or pain? How do they make purchase decisions? And what do they think of your client and your client’s major competitors? Define how your target audience would communicate these key messages in their own words.
Getting your clients to define their positions is one of the most helpful services you can offer them. With clear positioning, the rest of a successful campaign will be much easier to create. To deepen your understanding of positioning (and to find out how much I’ve oversimplified this topic) read the classic work: Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries & Jack Trout.
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