If you do a quick web search for the reasons why businesses fail, you’ll be buried in beaten-to-pulp, common-knowledge factors such as poor management, insufficient capital, poor product or service quality, and so on.
But the truth is, virtually all business owners are already aware of those overt factors and have put foolproof systems in place to handle them. So why do many companies still fold? Because the success of every business hinges significantly on covert factors, too.
One of these little-known factors is company positioning.
In this post, you’ll discover the importance of positioning and how it can make or break your company. You’ll also learn the exact steps to follow to position your company correctly in the market.
Now, let’s cut right to the chase.
What exactly is company positioning?
Entrepreneur Magazine defines positioning as “how you differentiate your product or service from that of your competitors and then determine which market to fill”. That kind of sums it up, but we’ll make it even simpler.
Positioning means enhancing your target market’s perception of your product or service. It’s all about defining what you want your customers to know or think about your offers. And it involves combining different measures aimed at creating the right impression of your company in your customers’ minds.
Why is positioning important for your business?
Like it or not, every company is built on two main pillars — product or service quality and market positioning. For your company to succeed, you must build and manage both pillars diligently.
Today, many businesses blame low sales on their product or service. In a bid to solve the problem, they tweak the product/service endlessly, instead of paying attention to how the market perceives what they offer. Here’s the typical scenario:
- “Let’s release our product to the market after including all the features our target customers will love.”
- “Lead generation rate is poor? Let’s add more features to the product (or more bonuses to the service).”
- “Sales still not encouraging? Let’s lower the price a bit.”
But the truth in many cases is, the product or service has no problems. Most of the time, the issue is poor positioning.
Some companies with low sales go a step further by asking the following questions:
- What market are we targeting?
- What specific pain points does our product or service solve?
- What makes our product or service stand out from similar offers in the market?
Those questions, though important, can only reveal how you or your employees see your company or products/services. But correct positioning also involves digging into how your customers see things.
To position your business correctly, here are some more important questions to ask and answer:
- Who do your customers think your product or service is aimed at?
- What do customers think makes your product or service unique?
- What pain points do customers think you solve with your product or service?
- How credible do they think you are?
Without gaining these insights into how your customers see your product or service, you’ll get your positioning wrong, your marketing efforts will miss their target, and your business will eventually crumble.
But if you get this right, you’ll not only create a competitive advantage for your brand, but also practically deposition the competition in the eyes of your target customers.
5 Foolproof Steps for Positioning Your Company Correctly
Whether you’re starting a new company or running one already, positioning is an integral part of your business. And if you get it right, most other things will fall neatly into place.
1- Review the basics of your business
“Basics” here refers to every important detail worth knowing about your company. It includes your company’s vision and mission statement, the demographics of your target market, and the pain points of your potential customers. It also includes full details of your product or service, how it addresses your customer’s pain points, and how it stands out from similar offers by the competition.
Aside from revealing whether you’ve digressed from your initial business plans in any way, this review provides you with an error-free template as you move on to other steps involved in the company positioning process.
To get this step right, involve all of your company’s stakeholders as well as pioneer employees who deeply understand the business and what it stands for.
2- Get customer feedback
Since correct positioning is primarily about customer perception, you must understand how your customers presently see your product or service. Since your aim here is to be as objective as possible and rule out all baseless assumptions, your best bet is to proactively ask your customers what they think about your company and your product or service. This is particularly important because most customers won’t give feedback unless you make an express request.
No, those few reviews on your website won’t be enough. And those few likes on your social media platforms won’t express the views of all your customers. You need to adopt ways to reach out to your existing and potential customers – all of them – and ask questions that probe into their perception of your brand.
Your mailing list, social media platforms, online surveys, and direct phone calls are awesome tools for this purpose.
3- Compare your views with your customers’ views
After collecting feedback from your customers, you’ll have to render the data into an organized format. This eases your next task — doing a side-by-side comparison of how you see your company with how your target customers see it. This isn’t one of the easiest tasks in the world, but when it’s done thoroughly, it usually reveals lots of interesting insights.
Are your target customers of the impression that your product or service wasn’t really targeted at them? Are they aware of the upsides that makes your offering better than the competition? Do they see your product/service as the exact solution to their pressing problems? You can only answer these questions after comparing your internal statements with their external views and highlighting all the differences.
It goes without saying that you should carefully document all similarities and differences between what your customers know and think about your company and what you wanted them to know and think about it in the first place.
4- Address all misconceptions — and their causes
There are few deadlier threats to your business than inadvertent wrong signals that create negative impressions in the minds of your target customers.
Imagine a situation where your potential customers ignore you simply because a typo on your website indicates that you’re a B2B company — so they think that you only cater to corporate clients. Or a situation where your product is perceived to be of lower quality than its contenders because of drab packaging.
In either case, it’s sad to realize how you’ve hampered your business’s success with seemingly minor, yet expensive mistakes. The sweet part is that you’ve realized your mistakes through objective customer feedback.
But it’s not enough to just figure out the areas where your customers have wrong perceptions about your business: you need to fix the causes of those misconceptions. If it’s a typographical error, correct it immediately. If it’s a poor or misunderstood design, replace it with something better. If it’s an ambiguous marketing statement, replace it with a clear one. Whatever the error is, fix it as soon as possible.
5-Tweak your marketing accordingly
After figuring out why your customers saw your business from the wrong angle and addressing those reasons, your next step is to spread word of what you’ve done.
There’s no way your target customers can know that you’ve improved your mediocre product packaging if you don’t tell them. Similarly, there’s no way they’ll understand how your product solves their most pressing problems if you don’t tell them. This is why you need to make appropriate changes to your marketing efforts.
A smart approach to this critical step is to emphasize your recent changes in all the marketing campaigns you run over the following weeks or months. This makes your customers aware of the developments, and thereby sends the right signals about your business. Your new marketing messages should continue until you have objective proof that virtually all your target customers are aware of them.
Most businesses focus on product development and pay little or no attention to positioning, which is more important. Without correct positioning, all the resources you invest into developing a top-quality product or service just go down the drain. And that’s because nobody buys a product or service that they have negative impressions about.
Correct positioning is vital because it’s about boosting sales by making customers see your offers as their best option. Whether your company is just starting or has been operating for years, this involves going through the steps explained in this article.
Sawim is working to provide integrated marketing solutions
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