How do you want a customer to feel when they think about you or your company?
What words would come to their mind? What emotions would they feel? What differences do you want them to see between you and your competitors?
Now for the tougher question: What is the reality? What is the first thing that comes to mind when they think about you? If you would ask them to name the differences between you and your competitors, what would they answer?
Positioning is the key to answering these questions correctly. If you don’t position yourself in the market, your competitor will—and you usually won’t like how they position you.
Most small businesses don’t position themselves. They see themselves as restaurant owners, carpet stores, software engineers. Or they see themselves as the best in something. Or the cheapest. Or the longest in business. This is not enough for positioning.
Position yourself, step-by-step:
Who is my target clientele?
Who can benefit from my product? (And please don’t say “everyone” because that essentially means “no one”.) Who can I reach with my marketing message?
What key solutions do I offer my target market?
What are the benefits of your product? How can your services help your potential customers?
What are their fears?
Knowing why people hesitate from using your product or buying your services, or what they dislike or fear is very valuable. It’s an important part in creating your marketing message.
What sets me apart from my competitors?
What is the main thing that makes me a better choice than my competitor? Am I really good at it? Is it something what the competitor can’t copy easily? Is it something that clients really need?
I offer this benefit (2), and maybe one more for my targeted customers (1), because this is a huge difference from my competitors (4) without the fear factor (3).
Here is the primary marketing message you have to communicate to your target market in order to position yourself.
Are these the real answers you have to use?
You have to offer the benefits that your customers want to achieve. Ask them the following:
- What is the real struggle that they are trying to correct with your product? Don’t try to guess, listen carefully to your clients’ words. These words will help you position yourself.
- When they were looking for a solution to this problem, what were the 3 most important criteria they used to make their choice?
- What do they think makes you different from other companies who sell similar products? Don’t try to prompt or help them—let them tell you in their own words. Just ask the question and listen to them.
What do you do with your brand positioning?
Try different words you can use to position yourself. Try adding some words, and deleting others.
Build a strong sentence that tells people who you are, what benefits you can provide them, and what sets you apart from your competition. This may take a number of iterations before you find the right wording for you.
Write down your ideas, say them out loud, bounce them off a few people and ask them what it means to them when they hear it.
Don’t try to make it funny or overly informative. It should be simple and powerful. More than anything, it should be a description that everybody understands. You are not here to entertain people, you are here to grab their attention.
Once you figure out this sentence, where should you use it?
- In your office
- On your flyers
- In your videos
- On your business cards
- On your website
- In your offers
- In your catalog
- In every email that you send to clients
- On marketing materials, T-shirts, cards.
The more people see it, the more they will remember it.
How to spice it up?
Don’t focus solely on the positive benefits. Remind your customers that the problem could become worse the longer they delay taking action, and by start using the product now, they could avoid much greater future problems.
Even though positioning is a fairly old and established marketing tactic (about 30 years old), many entrepreneurs and small companies don’t use it. However, it’s important, and should be a key part of your marketing toolbox!
No other marketing tool can give you better results than positioning. However, it is also often the most difficult tool to use, because you have to look at your company through your customers’ eyes.
But if you do it right, you can:
- Get new customers easily
- Write effective advertising messages
- Charge optimal prices for your products or services—you won’t have to lower your prices ever again
- Know that your customers won’t think about going to your competitor
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The big marketing test