HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR COMPANY'S POSITIONING

How to distinguish yourself from the competition to be sure you have a preferred place in your target customer's mind. You know who you are. But do your customers? Are you who you were last year? If not, have you communicated how you've changed? 

Positioning is the process of distinguishing yourself from competitors in specific ways in order to be the preferred provider for certain market segments. It's the act of designing your company's offer and image so it occupies a distinct and valued place in the targeted customer's mind. The main benefit of clear positioning is that it controls how the market perceives you and helps make your products and/or services more attractive.

 

Many companies struggle with how to position their companies and communicate what they stand for. If you don't do it right, the market doesn't know whether to buy from you, whether you have the knowhow it seeks, or whether you'll follow through and meet its needs. Christine Comaford suggests five steps to improving your company's positioning: 

1. Assess where you are right now. You can start with this practical exercise: Ask customers for the three adjectives they would they use to describe your company, products or services and overall image. Then ask yourself the following questions: What's working with my current position? What isn't? Do I want to change my position to increase the customer’s satisfaction?  Do I need to secure a new or different customer profile? and/or Revamp my services? 

2. Determine how you want to be perceived. This is an intentional act. When you determine the specific position you want to occupy in your target customer's mind, you can craft your products or services, marketing messages, and image to convey and reinforce it. What are the meaningful differences between you and your competition? Take the time to do this right, as significant expenses will result when you redesign your Web site, marketing collateral, and service delivery, as well as if you overhaul your staff training process. 

3. Select your target customers. Too often companies target customers anyone who's willing to either buy what they sell or use the service they have. But this approach conveys desperation and a lack of focus. Craft a strategy that takes into account questions such as: Will you benefit from making your image more socially responsible or projecting quality-based service or simply providing more accessible services? How does your target market define value? How do those people choose among vendors? 

4. Factor in current trends. You've probably heard the expression, "If you want to be a market leader, find a parade and jump in front of it." Countless companies are jumping in front of the environmental/sustainability movement with "green" products and services, and advertising their socially conscious business practices. What trends are on the way that might tie in with your company? Which should you distance yourself from, since they are on the way out? 

5. Define your Positioning Strategy. Your company purpose drives your company strategy which drives your market strategy which drives your positioning strategy. For instance, if your company objective is to provide affordable health care for low income families, your business strategy must reflect this philosophy in the services you will be offering. Your market strategy will consist of how to find those customers and how to communicate with them. Your positioning strategy will determine the messages you communicate to your target customer in order to achieve your company’s mission.

If you aren't happy with how people perceive your company, or you want to update your profile, you're ready to reposition your company. Let's examine the specifics of the positioning process. First, it will take you about three  months to position your business if you are starting from scratch. Your marketing team should be in charge of this process, and you can outsource a fair chunk of the research work. Here are the steps: 1) Determine emerging trends on which you can capitalize. This will yield your vision viability assessment. 2) Determine core competencies. This will yield your competitive threat assessment. 3) Clarify the problem/pain you are solving. This will yield your target markets and analyses of them. 4) Articulate the benefits/drivers/impacts of your products and services. This will clarify how your customers buy and who they listen to/are influenced by.