Honesty is always the best policy

OK, I’ve talked about positioning before. And here I am talking about it again...

It’s always worth reminding ourselves about positioning – because if we get this bit right, the rest of our marketing will fall into place so much more easily.

In Jack Trout’s book, The New Positioning: The Latest on the World’s #1 Business Strategy, he lays out 4 principles of positioning:

1. A company must establish a position in the minds of its targeted customer.

2. The position should be singular, providing one simple and consistent message.

3. The position must set a company apart from its competitors.

4. A company cannot be all things to all people it must focus its efforts.

If you study the above statements a bit further, you’ll realise that there are actually 3 things you need to focus on in order to develop your positioning.

(a) Your target audience (remembering that your target audience is NEVER everyone). You need to understand their needs, frustrations, ambitions, and how your product or service could relate to their lives. You need to know what need you’re fulfilling and what other choices they may have in meeting that need.

(b) Which brings us on to competitors. You need to understand what they’re saying to your target audience, and how your target audience perceives your competitors – how are your competitors positioned in the mind of your target audience?

(c) Identify your own strengths. What is it about your product, or the way you do things, that answers a customer need better than your competitors? Is there a gap in the customer’s mind that you can fill?

It’s actually a really simple approach – but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require time and effort.

It requires insight. Which usually requires customer research, and a fair bit of head scratching.

But more than that, it requires HONESTY.

Too many times, I’ve seen companies ‘settle’ for a positioning statement which accurately describes the business – but does nothing to set them apart from the competition or motivate potential customers to act favourably.

If you go through the process and can’t identify a genuine gap you can occupy – what then?

Well, that’s when you need to get clever. To think laterally. To consider moving away from purely rational thinking to emotional thinking.

Or it might be when you need to seriously think about whether your product is good enough to meet your business ambitions.

That’s one of the great benefits of positioning – it’s not just a marketing thing. Positioning is a process that forces us to really consider the fundamentals of our business – how do we meet customer needs better than our competitors?

Or put more simply, WHY DO WE EXIST?