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How to Create a Kick Ass Positioning Strategy in 5 Easy Steps

Positioning is everything. In car racing, you’d rather have the pole position… the number one starting person. So think of positioning strategy as a means to ensure that you’re in place to win, win, win. 

Now let’s get this race going…

What is a Positioning Strategy?

A positioning strategy is how you want your audience to perceive your brand. This is what you want to project outward. The carefully constructed narrative that you tell others. All in order to position yourself relative to your rivals.

Sometimes it helps to be the first. Like Superman. He was the first superhero, and thus will always be positioned as the original superhero. But sometimes it’s okay to be second because you can learn from the  your predecessor’s mistakes. Like the dozens of superheroes who came after Superman

Your goals with any positioning strategy are:

  • Control your reputation. Your brand is going to have a rep, whether you like it or not. So you might as well do what you can on your end to ensure you have a favorable one. All the little things you do will add up to your brand’s public perception. 
  • Be credible and reliable. To be favorable, you’ll want to position your brand as credible and reliable. 
  • Understand your audience. You’ll need to know your audience’s wants and needs. And what they’re looking for in your space. Without that, you can’t create an effective positioning strategy. 
  • Resonate with your audience. It’s not enough to understand your audience, but you need to resonate with them. Empathize with the plight. And how best your brand addresses their pain.

5 Common Product Positioning Strategies in the Wild

Great so now we’ve defined positioning strategy, what does that look like in wild blue yonder? Well, don’t fret, we’ve got some common strategies and examples for you.

1. Against a Competitor

This is a Street Fighter positioning showdown between your brand and another brand. Typically, wordsmithing for this strategy is “we do better” or “most trusted”.

Back in the 60s, Avis Rental Cars couldn’t pull ahead and cut off Hertz. So it coped to being number two in the market and positioned itself as the car rental service that worked harder to satisfy. And this marketing strategy worked! Profits soared and this campaign lasted some 50 years before being retired.

Okay, let’s look at one a little more current. And a little more part of our daily work lives. Slack. The email killer.

Slack’s homepage eons ago.

Slack’s positioned itself to slay email since its early days. But instead of attacking a particular email service, like Gmail, it took on the entire concept of email. Slack differentiated itself as the anti-email. And it’s working… we’re emailing less and spending more time on Slack.

2. Product Attributes

This is what your brand offers that no other brand can. The promise of how your product or service is much better than anything else out there.

Luxury car brands, such as Audi, are good at this. It’s if you’re part of a club that enjoys the finer things in life. That you can’t stand the mundane. And deserve a driving experience that rivals the autobahn. 

Audi’s 2018 A8 campaign promises luxury and a next level driving experience.

But if this were a Jeopardy category we think you’d be able to guess who does all this the best. 

The answer: the one brand that excels at product attribute positioning strategy. The question: Who is Apple?

Apple offers innovation. A chance to think different. By owning an Apple whatever, you’re defying the expectations of society, like the women with the sledgehammer in the famous Super Bowl commercial. Except we don’t recommend hurling your iPhone like that. Screen replacement isn’t cheap.

3. Benefits 

Piggybacking off product attributes are what someone will get from using your product or service. A strategic positioning of specific benefits.

Beauty and health products are the best at this. Get swole. Have whiter teeth. More supple skin. Less cavities. These products offer you a chance to look and feel your best.

Colgate has positioned itself as a cavity buster over the decades. Also, ads had a hecka lot of copy back in the day.

4. Usage Occasions 

This type of positioning strategy might seem limiting at first. You can only use this product at certain times or in certain places. But it can also open up the market possibilities. You can find new and different usages for a product. And that can lead to more cha-ching!

Gatorade is best when used when you workout.

You can segment more of your audience into different usages. Energy and sports drinks do this well. They position themselves as something to get you going in the morning or pick you up in the afternoon. And some drinks recommend you down one as a pre-workout.

Even car companies branch out from a specific usage. Jeep is known as the off-roading vehicle, but it’s also promised that you can be the king of the urban streets too. Opening itself up to a different audience with a more everyday need.

A Jeep ad from India promising a new, specific use of the off-road giant.

5. Price 

The time honored way of differentiating yourself from your rivals. Beat their price. Or better value at the same price.

Ever been in a Walmart and have to dodge falling prices? It’s a real problem. It’s an avalanche of dollars and cents. Okay, not really. But the retail juggernaut has crafted an entire brand identity on low prices.

Bargain hunting is one approach to pricing position strategy. But high-priced luxury is another one. Like the Audi example we previously mentioned. The exuberant price is worth it because you’re getting luxury and class in exchange.

Crafting a Rock Solid Market Positioning Strategy of Your Own 

Now let’s put it all into practice. We’ve got five steps to get you in the right position to position your brand. See what we did there?

Step 1: Survey Your Ideal Customers

Right out of the gate, you’ll want to hit up your ideal customers. Learn what their needs are and what they’re looking for in your industry.

You’ll also get information on what gets them to buy, such as the product features or benefits they want most.

But you don’t have to do grueling user interviews. You can easily conduct short surveys to get a few basic answers. We, of course, recommend using Helio to do this. We have more than 300K participants in highly targeted segments for you to use.

Step 2: Scope Out the Competition 

Know thy enemy as well as you know thyself. Investigate how your rivals are positioning themselves. This can reveal opportunities for your brand to explore, especially ways to differentiate yourself.

You can swat this with a good old SWOT analysis. Also combing the internet, like Quora or Stack Overflow, will surface what others are saying about your competition.

But you can also survey your target audience to get an idea of how they perceive your competition. That information is valuable in knowing how much hold your rivals have on your potential customers.

Step 3: Map Buying Criteria Against Competitive Positioning

Create a matrix… no, not the one with Keanu Reeves… of what makes people buy against your competitors positioning. This is based on what you learned in surveying potential customers and from spying on your rivals.

You might come to find that

  • Several rivals are competing for the same position and even for several buying criteria. 
  • There’ll be a gap that your rivals aren’t filling. Thus, this is an opportunity for you. 
  • And the top rival has won the market through meeting the top buying criteria.

Step 4: Analyze the Gaps

Building a matrix is an excellent way to see all the gaps. And a good one to use is a perceptual map.

Typically, you’ll chart out things such as price, performance, quality, and features.

You can build out your perceptual map using the data you got from your earlier surveys. But you’ll want to score your data so you can place it appropriately along the map. 

Soon, you’ll see the gaps where you can easily slide your brand into.

Step 5: Write Your Positioning Statement

Now you have to get it down on paper once you’ve gone through all the previous steps. You’ll want to create a position statement  document as a reference for the entire company.

This just isn’t a variation on the mission statement. This is about getting everyone on your crew aligned on what to say about your brand. You don’t want any mixed messages out there. Or else you risk damaging your brand perception .

A few tips:

  • Keep it simple. Use conversational language or the language of your potential customers. Don’t overly complicate it or muddle it with too much unnecessary detail. Stick to communicating the value of your brand rather than the nitty gritty of how it provides that value. 
  • Keep it consistent. Make it consistent across the board. This means updating all your internal playbooks. You don’t want sales saying one thing and marketing another. That creates a lot of confusion both for your customers and your entire team. Not to mention, the bruised feelings between marketing and sales. 
  • Keep it with your customers in mind. Your customers come first. If you don’t empathize with their needs, then you won’t have them at all.

Ready, Set, Go On Your Positioning Strategy 

Marketers start your engines! Get a head start on your positioning strategy by reaching out to your audience. Helio makes it easy to reach some 300K participants with easy survey questions. Get answers in a snap with our Helio template on position strategy. It’s the starting line for your eventual positioning. 

Positioning Strategy Test

Zero in on what makes your product sparkle to better communicate its value to your market.

Use this template for:

  • Product Development
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