Market Positioning and Why You Need It

Have you carved out a place where you can say you are unlike anything else out there?

You need to stand out from the crowd to win business in your market.

This is known in marketing as positioning. Where are you in the consumer’s mind, relative to other brands that may offer something comparable? You could be the lowest price, highest quality, most unique, or hyper-focused in your area. You can compete against other companies that do exactly what you do, and you can also compete with companies that have nothing to do with you.

You know it is absolutely critical that you present yourself as unique in the eyes of the consumer. Your existing customers know you are unique because they have experienced your products and services. How would new prospects know how to compare you in the market? Have you carved out a place where you can say you are unlike anything else out there?

Beware the pitfalls of price as your position

If you want to be the low-cost provider, that is a straightforward strategy. You offer price matching and constantly starch your margins until there is barely anything left. The challenge, of course, is that you now need to survive on volume. If low price is the only thing you can provide, you will soon find that you do not actually have a position, and customers will go somewhere else where they can get an equal price or more value for the same price.

Find a niche

If you have managed to stay in business this long through the lockdown, you are doing something unique. What is it? What is your secret sauce? That is your market-defining position. Want to know how to find out if you have a market-defining position? Shop around. Call the competition and ask them about how they perform their services. If they are no different from you, the customer will notice. Now, you are caught in a price war. Do you rely on others to help define your position? Do you have an exclusive product? Do you have a patented method of production? Warren Buffett calls it a moat. What do you have around your castle that protects you from invaders?

Be specific

Your moat needs to be something objective and blindingly obvious. Do you provide two installers for every job? Not one, not three—two. Do you have a guaranteed response time within four hours? Do you have a three-year warranty? It needs to be very easy to understand. Unfortunately, you need to change it up regularly. As your competitors catch on, you may need to redefine your value and adjust. Once you have something specific to say, tell everybody about it.

What is your promotion strategy?

Competitors may not be able to do what you do, but can they say what you say? You need to capture your prospects’ attention and hold it using your market-defining position. The essence of strategy is knowing who you are and who you are not.

Beware of buzzwords and the “natural expectations” trap

Using generic language like “5-star review on Google,” “best quality,” “six sigma,” or “satisfaction guarantee” is the minimum. Does your prospect read your advertisement and say, “Well, I should hope so!” That means you have no moat. You are no different than anyone else if you do not say something different. People want to be able to compare.

Don’t be afraid to be different

If you provide a unique offering compared to everyone else down the block, the prospect will pay for it because they have no way to compare it. Think of someone comparing two apples at the grocery store. They probably both taste the same and they are the same price. Yet, we see people examine them before they place them in their cart. Prospects want to know they are getting their money’s worth. Price shopping is challenging and exhausting. Ultimately, we all buy on emotion and justify the purchase later with logic. Give them a reason to choose you because you are not like the others.

You need to stand out to survive in today’s market. Use your talent. Get creative.

It is not enough to be different; you also need to show how you are different. This will keep your customers coming back and your profit margins healthy. Selecting a market-defining position and promoting it should never be considered a destination. It is a journey. Continue to re-evaluate and redefine who you are. If customer preferences or technology changes, change with it. Most importantly, make sure what you do and what you say is specific to you.

Dana Curtis

Dana Curtis


Dana Curtis is the founder and CEO of Biztools, a strategic consulting firm that helps small businesses multiply revenue through improved customer experience and pivot to new markets.

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