Your product positioning strategy is one of the most important marketing initiatives you will grapple with when introducing or re-branding goods and services. In a nutshell, product positioning refers to the inherent qualities that distinguish the item you’re selling from comparable items marketed by your competitors.
A well-planned and effective product positioning strategy achieves three key objectives:
- It differentiates your product from similar products on the market
- It speaks to important values and criteria customers use to make purchase decisions
- It establishes the unique characteristics of the product or the company that makes it
You can draw on a wide range of specific techniques to achieve these objectives, with some of the most common approaches including:
- Positioning directly against a competitor: This approach typically relies on claims or evidence of superiority against an incumbent market leader or key competitor.
- Positioning away from a competitor: An alternate approach is to position yourself as unique from competitors in an effort to draw in customers who are tired of the same old story.
- Focusing on the benefits: What specific value does your product offer to the consumer? What does your product do better than the available alternatives? Tout these benefits in the marketing campaign strategy.
- Focusing on the product’s attributes: This approach identifies the values that are important to targeted buyers, and positions the product as delivering those values.
- Addressing uses and users: In what specific situations can your products be used? Who will want to use them? In answering these questions, you can create a highly case-specific or user-specific marketing strategy.
These techniques are easy when the product you’re marketing has striking characteristics that truly set it apart. However, there are tens of thousands of consumer products on the market that aren’t all that different from one another. What kind of product positioning strategy can you use in these cases to sway consumer purchasing behavior in your favor?
The answer, according to marketing experts, is to create a difference even when a product shares many characteristics with competitors. This requires creativity and occasionally demands a gimmicky approach, but it allows you to create the perception of differentiation.
Here are four examples of ways you can achieve this:
Choose a creative design.
Sometimes, the packaging matters just as much, if not more, than the actual product. Apple is a key example. Beneath the surface, it could be considered just another laptop computer. It’s made of silicon chips and hardware components that are pretty much the same as those found in competitor’s devices. What makes Apple unique is its presentation — the sleek design, the iconic logo. The company has been highly successful in taking advantage of these characteristics in its marketing messages.
Market your people, not your products.
In other cases, it may make more sense to promote the people behind the products rather than the products themselves. Think, for example, about current trends in the produce market that place a premium on local procurement. A peach is a peach is a peach…unless it’s a locally grown peach that comes from a small family-owned orchard just a few miles down the road.
Develop a unique service model.
A third way of differentiating your product positioning strategy is through the development of a unique delivery model. Are there shortcomings in the ways that competitors deliver products or services to customers? Can you exploit this to your advantage by creating and marketing a superior delivery method?
Promote highly specific expertise.
In some industries, such as the world of professional services, specific expertise can go a long way. A personal injury lawyer might be just one of dozens practicing in a particular city, but if he or she specializes in recovering claims unjustly denied by insurance companies, that lawyer suddenly becomes unique and will be in high demand for that specific segment of the overall market.
Developing a product positioning strategy is one of the most important things you’ll do for your business. It’s an element of marketing that should be treated with the utmost urgency and importance, since it can mean the difference between becoming a runaway success or just another also-ran.