What is product positioning? The name implies it’s the way a product is physically displayed. While product placement can be one aspect of product positioning, it’s much more involved than that. It’s the way your products or services are perceived by target audiences and competitors.
The key to ensuring successful product positioning is to present your products in the most honest, impactful way possible. The whole point is to stand out and be unique. You need to capture your audience’s attention and hold it.
“Great communicators have an appreciation for positioning. They understand the people they’re trying to reach and what they can and can’t hear. They send their message in through an open door rather than trying to push it through a wall.” – John Kotter
Great product positioning should make the target audience feel like they voluntarily chose your product over the competition. There are ten elements you can’t ignore if you want to achieve great product positioning.
1. Know Your Target Audience
Never give your target audience what they need. Give them what they want. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want. It’s the marketer’s job to discover everything they possibly can about the target audience. Understanding demographics, lifestyle, and spending habits can make the difference between reaching and distancing the target audience. If you can make your product positioning feel natural and unobtrusive, it can add a massive amount of value to your marketing.
2. Tell Them Who You Are
Establish brand credibility and you can establish a long-term relationship with target audiences. People that trust a brand are much more inclined to purchase from that brand. Don’t make promises or claims that can’t be verified or aren’t true. Honesty and transparency are the best policies and will promote healthier product positioning.
3. Provide Evidence
You can’t build brand credibility until you prove that your brand is reliable and trustworthy. The best way to establish credibility is by presenting evidence. Customer reviews, testimonials, case studies, sales numbers, and statistics are just a few methods that can be used to great effect. Reviews are especially powerful. When was the last time you made a significant purchase without reading reviews on Amazon.com, eBay, or Quora? 61% of customers read reviews online before making a purchasing decision.
4. Value Proposition
Your value proposition needs to answer a crucial question; How can your product improve the lives of your customer? Your target audience will dismiss your product in a heartbeat if they don’t perceive any value. This is the most important aspect of product positioning and one of the hardest to execute effectively. Discover the most valuable aspects of your product and then look for ways to promise and deliver on that value.
5. Unique Selling Proposition
How is your product unique? What distinct problem does it solve? In order to make this work for your product positioning, you need to pinpoint exactly what makes your products and brand unique. Then, convey those elements to your target audience. People love to have ownership of brands and products that are different and can stand out.
6. Segment Your Market
You can’t appeal to everyone in your target market without customization. Separate your audience into groups with shared traits, habits, and needs. Once this is accomplished you’ll be able to speak to the individual wants of each group with more authority and influence.
7. Carefully Craft Your Message
Each market segment has different communication requirements. The medium, channel, voice, and tone of each segment should feel custom and personal. Start by creating a positioning statement for each of your segments:
- Define your ideal target customer
- Decide how your product will impact the target customer
- Determine how you will fulfill product claims
Once you’ve determined these qualifiers you can begin crafting custom messages that speak to the values and interests of each segment.
8. Know Your Competition
Knowing the details of your competition is the key to differentiation in product positioning. There are a few ways to differentiate your products and brand.
- Innovation. If your products are unique and memorable then you have an edge over the competition.
- Improvement. Make a better mousetrap and market it better than the competition.
- Core values. Stand out from the crowd with admirable core values and policies that can’t be replicated.
9. Showcase Your Expertise
Demonstrate why your target audience should do business with you. What makes you the best? Why is your product a better choice than any other product in its category? Demonstrations, testing, and trials can be very effective product positioning tools. If you’ve won awards, been highly ranked, or professionally reviewed that’s the perfect opportunity to showcase the efficacy of your product.
10. Focus on Competitive Advantages
At the end of the day, it boils down to building a competitive advantage. If you think about great pianos, Steinway comes to mind. Quality cars that hold their value usually invoke thoughts of Toyota or Honda. What you’re selling doesn’t matter as much as the way it’s being sold. Of course, you can’t expect to sell a product that doesn’t work and doesn’t deliver on claims without eventually going out of business. Ultimately it’s the way you build a competitive advantage that will set your product positioning apart.