What Is Market Positioning? It's How To Attract Sales
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If you’ve ever thought, “How do we make our offers and services stand out in this crowded market we’re in?” Your answer starts by asking, ‘What is market positioning?’
Positioning helps you not only look attractive, but it influences the way your target audience sees you ‘radically different’ in your market.
By seeing you radically different, their purchasing decision is made sometimes thoughtlessly because it’s easy for them to make. That’s where you want to be with your brand.
It’s the key to attracting sales.
So, how do you make your brand radically different?
First, it’s good to ask,
What is market positioning? (How do you define market positioning?)
Positioning in marketing, also known as ‘brand positioning’ refers to the process of establishing a unique identity (or differentiation) for your offers and services in the minds of consumers. It’s about carving out a UNIQUE SPACE in the market landscape where your offer is not only recognized, but preferred. Think of it as the “space” your brand occupies in the consumer’s mind, relative to your competitors.
Quick definition: Radical differentiation of your company, service, and/or offer is positioning.
Some easy-to-understand examples are:
- Tesla is noted for self-driving vehicles.
- Starbucks is perceived as a reliable provider of premium-quality coffee and drinks.
- Burger King is recognized as a go-to spot for fast and affordable food.
- Apple is viewed as a tech giant delivering innovative and intuitive solutions.
- Home Depot is a main brand in home building supplies.
Did you think of any of their competitors? It’s pretty easy when you think of the market they are in.
So, Why is Market Positioning Important? How Do You Benefit?
Simply put, once you answer, ‘what is market positioning?’ and differentiate, your brand becomes easier to remember, your messaging becomes more engaging, you’ll see an increase in your customers’ loyalty, and they’ll put value on your brand beyond the prices you list.
When your audience remembers your brand easily, it’s because they recognized it without significant prompting.
You’ll draw in the right customers too. Instead of just highlighting the functional aspects of your offer or service, your brand can leverage an emotional appeal. This is because you’re tapping into their feelings, aspirations, and desires.
After they’re authentically hooked, your audience will then show loyalty toward your brand over your competitors, even when other options might be available. That’s the value they buy over a listed price.
In the end, your audience receives a better customer experience all because that difference is WHY they buy.
You might already have an idea why it’s important, because you’re asking, ‘What is market positioning?’ That means you’re already in the process of developing a positioning strategy.
So, what happens when you don’t have a positioning strategy?
Well, not having one means your brand has a higher chance of getting,
- Lost in the crowd
- Passed By
That’s not where a brand wants to be in the market, especially yours. Without differentiation, the consumer faces a frustrating experience in not quickly knowing which service to buy.
So, what do you do first? According to the brand leader that Steve Jobs referenced, Marty Neumeier, you start the ‘what is market positioning?’ process with answering 3 little, but important questions:
Your answers, especially that 3rd one will give you a compelling reason WHY your audience should care about your brand, service or offer.
Determining your WHY then leads to identifying what type of strategy to consider implementing.
What Are the 4 Types of Positioning Strategies?
Although you’ll find different types of market positioning strategies, there are mainly 4 types. These 4 revolve around, ‘what is market positioning?’:
This strategy is all about setting your offer or service apart from the competition. It’s a comparative approach where brands emphasize how their offerings are superior or different from those of competitors.
Centered on the product’s attributes and benefits, this strategy focuses on aligning your offers and service features with the specific needs of the consumer. It’s about showcasing how your offering / services can solve particular problems or enhance your customer’s experience.
As the name suggests, situational positioning is about timing and context. Here, the emphasis is on presenting your offer or service as THE PERFECT solution for particular situations or moments that your targeted consumers might face.
This is a psychological strategy, aiming to shift or shape what your target audience has about their circumstances. It’s not just about your offerings, but about influencing how people perceive and feel about their situation, thereby making your offer or service more appealing or necessary.
How To Develop a Positioning Strategy: A Step-By-Step Guide
Knowing ‘what is market positioning’ and the types of positioning strategies is one thing; implementing them is another. So, how can you develop a positioning strategy that works?
STEP 1- Identify AND Understand Your Target Audience: Who are they? What do they want? What problems are they trying to solve? Delving deep into your audience’s psyche will provide valuable insights.
STEP 2- Define the Core Benefits of Your Offers and Services: List the advantages and ways your target audience improves their WAY-OF-DAILY-LIFE. It’s essential to pinpoint both logical and emotional advantages and to adopt the appropriate language of how they speak.
Steps 1 and 2 are interchangeable. You might need to tweak your offerings and services depending on what you research about your target audience. Also, you might decide to change your target audience depending on the aspects that make your offerings and services stand out. You’ll want to reference the 4 Types of Positioning above.
STEP 3- Identify AND Analyze Your Competitors: Examine your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses (part of the SWOT analysis). Then, identify the GAPS to understand where you stand in relation to them.
STEP 4- Define Your ONLYNESS: Your unique selling proposition (USP) or ONLYNESS as Marty Neumeier puts it, is what makes your product different and better. It’s the core essence of your difference that you’ll communicate to your audience OVER your competitors you listed.
Of all the steps in how to develop a market position, it’s this one that’s MOST important. You see, in the masses of articles that you read on how to develop a positioning statement, what you won’t see is just how SIMPLIFIED this part of the process is. Coming up with your ‘ONLY’ will be the single most powerful part of market positioning because it hinges on your brand becoming the ‘only’ in its market. When you find your ‘only’ it will feel like you have no competition.
Some marketing and/or branding experts might explain a complex way to create a USP or differentiation strategy. We on the other hand educate our clients based on the source that not only certified us as brand strategists, but also guided Steve Jobs and other famous brands like IBM, Adobe, and Google. He’s got a SIMPLE positioning strategy available in this publicly-shown template you’ll see in step 5.
STEP 5-Craft your Positioning Statement: A positioning statement is a brief declaration that communicates your ONLYNESS. Follow this template.
STEP 6- Test and Adapt: Once you’ve developed your positioning strategy, it’s vital to test it. This can be through market research, focus groups, or A/B testing. Take feedback seriously and be ready to adapt.
Need help developing your position?
We get it. Although we help answer ‘what is market positioning?’ and give you the types AND steps to create it, the work it takes to research and apply these strategies is not so simple. It requires time, money, and energy. Also, if you don’t fully know what makes you the ONLY, we encourage you to talk with us about it.
Want to know why we care? Here’s our statement:
28Lions is the only branding and marketing agency that teaches service-based entrepreneurs brand strategy through educational programs along with providing expert-level brand strategy, creative, and marketing services.
Meaning, you won’t find an agency that offers a suite of DIY brand strategy courses along with done-for-you brand strategy, creative and marketing services.
That said, establishing a distinct and memorable market presence (based on your difference) is not just an advantage—it’s a necessity. Our branding agency goes beyond creating pretty assets (like logos, marketing materials, etc), we delve deep into the essence of your brand, understanding your vision, values, and the unique attributes that set you apart.
By partnering with us, you’re not just getting a strategy; you’re securing a legacy for your brand, built on clarity, consistency, and authentic connection. We’ll not only educate you through our workshops, but deliver you first-class quality execution.
Nicole Andrew is a 20 year brand designer, Level-C certified brand strategist, educator, and co-owner of 28Lions, a branding & marketing agency that helps service-based entrepreneurs turn their expertise into powerful brands.