Challenge: Many emerging growth companies struggle with the positioning of their firms, and the communication of what they stand for. Without properly communicating your position, the market doesn’t know whether to buy from you, whether you have the know-how they seek, and whether you’ll follow through and meet their needs.
Our client Susan* (name changed) has a company that sells bedding and towels. Not much differentiation there, eh? Sheets are sheets, as long as they’re soft, and towels are towels, as long as they’re absorbent. Sales were lackluster. The consumer, the press, the investors, the suppliers, the distribution network didn’t really know why Susan’s products were so great. Only Susan and her executive team did…
We worked with Susan and explained that people don’t buy products or services… they buy experiences. What was the experience she was offering? After some soul-searching she realized it was a return to nature, a deep feeling of connection to the Earth, a sanctuary away from the busy world.
Here are my five steps to clarifying your company’s positioning:
1. Assess where you are right now. Start with this exercise. Ask a customer, competitor, and journalist for the three adjectives they would they use to describe your company, products, and overall image. Then ask yourself the following questions: What’s working with my current position? What isn’t? Do I want to change my position in order to increase sales? Secure a new or different customer profile? Revamp my product line?
2. Determine how you want to be perceived. This is an intentional act. When you determine the specific position you want to occupy in your target customer’s mind, you can then craft your products, marketing messages, and image to convey and reinforce it. What are the meaningful differences between you and your competition? Take the time to do this right, as significant expenses will result when you optimize your Web site, marketing collateral, product packaging, as well as if you overhaul your staff training process.
3. Get emotional. People don’t buy products or services… they buy experiences. What experience are you offering your clients? Safety? Trust? Belonging? Reliability? Adventure? The promise of a glorious future? Your messaging must transport the prospect into this emotional experience.
4. Factor in current trends. You’ve probably heard the expression that if you want to be a market leader, find a parade and jump in front of it. Countless companies are jumping in front of the environmental/sustainability movement with “green” products and services and touting socially-conscious business practices. What trends are on the way in with which you could identify your company? Which should you distance yourself from, since they are on the way out?
5. Formulate your four levels. Your business objective drives your business strategy which drives your market strategy which drives your positioning strategy. Your market strategy will be how to find those new customers and how to communicate with them. The positioning strategy you create will determine the messages you communicate to your target customer to drive sales of your more costly product line.
Now Susan’s product and company position actually transports you into nature. Her images show bedrooms actually in outdoor natural settings. When viewing these images people audibly sigh, and feel relaxed and comforted. With the new positioning Susan’s revenue is now on a solid ramp upward. She has acquired one company with a complimentary product line that fits well into her brand message. More acquisitions are on the horizon. The future is bright.
What experience are you offering your clients? Safety? Trust? Belonging? Reliability? Adventure? The promise of a glorious future?
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