Positioning has become a lost art in recent years. This differentiation approach, which came to the fore in 2001, urgently needs a comeback.
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In 2001 a great book called Positioning was published by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It emphasized the importance and impact of companies that have a unique position in the market, albeit through outdated examples. The principles of this idea have been lost over the years, and the time has come to bring the concept back.
Positioning is not lost at the product level, where product management teams are constantly looking for new ways to differentiate their offerings with new features. However, positioning at company level is far less common. Take financial institutions, for example. There may be a small group of organizations that have a unique position in the marketplace, but most banks and credit unions share the same core messages. We are trustworthy. We're focused on the community. We're focused on people. And oh yes, we have great prices.
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Positioning is about how you can best convey the unique characteristics of your business to your target customers based on their needs and counteract competitive pressures. It is carefully elaborated key messages and campaigns that form an independent and differentiated brand. In short, effective positioning ensures that marketing messages help you stand out, resonate with target consumers, and force them to act. If you don't stand out, don't position yourself.
It is not an easy task. Today, many companies lack the insight, drive, and ability to effectively position their business. In order to make reliable decisions, many companies follow what they consider "successful competitors" and copy their core messages and offers. Alternatively, some organizations get caught up in their own internal perceptions and focus on highlighting broad and generic differentiators such as "customer centric".
The problem is that this is not positioning. Let's take the example of "customer-oriented". How do you differ from your competitors in this regard? Do you believe and affirm that you are simply better than them? What does that really mean? On the other side of the coin, which competitors say they don't focus on the customer? Ultimately, this message is simply a belief and it leaves all positioning evidence points on the table.
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If your organization is really all about customers, what actions and strategies are you taking to illustrate this mindset? Which of these actions are significantly different? Greeting your customers by name as they walk in your door might help, but send a personal note and grocery store gift certificate when your customer has a major life change (e.g. family death, move, loss of the workplace) etc.) is what has weight. When you put your words into action, the positioning becomes really effective.
It's time for companies to review their brands and rethink how they create a unique market position. Not only does this help shape your company's culture and strategy, but it also makes your marketing efforts more effective. With a clear positioning strategy, marketing messaging gains more impact through relevance, resonance and, above all, recognition. If we want to reduce noise and grow our organizations to foster deeper customer relationships, it all starts with the confidence to take a position.