Revisiting Positioning

Clearly the game of business has changed. Sellers are experiencing heightened sensitivity about what constitutes value in the minds of buyers… any buyers, whether you’re selling B2B or B2C.  So, positioning your value proposition in the minds of those buyers, your customers, has become even more important than ever before.

And as a result, I have more requests for help in positioning (or repositioning) than any other service I offer.  That’s probably because the three macro trends I’ve written about before continue to wreak havoc with the competitive landscape of every industry. And consequently there are more business bankruptcies, fewer jobs being created by new businesses and an unprecedented urgency to figure out how to appeal to finicky consumers (or your customers) with attitudes.

Start with P2PS

Given that macro economic, globalization and technology trends are having such a dramatic impact on how people buy, the first step I’ve taken with clients in creating a compelling positioning is to lay out and understand the P2PS– path to purchase satisfaction (an overview of P2PS can be found here). We do it qualitatively first, and then verify assumptions quantitatively at each step as budget allows. Once we have the customer work done along the P2PS, we identify both positive influencers and negative detractors at each step.

The result is a deeper understanding of the customer and their needs, situation, psyche, emotions and behaviors along the complete P2PS journey. And importantly, the business ends up with a deeper understanding of the role their value proposition and marketing efforts play, too.

The Fundamentals of Positioning

Four independent variables–Target, Frame of Reference (FoR), Point of Difference (POD) and Reason to Believe (RtB)– determine what the dependent variable, the positioning statement, will be.  Knowledge gained from the P2PS work enriches and informs each of the dependent variables. Often, multiple positioning statements are generated to reflect different Targets, FoRs, PODs or RtBs. Again, this is first done qualitatively but then quantitative testing is done as budget allows. In addition to a positioning statement (which is the primary content of a creative brief to give your agency), we always generate elevator speeches and potential tag lines… it forces simplification, which in turn requires better understanding. Final selection is based on the business and marketing strategies being pursued.

And So…

Positioning your value proposition is no small task. But to succeed, remain competitive or –in many cases– survive, businesses need to do the just that.  And they should not overlook the even more difficult task of getting the business model aligned with the new approach to satisfying their customers and creating economic value for themselves.