What's your competitive position?

Do you know your best marketing position!

To brand and market your company, product, or service successfully, you need to identify, claim, and defend a unique competitive position in your market(s) - a position that will attract and retain new customers, employees & stakeholders and that is in alignment with the quality of the products you sell or the standard of the services you provide.

Why define your competitive position?

It’s important to be aware that as a business, you occupy a perceived position in the market whether you like it or not! Your customers and competitors all have beliefs about your position, and these perceptions will act as reality until you set the record straight.

Occupying a compelling competitive position will help you to focus on, and articulate how your strengths address real market needs better than the competition. By claiming and defending a position of power relative to your competition, you can shape perception in the market and define the rules of engagement.

A competitive position provides

  • Clarity in the minds of the sellers – desired perception and why you are better than the competition
  • Clarity in the minds of management and production - expectation for the products or services
  • Clarity in the minds of the buyers – what's so special about your company and it's products

Understand your competitive position

Once you take stock of your competitive position, you’ll learn that there are at least three critical positions in the market that you need to be concerned with:

  1. Know where you are now! - Your current competitive position
  2. Know where the competition is! - The position(s) of your competitor(s)
  3. Know where you want to be! - The ideal position in the market

By understanding your competitive position in the market relative to the competition, you can design messaging (that includes your uniques sales proposition) and develop marketing plans that play to your strengths. By knowing the ideal position in the market, you can choose to make the business or product changes that allow you to claim and defend your position!

The competitive positioning process

Finding a positioning is a bit of a process that requires lots of data, competitive, brand and product analysis, and answers to some basic positioning questions. The process at a deeper level can help a company delve into issues that may be hindering the brand or find solutions that may get a brand back on track.

Collect perceived data
Survey your customers, vendors, employees, and other stakeholders to get a general idea of who they think you are as a company and what you do well, or poorly.

Really learn your market
Understand the factors that will affect buyers now, and in the coming years. What are your customers looking for? Price? Quality? Speed? Reliability?...

Make an honest assesment
Understand your true strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats - Do a SWOT exercise. What do you have to do to get new customers without losing the old ones.

Analyse the hell out of the competition
Study their marketing claims, their reviews, their websites - Do a SWOT on the companies you are losing business too.

Refine and set goals
Develop a position relative to the competition that will meet market needs and potential trends. Plan your strategy based on where you are now, and how you will evolve toward your ideal competitive position in the future.

What's next

Once you've chosen a competitive position, there are 2 steps that are required to make sure you commit to it. First, you need to develop messaging for marketing materials that reinforce the chosen position. And second, you need to ensure that everything you do to manufacture or sell that product is done consistently company-wide in order to hold onto the desired position.

Developing the messaging

The first step to creating effective messaging is to come up with a Unique Sales Proposition (USP) also known as a Unique Value Proposition (UVP), a statement that sets your business/products apart from the competition in a positive way. It essentially makes a promise to prospective customers that you do things a certain way, and that your products and services will produce expected results.

Once your USP/UVP has been defined, you can use it to creatively express the sentiment of the product or brand.

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