Strong and consistent positioning is the key to marketing success.
Positioning is one of the basic marketing principles that leads to success. You need to understand what value you provide to your customers and then leverage it. If you understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can position your company’s value-add to create a competitive advantage. Without a strong position, your marketing will not stand out among the competition.
This week I was working on a competitive analysis for a client that needs to increase their online presence, particularly in the area of social media. They had started the process, but wanted a detailed plan before moving forward.
My competitive analysis focused on social media. After analyzing competitors’ social media profiles and posts, it was clear to me that having a strong and consistent position reinforcing it on social media really makes a difference.
The reason it was clear is because two out of the six competitors stood out as having a far better brand message and impact in social media. Their positioning statement on their website carried through to their social media profiles. Their content that they shared – blog posts, photos and even others’ articles – were in keeping with their positioning statement.
The two stand-outs were not necessarily the biggest companies. One had a product development niche that was reflected in its branding and social media content. Some of its products were more innovative than most in the industry and focused on a particular trend in the product space. The other was a larger brand that had grown through acquisition. But, rather than just competing on price, this brand had done its homework and knew what values and attributes its customers appreciated. This directed their positioning statements and was reflected consistently through all marketing.
The other companies whose social media I reviewed had “OK” presences online. They were on some or all of the social media sites but their photos and content focused more on their product and less on the value they add for or the experience they provide their customers. The images and posts on their social media profiles were more haphazard and inconsistent. For these companies, a decision to buy their product would probably come down to price, unless a buyer could discern a material difference in the product.
I know I was vague in the above example, but for all our client work, we keep the details strictly confidential.
How do you create a positioning statement?
First you need to know your customers
Second, you need to know your own company
Third, you need to know your competitors.
Fourth, you need to distill what you learn into a positioning statement.
Positioning statements are internal and often have a standard format. “We provide blue widgets to office workers to improve productivity at a cost-effective price.” Then the positioning statement is translated into a brand message, the external statement that is used in marketing. A good positioning statement will drive successful marketing messages and activities that get results.
Notice that in the four steps mentioned above I put customers first. If you don’t know why your customers buy, you’re in big trouble! Speaking to the values that customers put first is far more important that what you think your message should be or what your competitors are saying.
It’s interesting to search and see what other marketing bloggers are saying about the key to success in social media. Some talk about content, and others point out three or five factors you have to have right, such as audience, responsiveness, generosity. Others, like Devani Freeman, talk about consistency of brand, of posting and of content type and tone. I think Devani has it right, and it’s been the case all along.
How you position your business and products or services is the first part. Then, expressing your position consistently in your marketing messages explains it to the customer. With the variety of social media marketing channels, it’s even more challenging to do this right and to be consistent.
In summary, positioning is rally a marketing basic. It’s not just for social media, but for all marketing. If you forget to do it, anything you do will be less effective.
Can companies get some results just by having a presence on social media, even if it’s not focused and well-positioned? Maybe. But why take the chance? Do your analysis and make sure your business is positioned well against the competition!
Do you need help identifying the best positioning statement for your company? Contact New Incite today. Since 1997 we have worked with hundreds of companies of all sizes to identify marketing opportunities, improve branding and marketing messaging, and increase awareness and sales revenue.
Photo on Flickr by Tristan Martin. Some Rights Reserved.