Positioning is Key Factor for Social Media (and All Marketing) Success

by Jennifer Beever

Strategic PositioningIf you’re in a market that is growing, even starting to consolidate into a mature market, what is the one key factor that will make you successful in social media?
It’s strategic positioning.

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?

So, how do you ensure that you have a strong brand message or positioning statement to use in your social media and in all your marketing?

First you need to know your customers

Why do your customers buy from you? What are the qualities that make them choose your product or service over the competition? Be careful here. Don’t make assumptions. I’ve seen many companies think that their customers buy their product because of price. But there may be other reasons they buy.

Second, you need to know your own company

What is your mission and vision? Are you going head-to-head with competitors in the product business or is there an intangible quality that you are providing? What is your philosophy of doing business?

Third, you need to know your competitors.

Learn how your competitors position themselves and track their activity online. Online marketing has made it much easier to do this. Before marketers had to access the competitions’ marketing materials, watch them at trade shows and in industry advertising. Now you can get details from websites, social media and more.

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.


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