When looking at the competitors in your industry, you might realize that a lot of them are almost exactly like you. At this point, you probably tried by all means to be different, creating your own ocean, or maybe you gave up. The truth is that there are a lot of other talented businesses around you that are eager to succeed, but positioning in marketing can help you take a breath out of the water.
Positioning in marketing is about establishing your brand in your industry by creating a positioning strategy. It’s a great way to resolve this feeling of being like everyone else and not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In this article, we’ll help you create your own marketing ocean.
What is positioning in marketing?
Your positioning in marketing is how your customers perceive your company when they look at the different assets you’ve created. It’s what they think about when they hear your company’s name and it’s greatly influenced by your branding.
Generally, we can evaluate a company’s positioning by looking at the 4 Ps which are promotion, price, place and product. The first part of carving out your ocean is to answer the questions of what those 4 P’s are for your company.
Let’s do the 4 P’s of positioning in marketing for SH1FT’s Facebook ads service:
- Promotion: we promote our services through our website, blog, social media and word of mouth
- Price: our minimum price is $1,000/mo
- Place: we sell entirely online from all digital marketing channels.
- Product: we sell Facebook ads with a full-marketing stack to fulfill our client’s needs.
From this, we can say that we position ourselves as a high-performance Facebook ads agency. If you want to look at normal brands with clearer positioning in marketing, there is McDonald which sells cheap & fast meals or Apple which sells innovative & user-centric products. The list can go on forever, but the truth is your brand will adapt to the needs you see.
When it comes to strategic positioning in marketing, your goal is to create a compelling image that people can get behind. When we talk about people, we include customers and employees. The stronger your brand’s image, the more people will feel excited to take part in it by working or buying your product or service.
A brand can have multiple unique selling propositions, often referred to as USP’s. For instance, although Apple’s main positioning is being innovative and user-centric, it can create advertising with the following messages:
- Most modern-looking computers
- Phones with sleek designs
- High-class computers & phones
The most well-known Apple advertising is their 1984 advertising which stands for Apple challenges the status quo. Here it is:
As you can see, many unique selling proposition can give a sense to a brand. Your prospects and customers will still understand the underlying essence of your message, but it will allow to explain your positioning in marketing under many angles. A brand must maintain its stance over time, because it’s how people remember that brand.
Of course, when you are a small company, you can change your branding but just until you reach a certain level of being known in a city. As you’ve seen with Apple, you can have multiple advertising with seemingly different messages and yet be congruent.
This is not an easy task but when done well, it can do wonders for a company. The goal here is that as you grow your company, you create a unique timeless image that people can’t get out of their minds and that stays relevant year after year. You become part of history, just like we tell stories of Ancient Rome.
How do you start that process, it’s about creating a strong positioning in marketing strategy that will take you and your company to the next level. It won’t make your business skyrocket as a sales seminar would, but it’ll make sure your brand stays relevant for years to come.
What is a positioning in marketing strategy?
Strong market positioning allows your brand to have much more powerful marketing efforts. You can share a message across every piece of content that relates to your product and bring new buyers. As you’ve seen from Apple’s ad, people feel compelled to get behind Apple and go buy a product. Why? It talks directly to their emotions.
When you build a strong positioning in marketing, you allow your brand to become timeless and resonate with people. The better you are at creating this, the more you can truly motivate your employees and buyers to rally behind your logo.
To have great positioning in marketing, your brand needs to have solid values, multiple messages, create an experience, have an essence and share those through elaborate branding strategies. It’s not an easy task and demands a lot of reflection and creative work. In the following section, we’ll give you a few ideas on where to start building an effective marketing positioning strategy.
Step-by-step marketing positioning guide
To truly help you elaborate your step-by-step marketing positioning guide, we’ll give you a few initial things to reflect upon. The goal here is to spark ideas and bring you closer to understand the essence of your brand. As mentioned earlier, this is a creative work that demands a lot of reflection & commitment.
Worry not, it’s definitely worth it because it’ll help you and everyone in your company to be aligned. It’ll also improve the results of your marketing campaigns which sounds amazing for most business owners.
#1 – Find your voice & message
When it comes to creating a message, it’s important to realize its true meaning. Of course, the goal here is to show how different your business is from the other ones by highlighting your main quality but it’s also about the direction you are taking. Just like your mission statement, it allows your company to slowly direct efforts in maintaining that message.
A strong message shows the what, how and why of your company. It’s essentially what you do and what you stand for in a few words. It helps also identifying which problem you solve for which customers and then what your company does to solve that problem.
To get to the core of your message, your company should define their ideal customer, find their message and then start creating content that shares the message through media.
Here is an ad from Puma which showcases a strong message for their product. While Puma does have their own message, they can transform it to match some of their product because their branding is very strong.
As you can see, people feel compelled by the words born to provoke. It evokes an emotional feeling and showcases what the brand and company stand behind. While not being their main message, it is a variation of it that enhances their message.
Another great message is the one from MVMT watches called “a watch that doesn’t break the bank”. They sell a watch and it’s affordable, using the sentence mentioned earlier makes it clear what MVMT sells and what they stand for in the sea of watch sellers.
It’s important to allow your message and branding to be congruent. If people feel confused about what you stand for, then they won’t be excited to join you with certainty. Your brand should stand for something, otherwise it won’t matter to people. You won’t be able to connect with them on an emotional level.
Here are a few initial paths you can take to find your voice & message:
- What am I truly selling?
- Who am I serving?
- Why am I different from other businesses?
- Am I consistent through all my content online?
- Is it clear when I look at our web design what we stand for?
- Do I stand for something?
- Can people get behind our brand with certainty?
#2 – Choosing your USP or tagline
After you’ve been able to find your voice & message, it’s time to actually share it with the world. In order to do that, you’ll need to shorten your message into what we call a USP, tagline or slogan. It’s the way people will remember what you stand for as a brand. It’s catchy, stays in the mind of your customer and makes you tickle.
Here are a few examples from well-known brands:
- L’Oreal: “Because you’re worth it.”
- Walmart: “Always low prices. Always.”
- Nike: “Just do it.”
- Home Depot: “You can do it. We can help.”
- Apple: “Think different.”
- McDonald: “I’m lovin’ it.”
Simplifying your message will be powerful because you’ll be able to add it on as many places as possible. On your Facebook ads, website, social media and anywhere else you see fit. It’ll even make you and your employees more excited and proud to work for your brand.
#3 – Deep-dive competitor analysis
Taking a look at what your competitors are doing is very important to help you in your marketing positioning process. It allows you to find your strengths and weaknesses as a company. It’s essentially how other people see you after looking at their other options.
Being able to explain how different your company is from the competition is very important in order to know how you want to set up your marketing positioning. Here are a few things you should look at when analyzing the competition:
- Target market of your competitors
- Social media following
- Social proof aspects such as featured on, backlinks, etc.
- Are they running paid advertising?
- Web design & branding
- Team size
- Growth rate & market share
- Website traffic
To understand all these aspects can allow you to choose your marketing positioning with more clarity. You are now able to find the direction you need to take in order to stand out. The goal here is to be different yet keep the elements that make your business successful in the first place.
#4 – Position your brand
Once you know where your competitors stand, it’s time to put them on a map. It will help you understand where your business currently is. By understanding this, you will be able to grow faster in your own ocean.
It’s really important to have this marketing positioning in mind, as it will allow you to create better advertising and thus resonate better with your target market. The right people will know about your business and you’ll attract more loyal customers.
#5 – Develop Your Unique Position
Now that you know where you stand and where your competitors stand, it’s time to make the strategic decision of being different and bold. Your goal here is to grasp your knowledge of the market, audience and competition to see where you want to be as a brand. With all the data you’ve accumulated, you are bound to know where you want to be headed.
This step is crucial as it will greatly influence your marketing strategy to positioning your business effectively in the market. It’ll make your marketing efforts more focused and effective. Having a strong message will always make you stand out from the crowd.
#6 – Using your market positioning in your ads
Finding your true market positioning is extremely valuable when it comes to advertising. Why? Having a strong message, a clear unique standing proposition and a voice makes it super easy to connect with your customer.
Without it, you’ll create advertising with messages that will end up being conflictual and people who followed you won’t for long. The more you create advertising that is congruent to your values and that portrays a strong message, the better it is.
Every time you create an ad, you should make sure your message, voice & tone is congruent with what you want your brand to portray. If it’s not clear, you are missing the point of having a good market positioning. This would include finding your ideal target market, which problem you are solving (or value you are giving). For instance, Star Laser, one of our clients, targets anyone who wants to receive laser hair removal at an affordable price.
When it comes to market positioning, the target market of our client would be completely different from a company selling laser hair removal for people who want to pay a more hefty fee but receive higher quality treatments.
The goal here is to find statements that speak to your target market and your positioning at the same time. It’s not easy but, with time, any company can find their best messages to use for their advertising. Here are a few examples for our client:
- Laser hair removal treatments that don’t break the bank
- Reliable & affordable laser hair removal treatments
- Say no more to overpriced laser hair removal treatments
What we saw working for our client was including the price in the ad since it was an important factor to pushing people to buy their product. Here’s an example:
#7 – Testing because nothing lasts
At SH1FT, we love testing because it’s how you can uncover hidden treasures. If you have an idea based on a research you’ve made that respects your market positioning, don’t be afraid to try it out in your advertising. The goal here is to make a test and then the data through metrics such as conversion rates.
If you want to learn more about conversion rates, I highly recommend our article called “What is a Conversion Rate? How to Measure & Improve Your Conversion Rate“.
From testing, you can improve and learn. Ideally, the more you test, the better you know which message & market positioning work for your business. This will solidify your marketing efforts and make your brand much more cohesive.
I’d also like to add that your ad creative is not set in stone. In fact, you can pivot your market positioning through the lifetime of your brand. It’s called market repositioning and it’s quite efficient for brands that haven’t found their exact voice.
What is market repositioning?
The truth is, even if your market positioning seems amazing at first, it can happen that you might want to pivot for different reasons. It’s also important to realize that while we can influence market positioning, it’s your customers who will have the final say. You might think you are high end but your customers don’t see you that way.
It’s why it’s important to be flexible and listen to the feedback received from customers. Adapting & modifying a company’s positioning doesn’t have to extremely complicated. Sometimes, making a few modifications is more than enough to find the right direction. To make those modifications is what we call market repositioning or pivoting.
Market repositioning is the process of changing a brand’s & product’s position in the market. It’s usually a strategy used when the results of the brand aren’t quite up to par. It can happen for a huge list of reasons but it’s often related to changes in the environment. Just think of companies like Kodak that lost their market when people started using smartphones to take pictures instead of needing a camera.
One great way to operate a market repositioning is to analyze what people liked and disliked in your past branding. How did people see you and what didn’t fit in that perception? The goal here is to make your brand more cohesive and fit the customer’s perception. If your customers see you a certain way and you see yourself another, then they won’t understand your message.
When things go sour, most companies decide to explore new avenues such as launching new products or trying new markets but it’s not always the best move. In fact, you sometimes just need to take a stance to gain more market shares. By finding the discrepancies between what you want and what your customers want, you’ll build a way stronger market positioning than before.
Finding a strong stance
Most business owners hear the word positioning and they image this old school University theory with a graphic. The reality is positioning is much more important than that. It’s an important weapon in the marketing toolbox of your competitor.
Positioning in marketing should be deemed extremely important. At SH1FT, working with a brand that doesn’t have a clear message & voice is a recipe for failure. Knowing your target market is the first step in creating efficient advertising. Without it, you won’t stand a chance at being heard.
If you need help with your positioning in marketing, please reach out. It’ll be our pleasure to help you find your voice and start growing your business.