The term positioning is iconic in the world of marketing and marketing strategy. Coined by Al Reis and Jack Trout, and published in their 1981 book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, it has become a central piece of marketing communication over the past 30+ years. I would recommend it to any Calgary business owner interested in marketing.
Positioning is not the physical place you hold with in the market or your industry in terms of profit, volume, or market share. It is the place you hold in the minds of your customers, and your target customers.
If you were asked by a co-worked to name the automobile company that manufactures the safest automobiles, what company comes to mind? The company that comes to mind for you, owns the position of safe automobile in your mind. Further, it owns that position whether the company is statistically the safest automobile manufacturer as determined by auto industry testing and ratings or not.
Perception is reality. Therefore what you believe to be true is true.
The main thesis of Al Reis, and Jack Trout is that marketing isn’t a battle of products, but a battle of where those products sit in our minds.
When it comes to automobiles, Volvo has long held the title of safest automobile, and arguably still holds that position in the minds of the majority of consumers; however, Volvo did not earn that position by simply claiming to build safe automobiles.
Regardless of the position you choose for your business within the Calgary market place, you too will have to do more than simply claim the position you wish to own in the minds of your customers, or target customers.
In order to SUCcessfully build your marketing strategy and identify the position you will center your business around you need three important elements.
1. It needs to be Significant
The position you’re seeking to own needs to be important to your target customer. Of all the benefits desired in a product or service does your position sit in the top three in terms of importance?
For Volvo, they knew that safety was an important attribute consumers desired in an automobile. It was at or near the top of the list in terms of significance.
2. It needs to be Unique
Your position needs to be unique in that none of your competition currently owns the position in your customers’ minds. Taking over a position in the mind that is currently held is significantly more difficult (and expensive… just ask Pepsi) than seeking to own a position that is currently not held within the industry.
When Volvo rolled their first car off the production line in 1927, the position of safety wasn’t currently owned in the minds of automobile consumers.
It’s important to know that Volvo may not have been the first automobile manufacturer to actually go to market with an automobile focused on safety, but they were the first one in our minds. Much the same, IBM was not the first desktop workstation designed for use in offices to be built, but IBM was the first to win the mind.
Your competition may be competing in the market place with a unique benefit that you seek to own in the market place. Are the currently in the mind and on the tips of peoples tongues? If no, then the door is still open for you.
3. It needs to be Credible.
The position you’re seeking to own in the mind of consumers must exist within the realities of your business. If you’re the leader in quality, what exists within your business to deliver upon the claim?
If you’re the low cost leader, how are you able to do so? Seeking to own a position that you are unable to substantiate will lead to difficulty in solidifying and sustaining your position.
Volvo’s ownership of safety exists in every stage of their research and development phase. They were the first manufacturer to develop a pedestrian detection and protection system. They are also the first manufacturer to manufacture vehicles with a pedestrian airbag system that covers the windshield during a pedestrian collision (not available in Canada).
Is your position SUCcessful?