The goal of every business is to ensure it has maximum visibility both in the marketplace and in the minds of its ideal customers. Developing an effective product positioning strategy is one of the methods that can be used to achieve this.
If your company’s growth is slow or you’re sensing a shift in your market or customers, it could be time to improve your positioning and redefine your product positioning strategy.
Let’s take a look at what product positioning is and why it’s so important.
What is product positioning?
Product positioning is a marketing term referring to the placement that a brand (product) takes up in the minds of its target customers and how it differentiates from the products of its competitors.
As part of your wider product-market fit analysis, your product positioning takes into account:
Your target market
How you solve the problems of customers in that market
Your unique advantage in that market
How you can prove that your product delivers results
Product positioning is the customer-facing side of your product-market fit. It looks at how your customers and the market see your product – which may be completely different from the way your internal team sees it.
Do you currently have a product positioning strategy?
Companies fall into two camps with their product positioning: accidental, or intentional. Both methods can have measures of success, but there’s equally as much of a chance they can be throttling your growth.
Accidental product positioning
This occurs when companies enter the market without any product positioning strategy and without giving much thought to their product-market fit or the needs of customers within that market. It’s rare for a business to find success with this method.
If you’re a startup, there’s a lot to think about to get your product off the ground. Developing a clear product positioning strategy can often get pushed down the list, rushed into, or overlooked altogether. When this happens, accidental product positioning occurs and it’s rarely effective, and therefore not recommended.
In a perfect world, your product positioning should be mapped out carefully before you go to market. It should go hand in hand with your company values, messaging, and brand promise. A product positioning strategy that is out of alignment with these core aspects of your business means it won’t align with the expectations of either your market or your customers – and your brand will suffer as a result.
Intentional product positioning
Intentional product positioning is as it sounds, occurring when a company has put the time and effort into deliberately differentiating itself in a strategic way. The best way to do this is to begin developing a product positioning strategy early to ensure it demonstrates the unique value of your product and aligns with the needs of your target market.
Take Starbucks, for example. They carefully positioned themselves to appeal to customers who demanded a different and premium experience when the need for coffee struck. In a caffeine-saturated market, Starbucks dominated quickly (and globally) with its menu variety, store environment, and customer service that immediately attracted this share of the market.
By keeping a close eye on market trends, Starbucks continually adapts its product positioning to ensure it keeps up with market trends (e.g. the specialized or preferred dietary needs of its customers).
If your company has carried out intentional product positioning but it’s not working (or just plain wrong), then this needs to be revisited and your focus should be developing a more effective product positioning strategy.
How to develop an effective product positioning strategy
Talk to your customers.
Talk to your customers!
Companies that focus on generalized overviews of their target market can often fall into the trap of thinking their product is to blame when they’re struggling with revenue. Maybe it needs more features? Or fewer features? Shall we change the entire interface and see if that helps? Let’s see what our competitors are doing…
If it’s your positioning that’s a problem and not your product, you can waste hours and dollars on trying to fix a product that isn’t broken.
In your content, your campaigns, and your wider marketing efforts, targeting the wrong people (or targeting the right people with the wrong message) means your business won’t be experiencing the amount of success that it could be.
It’s important that you have a strong product positioning strategy in place, which involves figuring out what your customers need, and why you’re the right comp