In a competitive marketplace, your competitive positioning strategy is the most important tool you have. You can’t rely on simply outspending every rival, unless you’re Amazon or Google. What you have to do is work out how to stand out, how to position yourself so that people can see your unique advantages compared with your rivals, and get more from carefully targeted, carefully worded advertising without driving up your costs.
The most important thing you can do to create a solid positioning strategy is know your customers. You can’t skimp on market research – you have to know who’s looking to spend money in your niche and what they want and value. Your market is not one monolithic block, it’s lots of different segments, groups who have different priorities, different motivations for spending different amounts of money and there are lots of different ways to appeal to them.
Consider the difference between Fortnum & Mason and Aldi. Both are in the same industry: grocery stores with a wide spread of additional products, but they are, effectively, not in competition with each other. Their market segments are widely diverse, the experiences their shoppers are looking for are very different and they stand out in the market in very different ways.
It’s an oversimplification, but when you understand the variety of customers there are out there, and how you can present yourself to them, you can decide whether to be an Aldi or a Fortnum’s – and do away with a large chunk of the competition!
No industry or market is entirely free of competition, and the other half of your positioning strategy has to take account of what those competitors are doing. Competitor research consultants can use their insight to identify the highest priority brands via competitor benchmarking to predict the moves other businesses are likely to make in the short to medium term, how they are likely to present themselves, when they might launch new products or marketing pushes. This insight into their calendar allows you to find the time when you can make your launches, and push your own marketing without the competition driving up the price and diminishing the impact.
Targeting Specific Segments
The most important thing you can do is know who you’re targeting: identify your customers, identify what they want from the industry, and who else is targeting them, and then shape your offering to meet those needs clearly, efficiently and distinctively from the competition. Depending on what your customers are looking for, you might want to highlight the value proposition of your product, the high level of service you deliver, your green credentials or one of a hundred other possibilities, but you must be led by your customers to ensure you are the option they’ll choose.