Set your business apart from competitors by positioning it the right way. Proper positioning distinguishes your brand from your competitors in meaningful, impactful ways. If you fail at this marketing strategy, customers won’t know the advantage of buying from you vs. your competitors. Find out how to effectively communicate the value your products or services deliver to impact how the market perceives your business.
Positioning on Attributes
Positioning on attributes means stressing the unique aspects of your product or service, such as your reliability, your versatility, or a distinct feature your competitors don’t offer.
This positioning strategy is ideal for businesses with unique offerings. Does your accounting firm have an in-house tax attorney? Does your electronics business also fix broken devices? You can use these attributes to set yourself apart from competitors.
Consider the automaker Tesla. As of 2018, it’s one of the few car companies with a full suite of electric vehicles. Its vehicles are hardly the cheapest on the market, nor are they the fastest or most powerful. But if you drive a Tesla, gas prices don’t matter, because you never have to fill it up. This is an example of attribute positioning. The company uses a unique feature to promote its brand over competitors.
Positioning on Price
Think about the way people shop online for products today. They search for what they want, pull up a list of available options, and immediately hit the "sort by" button and select "price: low to high."
This process happens all the time on third-party booking sites such as Priceline and Expedia. It also occurs on local search sites and e-commerce marketplaces.
The bottom line: In certain industries and with certain products or services, having the lowest price matters. Why? Because it makes your product the first that many customers consider. Price positioning means getting your product to the top of any list sorted by lowest cost.
Positioning on price doesn’t mean being the "cheap" company. Everyone’s had the $3.99 dinner special and, a roll of Tums later, realized they got exactly what they paid for. Instead, think of companies such as Kia, the automaker. It has a lower price point than many competitors, which attracts a lot of buyers, but still achieves strong ratings for quality, safety, and reliability.
Positioning on Quality
Why do people spend $50 or more on a Yeti thermos for their coffee or soft drinks? Don’t they realize they can find a plastic or even stainless-steel drink-holder for much less?
Of course. But those cheaper products don’t keep their coffee hot and their iced tea cold for days on end. In other words, Yeti’s customers are happy to pay much more because they’re focused on quality, not price.
Small businesses that know their offerings are a cut above the competition might position on quality. To do so requires a smart marketing campaign that clearly conveys why one’s products or services are worth the higher price tag.
Positioning on Use or Application
This strategy involves expanding a product into a market it’s not associated with. Take video games. Most people considered them mindless entertainment until the company Lumosity began marketing mobile games as "brain training." With the help of researchers, Lumosity developed video games designed to be fun and stimulate the mind at the same time. That opened the company to a new market.
If your business plan involves a creative use or unique spin on a product, positioning by use or application might be for you.
Positioning by User
When you position by user, you aim your offerings toward a specific segment of a product’s market.
Think about the market for vitamins. It’s huge, right? Especially now that large swaths of the population have become more health-conscious.
In the old days, when you went to the drugstore to buy vitamins, you’d find a few brands offering basically the same thing. But consider how the vitamin aisle in the store looks now. There’s a multivitamin for every type of person imaginable: children, teens, seniors, women, men, people wanting to lose weight, people wanting to gain weight, etc.
That’s because vitamin-makers came to realize the market for their products isn’t monolithic. Perhaps your small business sells a product or service with a segmented user base. You might consider focusing on a specific segment of that base.
Positioning Based on Competitors
Remember those Visa credit card commercials from the 1990s? You always knew it was a Visa commercial when it showed people doing something exotic and fun. Running with the bulls in Pamplona. Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The voice-over would set things up perfectly: "A trip like this can take your breath away." And then came the punchline: "But they won’t take American Express."
With these commercials, Visa positioned its product as a superior alternative to its competitor. Its message to customers was powerful: You’re risking a huge headache by keeping our competitor’s card and not ours in your wallet.
Can it be risky going after a competitor as boldly as Visa did? Sure. Many businesses prefer a subtler approach to this kind of positioning. But if you have a competitive edge and want to share it with the world, this strategy is one way to do it.
Customers should identify your business with something specific, whether it’s low prices, supreme quality, or a unique offering. Positioning is how you make that happen. When you position your business correctly, you can begin to build a devoted following.