To get full value for your products or services, you must have a Positioning and Differentiation Strategy that clearly sets you apart from your competition.
How do we develop a winning Positioning and Differentiation Strategy?
The first step in developing a winning Positioning and Differentiation Strategy is to have an in-depth understanding of your target prospects and competitive environment. This provides the insight required to distinguish yourself versus all the available choices.
In our consulting practice, we develop winning Positioning and Differentiation Strategies by considering the following questions:
1. What sets us apart versus the prospect’s Hot Buttons and Decision Making Criteria?
Based on what prospects deem most important in making a buying decision (logic), or the hot button issues that drive the initial interest (emotion), what do you specifically do that’s unique or better? In the home alarm and security industry, a hot button issue is keeping your family safe. Decision making criteria are based on the technology or service features that best satisfy this hot button. The industry leader, Alarm Force, is a company that has consistently positioned one feature – two way voice communications – and has educated us as to why this feature is so important as it relates to protecting your family. This company has differentiated itself on a feature/benefit that satisfies the hot button issue (which service provider will keep my family safest) and a key decision making criteria (the characteristic/feature that delivers the benefit).
2. What makes us unique or superior versus competition?
If competitors have a distinct weakness, especially in industries with a poor reputation, a winning Positioning and Differentiation Strategy may be to highlight your strengths in areas where your competition is weak.
Air Canada has a poor reputation for customer service. West Jet’s Positioning and Differentiation Strategy is based on its superior customer service – West Jet makes your flight a pleasurable experience.
3. Are we a leader or visionary, is there something innovative about what we do that sets us apart from competitors?
If we’re able to re-define the rules of the game, or to introduce a new way of doing things, this may place us in the industry leadership or visionary position. About twenty years ago, ING Canada introduced a new way of delivering financial services that didn’t require bricks and mortar. The value proposition to the consumer? Higher interest rates and lower service charges (SAVE YOUR MONEY) because ING’s infrastructure costs are lower than those of the traditional banks. ING’s approach was innovative, and it still remains the leader in this financial services model. ING had revenues of $4.5 billion in 2005.
A few things to consider about developing a winning Positioning and Differentiation Strategy.
Firstly, it’s very important to have one. If you can’t clearly articulate how and why you’re different, no one else is going to do it for you. The risk of not having one is you may be forced to compete on price. Secondly, you must have insight about your prospects and competitors to develop a winning Positioning and Differentiation Strategy. Finally, always remember your competitors are trying to figure out how to get better and get a leg up. You must continually assess whether a particular Positioning and Differentiation Strategy is still valid and, if not, adjust it accordingly.
If you can’t pinpoint anything unique or superior about your business, then you have a much bigger problem – you’re just like everybody else. We can’t be satisfied with being a “me too” business. If this is the situation you find yourself in, you must INNOVATE. (Click here to review the newsletter about Innovation). The only alternative to innovation is to compete on price, which is something few businesses willingly choose to do.
To effectively market ourselves, we must have SOMETHING GOOD TO SAY, we must SAY IT WELL, and we must SAY IT OFTEN. A clearly understood, winning Positioning and Differentiation Strategy gives you SOMETHING GOOD TO SAY.
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