Product Positioning shows how to talk about your products or services effectively without hampering the receivers’ enthusiasm and edging the boundary of their patience.
In this mass communication era, people are bombarded with so much information through technology. Though, each individual (receiver) has an oversimplified mind as a defense to stop their head from exploding due to the bombardment of information. They tend to pick such information that is relatable and easy to understand, aligning their perspectives.
On the other hand, when delivering speeches, people like to inform each detail to draw their imaginary pictures inside the audiences’ minds. But, if the senders fail to provide the most relatable information, the communication won’t be that effective. Instead, excessive input of info or data might lead the receivers to miss the targeted context in the crowd of other pieces of information.
So, an oversimplified message containing relatable information that can connect to the context can make your audiences magically agree with you, whereas more detailed and complicated ones often fail to do so.
What is Product Positioning?
Product positioning is a way to briefly highlight your product’s context and unique value that can solve your customers’ problems without getting on their nerves. Context can shape and transform our thinking, judgments, and decision-making based on the themes of the objectives. On the other hand, unique value informs your customers that your product contains the benefits that no other product has.
As mentioned before, our tendency to send more and receive fewer leads to overcommunication, resulting in the transmission traffic jam on the turnpikes of minds. In their book Positioning, Al Ries & Jack Trout explained that America publishes 30,000 books yearly. If a person spends 24 hours reading, it will take 17 years to cover all of them. The New York Times, in its Sunday edition, contains more than 500,000 words, which will take 28 hours for an individual to go through if they can read 300 words per minute. However, we don’t have more than 24 hours a day.
That is, information senders throw a lot without considering the receivers’ ability to accept or situation. America covers up more than 57% of the advertisements while they have only 6% of the world’s population. The temper is rising this way, and the tendency to talk more and receive less is responsible for this.
In this overcommunication era, businesses can’t perform well unless the advertising message contains contextual information in the shortest. Lacking awareness of effective communication leads them (the marketers) to excessive talking while advertising. Here, the importance of Product Positioning comes into place, as it can help marketers summarize their words, improving engagement. You will get the slightest attention to explain your products or services. Your targeted audience will switch to other subjects if you fail to connect within those crucial moments.
Product Positioning vs. Brand Positioning
Positioning is essential in mass communication, especially when presenting your products or brand. Regarding the brand, you will need to focus on the emotional experiences of your consumers while using your products. Nike produces items for athletes competing with a lot of competitors. The thing that differentiates them is their brand positioning as they focus on the statement – “JUST DO IT!” It inspires all athletes to remain in their fight. Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman’s comment – “If you have a body, you are an athlete,” inspires people to be their consumers positively. Bill didn’t tell people to be Nike’s customers. Instead, he encouraged people to be an athlete.
On the other hand, Product Positioning is the way of announcing a new product to your audiences based on their needs and attributes. It includes the unique feature of your products that tells people why they should pick them. For example, Apple announced its iPhone 14, focusing on its design to save lives, detailed camera performance, satellite connectivity while out of networks, and data security, connecting the needs and trends of its targeted audiences. Thus, they specified what consumers wanted before preparing this phone, making it more contextual and communicative while reaching them with the positioning statement.
Brand positioning inspires people to change their habits or attributes for better living, and product positioning aligns products’ features with user attributes.
Four Types of Product Positioning
Since your targeted audiences will consider only a slight moment to read your positioning statement, it is essential to think from their perspectives first as their eyes get stuck where they find interest mostly. Positioning aims to narrow down the targeted audiences based on their interests. You simply can’t push red meat products to a vegetarian. That’s why you need to find the most suitable category for the best communication in marketing.
If you decide to segment your potential customers with the characteristics of your product, then trait-based product positioning will suit you best. Those who care about security will most probably use Apple products instead of others, as this brand offers user data security in the first place. But people who need more features than security will use android-based products to save some pennies.
The pricing-based product positioning is the most suitable for your business when attracting leads with the best pricing. In the email marketing tool context, those price-conscious consumers will choose MailBluster as it can save 99.74% of money compared to MailChimp. On the other hand, those who don’t care about pricing will use MailChimp for more automated services.
Marketers prepare application-based product positioning statements when the products are produced to meet the specific needs of the targeted audiences. For example, Green Chef offers only organic food, attracting those who have diet plans or are prescribed by doctors to avoid fat. This company can stick their targeted eyes focusing on the application of their product. They stated that they believe in clean plates and a clean planet, indicating their efforts in creating healthy food habits and their eco-friendly approach.
After increasing the brand’s reputation through brand positioning, most businesses prefer to raise their prices, maintaining the quality of their products or services. Besides these, those brands trying to minimize their sales cycle with a higher close rate start focusing on quality over pricing. Of course, a long sales cycle is tiring for the sales team, and it brings lower profits per sale. Apple doesn’t need to attract customers with a lower price range as they maintain product quality which puts their brand reputation at sky level in the long run.
Six Components of Effective Positioning
Product positioning aims to help you specify where your destination is really heading to. When you think about announcing a fresh product or solution to your targeted audience’s problem, you will face some questions –
- What if your solution didn’t exist?
- What features does your product contain that your competitors don’t?
- What benefits will your customers get?
- What targeted attribute of your targeted audiences will trigger purchasing decisions?
- What are the characteristics of the marketing you are going to enter?
- What trends do your customers feel interested in?
It is essential to be specific with your fresh produce so that the consumers looking for it can easily find it. In April Dunford’s book Obviously Awesome, she divided the positioning components into six categories answering the above questions.
Brainstorming for a fresh idea is challenging, as people have never purchased that kind of thing before. It doesn’t indicate that they don’t have the problem you targeted to evaluate your product; they just didn’t find a way out of that problem or are constantly finding solutions in the wrong context. So, the first thing to position your product is to find out how they would tackle the problem if you didn’t provide the solution.
As a product creator, you have the opportunity to find solutions to a problem your customers face while researching. For example, people are polluting the environment rapidly, especially those who own cars that burn fuel. Air pollution causes suffering to all. So, everybody wants a solution to this problem.
Elon Musk discovered that his competitive alternatives were cars burning fuels before releasing Tesla Electric Cars. He got his point by finding out what people would do without his solution (they would keep polluting the air by burning fuel). At the same time, developed countries were worrying about rapidly increased air pollution, which later gave Elon Musk the most significant opportunity. Many administrations from different countries assisted him in expanding his business as they all shared a common interest.
Generating an idea is not enough for the race, as many competitors might have that idea to beat you. To be the top in the market, you must discover a unique (and practical) way to provide the solution. Competitive alternatives can logically explain your point of view, whereas a unique attribute says how distinctive you are in the market. The unique attribute is your product’s unique feature that your competitors don’t have, which makes your product special.
Asa Griggs Candler first invented the recipe for Coca-cola in 1892, and the Coca-cola Company is still keeping its secret. There are many competitors for Coca-cola in the market, but the recipe people first experienced has become the standard in their minds when compared to others. People tend to defend what they believe with all their might, and the first impression is the one that makes them believe in things. Coca-cola made that first impression with cold drinks that made them stand out in the cola industry. On the other hand, their “secret sauce” kept that position on top from generation to generation.
Inventing a unique attribute (secret sauce) becomes meaningful only when you give it a reason. That is, the secret sauce will catch the consumers’ attention if it provides benefits precisely what they desire. Value is the benefit that the unique attribute of your product contains.
In the context of electric cars, Tesla showed the reason to prevent air pollution, but it’s not enough to be the pioneer. This brand’s first impression stood out with its eco-friendly approach but didn’t represent the user benefit. That’s why Tesla offered customers to save money on gas or fuels, save time on mechanical difficulties and stress-free safe driving. Naturally, these offerings worked like magic as they were relatable and impressionable to the consumers’ practical life. Simply put, Tesla is making the life of its consumers easier. There are many electric car producers in the market, but none can deliver value like Tesla, making them one step ahead.
Target Market Characteristics
As per Mumbrella, the advertisers wasted more than $134.3 million in the first three months of 2022.
What an example of overcommunication it is! More than 40% of that wasted money was spent on media coverage. Marketers responsible for this wastage tend to inject their message into the audiences’ minds forcefully. The product you produced, considering its competitive alternatives, unique attributes and value, will not meet the desire of all human beings. Instead, only a segment of people can connect your offerings as they have the attributes (or thirst) that will trigger them to use your product.
There are a lot of marketers and business owners out there, and most of them are customers of email marketing tools. Different tools provide different types of services based on the targeted audiences. Unlike others, MailBluster offers the best pricing, considering start-ups and those who want to save money on advertising. So, MailBluster has a targeted segment with particular characteristics, which helps this tool identify the target market characteristics narrowing its focus.
Market Category is the way your customers organize a set of products in their minds. Naturally, people try to figure out something new with the help of current knowledge they already have, which is relatable to that new thing. The tendency to compare steer your consumers to a set of assumptions. When you launch your new product, your prospects will compare it to those close to yours, allowing you to find out your actual competitors. It will also help you evaluate your products’ functionality and determine compatible pricing.
Choosing the right market category can lead you to success in the shortest time, but if there is a misunderstanding, all your efforts might go in vain. If an antivirus service provider tries to benefit their customers with keyword research for SEO, there will be a contextual mistake. The assumption of consumers will not be applicable in that case, which will bring a total waste of effort.
People tend to learn about new developments, inventions, approaches and discoveries. Nobody wants to fall behind the time when the new shift has arrived. But, not all innovations will make the revolution immediately as the trends already exist.
Market Category demonstrates how the customers categorize your products in their minds. On the other hand, trends let you know the best time to release your fresh idea. Your prospects are always interested in how the world is changing, which makes them trendy.
Simply put, if you think about releasing a flying saucer (UFO) in the open market right now, it will not meet the trend as the world doesn’t have enough organized energy yet to run alien ships here and there. Your innovation is undoubtedly outstanding, but sadly, its time has not come yet. Instead, in this developing stage of AI, people might expect to hear about a robot that responds well enough to be a good friend and not a foe. Globalization and the practice of constantly judging each other have already made people individualists, so they need a secure artificial friend.
11 Steps of Product Positioning
Product Positioning is the most effective way to plant the “luck” businesses desire. Though, in general, “luck” means winning something that is most desirable in a surprising way, it is the consequence of successful communication. That is, you planted the so-called “luck” when you informed something to the right person while considering the best timing, and later, the result appeared to you surprisingly. There is no chance to rely on luck in marketing; you must create that when writing the positioning statement. In a word, you need to do magic to get into your targeted audiences’ minds. Product positioning has eleven steps.
1Find Out the Most Suitable Demand
One thing is sure about the human mind; unlike a computer, it doesn’t accept all the inputs (information). The mind only receives those that synchronize the current state of itself, and the trend controls the state mostly. That is, you see what you expect to see.
Abstract art (or the shape of a cloud in the sky) helps us draw an idea that is already in our minds. One article can be represented in two perspectives when the opposing political parties explain it. Similarly, a product might seem different in different contexts based on the demands and how consumers see it. Since product positioning is the best medium to communicate, it needs to consider the pain point that indicates the perspective of the demand instead of focusing on how you see it in the first place. Positioning aims to explain a structure of thought precisely, allowing you to mold your targeted audiences’ minds into that structure, making your brand remarkable to them whenever they discover similar products or services at the same time.
Although the tech company IBM first developed the smartphone, Steve Jobs was the first to position the iPhone in the human mind, introducing an idea that people related later with Android and other similar products. Steve Jobs chose the best timing, leading the company – Apple to success.
Not all the demands are contextual at a particular time. Similarly, not all times are suitable for a specific idea.
2Product or Brand?
It is essential to decide which to position – brand or product. As mentioned, brand positioning inspires customers to purchase its items and be delighted with real-life decision-making. It doesn’t specify a particular need that a product can meet. Instead, it empowers audiences to take the first step to solve the targeted problem they face. On the other hand, product positioning explains a particular product or service under a brand.
There are many companies with single products or services. In that case, the brand name and its positioning represent the characteristics of its offerings. For example, the word “MailBluster” simply means to marketers that it is an email marketing platform to send bulk emails. But Hubspot contains several services that are similar types (inbound marketing), including Content Management, Email Marketing, SEO, CRM, etc. MailBluster doesn’t need to position its brand, but HubSpot needs to, as brand positioning indicates a big umbrella under which the targeted audiences find interest to get multiple offerings.
3Narrow Down Your Targeted Audiences
When there is a disconnection between the understanding of the product from the perspectives of creators and consumers, market confusion takes place instantly. When consumers assume your product’s usability is different from how you meant it, you simply fail to communicate. Narrowing down the targeted audiences based on their needs and attributes can be the best way to overcome this miscommunication. Again, MailBluster is remarkable with its best pricing, but it is not the best automation service in the current market. So, those who think about the best comfort are not the targeted audiences of this email marketing tool. Instead, those who prefer manual instead of over-pricy can connect its offerings mostly. Narrowing down these audiences helps MailBluster prepare their positioning statements into a more relevant one and will save a lot of energy and time for the sales and support team later.
4Identify Unique Features
There might be a lot of solutions to one specific problem you are thinking of solving, but none can be the best with every feature. Strong positioning depends on what your product does best when compared to others. Hence, you need to find out the unique features your product or service contains so that you can focus on them while writing the positioning statement. Unique features are the capabilities of your products that your competitors don’t have.
However, any feature absent in your opponents’ products will not be a sure shot. Instead, it needs to be relevant, synchronizing the pain point of the targeted audiences. When listing your product’s unique attributes, it is always wise to think from the perspectives of narrowed-down targeted audiences. In this stage, list as many attributes as possible (and narrow them down later). The list may contain not only the features of the product but also the skills of the customer service team (if mentionable), as most people also find comfort while purchasing. Consideration can be another element in this list that might develop your long-term relationship with the customers.
5Gather Proof and Validity
Your opinions are invalid unless you have proof, especially while writing a sensitive statement like product positioning. The lack of validity might prevent you from using an authoritative tone, hampering your brand reputation. Third-party validation can be a way to show that your product has the believability in a particular way to solve a problem of customers when they suffer.
When an independent analyst says that your offering is suitable for something, it becomes a fact. Still, if your narrowed-down customers share their positive opinions about your product, it proves that other customers believe in you, convincing others to do the same. That’s why testimonial advertising is one of the most effective marketing techniques in the sales funnel.
6Free Up Your Mind from Old Patterns
Let’s imagine you produced a fishing net that you believe is good for catching Shrimp, but after a few days of trial, you found that it had various types of fish, and 70% of them are Tuna. Though the immediate decision was to position it as “the Shrimp Net,” it later changed to Tuna after experiencing it. Here, you can accept that you made something that wasn’t supposed to, but it worked in other ways, indicating that you can receive the change or change the pattern for the best clarification.
Nothing is more potent than a progressive mind that develops itself. So, freeing up your mind from the old thinking pattern can lead you to the perfect decision-making. Product positioning is a journey where you can develop and polish an idea, changing it whenever and wherever it is necessary. Development won’t be possible unless you’re thinking progressively. Considering the perspective of your consumers might help you break old patterns and build new ones.
7Identify Unique Value
Your product will only be worthy when the unique attributes (that your product has but your competitors don’t) satisfy your customers the most. That is, it becomes mentionable in your positioning statement. When you provide solutions to people’s everyday problems, you get to the point where you know how to connect with them emotionally. That time your targeted customers will understand the value of your product’s unique features.
One thing is for sure that you are unique with your idea, just like anyone else in the universe. The thing that differentiates is how you represent it. It is worth mentioning that the presentation of pictures won’t be that effective if you don’t identify your unique values.
8Map the Value Theme
Understanding and justifying your product is the most crucial part of preparing the positioning statement. The features give your customers advantages (or benefits) while using your product, resulting in the satisfaction which attracts them to benefit once more. If your component is unique in the market, your consumers will have no way but to return to you again (and probably again). The unique value is the structure of that concept that you present to them so they (your customers) can connect with satisfaction and keep discovering your product each time they use it.
iPhone 14 offers 48-megapixel cameras (one of the features), enabling you to capture your memories in the sharpest and most detailed image (benefit). The value here is that you can zoom the image and print it with sharper details which results in getting you this benefit again. Apple mapped this valued theme for you which they precisely explained in their positioning statement.
9Identify the Attributes of the Best-fit Customers
After understanding your product thoroughly, you need to identify the customers who really need it to quench their thirst. You already went through this process; it’s time to shorten your targeted audience as much as possible (you can broaden it much later). The smallest segment of relevant customers can represent the ideal and best-fit customer attribute. Best-fit customers are trouble-free in making sales and making long-term relationships, while other customers will tire your sales persons (with a lower close rate) as they will feel the disconnection.
Best-fit customer attributes will also allow you to revise the unique features you included in your product, making you more accurate and valuable to your short-listed customers. When you can satisfy the narrowed-down audiences, they will market your product most effectively, resulting in your business’s success. It is always wise to give your audiences a chance to think instead of explaining every detail, and that’s why product positioning exists today, as it reduces the pollution of overcommunication.
10Choose a Market Frame of Reference
After understanding your ideal customers’ unique attributes, values and features of your product, you gain better control to communicate effectively through a positioning statement. It’s worth mentioning that people often compare a piece of knowledge with the ones they already know as references. A market frame of reference is the way your customers look at your product, comparing it to other similar types of things they’ve experienced before. You can demonstrate the possible way they will categorize your product in three ways.
Abductive Reasoning is a way that aims to explain that if a thing looks like an elephant, acts like an elephant, and sounds like an elephant, then there is a significant probability that it has to be an elephant. Since this reasoning procedure can make the minds of your customers categorize your product, it can allow you to assume what they think.
Examining the growing market is an effective way to frame the market structure of your product, as you need to adjust very quickly to remain in the current market. Asking customers how they feel about your product is the best way to avoid miscommunication as you try to discover their feelings. The more relevant data you get, the more precise the product positioning statement you might prepare for your customers.
11Layer Your Trends
Once you have control over your solution, its time (trend), and the market context, you can layer all of them to find the most effective area (you can call it “the magic wand”) that will lead you to success. While the three circles overlap, you might want to focus on the center where they intersect, where your magic wand exists.
You might want to discover this point, as the “luck” you wish to plant exists here. Luck is the result of communication. Miscommunication brings bad luck, while the most effective communication results in success. The intersection point (the magic wand) of the trends, your solution and the market context, as the keys to the most effective communication; that goes without saying.