Product or service positioning is one of the keys in marketing. Indeed, many companies craft a “position statement” to clarify how they fit in the marketplace and how they stand out among their competitors. However, position statements are often stagnant and don’t adapt well to market changes.
In her book “Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get it, Buy it, Love it“, April Dunford urges brands to not fall into this trap. Instead, she suggests brands should stay nimble and adapt their position to market trends. Early in the book, she gives an example of a baker who sells “diet muffins”. Healthy muffins – oats, chia seeds, dried fruit – you get the drift. The muffins were incredibly popular. The baker had swarms of people in the bakery every day until one day when the lines slowly started to fade. After some investigating, she discovered there was another store down the street selling very similar muffins. She visited the store and ate a muffin. The muffin was incredibly similar to her muffin. Then, she looked around the store and noticed some of her former regulars enjoying this other, but almost identical muffin. What happened? Dunford argued that stale positioning happened.
The Case for Flexibility in Positioning
Initially, the baker had positioned her muffin as a “diet muffin”. This likely worked well in the days of fad diets. However, “diet culture” had changed. The new store positioned their very similar muffin as a “Keto muffin”. It’s a seemingly small change, but it obviously made a world of difference. In her book, Dunford urges businesses and service providers to avoid getting locked into their original positioning strategy. Instead, she recommends holding on to a positioning strategy loosely, constantly evaluating the market. Indeed, the more flexible the brand, the more relevant it is in a changing market.
How to Start
Initially, it’s good to return to your initial positioning strategy or how you think it stands today. Next, take a close look at your competition. How do they present their product or service? Be sure to review their websites, blogs, and social media pages for nuances in how they present their solution.
Like Dunford illustrated in the muffin example, subtle differences in language can make a big impact. Another example she gives in the book was a change from presenting a software solution as a “data warehouse” instead of a “data processor”. Not only did the change adjust how clients perceived the solution, it changed how the team developed the product.
After a good hard look at your competitors, do some high level industry research as well. Search popular keywords or article topics in trade magazines. You can even review online chats or public messaging threads to get an idea of how clients think about your solution.
After you identify an opportunity to re-position your solution, test it. This can be as simple as an A/B test in a sales campaign. You could also split upcoming presentations in half and do half with the old positioning and half with the new. Once you understand which strategy seems to be more effective, update your resources if needed. Work through your existing collateral and update to the new positioning.
Along with your website and social media sites, update marketing materials as well. A digital sales tool like CardTapp makes it easy to stay flexible in changing marketing conditions. New documents or landing pages for clients to access? Upload it directly to the app. The resource becomes immediately available for clients or referral partners.
Rinse & Repeat
Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop there. In order to avoid a “Keto muffin” takeover, it’s best to regularly research the competition and industry changes. For more tips on how to best position a brand, check out Dunford’s book. For help updating the tools in your app, schedule some time with us.