Choose your Position
What if your company has invented a great music player, with beautiful design and huge capacity in a tiny product? You could position it as a “me-too, only better” than a compact disc player. Or you could position it as something entirely new that will rise or fall on its own merits.
Apple did that with the iPod. It was not like anything anyone had ever before produced. It may be hard to believe from today’s vantage point, but the first year of sales was slow and disappointing. However, Apple maintained its Number One positioning strategy for the iPod and it generated huge revenue increases and well as a revolution in digital products.
Even if your company does not have an iPod-equivalent in product development, positioning strategy is equally important for your own offerings. There are 4 well-known positioning strategies to choose from. Don’t let the market choose for you.
You must decide on your position– or the market will do it for you. That is never to your benefit. Positioning options include:
- Me-too, only better. “We’re like the other guys only better, cheaper, faster, etc.”
This strategy might be good if your offerings exist in a crowded market. Be prepared to sell many, many units because you’ll have low profit margins for “me-too” offerings. People will only pay a bit more for something that is faster or better, and they will expect to pay less if you say your offering is cheaper. You might chose this positioning strategy for an entry level offering.
- Product line extension. “You know us for X, here’s X Plus or X Light.”
You’re surely familiar with the success of light beers, which are classic examples of product line extensions. They eventually became their own product category. But Miller and Budweiser were extremely well-known brands before their “lite” beers showed up. This will be much harder if the original product is not well-known.
Other examples of line extensions in consumer products are the many varieties of toothpaste produced by the top selling brands, Colgate and Crest. Auto companies are known for line extensions. Your company has to thoroughly understand the position of your original brand before you choose a line extension positioning strategy.
- Number One. “We’re the leader in buyer’s minds in this specific market.”
Can you choose to be number one or are you dependent on the market elevating you there? I believe you can choose this position. You start by understanding that what’s important is the minds of your buyers. Number One is not in relation to the whole market, it is in the buyer’s mind. Then all of your marketing is done with this Number One strategy in mind. This helps you avoid comparisons and features and benefits messages in your marketing.
- Repositioning the current number one. An example is night-time cold medicines: “You’re used to day-time cold medicines, we’ve got the only night-time cold medicine.”
There is a difference between comparisons and repositioning. You allow the other company to have their position and you create a new niche with your company as Number One in that niche. Tylenol repositioned aspirin, then the leading over-the-counter medicine.
What’s Your Position?
Your positioning strategy must precede your market segmentation efforts and your marketing tactics. All segments and marketing collateral flow from your position, not the other way around.