As a branding firm, BrightBox often has to deal with the positioning of our clients. While every client is different, one thing they have in common is that they are all looking to stand out with a strong, meaningful, emotive message in their respective categories. You have to position your company.
And as we often tell them, you can’t position without a brand.
Positioning is far from a new concept. Al Ries and Jack Trout took ownership of the term in 1981 in their revolutionary marketing manual “Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind”. Since then, Ries, Trout, and Laura Ries (Al’s daughter) have further assessed, refined, and amended the principles originally espoused in the manual. Technology has changed the world in such a way that positioning is murkier than ever before. With the abundance of information coming at the average consumer by way of the internet (email, websites, social networks), the world has become an even more complex environment for the modern business place. Making tactical decisions about how best to manufacture and pitch messages and products depends on far more than just the information you are using to reach the public.
For the modern marketer and thinker, take into account these 5 new factors for how you should position yourself.
#1 NEW VS. OLD
Is your market new to the business landscape or more traditional? Are you creating a market? How new is your category? Does your category even exist? How old are your competitors?
Simply by knowing if you are in the new school or the old school of a category, you will have some of the most valuable available information you can obtain.
#2 RELATED MARKETS
There are more of these out there than you might think. If you are a limo company, then you might be considered high end by the average consumer or business journalist. However, if you are the limo service with the cheapest prices in town, you are now a low-end product in a high end market, placing you on very difficult terrain to navigate.
To make matters worse, general economic conditions tend to dry up cash for businesses like yours. Because you play to the standard middle class high school students looking for a prom limo, your consumers are now more likely than ever to catch a ride from Dad. And the high-end, ritzy crowd? They were never yor customers to begin with.
Long story short: General conditions unrelated to your specific niche can still make life very difficult. Know some general economics so you can overcome ay problems that may come about with the average consumer.
Your mother probably told you when you were little that not everyone is going to like you. In business, rest assured that your competitors HATE you.
This isn’t to say that there is no room for certain competitors to work together. Apple computers still sometimes require Microsoft programs, thus boosting Microsoft sales whenever someone purchases a Mac. But Microsoft also surely realizes the dangers it faces from Apple, Google and other tech groups in its core markets.
Marketing isn’t always pretty. You and your staff might have to get down in the muck to make things work from time to time. Positioning takes knowledge of offense and defense. Know the principles of marketing warfare.
The tactical side of branding is more and more technology-based. With less paper advertisements and more electronic ones, you have to understand the upside and downside of every type of electronic communication. Even if we isolate the category of online advertisements as its own form of messaging, we can see that divergence has offered us video commercials, interactive video commercials, social network postings, search engine ads, popups, email blasts, personal messages through any of the previously discussed mediums, ebooks, webinars… the possibilities are endless.
Face it: Technology is now a central part of communications. Since communicating the right message is pivotal for your brand, get to know every method of expressing yourself to your market.
#5 WORD PLAY
The English language continues to evolve every day. Catch phrases, adoption of words from other languages, slang and even the accidental use of sounds that fit into a specific picture change the way we speak all the time. Keep an eye on popular culture and niche markets to see what kind of language people are using. Experiment with some nifty terms of your own to see what sounds unique in your boardroom. Have your staff engage in brainstorming exercises to fully understand the complexities of your messaging process.
And if you are considering geographic expansion… make this your first priority.