Your brand positioning strategy all starts with your target audience

Your product positioning strategy must be done before launch and tuned as the strategy matures.

I believe that any company or brand can be differentiated with the right target audience and supporting positioning strategy.

There is no such thing as a commodity. Instead of thinking you are selling a “commodity,” you must see yourself as handling an “undifferentiated product” waiting to be turned into a differentiated offer.

Don’t believe me? Have you bought a bottle of water?

“The lesson to be learned is that no matter how commonplace a product may appear, it does not have to become a commodity. Every product, every service can be differentiated.” Click To Tweet

What is positioning strategy in marketing?

Positioning is a marketing concept that outlines what a business should do to market its product or service to its customers. The positioning is created through the use of promotion, price, place, and product. The more focused a positioning strategy is, the more effective the plan is for a company.

There are dozens of ways to differentiate an offer. Part of the answer lies and recognizing that buyers have different needs and are therefore attracted to different offers.

At the same time, not all brand differences are meaningful or worthwhile. Not every difference is a differentiator. Each difference has the potential to create company costs as well as customer benefits.

Therefore, the company must carefully select the ways in which it will distinguish itself from competitors. A difference is worth establishing to the extent that it satisfies the following criteria:

  • Important:  the difference delivers a highly valued benefit to a sufficient number of buyers.
  • Distinctive:  the difference either isn’t offered by others or is offered in a more distinctive way by the company.
  • Superior:  the difference is superior to other ways to obtain the same benefit.
  • Communicable: the difference is communicable and visible to buyers.
  • Preemptive:  the difference cannot be easily copied by competitors.
  • Affordable:  the buyer can afford to pay for the difference.
  • Profitable: the company will find it profitable to introduce the difference.

Many companies have introduced differentiations that failed on one or more of these tests. The Westin Hotel in Singapore advertises its hotel as the world’s tallest hotel, actually this is not important to many target customers and in fact, turns many of them off.

Differentiation is the act of designing a set of meaningful differences to distinguish the company’s offer from competitors’ offers.

Not all buyers will notice or be interested in all the ways one-brand differs from another. Nor is it useful for a company to describe exhaustively to each prospect every detail of difference.

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Each company will want to promote those few differences that will appeal most strongly to its target market. The company will want to develop a focused product positioning strategy. I’m going to simply call this positioning and define it as follows:

Positioning is the act of designing the company’s offer so that it occupies a distinct and valued place in the target customers’ minds.

Positioning calls for the company to decide how many differences and which difference is to promote to the target customer.

Positioning starts with a product. A piece of merchandise, a service, a company, an institution, or even a person. But positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect, that is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.

The company must not only develop a clear positioning strategy, but it must also be communicated effectively. Supposed a company choose is the best in quality positioning strategy.

It must make sure that it can communicate this claim convincingly. Quality is communicated by choosing those physical signs and cues that people normally used to judge quality.

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Here are some examples:

  • Truck manufacturer undercoats the chassis not because it needs undercoating but because undercoating suggests a concern for quality.
  • A car manufacturer makes cars with good slamming doors because many buyers slam the doors in the showroom as a test of how well the car is built.
  • Ford designed its Mustang to be a sports car and communicated this by the car’s styling, bucket seats, and leather steering wheel. Yet it was not a true sports car in terms of performance. On the other hand, the Audi is a true sports car but is not designed to look like one.

Choosing a Positioning Strategy

The positioning strategy combines the marketing mix components into a bundle of actions designed to achieve a particular positioning objective.

The positioning strategy (1) determines total resources to be used for the marketing program; (2) indicates how to allocate the resources among products, distribution, price advertising, and personal selling; and  (3) allocates the resources within each program component. These marketing positioning decisions:

  • Are interrelated with the first constraining the second, and the second constraining third.
  • Are both quantitative and qualitative since management must decide how much to spend and how to allocate expenditures to specific activities.
  • Alternatives are available depending on the size, deployment, and use of resources.

Selecting a positioning strategy is a combination of management judgment and experience, trial and error,  some experimentation, and sometimes survey research.

Finding the ideal positioning strategy is probably impossible in most situations. Nevertheless, good strategies can be selected through sound analysis. The positioning process is shown in Exhibit 1 below.

brand positioning process

Factors Affecting the Positioning Strategy

The positioning concept provides a unified theme for strategy design and implementation. The starting point is the target market that marketing management has selected.

Market opportunity analysis supplies information about the characteristics and the people and organizations in the target market.

Any company or brand can be differentiated. Click To Tweet

The programming task is to estimate the responsiveness of the target market to alternative positioning strategies while taking into account the competition, management’s performance criteria (e.g., sales, market share, profit contribution), and available resources.

The same factors are considered in making the target market decisions. Marketing management is considered with finding the best fit between the market target and a positioning strategy.

The positioning concept management selects is focused on customer needs. The characteristics and needs of the target market indicate the nature of the marketing program necessary to gain a favorable response from the target market.

For example, if the people in the target market want a high-quality product, then meeting their expectations requires a marketing mix that is perceived as providing high-quality.

The market target also helps to identify existing key competitors. Similarity, the choice of the market target will establish a feasible objective for sales and market share.

Finally, the selection of the target market must consider the company’s resource capabilities for serving the target market. The objective in building the marketing program is to work within guidelines established by the market target strategy.

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The stage of the product market lifecycle often alters the role and importance of the different marketing program components. In moving through the introductory, growth, maturity, in declining stages, the role of the marketing mix must be adjusted to respond to changing conditions.

Price, for example, typically declines as the product market matures. Advertising is initially used to create awareness of a new product into interest potential buyers in the offering. At later stages, advertising may stress the advantages of one-brand over competing brands.

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Management’s performance criteria for the market target also have a major influence on the positioning strategy selected.

Depending on management’s priorities, emphasis may be on expanding market share, holding a position and generating profits, reducing the firm’s commitment, or actually leaving the product market.  

Thus, the positioning strategy is tied to the strategic business unit (SBU) strategy. Each alternative calls for a quite different marketing program.

If marketing management is shaping a major growth program while the SBU management favors a stabilizing position, conflict is inevitable. What top management wants to do in an SBU must correspond to the selected positioning strategy.

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Wrapping Up

Positioning is the act of designing the company’s offer and image so that the target market understands and appreciates what the company stands for in relation to its competitors.

The company’s positioning must be rooted in an understanding of how the target market defines and makes choices among vendors. The positioning task consists of three steps.

First, the company has to identify the possible product, services, personnel, an image of differences that might be established in relation to its competition. Second, the company has to apply criteria for selecting the most important differences. Third, the company has to effectively signal to the target market how it differs from its competition.

The company’s product positioning strategy will then enable it to take the next step, namely, plan its competitive marketing strategies.

When I’m working with clients during a positioning strategy session, I ask “what comes to mind when I say computers?” And I get an answer like Apple or Dell or IBM.  

What is the first word that pops into your head? That single word is called mindshare. What do your target customers to target audience think about your brand?

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General FAQ’s

What is a positioning strategy?

The positioning strategy (1) determines total resources to be used for the marketing program; (2) indicates how to allocate the resources among products, distribution, price advertising, and personal selling; and  (3) allocates the resources within each program component.


Why is positioning strategy important?

Product positioning is an essential tool for effective marketing strategic planning. … With distinct target segments, product positioning enables a company to meet the particular needs of a specific market segment, offering a value that may not be provided by competitors.


Would a small business benefit from positioning strategy?

Your product positioning will incorporate a communication architecture and value propositions that are visible and tangible to your target market. Additionally, your marketing content and sales messages should be designed to create a response. The response is a business outcome.


What are marketing positioning strategies?

A brand marketing positioning strategy is a marketing theory that describes what a business should do to market its product or service to its target market. 


What are some examples of product positioning?

product can be positioned favorably for a target audience through advertising, the channels advertised through, the product packaging, and the product is priced. For example, market research may have shown that the product is popular among SaaS marketing executives.

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