How to develop a market positioning strategy

One of the first important steps for any fledgling business is to identify your target market. Once you have done so it’s equally important to develop a strategy to position your brand and solidify its identity, setting itself apart from competitors and the industry noise, influencing the way your target audience perceives you.

If you want your business to be viewed in a particular way, it’s vital that you convey the right messages about your product(s) or service(s).

The concept of market positioning first came to light in 1969 by Jack Trout and was later popularised when Trout and co-author Al Ries published ‘Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind’ in 1981.

Both Trout and Ries describe market positioning strategy as a battle to create a unique impression in a customer’s mind so that they associate something distinctly desirable with your brand.

The core elements of competitive market positioning

A market position strategy can be distilled into the following key steps below:

  • Pen a positioning statement
    This should outline the basis of the identity you have determined for your business.

  • Critique your identity against competitors
    Compare and contrast the differences between your own messaging strategy across all types of communication channels and those of your competitors to outline gaps and opportunities to exploit within your new messaging. Determine what you’re good at and where your weaknesses lie in contrast with the competition. It’s best to focus on your strengths and how those talents can fill gaps in the market left by competitors.

  • Outline your existing market position
    In order to suitably compete for your market share you need to determine your existing market position and how your new positioning sets you apart from the rest.

  • Understand the conditions of the marketplace
    By understanding the positioning of your competitors you can better comprehend the overall conditions of the market and how much influence they currently have on your target demographic.

  • Develop a unique market position
    Once you’ve identified the ideal market position for your brand the goal then is to develop a unique impression of your business in the mind of your competitors, distinct from other companies within your space. This exercise will enable you to outline who you are as a company and more importantly, who you are not. Subsequently your main task here will be to ascertain how best to cater to the customer base that will be best served by working with you.

  • Qualitative and quantitative testing of your market positioning
    Once you’ve outlined the final concept of your brand positioning, the final key step is to test your own model on your industry and target audience. The methodology of your testing should feature a blend of qualitative and quantitative research: from focus groups and in-depth one-on-one interviews to surveys and polls that can be sent out en-masse. Based on the response of these tests, your market positioning strategy can then be solidified across all internal and external communications.

In summary, your brand’s optimal market position provides the overarching focus for ongoing marketing and advertising efforts that turns prospects into customers and customers into advocates.

The key to any successful business is the ability to make well informed business decisions. To get a real picture of how your market sector is developing and stay abreast of key legislation affecting your business, sign up to the Business & IP Centre’s ‘Introduction to using the Business & IP Centre’ workshop. The workshop will highlight and provide practical guidance in using key British Library sources to give you the confidence to make the right choices for your growing company.

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