Setting your business apart from your competitors is the ultimate goal of a brand positioning strategy. And just like a horse race, if you want your company to fly past the winning posts ahead of the competition, you need to figure out precisely how the race is going to be run.
So let’s take a look at how engaging the services of a brand-positing strategist can take your B2B company from being an also-ran to standing in the winner’s enclosure.
Now, more than half a century later, the concept of positioning is just as relevant to businesses — and probably more so. If anything, today’s professional services marketplace is much larger and more crowded. Buyers have a bewildering array of firms to choose from, and with the rise of the Internet, local firms are contending with companies across the nation, if not the world.
Let’s consider a couple of examples.
What do you think of when you read the words, “soft drink” or “pop”? Did Coke or Pepsi come to mind? These two products are positioned to dominate the soft drink category.
Now let’s try a service. What company does “overnight shipping” make you think of? Even though other companies offer overnight delivery, FedEx owns that category — it has built its entire identity and operations around doing it better than anyone else.
In theory, any professional services firm can build a strong association between their brand and an idea. But to be successful, your positioning must be 1) different (it’s tough to take over a leadership position already held by another business — remember, Avis has been #2 since 1953.); and 2) visible (if nobody has heard of your firm, your positioning can’t take root).
Typically, your brand positioning is articulated in your brand positioning statement. But I’ll have a lot more to say about that a bit later.
Finding Your Place in the Market
Brand positioning can be summed up as the process that you use to set your company apart from the rest of the market. Its primary goal is to associate a set of ideas in the minds of your audience which will make them think of your brand before they consider anyone else’s.
Picking your niche
You need to be extremely focussed on where your brand sits in any given marketplace. This is especially true if your company works within the B2B (business to business) sphere. Business buyers are looking for long-term benefits for their company, so you’ll need to ensure that your brand has all of the attributes that they associate with quality service, long-term performance and relevance to their particular business.
Why Brand Positioning Is Important
When you have a well-defined brand position, your firm has many advantages. Positioning can provide a conceptual template for your brand, your marketing messages, the services you offer and even the way you structure your pricing.
Here are a few of the key benefits of brand positioning:
- It focuses you on a specific target market. When you provide a limited set of services to a limited audience, your marketing becomes more powerful and effective. You are perceived as a high-value expert.
- It clarifies how you are different from competitors. You’ll finally know exactly what sets you apart and be able to talk about your firm in a way that gets prospects excited.
- It shows how to win new clients. Positioning arms your business development team with critical arguments they can use in the nurturing and closing processes.
- It drives creative decisions. When you understand the core message you need to communicate to prospects, you can make informed decisions throughout the creative process. Your positioning becomes the DNA of your visual brand.
- It drives service development and pricing decisions. Knowing how you compare to your competitors helps you decide what new services to offer, and when. Are you positioned as a source of innovative services? A low-cost provider? A specialist or a generalist? The answers to these questions can affect what services you offer and how to price them.
You Are What You Is
Frank Zappa said it best: “you are what you is.” Your brand is literally who you are. Your company’s story and all of the things that make your company great – its people, its work ethic, its reliability – are what makes a brand great. So your brand strategy needs to focus on showing your B2B clients (and the world) who you are.
Create your brand narrative
Your business’s origin story can tell customers a lot about who you are. If your company was founded on rock-solid principles such as innovation, quality and trustworthiness, these things should be reflected in your brand.
You got the look
The digital world is where it all happens these days. So an effective brand positioning strategy will take into consideration how your business looks in the universe of ones and zeros. This will be of paramount importance if your brand is targeting a younger audience for whom image is all important.
Put your brand in the right locations.
Your brand needs to appear where your clients hang out. From B2B boardrooms to shops downtown, your brand position needs to be clearly visible and relevant to your target audiences: wherever they are.
A brand position strategist will help you to combine everything from social media content to one-on-one meetings with buyers into an all-encompassing strategy with your brand at the forefront.
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