One of the most important steps of any communications program is developing your positioning statements, which describe how you want the market to perceive your product or service. This process can be time-consuming and even frustrating. However, it is essential.
One important thing to realize is that, to a great extent, you don’t position your product or service. The market does. The purpose of the positioning statements is to help focus your company to do the things necessary to be positioned you the way you want to be positioned. This is a complex (and fascinating) topic. I’ll first discuss gathering and organizing the needed information. In my next post, I’ll discuss how to develop sound positioning statements from that information..
First, you need to know the following about your product or service, your target customer, market and competition. This may require some research, but positioning cannot be done in a vacuum.
Know your product or service.
For example, know its:
- Target customers
- Features and benefits
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Price and availability
- Product roadmap and/or product family
- Service and support.
Know the target customer.
If at all possible, do some primary research, directly connecting with target customers to discuss topics such as:
- What is their “pain?”
- What keeps them up at night?
- What do they worry about?
- What do they want (the “gain”)?
- What is important to them? What are their priorities?
- What motivates them?
- Who influences them?
- What are the obstacles to their success?
If you can’t do primary research, at least read the publications that target your audience to get an idea of their most important issues.
Many people find it help to create “personas” from this information. A persona is basically a profile of a fictional character that represents an entire class of users, reflecting their typical motivations, goals, skill level, experience and attitudes.
A simple chart with information about the “person”—including his/her name, age, title, “pain,” frustrations and motivations—can be very powerful. This process can help everyone in product development and marketing keep your end-users’ goals in mind at all times.
In short, personas are powerful tools for communicating about different types of users and their needs, and then deciding which of those needs are most important to target..
Know your market and your place in it.
For example, you’ll need to answer questions such as the following:
- What is your target market?
- How big is it?
- Is it growing?
- Is it well-established or emerging?
- What does the market need?
- What are its major trends?
- Who are the trendsetters in this market?
You may need to do some research here or get some industry reports.
Know the competition.
You’ll need to answer questions such as:
- Who is the competition?
- What do their products and services do?
- How are they different from yours?
- What do they do better than you?
- What do they do worse?
- How do they position themselves in the marketplace?
- How are they actually positioned in the marketplace?
- Where do their products “belong” in the overall market? For example, are they high quality/high price, low cost/high volume, or something in between?
The next steps are to organize and analyze this information, develop your positioning statements and test them. I’ll cover these topics in my next post.