Jack Trout and Al Ries introduced the concept of positioning in the late seventies/ early eighties. Although the approaches to the concept have been refined over the years, the basic concept remains the same. To date, positioning strategy is still a relevant powerful marketing concept. For many businesses, it is the cornerstone of crafting a marketing strategy.
Creating a well-defined position that has current commercial appeal is the next most important thing after creating a differentiated quality product in the chosen field.
To be moderately successful in business, you do not need positioning. There are many businesses making money, some even lots of money, without any thought given to positioning or their position.
Having a product that brings value to the market and a decent marketing program will ensure a business can have a good run. However, for a business to survive and thrive, especially in an evolving market, the right positioning is essential. This is even more vital in a post-pandemic market.
WHAT IS POSITIONING?
Positioning deals with creating a ‘position’ for your business in the minds of the consumers. It has got to do with communicating a ‘position’ that comprises of your brand values and perceptions that you want consumers to have about your business.
Successful positioning means making your brand synonymous with a particular product category. When you think of android smartphones, you think of Samsung. When you think of fried chicken, you think of KFC. When you think of mixed martial arts, you think of the UFC.
In a way, positioning can be considered a powerful form of branding, but it is actually the step before branding.
Positioning is the strategy that determines the brand values that form the foundation of brand equity. And branding is the execution and communication of those brand values to the market.
HOW DOES POSITIONING WORK?
Positioning is a battle for perception, not products.
“The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what’s already up there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist.”
~ Ries & Trout
Imagine that the consumers’ minds are made up of different ladders for different industries and each rung represents the position of a business in that industry.
The top rung will be occupied by the business that owns the position of market leader in that industry.
Knowing what you want your position to be and actually owning that position are two completely different things.
Firstly, you cannot go about creating your position and expect the market to accept it. Just like value, your position is determined by the consumers, not by you. The position you own must be given or accepted by the marketplace. All you can do is to do your best to make a strong case of why you should own a particular position.
Marketing is often common sense. Your position must be truthful and credible to be accepted by your consumers. Positioning is a logical marketing communication strategy. Your desired position must make sense to your consumers otherwise they will challenge it and reject your proclaimed position. If you position yourself as ‘The Only Mobile Game Developer in the World’, it is unlikely that anyone will accept that since they know that is not true.
A better strategy is to use undisputable facts and develop a position like “The First Mobile Game Developer to Use VR Nano Tech*, if it is factual position you can back up with the technology.
*I made that up and it is not even a thing, as far as I know. If it does become the next biggest thing in tech, you read about it here first.
The position of being the “first” in any product category is exceptionally strong. If you can craft and own a position that establishes yourself as the “first” and the market accepts it, you will be in a very good position (pun intended).
All decisions pertaining to your brand equity building and communication efforts, and to some extent, even the value you bring to the market, are governed by your position.
By crafting a position that you hope to occupy in the consumers’ mind, you are hoping that they will identify you with a certain image or impression.
Positioning plays an integral role in building brand equity which is the 3rd aspect of marketing in the Marketing Inverted Pyramid TM that you can learn more about here.
 Ries, Al; Trout, Jack, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”, (2000 Revised Edition). McGraw-Hill.