Positioning is nothing but occupying a specific spot somewhere, at a specific point in time.
For you, as an entrepreneur and business owner, that "somewhere" is simply your customer’s mind. What you really want to see happening is that, when your customers are about to make the decision to buy the kind of products or services you sell, they choose you instead of your competition. It’s quite simple.
Much ado is being made lately with regard to SEO and the “kind-of-an-obligation” you have to place your business within the first few pages of Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), if not the first page.
And that's fine especially when you manage, for instance, an ecommerce site and you need to generate as much traffic as possible with the hope it will drive more sales.
However, despite all the noise that is being made about the subject, is not the only positioning you should be looking for nor the most important one. What happens with companies whose clients do not perform Google searches to look for product information but refer to industry specific directories and forums instead?. Do they have to be focusing their efforts into appearing on the first Google’s SERPs as well?
Of course they don’t. They should be interested on showing up in places where their customers go to look for relevant industry and product information.
Do you really think any fast food company needs to appear on top of Google’s SERP to sell more hamburgers? The answer is, again, a big no.
It’s not about being on the right place, but being able to stay there the longest.
And going a little bit further, the positioning thing is not just about being visible. In advertising, there is a word which is closely connected to positioning: remembrance. And it refers to the fact that any advertising message should not only be seen, but also generate a strong enough impact as to remain in your customer’s mind, so that it can be easily remembered, associated with the brand and kept in mind long enough to be brought back up when the time to make the purchasing decision comes.
Only the message that hits strongly enough as to be remembered is the one which stays in your customer’s mind.
If this impact level is not reached, the message is like the seed that falls between rocks and dry soil: it won’t germinate and bear fruit. Your message will just become another one among the bunch of messages your customer will not remember.
How can you start developing a positioning strategy to make your business memorable?
On top of everything, you should have clearly established how you want to position your business (or yourself if that’s the case). What I mean, in other words, is that you must know how you want your customers to perceive your business.
Please keep in mind your positioning proposal can be of any kind: "The best wine in the market", "the most technologically advanced running shoes", "the more flamboyant artist" or something as simple as "a book you will not forget". Anything.
One of the examples included in the book "Positioning" referred to a water distribution company whose positioning proposal was something like: "We are the second best in the market." Yes, you read it right. They did not aimed to be perceived as the first or the best one in the market but to be recognized as the second one. No matter how weird it might sound, it continues to be a valid positioning proposal.
Your positioning proposal can be as unique and radical as you want. The important thing is that it needs to be consistent.
However, it doesn’t matter how “radical” or "killer" your positioning proposal is, but how effectively and strongly you can deliver it to your customer’s minds throughout all different channels available that you can choose from to communicate and interact with them.
Please note the wording I use here is extremely important: "throughout all different channels available that you can choose from to communicate and interact with them". Why is it important? Because Internet (and more specifically search engines) is not the only channel you can use to communicate and interact with your audience.
Yes, it’s one of the most important channels indeed, but far from being the only one. What about the sales people you have in store? Aren’t they directly in face to face contact with your customers day after day? Don’t they have the ability to strengthen (or weaken) the positioning proposal of your company every time they service a customer?
Your positioning proposal should be comprehensive, multichannel and consistent.
Note that you don’t need to aim for achieving the best "positioning ranking" in Google only, but to build a comprehensive positioning proposal, covering each and every one of the spaces in which you relate and interact with your customers.
In addition, your proposal must be consistent, meaning it must be reflected in each and every one of your business areas having direct contact with your customers, not only sales and customer service.
Obviously, your positioning proposal should be clearly reflected in your product (or your services when applicable), in all texts and messages used in advertisements, as well as in promotional materials. If we want to put it briefly: It must be perceivable throughout all spaces and channels, whether they are digital or traditional ones, and even if we talk about human beings (your employees or yourself).
If each and every area of your business, from vendors who work on the road to the people who pick up the phone, are aware of how the company wants to position itself among its audience, and if you've also done what was required to create a positive and satisfactory buying experience for your products, then your proposal will clearly be one of those which impacts firmly in your customer’s minds and stays there for a longer time.
Photo credit: Gstudio Group | Ver portfolio
I recommend you reading the following posts in this blog:
Customer Experience: The importance of delivering a consistent message.
I already bought your product. Now what?