Finding Your Marketplace Position: The Birthplace of Your Brand

By Bill Chiaravalle, Barbara Findlay Schenck

To get through the noise and clutter of today’s marketplace, you have to win a competitive position with your brand in consumer minds by presenting your offering as unique and different in a way that truly matters to those in your target market.

As you seek your position, consider the following points:

  • Define your target market. Describe who buys what you’re selling, including what they want and value, how their needs aren’t currently being addressed, and why they’re likely to choose your offerings over all other options.

  • Find your unique marketplace position. As you seek the position your brand will fill, be aware of the four most common positioning approaches:

    • Fulfill an unfilled need. This is the find-an-itch-and-scratch-it approach. See a desire that isn’t addressed by any existing product or service and beat competitors to the solution.

    • Specialize to create a market niche. This is the opposite of trying to be all things to all people. It results in a specialty brand that exists in a large, crowded field by providing the best solution to a very exclusive or narrow segment of the market.

    • Transform an established solution. This is the evolutionary approach to positioning. It creates a new solution to an already addressed desire or need, but with an innovation so different that it creates a new product category, like a tablet computer or a hybrid car.

    • Introduce an all-new solution. This is the revolutionary approach to positioning. It requires the greatest level of invention and the highest marketing investment, because it requires you to introduce not just a product but a whole new paradigm. The Segway Human Transporter is an example.

  • Test and protect your position. Before settling on the position for your brand, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is your point of difference unique and difficult to duplicate? Is the distinction one that really matters to customers? Does it sync with economic and cultural trends?

    • Is your claim believable? Is it consistent with what people who know you or your brand believe about you and your expertise? Can you produce, package, and deliver the promise upon which the position is staked?

Finally, be sure no other brand already owns the position you’re aiming to claim and that you’re fully capable of living up to the unique attributes you’ve defined. With that, you’ve found the place to build your brand.