Marketing: Design a Positioning Strategy

By Alexander Hiam

A positioning strategy takes a psychological approach to marketing. It focuses on getting customers or prospects to see your product in a favorable light and think of it before competitors’ offerings. The positioning goal you articulate for this kind of strategy is the position your product holds in the customer’s mind. The following sections break down how to find your position and craft your positioning strategy.

Your positioning strategy can be as simple as saying that you want your brand to be the easiest to buy, or as complex as saying your brand is easier to purchase, more affordable, hipper, and more contemporary than the competition. Just make sure your claims are truthful and believable.

Good positioning means your product has a prime parking space in customers’ minds thanks to its strong, clear image. People recognize your brand and know immediately what it stands for. If you’re in a fairly new or uncompetitive market, standing out in customers’ minds should be easy.

But if a lot of other marketers are involved, as in older, well-established markets, chances are they’ve already used positioning strategies and secured their places in customers’ minds. That’s why it’s important not to get hung up on what you want your positioning to be. Instead, focus on what it needs to be to resonate and stick.

To help you figure out your position compared to other brands, start by drawing a simple, two-line graph. The two lines represent the range, from high to low, of the two core dimensions of your positioning strategy. You find these dimensions by asking yourself — and ideally some talkative customers, too — what the main differences between products are.

The differences may be price and quality, or any number of other possible variables, depending on the product in question. Map all the major competitors and look for a space where you can fit your brand.

For example, if you’re marketing soap, your dimensions can be how gentle or harsh the soaps are as well as how natural they are. A brand that claims to be all natural and as gentle as the rain is obviously in the gentle and natural quadrant. Another brand that claims to be tough on dirt and germs is going to score low on the all-natural scale and high on the harsh scale, placing it squarely in the opposite quadrant.

If the marketers of these two brands consistently communicate their different positions, the two brands won’t compete directly. Consumers who want a gentle, natural soap buy one brand, whereas consumers who want a strong soap that kills germs buy the other. Both marketers can succeed by virtue of their unique positioning strategies.