What's Your Positioning Message?

There are many ways for a business to be unique, from small pricing, packaging, and service differences to significant feature and benefit contrasts with the competition. In all cases, your business's uniqueness has to be examined in relation to other products and services that your target buyer is currently using (i.e., things that your business hopes to replace with its own offerings). Differences really don't matter unless they are important enough to the customer to influence his or her purchasing decision.

In some cases, there may be little or no difference between your product or service and that of your competitors. Or, the differences may be very difficult to communicate (think of the difference between Coke and Pepsi.) In that case, it's up to you to create some differences.

For example, granulated white sugar is essentially indistinguishable from one brand to another. Physical product features are the same for each brand. Product benefits and usage are identical. However, even plain white sugar can be differentiated with pricing, packaging, and quality image supported by advertising.

You've already started the process of thinking about your positioning if you've constructed a unique selling proposition (USP) for your product or business. Rosser Reeves is the author of the phrase "unique selling proposition," or USP, which is a unique message about itself versus the competition that each business or brand should develop and use consistently in its advertising and promotion. For example, if you provide free delivery service to your customers because no one else in town is doing it, you've constructed a USP based on service that you are communicating to the intended target buyer. If, however, you offer free delivery service because everyone else in town does so and you need to provide it to keep up with the competition, it's not something that sets you apart and should not be the focus of your USP.

"Differentiation" is the collection of differences in features and benefits versus competitive products. The key is to determine how important these collective differences are to the buyer. Communication of important differences is the basis for a successful positioning strategy.

"Positioning" is adding brand value to this collection of differences in the mind of the buyer. In other words, you must solve the problem of how to communicate a meaningful difference about your business idea to the people who are most interested in buying it.

Meaningful differences in your product or service, compared to that of your competitors, should be created and communicated to your target buyer via packaging, pricing, features and benefits, product design, colors, advertising and promotion mediums, public relations events, and even spokespersons. Everything should work together to promote a consistent image for your product or service.

Source: fiducial - CCH Business Owner's Toolkit


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