Standing out: how to find and own your position in your marketplace
A guest article from Jessica Shailes, Ideal Marketing Company
Standing out from the competition isn’t just an issue for businesses in a crowded marketplace. If you’re competing in the same areas as your competitors, you may be facing an uphill struggle, wasting money on badly targeted marketing and missing out on an open position that is yours for the taking.
Identifying and committing to a position in your marketplace helps attract your ideal customers, makes your marketing easier and best of all, helps you achieve your business goals.
Where do you currently stand in your market?
It’s not unusual for a company not to know where they stand or how potential customers regard them. Let’s start by asking what you’re competing on now and how that compares to what your competitors are competing on.
The key factors companies compete on are:
- Customer experience or service
- A unique feature
- Speed and convenience
- Environmental factors
Of these factors, price and quality will be familiar to you, but the last few may not be feasible or relevant. Is most of your market competing on price? Can you identify a gap? You could do this by plotting your marketplace; create a matrix with price and quality (or any other factors) along the horizontal and vertical axis and add yourself and your competitors into position.
Using your position to attract your ideal customer
Another thing to consider is your ideal customer and what is important to them. This is not necessarily the customers you currently serve, but your favourite customers you want to attract more of. If you compete on price, you may face a constant race to the bottom, decrease profits AND attract customers you don’t enjoy working with. Positioning based on quality, however, could attract a different kind of customer. But to compete on quality, you must commit to it in all aspects of your business. Customer experience or service can extend the ‘quality’ position. For example, if you run an e-commerce store that sells high-end shoes, you can improve the user experience and customer service by providing better packaging, delivery service and expert advice in chat support.
An alternative is to differentiate based on a unique feature in your market, but this can be hard to maintain. Suppose your differentiation is based on technology or innovation. In that case, your competitors could soon copy you or catch up without the costs you put into innovation. In this case, positioning yourself as ‘the original’ will be essential to your marketing. Apple has faced this situation for years as a trailblazer, with cheaper imitations following soon after any new product release. However, enough customers trust the quality and the Apple brand to buy at full price from the original.
Another way to differentiate yourself is by niching, which can be defined as targeting a specific group of customers and excluding others. Niching will make it easier to stand out, become more efficient, reach your market and make your message more compelling. If you identify a customer group you love to do business with, this commitment is easier to make. However, it can be scary to commit to, and you must ensure that the niche is big enough.
Speed and convenience are highly influential factors in business-to-consumer markets like takeaway food, online shopping, and travel but are less relevant for businesses serving other businesses.
Being the green or more ethical alternative may also sway a customer to use you over the competition, but it can rarely be the only factor. Only a minority of a market will use the environmentally friendly option if it costs them more than the standard, so you may need to be able to compete on more than your green credentials.
Own your position
Once you’ve identified your position, or more importantly, a position you want to take up in your marketplace, update your marketing to reflect it. Consider all the ways you can communicate your position to your customers in everything from your website to how you pick up the phone, so that you’re consistent and they know why they chose you. Accept that you won’t be the right fit for everyone, but by putting off a few, you’ll be a clearer best choice for the people who matter most.
If you want help understanding your audience and your market position, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to claim a free marketing consultation.
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