Trish HaywardBy TRISH HAYWARD

Recently, we ran across a great Forbes piece by Jennie Grimes of NetApp on brand. We totally agree with her point of view with one caveat. The article assumes that companies are clear on the positioning they want to communicate.

Grimes’ article recommends that we use data to determine if our brand message and our market position are aligned. She points out that there is a major difference between messaging (what we say about our brand) and market position (what customers actually feel about our brand). She also provides some guidance on how to gain alignment.

All of this is valuable, but only if the company or product positioning is clear (i.e., everyone knows what it is) and is effective in the market (i.e., it is single-minded, compelling, differentiating, sustainable, and believable). Positioning must precede messaging.

Seems simple enough? You’d be surprised how difficult it is. We’ve worked with dozens of companies in the Silicon Valley and beyond. Ninety percent of them don’t have their positioning nailed. And as a result their messaging remains scattered and drives confusion in the market.

If you do not position yourself, your market will gladly do it for you.

Companies struggle with different facets of positioning. For example:

  • Early-stage companies entering nascent markets tend to struggle defining frame of reference (i.e., category name). Your decision on frame of reference requires a rigorous debate and alignment. It creates a ripple effect across product roadmap, content strategy, brand strategy, etc. and drives whether analysts consider your product in their next market review. It’s not just a matter of what you decide to put on your “about us” page.
  • Companies in a mature market struggle to nail down point of difference. You already know that competitor feature sets are virtually identical. It’s crucial to tap customer insights and maintain relentless focus on compelling benefit (not features) to successfully build a sustainable and differentiated market position.

Wondering if your positioning is solid? Find out with Brand Positioning 101. Print it out, take it to your next team meeting, and run through the exercise. The questions will help you determine if your:

1.  Positioning is clearly defined
2.  Positioning is effective for your target market
3.  Team is aligned on your positioning

Figured out your positioning needs lot of work?  You aren’t alone. Use customer insights to inform your discussions and leverage our proven framework to focus the team, one element at a time, on defining your single-minded, compelling, differentiating, sustainable, and believable positioning.

I have worked with four other consulting firms in the past doing positioning, and none used as coherent, systematic, and comprehensive approach as Catalyst Strategies. Ruthie Weitz Leopold, Head of Marketing, Cloud Services Group Product Strategy, Amdocs

Let us know how it works for you!

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