Knowing how you stack up will help you stand out
When sales are down or business is moving too slowly, it is inevitably time to reevaluate the business strategy. However, navigating a business strategy without considering strategic positioning is like trying to climb a mountain with no compass or map. There’s a possibility to reach the peak but it’s more likely that you will get lost, waste time, energy, resources trying to get there and get frustrated for not carrying the tools to effectively navigate the journey.
Just like climbing a mountain requires a map or a compass, a business requires a crystal clear plan and foundational principles to grow and prosper. Strategic positioning is a vital element to this.
What is strategic positioning?
A strategic position is how a company is viewed by customers. It’s the image and perception of the product or service. Strategic positioning is also a company’s relative position within an industry based on the product’s quality, features, and price. It is achieved through the choices a company makes about the kind of value it provides and how that differentiates from the competition.
Why strategic positioning is important?
Even if a business has the best product on the market, by all counts, it will not sell unless the brand or reputation stands out in the customer’s mind. As per Lucidpress, brands that are consistently presented see an average revenue increase of 33%. In the case of manufacturing or information technology companies, reputation is still integral to increase sales and overall profitability.
Aside from managing reputation, strategic positioning gives companies vital information to build a robust strategy and operations. Generally, companies that value cost leadership focus on low-cost and efficient production. Companies that value differentiation put a lot more effort into marketing, packaging, and customer-facing activities. Using either cost leadership or differentiation as a competitive advantage can lead to outperforming the competition. Long-term success essentially boils down to having strong foundations on which the company’s identity and approach rest on.
Two propositions can help simplify the dialogue and help lay the foundation for a business’s strategy and operations. A solid Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and a specific Positioning Statement will do just that. A USP is a brand’s feature or characteristic that differentiates it from similar alternatives. It’s a unique offer to convince customers to choose this brand over the others. The positioning statement will summarize the target market segment, the problem solved, how the solution is provided in a different way than the competition, and how this affects branding. Together, these tools clearly define the why and how of a business.
From these core principles, business strategy and operational changes can be made effectively. The story and purpose of the company will become infused into everything else. Not only that, but it will help implement abbreviated decision-making at different management levels. That way, it becomes easy for decision-makers across all levels to carry out the vision for the company. The effects of a strong USP and Positioning Statement can help a business reach sustained growth, build a loyal customer base, and find a niche in which to thrive in.
How to determine the current strategic positioning?
To improve a strategic position, the current one needs to be determined and analyzed. Also, having a deep understanding of the marketplace to compete is essential. Here are some steps to get a comprehensive analysis of a current position.
- Identify Strategic Issues – Create a summary of critical areas that need to be addressed. Ask some key questions,
- What is the company’s current position?
- Is the company targetting the right customer segments?
- What is working? What isn’t?
- Is the product/service providing value to the customers?
- Is there a need to change the strategic positioning to become more competitive?
- Run an Environmental Scan – Run an analysis of Political, Economic, Social, and Technological trends (also called a PEST analysis). This will determine the environment the business is running in and the influences that can affect it.
- Complete a Competition Analysis – Understand what the competition offers and compare it to the business’s competitive advantage. It’s not advised to depend too much on responding to the competition or follow them. The objective here is to be aware of the competition and use this information to differentiate the business.
- Develop SWOT – Find any opportunities that can lead to growth and any barriers that might get in the way of business objectives. Be aware of the weak areas and what the company does well that can be used to bolster the organization’s competitiveness. This analysis will help develop a cohesive strategy.
Once the comprehensive analysis is complete, it is much easier to know what needs to be done to improve strategic positioning. This will look different for every business but the work will pay off when a key differentiating point can be properly utilized. Specializing in solving a particular problem for a particular customer segment will be much more lucrative than trying to appeal to massive amounts of consumers.
How to improve strategic positioning?
Simply put, this concept helps customers distinguish what one company offers that’s different from the rest. There are few ways to do this. The strategies companies use to base their position can vary by the goal, intention, and the very nature of the product.
- Product Characteristics- Choosing differentiation based on product characteristics associates the brand with a particularly beneficial feature. For example, it can be safety, security, aesthetics, or reliability.
- Price Positioning- Choosing a position based on price associates the brand with being cheap and accessible for bargain-hunting customers. Firms in this category usually try to be the cheapest and achieve this by minimizing overhead and distribution costs.
- Quality/Luxury- Choosing to be a quality or luxury brand as a distinguishing feature associates the brand with a high or premium price and increases reputation. Prestige is a priority to entice customers wherein the customer views the brand as an elite status symbol.
- Application/Use- Utility as a distinguishing feature associates the product for a particular use i.e associating the brand or product with a specific use.
- Competition- Brands can respond to activities made by the competition to try and get more of the market share. They can bring attention to a key difference in their product or service to seem more attractive and unique compared to other options.
Companies can benefit immensely from strategic positioning. By completing a thorough analysis of the environment, competition, and the company itself, it will become clear what unique offers can be made to attract customers. A thorough analysis will give a clear picture of the capabilities and resources a company has and what problem it could solve for a specific target audience. By writing a USP and Positioning Statement, the foundational groundwork can be completed for building a robust strategy. This will help create a powerful strategic plan that will accelerate the business’s performance. This concept can lead the company to growth and optimal health- that’s why strategic positioning matters now, more than ever.