Steer Clear of Price-Only Positioning

Richard Hatch | June 23, 2010 · 1 comment | Positioning

Lack of positioning means destructive price-only competition

In another life, I worked in automotive marketing. A domestic brand. Every time the market tanked, the client, along with their domestic rivals, would predictably do the inevitable. Slap on rebates, trump one another’s incentives, slash prices, sweeten the deal, give away the store, compromise the brand and train customers already accustomed to never paying the asking price to never pay anything close-ever again. (I know. There’s a history of other complex dynamics at work here as well.) Nevertheless, any bump in the road and they squandered what brand integrity they had left to chase market share at almost any cost-and we all know what the painful outcome has been.

But you’d never do that, right? Let’s get real. When the economy hits a rough patch, you’re going to get pressured. And you might have to compromise—some. Maybe you already are? It’s not easy when you’re getting pushback from prospects who have yet to appreciate the value you bring them and from salespeople who keep coming back to the shop with “We have to lower the price to get the sale”.

It’s hard to say “no” when you’re losing sales to competitors. So refer back to the first paragraph. Price-only positioning is a loser. Compromising your standards is worse. Recessions are temporary. If your positioning strategy is sound, you and your brand will be stronger when it’s over.

But be sure. Right now might be a good time to review your positioning, points of differentiation, product attributes, and reasons to believe:

Review your positioning statement.

Put yourself in your customers’ and prospects’ seat. Do the differentiating points you make really matter to them? Lacking real differentiation that matters puts you in a “me too, price-only” position.

Can you articulate an ownable position with real differentiation and make it resonate with prospects?

Are there credible differences you can substantiate? With numbers? Case studies? Demonstrations? Testimonials?

Do your salespeople have the words to articulate your difference and have credible discussions? Are they trained, equipped, and prepared to be good stewards and ambassadors of your brand?

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