Today I ran across a great blog posting at Brandeo regarding positioning strategy. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments expressed in it. While the blog post mentions two consumer-marketing examples, the issues are equally relevant and critical to B2B marketing.
Concurring with the author, I believe that there is often too little time paid to developing the proper positioning, and that too often positioning strategy is confused by ambiguous talk about the amorphous “brand.” Discussions about the brand usually get people thinking about things they can see, like visual identities and taglines. While brand strategy should be nearly synonymous with positioning strategy, in today’s world it generally isn’t.
People, even those at ad agencies with generally good reputations, all too frequently talk about brand strategy in terms of the creative concepts, the advertisements to be created, the “packaging” of the brand. And they do this without really wrestling with positioning strategy and the related positioning statement. Positioning strategy is the basis on which concepts, advertising, and “packaging” are created.
“Why is a positioning strategy so important? Because they’re a tiny little business plan boiled down to one sentence. Granted, sometimes it’s a long sentence. But it succinctly defines the target, their ‘pain point’, the category in which the company competes, their differentiated benefits, and what the company must do to ‘prove’ those differentiated benefits to the customer…developing a brand positioning strategy forces the company to consider what they need to do to be successful.” —Brandeo
Without a clear and strong positioning strategy, lots of time and money are spent in vain—not just marketing dollars, but nearly every other corporate investment, from production and distribution right down to overhead expenses. Because positioning strategy is your reason for being. If you can’t clearly articulate your positioning, and if it doesn’t have real, meaningful, differentiated value to the marketplace and your organization, you’re not only drifting somewhat aimlessly, your chances of real success are greatly diminished.
Creation of and adherence to proper and successful positioning strategy is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of great marketing. It’s the most important foundational element. It drives not only marketing, but also operations—where you choose to go, in what you choose to invest, what’s important and what’s not.
If you can’t express your positioning in a clear, concise, valuable, and differentiated way—and if all the people in your organization can’t easily articulate the same thing—it’s time to start at the beginning again. Identifying and developing the proper positioning strategy isn’t easy, but it will certainly make your life easier in the future.