Posts in Positioning

Are You Positioned as one of Few Credible Substitutes in Your Market?

June 28th, 2010 Posted by Positioning 1 thought
Image of business trying to determine its positioning strategy

In today’s economy, no one wants to turn away business. But smart marketers are positioning themselves to do just that.

Most companies fall into the trap of positioning the company as broadly as possible, trying to be relevant to the broadest number of potential purchasers. That way, any lead or inquiry has opportunity. But this approach creates a broad range of lead quality and makes you chase nearly every lead, eating up large amounts of time and money. And as you try to close that business, you’ll be competing as a generalist. You’ll fight hard to get on the short list; you’ll be competing with other generalists and with specialists. (more…)

Steer Clear of Price-Only Positioning

June 23rd, 2010 Posted by Positioning 1 thought

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. (more…)

Why Rebranding Often Fails

July 27th, 2009 Posted by Positioning 1 thought

As competition heats up and sales start to stagnate, companies often seek to breathe new life into the brand through rebranding. In all too many cases, however, those expensive rebranding efforts fail to yield the desired business results. Here are some of the key reasons why rebranding often fails. More than executional mistakes that blunt the effectiveness of rebranding efforts, these are critical errors that almost always lead to failure.

Lack of True Change

Sure, sometimes rebranding is done solely to sharpen the image of a company or brand; periodically things need to be freshened up. However, unless you operate in the world of packaged goods, don’t expect great things from launching some new designs and fresh copy.

Rebranding signals change. A new image will cause people to take a fresh look at you—and people’s primary motivation in taking a new look is to see what’s changed. If you’re the same old place dressed up in new wrapping and ribbons, you’ll merely confirm the existing position you own in their minds. You’ll have wasted a valuable opportunity to change their perceptions. There are only so many times your prospects are going to reconsider you. Use them wisely. (more…)

Market Share or Profit? Pick One.

January 13th, 2009 Posted by Positioning 0 thoughts

In their 1981 marketing strategy classic (it must be a classic, there’s even a 20th Anniversary Edition!), Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout noted that if a brand occupies the category leadership position on the “ladder of consideration” of a customer, that position was essentially unassailable. The “high ground”, if you will. Their caveat, of course, was that the positioned leader could conceivably make a mistake significant enough to cause their displacement from atop that ladder…or that a competitor could “bring in a new ladder” with new discriminating variables favoring the competitor and more important to the consumer. Otherwise the category leader could remain on top indefinitely. With no variance in B2C vs. B2B. (more…)

Words May Reposition a Brand. But They Must Also Define the Task.

December 18th, 2008 Posted by Positioning 0 thoughts

We who’ve been in the marketing communications business for years have certainly been exposed to a myriad of brand repositionings in our professional careers…and most likely participated in more than a few as well.  Some simple and easy, some incredibly complex, but all with the intention of moving the perception of the brand closer to what the prospective customer wants to buy (even if requiring change in what the marketer has to “sell”).
(more…)

You Want to Position Your Brand “Righteously”? It May Not be Your Call.

September 9th, 2008 Posted by Positioning 0 thoughts

Years ago I was exposed to a psychographic segmentation model developed by Dr. John Cragan, at that time a Professor of Communications at Illinois St. University. By the time my colleagues and I became involved with Dr. Cragan and his model, it had be tested and applied in a number of B2B categories. Most importantly, the tests and applications validated that the approach was, in fact, purchase behavior predictive. That was important because the most recognized segmentation model of those times, VALS, developed by Stanford Research Institute, was lifestyle focused and with no direct correlation to buying styles. The same was true of Young & Rubicam’s Cross Cultural Consumer Characterizations model for global application. But Cragan was different.

Dr. Cragan posited and proved that there were essentially three different buying styles (although there could be also be permutations, with one style being primary and another having some degree of complementary influence). Those three buying styles were: (more…)

Would Ebert and Roeper Give your Positioning a “Thumbs Up?”

July 29th, 2008 Posted by Positioning 0 thoughts

I saw a headline on CNN that made me laugh the other day. It said “Ebert and Roeper to leave ‘Ebert and Roeper.’” Boy, I’ll bet that show will never be the same!

Clearly, a B2B company isn’t a TV show. But this little news item might be a good excuse to do a little reviewing of your own. Exactly how deep does your company’s positioning really go? Is it a something everyone in the organization believes in and can recite on cue, or does it depend on the performance of the lead actors and a small supporting cast? It’s not uncommon for a B2B company to define itself by the personality and style of the executive(s) at the top. (more…)

Green Marketing. How Associative Positioning Breaks All Ties.

July 16th, 2008 Posted by Positioning 1 thought

Everyone has likely heard a few jokes starting with “A duck walks into a bar…”, and immediately become interested because of the unexpected imagery. Today, however, I walked into the office bathroom and was confronted with real imagery that also piqued interest. On top of the commode was a role of toilet paper fully packaged in white tissue with the word “green” depicted and underlined in green all over the package, and “office depot” in red, also underlined, but smaller and more subdued. Had it been Christmas time I might not have noticed. Everything is green and red then. But just after the 4th of July such packaging was unexpected. And inspired more contemplation than your average roll of toilet paper, which is rarely high on anyone’s “Wow! Look at that!” list. If ever. (more…)

Don’t Let your Business Get Caught in the Middle

May 28th, 2008 Posted by Positioning 0 thoughts

A recent post by my colleague, Dick Hatch (about the slogan “Our people make the difference“) got me thinking. There are a number of common ad themes whose trite familiarity makes them invisible at best, laughable at worst. I’d like to nominate another candidate.

I’ve seen dozens, maybe hundreds, of banks, CPAs, furniture stores, builders, car dealers, and many other businesses claim in one way or another that they are:

“Big enough to serve you, small enough to care.” (more…)

Our People Make the Difference (Yea, Right) and Other “Unbelievable” Claims

April 7th, 2008 Posted by Positioning 1 thought

For kicks, I tried Googling this tagline. On this particular day, the results produced several construction companies, a few carpet cleaners, realtors and brokers, hospitals, therapeutic clinics, a TV station, a web page from Deloitte Touche, a security firm, machine and metal fabricators, a change management consultant, staffing firms, a used car dealer, various banks, a plastic mold die maker, a dentist, an old WalMart uniform patch (with the slogan) for sale on e-Bay, a chemical company, a full-service boatyard, and a boatload of other indistinguishable, undifferentiated manufacturers, services, and firms in untold other industries. Unbelievable! (Granted, not in all cases were they necessarily using the line as a corporate positioning or tagline per say, although more did than not.) Doesn’t matter. They were using it as a point of differentiation in some form, and differentiating it is not. (more…)

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