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Why is Product Positioning
Important to Your Business?

Build Your New Product Plan

Effective product positioning is necessary to success; even more so when marketing a new product. One way to develop, measure and track a new product plan is by using product life cycle software to help position, and differentiate, your business. Or you can measure and track your product's position directly and manually. Either method (automated or manual) can help you to grow sales.

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Use product life cycle software to understand your product's stage in its life cycle - it's significant for building a strong positioning strategy.

Being right on your product positioning can result in increased sales; being wrong means you might not sell too much.

Product positioning has been described as 'winning the hearts and the minds of customers'. Great brands have long term customers (for example. the 'love affair' that Mac customers have with their Apple computers; Ipods, etc.).

Positioning your product or service means you need to first define (marketing segmentation), and then understand, your target market. (Services are intangible so you need to determine early on in service positioning what your target market values in your service area and how your services are different than many other services.)

Product management is a key element of marketing and marketing mix including: marketing mix product); positioning, product differentiation and product life cycle. All of these are important to building effective marketing strategies.

Marketing a New Product

Does your positioning strategy focus on, and align with, your product differentiation strategy? Is your product or service unique, better, economical, profitable (for the market), or does it have other distinctive criteria that will differentiate it from the many other products and services available?

These points of differentiation must be important and valued by your customers (for example, being marketed as an economical product in a luxury goods market would be a significant positioning mistake).

When introducing new products, your new product plan needs to be focused on differentiation and positioning strategies and tactics.

Positioning your product needs to be focused on delivering a valued and distinctive product to a specific market and delivering in a way that customers accept (that's the hearts and minds part of the equation). Good product positioning will make it easy for your intended customers to define why they want to buy the product (they will see the unique benefits).

Product Positioning and Differentiation:

Small businesses typically do not have large marketing budgets. But no matter what kind of budget you have, you need to focus on getting product positioning right (it will pay for itself).

Conduct marketing research (you can use free online surveys) on your product. How do your customers view your product? How do they view your organization? Ask your customers to describe what they think of when they think of your brand and/or your business' name (it's a good idea to do this in a way that allows anonymity to encourage honest feedback).

Customers have an image of your brand as either a positive or a negative, based on their experience, their perception of your brand and their understanding of your product benefits.

That positive or negative image will determine whether or not they buy your product and how much they will pay for it (how much value they attribute to it). So make sure you carefully focus on your pricing strategy as an important part of your positioning.

Focus your efforts on positioning or ultimately you will need to re-position your product (changing and/or improving your product's identity or brand). Re-positioning is very hard to do successfully. Work on the relationship between product differentiation and product positioning. Overcome the 'noise' in the marketplace and be recognized for having a unique product.

Product Positioning To-Do List:

  1. Conduct a market segmentation.
  2. Define your target market.
  3. Identify the product attributes.
  4. Data collection from the target market (customers and potential customers) on the identified product attributes.
  5. Determine the product's share of heart and mind (of the total potential mindshare). Being 'first' in the market usually is a significant benefit in mindshare.
  6. Place your product in the right 'space' (e.g. luxury market; economy market; high value, low volume; health; snack; etc.).
  7. If position is a graph, determine what your product's ideal position on that graph might be (e.g. nutritious, high cost snack).
  8. Determine what you need to do to reach that position in the minds of your market.

Leader, Follower or Challenger?

If you are not first in the market, you are a market follower or a market challenger. You will need to position your product in relation to the leader, but do not attempt a head-on challenge for the leader's position; unless you have a lot of money to fund the attempt (and some luck).

You will gain more by taking a position where the leader demonstrates some weaknesses (for example in the luxury car market, the small but not economical Smart Car is a new position).

If you are the market leader (first in), and you are being challenged by market followers, focus your marketing message to reinforce that you were the first (the 'real' thing, rather than the imitation).

Product positioning is as much science as it is art.

Be very careful in positioning your product, it is challenging to change that perception later in the product's life. Your product message needs to be consistent, reliable, simple and unique. Your small business growth depends upon doing this right.

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