What it is and why should you care?
Firstly, do yourself a massive favor and pick up the old classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
Along with Robert Cialdini's Influence, Positioning should be required reading for every serious marketer.
While you're at it, also pick up Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne and my favorite of all time, Purple Cow by Seth Godin.
Those four books are some of the best business books ever written on positioning yourself within an ever increasing crowded world. Absolute required reading. You won't get a better education in the topic—not even in MBA school.
Back to positioning…
Positioning is the “perception” that happens in the minds of your target audience.
The story they tell themselves.
It allows you to differentiate yourself, your product and/or service from that of your competitors.
The essence of “positioning” is to render the competition irrelevant.
I'm certainly no pro on positioning. But I've been practicing the art of positioning for years.
Lemme give you some examples to demonstrate positioning in action.
There are a few categories of consumers here.
The instant coffee drinkers on the low end, right up to the hard-core espresso connoisseurs on the top end.
Of course, there's everything in-between too.
Through a positioning statement and through price, savvy marketers and companies get to talk directly to
Everyone else is ignored.
They become irrelevant.
If you're a connoisseur of coffee, you prob'ly don't drink instant coffee. Ever. I know. Because I'm one of them.
This category of coffee lover prob'ly knows the JURA brand.
Just like a sports car petrolhead will know about Bugatti Veyron & Pagani Zonda.
The JURA's tag line: “If You Love Coffee”
So simple. So powerful.
… to a coffee lover.
The wife and I LOVE coffee. That positioning statement talks DIRECTLY to us loud and clear.
We own a Jura ENA 5. It's a $1,200 espresso coffee maker. They have other models that clock in at $3,000+.
Through price and their positioning statement, JURA own that segment of the high-end market.
They don't compete in the hyper-competitive sub-$100 coffee maker market.
Nespresso have done something similar (smart move for them). They created a machine for the less crowded $150 – $300 market.
Nespresso people really like coffee. But they're not the die-hard Jura crowd.
They want to drink good coffee. But not if they have to pony up $1,000+ for the pleasure.
“Thanks but no thanks…”
See how that works?
Positioning can be achieved through “design”.
I'm a fan of that.
Also through “price” and clever branding.
But typically it'll come from a combination of elements.
In 2010 I was looking at getting a jeep.
So I ended up looking at the Jeep Wrangler range.
A 2010 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon would have set me back between $22,000 and $30,000.
Not cheap. But not crazy expensive either.
Jeep Wrangler is the Nespresso of jeeps.
To a non-jeep aficionado (like myself), I thought the Jeep Wrangler was the top-dog.
The obvious choice.
I was wrong.
But then, I'm not a crazy jeep fanatic.
I then saw an ad for an ICON CJ3B.
Watch this short 4m:44s video by Jonathan Ward, owner of TLC, the maker of the ICON.
ICON is the JURA of jeeps.
The Rolls Royce. The Bentley.
If I wanted the best custom built jeep in the world, this would be it.
It would be the only company in the world to consider. Everything else would be completely irrelevant.
The ICON CJ3B starts at around $80,000.
THREE TIMES the price of a Wrangler.
They have customers that pay as much as $180,000 for a custom-built model.
… $180K for a feakin' jeep!
Jonathan Ward gets positioning.
It allows him to only attract rich enthusiasts. Everyone else gets automatically filtered out.
If you're a guy who's into jeeps, you'll be salivating as you watch that video.
No way around it.
You should use positioning to:
- laser-focus in on your ideal target audience.
- filter out who you
- differentiate yourself from everyone else.
In today's me-too marketplace positioning is how you win.
The JURU company have a very clear profile of their ideal customer.
Jonathan Ward does too.
It's crystal clear.
This is how savvy marketers and brands are carving out a piece of the pie which
The online marketplace is already competitive.
Make no mistake of that.
This is WHY differentiating yourself is THE ONLY way to succeed in today's competitive world.
To add more pressure, the barrier to entry for someone wanting to start an online business is really low.
Meaning … pretty much anyone in their bedroom with a $250 laptop can “set up shop” online and essentially become your competitor.
Why should customers choose you over your competitors?
If you're not differentiating yourself you're going to have a hard time getting any real traction.
For this reason you need a compelling differentiator.
My guess. My prediction. Is that in this next decade, competitiveness as you know it online, is doing to get ratcheted up BIG TIME.
If you think it's competitive online now, you ain't seen nothing yet.
It's dog-eat-dog already. But it'll get worse.
This is WHY positioning is so damn important.
I'll give you one last example.
The iPad 2.
Between January and September 2011 the iPad has maintained roughly 70-80% of the tablet marketshare.
The Android tablet manufacturers are all battling for left overs.
Because they chose to compete head-on with the iPad.
That was never going to work in a million years.
The BlackBerry PlayBook and Samsung Galaxy are perfect examples of that. Bad positioning.
If someone has $500 to spend why would they choose 2nd or 3rd best?
… why would they chose a Galaxy or PlayBook over an iPad 2?
HP has even chosen to completely opt out of the tablet market. (“thanks but no thinks…”)
… then Amazon come along (last to the tablet market) and released the Amazon Fire.
… for $199.
Right out the gate they position themselves so that they DON'T compete head-on with the iPad.
Smart. Genius even.
They did something that everyone else could have done, but didn't.
They've come along out the blue while all the big brands are fighting a losing battle against Apple for the premium category.
With the launch of the Fire, Amazon has a good chance at splitting the tablet market in two and DOMINATING the lower end.
Now … Samsung and all of the other Android tablet manufacturers are shaking in their boots.
(The Kindle Fire is powered by Android BTW, so it just goes to show you.)
Their fault completely.
I'll leave you with two articles about the Amazon Fire that demonstrate positioning really well:
This article was pre-Fire launch (great read). And this one a day after the launch.
… and in response (one day after Amazon rocked the tablet world) what does Best Buy do…
… they slashed the price of the BlackBerry PlayBook by a hefty $200.
The cheapest PlayBook now costs $299.
But it's too late.
Amazon has already won.
Positioning is what happens in the minds of your target audience.
And the launch of Amazon Fire has already put nails in the coffin of all the iPad wannabes.
Think how you can differentiate yourself, your product or service, so that it stands out from all the others.
You can do this even if you're an affiliate.
For digital products it's about your messaging. As in what you say … and who you say it to.
- What can you say?
- Who can you target?
Hint: It's a combo of both.