There are several steps involved with successful market positioning:
- Determine how your brand is currently perceived in the mind of your customer
- Achieve a new market position
- Communicate and deliver on the brand promise to your customer
Determining how your brand is currently perceived in the mind of your customer
When positioning a brand, marketers must understand not just the functional and emotional needs of customers, but also the context or situation in which the needs occur. The combination of the context in which customers are trying to get a job done and personal/social factors shapes the customer’s “frame of reference.” Research shows that not only do customers’ frames of reference influence perceptions of how well they get a job done, but also helps determine the parameters for the consideration set of brands from which a customer will select a solution.
For example, when shopping for a new vehicle, consumers who live in a place where they need to drive in snow and bad weather, do not want to worry that their car will not make it, and want to be perceived as “outdoorsy,” look for tough, dependable, all-wheel-drive types of vehicles. This means, vehicles that are perceived as luxurious or up-scale (such as BMWs or Cadillacs) will likely not be considered. On the other hand, brands such as Subaru or GMC have positioned themselves as optimal choices for customers with this frame of reference. As such, visit any mountain town in the U.S. and you will likely find many more Subaru cars and GMC trucks than BMWs or Cadillacs. That was exactly my observation when visiting Park City, UT, last month.
Most likely your customers already have a very specific perception of your company’s brand and what it can be relative to their frame of reference. As a marketer, your job is to determine what this is, including the situation/context in which they are trying to get a job done, how satisfied they are in getting it done, and their feelings/perceptions as a result of doing the job.
To do this, you need to first gather and prioritize all the desired outcomes folks have when getting the job done for which your product has been hired and the emotional jobs they want to satisfy as a result. By collecting the situation/context in which they execute the job, which solution they use, and their level of satisfaction, you will be able to ascertain along which dimensions and when your product is perceived to deliver superior vs. inferior results as compared to the competition.
After segmenting and profiling the market, you are now ready to begin positioning. However, if you skip this step and try to position your brand too far from your customers’ frames of reference, you likely will confuse them and be unsuccessful in your positioning efforts. In my next post, I will talk about achieving a new market position. Stay tuned.