Monday, May 17, 2010

Communicate the Position

Armed with a clear idea of how the company’s product or service is positioned in the market and a compelling customer value proposition, you are now ready to begin promoting your offering. The ideal messaging will help your customer understand how your company’s brand delivers on its promises at all levels in the brand-promise hierarchy as follows (starting from the bottom):

  • Product or service features are tied to specific under-served functional jobs and outcomes that they address

  • A link between what the customer is trying to get done and how they want to feel or be perceived as a result of getting a job done is effectively made

  • The customers’ values, personality, and lifestyle are taken into account to understand their frame of reference when selecting solutions and executing the job

A great example of this type of communication comes from PNC.  Their Virtual Wallet product was created to address unmet customer needs when managing money.  They are targeting younger savers who do not think managing money is fun and have better things to do with their time.  To compensate, they created messaging that is upbeat and straightforward, connects with their target audience’s lifestyle, and explains what jobs and outcomes they are helping customers satisfy.

To achieve your desired market position, your marcom team needs to formulate a communication plan by connecting the functional and emotional needs of the target audience.  This includes making a number of decisions:

  • What are the objectives of the planned campaign? What do you want to happen as a result of your marcom activities?

  • What message are you trying to convey? What do you want your target audience to know?

  • Which communication medium(s) best convey your message?

  • At what points in the customer buying process do you want the message to be released?


Customer Buying Process

Figure out needs

Identify options

Evaluate options

Choose an option


Modify the choice





As a result, a detailed communication plan can be prepared that allows you to develop a winning winning market position that resonates with customers, align internal and external stakeholders on the value of a brand so that messaging is clear and consistent, and own a repeatable and sustainable process for developing focused and effective marketing campaigns.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Achieve a New Market Position

Once you understand how your company’s brand and competitor brands are perceived by your customers, you are ready to begin to stimulate your company’s growth through more effective positioning.  If you need to review this prior step, please refer to my previous post.

The primary mechanism used to position your offering is a customer value proposition (CVP).  A CVP is a statement that is intended to be shared with internal stakeholders (e.g., sales force, support staff, etc.) and external partners (e.g., distributors, ad agency, etc.) to provide a common understanding of the unique value a product or service strives to provide to the market.  It explains why a customer should buy your offering.  Too many companies fail to truly consider what unique value they offer to customers and this leads to a poor or no position in the mind of the customer (see my post on the iPad for an example).

Many people at this point either say, “We already have a customer value proposition” or, “Why do I need one of these?”  To answer the latter, it is estimated that the average American is exposed to hundreds of advertisements a day and this number is only growing. The only way to stand out from the competition is to establish a clear and credible point of distinction in the mind of the customer.  A CVP helps you do this by forcing your company to rigorously focus on what your offering is really worth to your customers (please see this HBR article for more on why you need one of these).

With regards to the former statement, I say, “Congratulations!”  However, I’d ask you if your CVP was developed using the customer’s measures of success so that it resonates with what the customer is trying to get done rather than simply providing a list of all the benefits a customer receives from your offering or a few favorable points of difference you provide versus the competition.  The reason this approach is preferred is that it acknowledges that the customer is already overwhelmed with marketing messages by seeking to deliver only the one or two key points of difference (and perhaps a point of parity) that will deliver the greatest value to the customer.

To be able to do this successfully, you must understand the jobs and desired outcomes customers seek to satisfy when they use your or your competitors’ offering.  Once you have collected these and know the importance and level of satisfaction customers attribute to each measure, you can select which ones to work with to form the basis of your CVP.

A well-written CVP answers who the target customers are, what they are trying to accomplish, when the product or service should be considered and why, and what the key discriminating features of the product or service are.  An example of the output from this process is provided below:

After developing the CVP, your next step is to reposition your offering by communicating and delivering on the brand promise to your customers.  This is the topic of my next post.