The first step to developing an effective marketing strategy is determining the positioning of your products. You might know your product in and out and be able to make a convincing case to someone that they need it, but in order to understand the best approach to take in your marketing, it’s important to have a good grasp of how your product’s strengths measure against those of similar products in your industry.
The questions you want to answer are:
- Just what void in the market does the product fill?
- How exactly does this product match up against others that offer something comparable?
- What features and benefits does the product have that others lack?
- Is there something that the product’s the best at? Is there a way to offer evidence of this?
- How does your pricing compare to that of similar products?
Although you might feel you know the answers to some of these right away, it’s likely that in the course of doing further research you’ll find some surprises.
To get a clear, comprehensive sense of a product’s positioning*:
1. Create a list of your closest competitors. In addition to those that easily come to mind, do some Google searches for relevant keywords to find those you might be overlooking.
2. Start a spreadsheet that lists the features and benefits of your product
3. Visit the websites of each of your competitors to fill in which of the features and benefits listed they have, and which they don’t. Add additional features and benefits to your spreadsheet based on those they have listed.
4. To make it easier to identify the comparison, make the spreadsheet color coded so that all of the features and benefits a product has are in one color, and all those they don’t have are in another.
Are you the most experienced, do you offer the most features for the price, have you been voted or called the best by a third party?
Try to figure out a positive superlative that fits your business and make it your new tagline so people will see right away what makes you unique, and why they should consider you over any competitors.
The spreadsheet you’ve put together can be used as a powerful sales tool when a potential customer can’t decide between your product and another.
More importantly, having a clear understanding of your company’s positioning helps with every other step in an effective marketing strategy. It helps you know the greatest strengths to emphasize and allows you to develop the best marketing strategies to draw customers towards what you have to offer.
*Thanks to Ted Finch at Chanimal.com for tips on the process.