One of the most important aspects of marketing your company or product is its position in the market. This is often overlooked because positioning isn’t as sexy as getting Facebook Fans or Twitter Followers. However, it’s the best way to separate yourself from the competition, especially if you are in a crowded space.
I have seen far too many companies build their product or service, and then leave the product’s positioning to the marketing department. The position of the product needs to be designed and engineered into the product itself, and not be seen as an afterthought.
Below are four ways any company can position their product in an ultra-competitive marketplace.
Target A Specific Group Of People
Email marketing and list managing services have long been dominated by the likes of Mailchimp, Aweber, and Constant Contact. Those are just three of the dozens of services to choose from when beginning an email marketing strategy.
If you throw in the marketing automation software solutions such as Marketo, Infusionsoft, and Hubspot, the industry is flooded with highly competent and well funded companies.
However, that didn’t deter the folks at Campaign Monitor from building their own solution.
According to David Greiner, the founder of Campaign Monitor:
“Campaign Monitor really was born out of necessity… We decided to clear our schedule and have a go at building our dream email marketing tool… We made a few modifications to the software so any design firm could use it and started spreading the word. In less than six months, thousands of designers were using Campaign Monitor to send email newsletters for themselves and their clients.”
As David says they didn’t build the product and then try to sell it to designers. They positioned the product by building specific features designers would love.
Marketing Take Away: If the competition is selling to one niche, you can build your product or service so that it is perfectly suited for a niche that the competition is ignoring.
Do One Or Two Things Very Well
Every successful company has to keep track of its money. In the accounting software world, the 800 pound gorilla is Quickbooks.
However, I’ve never once met an entrepreneur, or CFO, or small business owner who actually likes Quickbooks. The most common complaints to are:
- “It has too many features. I only need it to do three things, not all this other stuff”.
- “It takes too long to learn, and I just don’t have the time to learn it.”
- “It’s too expensive. I’d be better off using Excel, or pen and paper.”
In steps a company called inDinero. Jessica Mah, the founder of inDinero went into the world of small businesses and startups to understand exactly what it is they need in accounting software. Then Jessica and her team stripped out the bloated features of Quickbooks and focused on two core competencies: Financial automation and budgeting.
Jessica also understands that the biggest problem plaguing small business owners and startups is a lack of time and a lack of money. So the product needs to have an extremely small learning curve and needs to be inexpensive.
As a result, inDinero was one of the most talked about startups in 2011, despite being in the mundane accounting software product category.
Marketing Take Away: When everyone seems to complain about the 800 pound gorilla in your industry, find out why. If it is because there are too many features, and it takes too long to learn, make sure your product or service focuses on doing one or two things very well.
Tell A Unique Story
A third way to position your company is to tell a unique story.
One of my favorite stories on the web comes from a tea brewing company called 52Teas.
52 Teas is just another tea brewing company, until you realize that each week, they brew a completely new tea.
With teas such as the Red Hot Cinnamon Chai Tea, the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Black Tea, and the Cranberry Black Tea, 52Teas is telling a unique story to the hard core tea connoisseur.
One of the most impressive parts about the story that 52Teas tells is that they let their customer participate. They brew new teas based on suggestions they get from Twitter and emails.
Most businesses aren’t going to be able to change their product every week to accommodate the taste of their customers. However, if an industry as old as tea brewing can have a new twist, then chances are your company can as well.
Marketing Take Away: If your competitors are all telling the same story, whether that is that they have the lowest price, or are the most innovative, then you need to be telling a different story. Do you offer the best service? Or are you the easiest to use? Or are you like 52Teas and welcome product suggestions?
Be More User Friendly
We’ve all seen Travelocity, Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz and about a half dozen other travel website commercials on television. These companies are well funded and heavily entrenched in the travel industry.
But one of the most talked about products to hit the market was a startup in this industry called Hipmunk.
A quick comparison between Hipmunk’s homepage and their competitors shows why they can succeed in this space.
Their user interface is extremely easy to use. When you visit the site, it’s extremely clear what they want you to do: Enter flight information.
They don’t confuse or distract you by putting ads on their home page, nor do they try to sell you limited time offers to places you have no interest in visiting.
Another thing you will notice is the size and placement of the web form compared to the likes of Travelocity and Orbitz.
First, it’s by far the biggest object on the screen, and second, it’s dead center on the screen.
Compare that to Orbitz and Travelocity where the ads are centered on the screen and bigger than the actual web form. It’s clear that the entrenched companies would much rather sell you stuff than actually help you find a flight.
Marketing Take Away: Focusing on making the life of your customers easier and not trying to milk them for every last dime will have a huge impact on your success.
Want more tips on differentiating? Check out this video:
In conclusion, if you are going to jump into an industry with well entrenched and better funded competitors, then you need to position your company in order to have success. These are four ways to position your product so that it can thrive in any market environment. Do you have any other suggestions? We would love to hear them in the comments below!
About the Author: Greg Digneo is the author of the new blog Sales Leads in Thirty Days which shows marketing agencies and consultants how to get more clients in 30 Days.