What’s Positioning Got To Do With It?

Al Ries wrote in his book, Positioning, “Positioning is what you do to the mind of your customer, and not to your product”. Every product has a position, or more precisely, every differentiated product has a position in the minds of customer.  What are your options for positioning?

  1. Do nothing: Which means you are saying your product is substitutable and your customers do not care what they use. You compete by responding to RFPs with lowest quotes and purely on  price. (Incidentally, if you have the lowest priced offering and can sustain it, that is a positioning.)
  2. Let the customers define their own positioning: Your customers are not going to take the time and effort to define the positioning that is most favorable to you.  Since you are not providing one, they are going to look for hints from other customers, media and from your competitors. “So is it just like a VCR that costs more?”
  3. Let the media define: Media has no clue about your product, or no right clue. This includes social media as well.  They do not have time to do research as well. They will harp on things irrelevant to your target customers, like “no USB port”. Or they will pick the one that is most disadvantageous to you, like ” this is just a big screen iPod Touch”, “a digital photo frame on steroids”.
  4. Let your competitors define: They will be happy to and they will. They may do it in  a subtle way, “we are standing on amazon’s shoulders with our iBooks”, or overt “who needs stylus, it is messy, it gets lost, bleh!”.
  5. You define it: Is there any other way? Only you get to position your product as, “magical and revolutionary”. With great positioning comes great pricing power. What do you think the price would have been for a 9″ iPod Touch or a 9″ iPhone that does not make calls vs. a magical device?

Do you practice the 8 steps to effective product positioning?