Every marketing expert in the world knows the name Philip Kotler.
And even if you don’t know that name, you must have heard of the
four P’s: product, price, place and promotion. These four concepts
already were the core of every marketing strategy decades ago. Since
then, many have added their own extra P’s, like people and purpose.
Philip Kotler himself mentions another P as well: Positioning.
Definition of positioning
Kotler defines positioning as “the act of designing the company’s
offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the
target market. The end result of positioning is the successful creation
of a customer-focused value proposition, a cogent reason why the
target market should buy the product.” (Philip Kotler: Marketing
This closely relates to finding your niche market. Finding your
niche is definitely a part of your positioning process, but we decided
to create a separate chapter for this subject for an important reason:emotions. In the chapter about niches, we explained how a product
and target audience can be considered shop shapers. You can build
an entire shop just based on the right product and the right market.
This especially goes for the Unconflicted customer: the customer
that has a functional need and just wants the product. For both
Spendthrifts and Tightwads, there are external factors that play a
large part in the decision process. Since positioning is about finding
your spot in the mind of the target market, it is clear that emotions
play a part as well.
If you want to position yourself or your business, it might help
to ask yourself some simple questions:
• Who is your ideal customer? Not in terms of budget, but in
terms of values.
• What are my personal values and how do these relate to my
products or company?
• What do I consider the core competencies of my company
and how can I make these visible?
• What brands do I like and how would people associate our
company with these brands?
• What are current trends in my market and what can our
products contribute to that?
We said ‘simple questions’, but we know it’s absolutely not that
simple to answer these questions. It’s quite heavy stuff, come to
think of it. Especially since it’s almost all about emotions.
There is a simple way to construct your position though. First define
the following variables:
1 Company name
3 Target market
4 Needs of your target market
5 Distinctiveness of your company.
That might require some research, and perhaps you haven’t thought
about a number of these variables yet. But once you have defined
them, your brand position will be something like this:
[Company] supplies [product] to [target market], looking for
[needs]. [Company] distinguishes itself from competitors by
Katie’s brand position
For Katie’s Little Art Shop, that brand position could be:
Katie’s Little Art Shop supplies illustrations on canvas for
modern families looking for ways to decorate the rooms of
their children. Katie’s Little Art Shop distinguishes itself from
competitors by providing unique, hand-painted, minimalistic
illustrations of animals.
This is quite a strict format, so you should of course craft this to fit
you as a person or your company. Let’s look at some examples from
Cola is popular worldwide and is liked by people of all age
groups, while Diet Coke targets the niche of people who
are more health-conscious. Coca Cola uses a competitive
positioning strategy to be way ahead of its competitors in the
non-alcoholic beverages market. (Source: Marketing91.com)
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use
business to inspire and implement solutions to the
environmental crisis for men, women and children of
any age that love the outdoors. Patagonia calls out other
companies with “environmental initiatives” to beat theirs.
(Source: Adventures in Branding)
The Body Shop expects its customers to view its products as
beauty products with great quality, from a trustworthy brand.
The fact that its products have a compelling natural, ethical and
environmental story is an added advantage, and shows how it
differentiates its brand from other big mainstream brands and
retailers. (Source: Natural Cosmetics Lovers)
Note that these are not the official brand positions these companies
set up in their mission statement or marketing plans, but rather
positions that others imagine these companies have. These examples
are simply here to illustrate to you what your position could look like.
Find the elements that your desired clients would look for in a
product or company. And find the areas where you want to (and
are able to) distinguish yourself from your competition.
Kotler refers to these as ‘points-of-parity’ and ‘points-of-differentiation’.
Which sums it up quite nicely, we think.
Tell the world about your brand position
It would be impossible for us to tell you how to position your
products, to be honest. We tell our customers all the time that we
know about website optimization, but might know little about your
target market or company values – other than what we can learn
from your website of course.
Positioning is the first thing you should do, and creating buzz
should be the second. Use your blog, use social media, even use
your site design to express your values and to position your
company and your products in a competitive online market.For Katie, etsy.com would be a nice additional way to promote
and sell her values.
Please note that this is n0t an invitation to make political
statements or write about gun control on your perfume website.
Make sure your buzz is directly related to your products. Animal
testing and the environment could be topics for your blog, if you
want to position your company as environmentally-conscious.
Write about promotions and other sales if your desired position
is to be the cheapest online perfume outlet ever. Positioning is
about distinctiveness and relevance.