When considering how to market a product or service in any industry, one of the most important marketing concepts to be aware of is the idea of positioning: the position your brand will occupy in the hearts and minds of consumers that will distinguish your brand from others in your market. A successful positioning strategy will effectively express the competitive advantages that your product or service holds over others competing for the same target audience. Typically, positioning strategies can be separated into three categories:
- Functional positioning: the ability of your product or service to solve your customer’s problems and provide more benefits to your customers with the speed, quality, price, or location of your product or service, compared to your competitors, e.g. Geico’s “Save 15% or more” commercials.
- Symbolic positioning: the ability of your product or service to bestow self- image enhancement, in-group identification, social meaningfulness, or affective fulfillment to your customers, e.g. designer clothes or bags for women.
- Experiential positioning: the ability of your product or service to provide a unique experience for your customer, in terms of sensory stimulation, cognitive stimulation, or individual enjoyment, e.g. commercials for Boston Ballet.
Today, moving towards 2017, internet marketing has opened up more opportunities for your company to compete on the national or even international stage, so how you can position your product or service in your online marketing can make a real difference in your profit margins for your business.
The history of positioning goes back at least as far back as advertising executive David Ogilvy, widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising”, who was quoted as early as 1963 that “the most important decision is how to position your product”. Positioning went on to become formalized as a marketing technique by branding strategists Al Ries and Jack Trout, who co-authored a series of three articles from 1969 to 1972, and later a classic advertising book in 1981 entitled “Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind”. The core ideas articulated by Ries and Trout are relevant as ever in 2016. With the advent of online marketing, you have more opportunities than ever to create a special, consistent place in your customer’s mind for your company, as well as directly target your audience with specially designed branding opportunities. With tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Instagram Insights, you can get data segmented specifically to provide you with direct, real-time feedback on how you are performing with your target market. Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, and Bing Ads all give you the opportunity to target ads directly to customers with certain interests within your target market, and to operate on a cost-per-impression budget that allows you to maximize the number of opportunities to reach your customers.