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Small Business Digest



The Questions To Answer When Developing A Positioning Plan

Positioning is the discipline that impacts the perceptions, thoughts, feelings and experiences customers have of your brand.  And, how customer react to your brand directly correlates to sales.

Positioning is both a science and an art.

To achieve success a company must know how to position itself to its audience.

Laurie Pillings Rinker says it is a process that is challenging and requires tough choices.

She advises clients to begin by allowing time for the process and include time to “think” things over without losing momentum.

She has a list of questions whose carefully thought out answers will help crystallize the company’s positioning efforts.

The answers to these questions may already be all in the small business leader’s head but she says it needs to written down. Ideas crystallize, are more easily shared and provide a point of reference for the future when they show up in a written format.

She also warns small business leaders “not to make assumptions. Ask questions, do research, go online, and shop the competition. Include other stakeholders and disciplines in the effort and you will get a more concerted and thoughtful result.”

To get the positioning process on track, Rinker suggest answering these questions:

Who are you? Reflect upon your company vision and mission. Why did you start your company, or initially develop your product? Be honest about what you offer. What are your brand truths? Who are you and who don’t you want to be? What is your story? Are you and your customers on the same page?

What do you do? Clarify what business niche are you in. Is your market IT or the market niche: IT/ Cloud Services? It is tires or Truck tires in the Midwest and colder climates? How do customers want to categorize you? What category do your competitors belong to? Are you creating a whole new niche market?

.Who do you serve? Who are your customers? Identify and segment the market as much as possible. Segment your target by how they think, purchase, industry, geography, title, purchasing power and employee size, etc.... Consider segments that you don’t need to sell to? The broader the target group, the more difficult it is to deliver a meaningful and unique Point of Difference.

What do your customers want and need? ... And do you have it? Take the time to further understand your customer’s wants and need. You may think you already know all about your target. But, remember “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Your customer and the market may change overnight. Find out what specific problems need to be solved? What needs are not being met? What features really matter to them? Fully understand how they go about solving their problems and how they make their buying decisions. Understand their experience with you and how to keep it a positive one. Think competitively and aggressively. Satisfying target wants and needs are the cornerstone to a brand’s success.
Keep the feedback and communications loop alive via surveys, emails, website, conferences, social media, Facebook, twitter, or via your sales people.

How are your differentiated? What makes you special and unique among your competition? What is your secret sauce? What can you offer over the competition? If you can’t deliver a strong point of difference consider inventing an authentic customer need, developing alternative communications for addressing a different emotional need for the same product feature, looking at another target segment or making a brand modification that fulfills a need.

How do I communicate my positioning? After reviewing your product, your target wants and needs, your competition and your point of difference, distill these insights into a crisp, tightly-focused positioning statement. Here is an example of a positioning statement for Adidas Basketball Shoes:

The target: to basketball players nationwide,
The Brand: Adidas Adizero Light is the brand
Market Niche: of basketball shoes
Feature: its SPRINTFRAME construction provides stability
and to create a lightweight and supportive basketball chassis
Competitive Benefit: provides improved quickness in your game ….so you can win

Try writing several different statements one for each major target segments based on needs, problems and perceptions. Also, and perhaps most important, if the company can’t write a positioning statement, perhaps a difference does not exist and you need to dig deeper.

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Businesses who take the time understand and construct a positioning strategy and statement won’t necessarily find that their challenges disappear. But they will have a better understanding of what to do to achieve their objectives.

Marketing and advertising is a creative process that needs anchoring and clear direction. The positioning statement and the benefit statement will serve as a checkpoint and platform for all your marketing, communications, advertising and sales messages. This discipline will deliver the root of creative, impactful and effective communication.

This process and a disciplined positioning statement will keep products relevant, the competition at bay and ensure you get the most out of your marketing dollars. And, most importantly the results of this process directly impact sales and your bottom line.

Laurie Pillings Rinker is brand consultant with 25 years helping businesses large and small to find their brand truths, differentiate, and increase sales. Laurie can be reached in the San Francisco area at or 415-209-8659

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