Positioning as part of marketing effort: some thoughts

Through the years I’ve seen many me-too products come and go. I have been involved with several products which were pretty much the same thing. It was a lot of fun (and frustration) coming with with a new brochure for a similar thing.

But, it was par for the course for a marketing communication practitioner. Try finding a different slant, or unique selling proposition for a membrane coating—the product I refer to. But, I must admit, I was able to do so. And, funny enough the other distributors of the same product were referrals from the manufacturer. As an aside, I did get to know the product inside out.

Now, you have a different USP, a different slant on a new product, but how does the market place look at you? How are you positioning your product so that the perception of this is different in the eyes of customers and potential customer out there?

And, importantly we note that perception is the key.

Wikipedia puts forward the following definition. “Positioning is the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization.

And, adds:

Re-positioning involves changing the identity of a product, relative to the identity of competing products.

De-positioning involves attempting to change the identity of competing products, relative to the identity of your own product.

Although there are different definitions of brand positioning, probably the most common is: identifying a market niche for a brand, product or service utilizing traditional marketing placement strategies (i.e. price, promotion, distribution, packaging, and competition).

Positioning is also defined as the way by which the marketers create an impression in the customers mind.

Positioning is a concept in marketing which was first introduced by Jack Trout ( “Industrial Marketing” Magazine- June/1969) and then popularized by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their bestseller book “Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind.” (McGraw-Hill 1981)

Here’s link to an earlier post on positioning.

I stress this concept, as I have noted that some marketing practitioners fail to grasp the meaning and its application in the marketplace. How? The constant search for more sales, a short-term objective, takes the place of the long term marketing objective of building a brand, establishing a position in the market place.

And, sadly, sometimes the only difference is who can give a better price. Hence, what happens is a capital equipment is no longer a specialised piece of hardware, capable of producing something for the user, but another commodity, that is primarily bought on price.

To illustrate the difference, consider the need to buy a banana screen to process coal, to buying coal in bulk and going for the cheapest supplier.

Poles apart, but you get my drift.

And, to take the point further, if price is the only concern and other factors, after sales service, product longevity, reliability, cost of product through service life and so on, the sales person, with the sharpest pencil wins the day.

And, if the company that keeps pushing this approach will end up the reputation as the cheapo supplier. Place a reliable, marketing-savvy supplier in the mix, and we can see complications. Cheap means you have to cut some corners to survive. If the product fails, has to be replaced under warranty or whatever, the supplier should be able to back this.

And, if there is hardly any margin what will happen? You can just guess. And, the marketer with long-term thinking who has an established position with a quality product wins in the end.

More on these points on a later post.

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