Some things in marketing are clear and some are a bit murky. For instance, the third step in the consumer buying process is clear. People measure the products they buy against competing products. It’s universal. Consumers do that whether they are buying toothpaste, a computer or a car.
The term positioning however is murky; how your product is positioned in the mind of the consumer compared with the competition. In other words why should they buy your product rather than the other guy’s? Many products in the same category offer similar benefits. All toothpastes help clean your teeth. All computers have a screen. And all cars will get you comfortably from point A to point B.
It’s the subtle shades of difference that help consumers realize your product is the one that best fits their unique circumstances.
It’s easy to miss positioning when you are marketing your product. For example, your team might determine that the primary value points of your toothpaste are that it cleans teeth, has a great taste and freshens breath. Those are all good reasons to buy toothpaste, but they don’t differentiate one bit from every other toothpaste.
I’m not sure why people have a hard time understanding positioning but they do. I see it all the time in our agency. People get stuck on the primary reasons people buy a product and fail to spend the time and effort on the nuanced differences that tip the purchase in their direction.
That’s not to say you don’t need to stress the primary reasons people buy. It’s just that you have to imagine what your potential customer is doing right before they purchase. They compare.
If you sell a physical product rather than a service, it would be a good idea to buy each of your competing products and put them in front of you as you build your website, design your ads, or write your social posts.
It’s also a good idea to imagine that your competitor has purchased your product and is doing the exact same thing.
Marketing is complex and the results from the money you spend on it can vary widely. If you want to become a better marketer you should buy my book, The CEO’s Guide to Marketing. It’s a step-by-step process book that explains and uses terms like the consumer buying process and positioning. Most of the reviews are flattering but you’ll notice a couple that say it’s too simple. My hunch is they are recent grads who are used to the circumlocutious claptrap used to pad many textbooks. I’ve been in marketing far too long to try and impress people by writing over their heads.
Three nuanced reasons people choose our agency are our depth of marketing knowledge (read my book), our trademarked Strategically Aimed Marketing process (SAM 6®), and our 30+ years working with the media creating news stories (we have arranged tens-of-thousands of them).
We have also replaced the word brand with fame at our agency. I’ve mentioned this in previous letters: the word brand has become so watered down by people using it as a synonym for product that it’s almost meaningless. If your product is unknown, you can get away with calling it your brand. But it would be foolish to call an unknown product famous. That’s our goal: To make our clients’ products famous.
I sometimes have the thought that we should do like other agencies and charge a bundle for consulting. It’s tempting. But I realize it’s our willingness to share our expertise at no cost and charge only for production that differentiates us. We do charge some minor fees for putting together our production plan but the lion’s share of our clients’ budgets go to executing on deliverables and our clients love that.
We have found that if we let our prospects pick our brain, they often become clients. It’s a loss leader we are happy with. So, keep in touch. Keep asking questions. And hopefully we can do business together one day.
Originally published here.