No, not your political position, or your position on who’s leading the smartphone race. The position I am referring to is in your customer’s mind. We all have a limited amount of space up there—some of us less than others. Have you fought your way past all the noise and competition to secure that precious slot in their brain that reminds them you are the one to call at the moment of truth?
What is position?
In marketing terms, position is a place in the the marketplace that has been filled. Let’s take a look at an example. Coke and Pepsi are the undisputed leaders of the cola industry. No other cola even comes close. They occupy the number one and two spots our brains have set aside for cola. Many brands are happy following in their footsteps, feeding off their crumbs, saying—“We’re just like Coke”. When was the last time a waitress asked you if Faygo Cola was okay to eat with your meal? I’ll wager not often.
What does that mean to me?
Well if you are a San Francisco 49ers linebacker, your position is to stop the Seattle Seahawks from getting into the endzone. If he’s out of position—Mr. Russell Wilson will take advantage of him. Same goes for your business. If you have not carved out that position in your customer’s brain, you will miss the opportunity to make that game winning (tackle) sale. As Mr. Patrick Willis and many smart businessmen know, once you are in position—it is pretty hard to get past them.
How can I find a position in my customer’s mind?
Be first. Develop a product or service that nobody has. Then write your message on your customer’s brain with permanent marker so he will only associate it with you. Kleenex means facial tissue. iPad means tablet. Google means search. This is what Al Ries and Jack Trout, two of the world’s best-known marketing strategists, state is “the easy way into the mind”.
Follow differently. The followers must have a position other than “what he said”. There is the low price position. This is a very effective position for things that are non-durable or something that the customer may consider a risk when purchasing. It does place you in a noteworthy position in your customer’s mind, but will only return short-term success. It won’t be long before your position is challenged by a competitor; one with deep enough pockets to put you out of position—or even out of business.
Then there is the high price position. There is a definite market for high-end quality product. There are some customers that will only buy the most expensive products. It’s a matter of status for them. This position has worked very well for many products—Lamborghini, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, etc.
What about size as a position? Many companies have used the bigger is better mantra. “The largest manufacturer of . . . in the U.S.A”. But what about small? Can small be a position? Absolutely. Volkswagen used it to catapult the VW bug into instant stardom. The campaign was “Think Small” and it filled a hole in the marketplace. Then they forgot what made their success and started making different models. “Big” mistake.
So whether you’re defending the endzone, or your brand, everything starts and ends with where you are positioned.