What is Product Positioning?
Product positioning is planning for how people in the market will think about your product. And, remember that your product has a life of its own. The only product positioning that counts is what your customers’ think. If a customer isn’t thinking it, your product doesn’t occupy that position.
While you are busy developing your product, it’s often hard to imagine how your product will be received once it’s out in the market. Product positioning strategy is planning for the markets understanding of your product. And while we may say “The product’s position is…” the reality is that your product has a life of its own. The only product positioning that counts is what your customers’ think of it. If a customer isn’t thinking it, your product doesn’t occupy that position.
Why Product Positioning Strategy?
Using product positioning strategy will help you understand:
A. Where your product is today
B. Where it would be ideally
Product positioning strategy is what gets your product position from A to B.
Let’s do that as an exercise: in an ideal world, what would your target market think of your product? You may have several target markets. Write down what each of them would ideally believe about your product.
Developing Your Product Positioning Statement
Creating the ideal position for your product is a lot easier when using a product positioning statement in the following format:
- For (target customer) who (statement of need or opportunity), the (product name) is a (product category) that (key benefit, reason to buy).
- Unlike (primary competitive alternative), our product (statement of primary differentiation).*
If you want to address multiple target markets or customers, create multiple product positioning statements.
Here’s an example of product positioning statement for Microsoft Surface:
- For the business user who needs to be productive in the office and on the go, the Surface is a convertible tablet that is easy to carry and gives you full computing productivity no matter where you are.
- Unlike laptops, Surface serves your on-the-go needs without having to carry an extra device.
If you recognize it, it is also the standard format for product vision. Great! One Product Management tool, multiple uses.
When do I define my product positioning strategy?
One common error is to develop a product, and not have a crystal clear idea of how the product should ideally be perceived by the customer when you’re done. If you don’t know what you want your customer to believe about your product, how are you going to communicate with them? How are you going to create coherent marketing communications plans? Before you even begin the product development process start with an ideal product positioning statement. Then you now know where you want your product position to be at the end of development.
What if my product is already in the market…
Where are you now? What’s the difference? Break down the positioning statement into its component parts and compare each part. Are you addressing the wrong customer? Does the customer not understand the product benefits as well as they should? The list goes on.
Creating Your Product Positioning Strategy
For each item where there is a disconnect, write down what you would need to do to move from today’s Current position to tomorrow’s Ideal position. Go back to basics and break it down using the marketing mix to guide you.
Ah! You can see it already. Your strategy and the corresponding tactics are appearing right before your eyes. You’ll need to work through more details creating marketing messages, but your foundation and strategy are clear.
Next step: Get buy in for the execution of the strategy you’ve put in place.