Getting your product to market can be a long process. There’s a lot to do before your product ever lands in the hands of a consumer—and it’s important to do it right so you avoid landing in the 95% of product launches that fail.
One of the most important parts of the product launch journey is the research process—and the data you uncover during your research will inform another key step in the process: your product positioning. Product positioning is a crucial step inbuilding a successful go-to-market strategy. Without a well-crafted positioning statement and strategy, you won’t be able to reach—or resonate with—your target audience.
What is Product Positioning?
Product positioning is the process of determining where your product best fits in the market and, by extension, how consumers should think and feel about your product. Positioning exercises require you to identify the unique attributes of your product/service that appeal to your target customers based on their needs. Defining these differentiators also helps to counter competitive pressures. Product positioning is a strategic exercise that builds the foundation for the rest of your product marketing strategy.
Why is Product Positioning Important?
Though you might know your product or service inside and out, prospective consumers probably don’t—and a solid product positioning strategy can help cement your product in their minds in the best way possible.
People want to know how you can make their lives better. More specifically, they want to know how your product can solve a challenge or problem they’re facing.
Effective product positioning helps your product:
● Clearly stand out in the market
● Resonate with your target consumers
● Increase your market share
● Compel consumers to take action and make a purchase
● Reinforce your brand image and reputation
● Win customer loyalty and keep them coming back for more
How to Develop a Product Positioning Strategy
If you’re in a "benefits sell, features tell" industry, your current and prospective customers want to know how you can make their lives better or easier. Effective product positioning strategies center around the consumer and how they think. Let’s review the basic steps to building a successful product positioning strategy:
1. Build a customer profile
Who are your customers? You need a deep understanding of your target audience before you can decide what benefits they care most about. You can start your customer research by calculating the size of your target market. You do this by defining your:
● Total Addressable Market (TAM)
● Service Available Market (SAM)
● Service Obtainable Market(SOM)
You can learn more about defining your TAM,SAM, and SOM here. Once you’ve got that information, you can start developing a customer profile of your ideal customer. This profile should include relevant personal details about your “dream customer”.
Remember: the more you know about them, the better you can sell to them. Strategies like concept testing can offer valuable insight into how consumers will respond to certain products and help you understand their needs and desires.
A successful customer profile should include the following information about your target audience:
● Where and how they consume information
2. Perform a competitive analysis
What does the competitive landscape look like for your product or service? How many other businesses sell what you sell? If they offer a similar product/service, what are the similarities and differences? By researching what alternatives are available to consumers in the market, you can highlight what sets your offering apart. When researching the competitive landscape, consider factors like:
● Key benefits
● Pain points of their existing offering
Knowing more about your competition better prepares you for launch and helps you capitalize on areas of opportunity. Consider what your competitors are doing really well, and whether or not they’re using strategies you could incorporate into your own marketing efforts.
3. Assess your product
Take a hard look at your product. What are its key benefits? What are its weaknesses? What can it help solve or improve? Having a solid understanding of the competitive landscape can help with this step. You’ll be able to better uncover patterns, strengths, weaknesses, and market whitespace. Consider performing a SWOT analysis on your product to define its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
4. Decide how you want customers to feel about your product
Take your customer profile and all the other insights you’ve gained so far to outline a unique space for your product in the market. Decide how you want customers to feel about your product by aligning your product’s unique differentiators with a specific customer want or need. This will help you connect on an emotional level with consumers and create a positive association between consumers and your product.
Do you want your product to make consumers feel hopeful? Confident? Empowered? Relaxed? Try to find a way to lead them in the right direction with intentional cues. Your marketing will support this effort.
5. Craft a positioning statement
With enough market research, crafting a positioning statement can feel like a natural step in the process. A positioning statement includes a description of your product, its target audience, and how this product can solve one or more of their problems. You will use this statement to guide your messaging and ensure your marketing is consistent. A good positioning statement should:
● Lead with the consumer in mind: Focus on the benefits of your product above all else. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes when writing.
● Be concise: Keep things short and sweet so you don’t muddy your messaging.
● Reflect your brand values and company mission: A positioning statement should give customers a taste of your brand values.
● Be honest and transparent: Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Your positioning statement should be an honest and accurate reflection of your product.
A positioning statement will also answer these questions:
● Who is your target consumer?
● What is your product?
● Why do you do what you do?
● How does your product address the needs of consumers in a different way than your competitors?
Here is a sample template you can use to craft your product positioning statement:
For [YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER], [YOUR BRAND] is the [YOUR MARKET] that best delivers on [YOUR BRAND PROMISE] because [YOUR BRAND], and only [YOUR BRAND], is [YOUR EVIDENCE]. Let’s review some real-life examples below.
Real-Life Examples of Positioning Statements
Now that you've seen a generic product positioning template- Still not exactly sure what a good positioning statement should look like? Here are some examples from well-known, well-loved companies.
Walt Disney World
For the young and young-at-heart, Walt Disney World is the theme park that best delivers on an immersive and magical experience because Walt Disney World, and only Walt Disney World, connects you to the characters and worlds you most desire.
For tech-savvy individuals who love trying the newest form of technology, Apple is the technology provider that best delivers unique experiences and one-of-a-kind products. Apple, and only Apple, acts as a bridge between customers and the future of its life-changing technology.
For athletes in need of high-quality, fashionable athletic wear, Nike provides customers with top-performing sports apparel and shoes made of the highest quality materials. Nike, and only Nike, delivers the most advanced products in the athletic apparel industry because of Nike's commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies.
Ultimately, an effective positioning statement will identify the experience you want your customers to have and guide the internal teams who make it happen. Positioning statements are generally only used internally, but can be useful for shaping external messaging as well.
Real-Life Examples of Successful Product Positioning
Let’s take things one step further by sharing some examples of well-positioned products that are currently available in the market:
● Fenty Beauty: Fenty drew in consumers by making affordable shades of makeup for a wide range of skin tones. They offer an extended range of 40+ foundation shades at a slightly reduced price point from other luxury beauty brands. Fenty carved out a space for themselves in an underserved, undervalued market and it paid off—they generated $100 million in sales in their first 40 days.
● Chipotle: Chipotle has positioned their food as a fresh, ethically sourced option for consumers who want food available quickly at a lower price point. They use premium, all-natural ingredients and promote their eco-friendly options to appeal to more conscientious consumers.
● Talkspace: Talkspace offers consumers safe, accessible, high-quality virtual mental health services. They made mental health support more affordable than most options and give customers a variety of ways to access support through channels like phone calls, texts, and live videocalls.
Position Your Products—and Your Brand—for Long-Term Success
As you may have noticed, there’s a lot of data that goes into an effective product positioning strategy. By conducting the right research, you can explore new ideas, validate your existing ones, and build the foundation for a successful go-to-market plan. It’s a lot of work—but it’s worth the effort, and it’s worth doing right the first time. To learn more about how to bring exceptional products to market, contact Starlight Analytics today.