Recently, we completed marketing research for a client who wanted to determine sustainable strategic positioning. To do this, the work began with the identification of viable positioning axes in the long term for this company. This can become a particularly difficult exercise, where lengthy reflections can come to precious little…. You need to find a usable vein for your company to fend off or send your opponents to the mat … otherwise, you might end up like Bute against Pascal. Here are some tips to help you in your journey through the desert.
Start with a picture of your business under 3 elements; your strategic positioning should not conflict with the foundations of your business:
- Structure : Management systems, authority, hierarchy, etc.
- Culture : your business premises and values
- People: Habits, norms and customs in your organization.
Also, consider the current and future context in which your business will evolve.
Capitalize on your strengths, reduce your weaknesses
You know all of your business’ strengths? If there is a good chance you’re right, it is always better to validate it both internally and externally. Survey your team and your customers. If you can support your strategic positioning in an implicit strength of your company as well as unmet needs of your customers, it will benefit you.
Take the opportunity to ask what your weaknesses are or which points need to be improved. Are you a company that does not excel in customer service? Let’s hope that this will not be your adopted positioning axis … at least, not right now.
Observe your competition
We seek a niche unoccupied by the competition. Look carefully at what your competition is doing. Visit their website, make a thorough analysis of your competition in the entire web ecosystem (social media, search engines, etc..). If their positioning axes are clear, normally, the communication should stand out. If the message is not clear, perhaps they are in the same situation as you and have not yet found the right axes to exploit.
…and the clients
If your clients express dissatisfaction of all suppliers, then you should make note of this. It’s not always easy to detect the unmet needs of your customers, considering many needs are dormant. Take this famous quote:
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
Consider market research
In our last research, we had several meetings with the client. From the beginning, they had brought to our attention that “accompanying” had added value for their company and some of their customers. In return, its sales force insisted that pressure from customers on the price was important and that the company should fix this.
Research has taught us this: the company evolves in a market where price is important, many customers want more service and technical support to help them in their projects.
Armed with the results of the survey, managers were able to rally their troops with positioning axes with value for their customers. Your axes should not only convince your customers, they must also convince your employees!
In conclusion, finding strategic positioning favorable for several years requires a good dose of bona fide reflection, which also includes research with your client in order to assert or inform your assumptions. Jean Pascal can surely still count on his legendary explosiveness for several more years.