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Position your product as category leader

So you have a new product or service and you are diligently researching to find out who is your competition and how are they marketing themselves. Stop!
Don’t go a step further until you undergo this little visual exercise: Try to place yourself in 1945 in the cold waters off Normandie, France. The Germans have seized the beach head and been there for months, planning to defend their position against attack. Oh, and they are well-entrenched and well-armed with bunkers strategically placed along the cliffs with high-caliber cannons and machine-gun turrets pointed toward the sea.
As we know from history, the invading forces were successful in defeating the Germans. However, the victory required a monumental effort and the allies paid a huge price in lost lives and equipment.
This visualization provides an analogy for the difficulty you will face if you position your brand in direct competition against an established brand or brands within an existing product category. In some cases, though, it is inevitable, depending upon the differentiation that is inherent in your product/service.
However, in most cases it is highly recommended for you to avoid this scenario if at all possible. Before you determine which best describes your current situation, read the following.
We suggest you approach brand positioning in this way:
  1. Identify the key differentiator/s of your product/service. This can be done by listing the characteristics of your product in order of market value, known and/or perceived, then conducting a comparison to existing products. The differentiators are the valuable characteristics that do not overlap the competition.
  2. Research your marketplace. Determine market pressures or common needs that the differentiators in your product address. For example, let’s say your product is unique software that provides optimal delivery scenarios and costs for deliveries that must occur within required timeframes to customers of an OEM product. Your differentiator could be stated as follows: Differentiator 1 – Our software will optimize delivery solutions based on various required delivery times and budgets.
  3. Name your newly created market category. In the above scenario, you might have called the new category OEM Delivery Optimization Technology. You’ve just created shelf space in the grocery store! But, before sales and marketing can begin promoting and selling, a few steps need to be taken…
  4. Develop your positioning statement/s. In order to provide sales training and create effective marketing communications, you will want to start with some messages that will communicate the differentiation of your product and promote the key benefits. To explain this process would require an entire article. You might want to employ a marketing firm to walk you through this process.
  5. Publicize and Promote. This is where marketing communication will develop your web site, public relations initiatives, marketing materials, videos, sales training materials, trade show booth/s, using the positioning statement as the basis for all messaging.
  6. Sales Training. Many marketing communication practitioners stop too early. Our firm operates under the premise that the sales force is one of marketing’s key providers of market intelligence, especially in the case of a new product/service launch. (see our article on Sales/marketing relationship)

If you stick to these steps, you will avoid the common pitfall of predetermined followership and have an opportunity to take the high ground – to stake the claim on your very own category – spending your time defending it against competitors, rather than trying to cease it from them. It’s a much better approach.

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