Positioning is fundamental to any business looking to provide clarity around competition, differentiation, and value. So why, then, do so many companies struggle with weak positions?
We speak with April Dunford, Founder of Ambient Strategy, about her background in positioning and shares some of the common mistakes that companies make.
Creating a methodology for positioning & avoiding traps
Whether you like it or not, positioning will make or break your company — bringing you to a valuation of $1 billion or your product never being seen on the shelf again. For April, she first came to this realization early on in her career.
The company she worked for had one main product that brought in most of the revenue and then a few other products that were considered future bets. Assigned to one of the future bets, it was clear that the product was failing fast. However, after some collected feedback from customers, they decided to reposition the product. Producing over a billion in revenue, existing for 25 years, and still living within phones to this day, that product solidified for April just how important positioning is to a product’s success.
If you don’t get this positioning right, it’s potentially disastrous for the product. And getting it right has the potential to drive this thing straight to the moon.” — April Dunford
Naturally curious, April started asking the big question around positioning: If it’s so fundamental, why don’t we have more clarity to our questions?
- Who do we compete with?
- How are we different?
- What’s our value?
- Who are we going after?
After an incredible amount of research, April realized that no one knew how to provide clarity to these questions. The only way to get more precise was to build a methodology herself.
How to avoid traps
April shares two traps that many fall into because the clarity isn’t there when it comes to positioning:
- Keeping up with consumer needs: When you start out to solve a problem with a product solution, that initial problem may change as you’re building that solution. Ignoring the consumer needs may leave you with a product solution that helps no one.
- Recognizing a problem, but no solution: Just as April didn’t know how to solve for soft positioning early on in her career, it’s important to use a methodology within your organization that everyone’s on board with.
How to fix weak positioning
There’s a lot of positioning methodologies out there. Despite this, however, most marketers still end up with soft positioning. The reason comes down to how most people arrive at their conclusions.
Sadly, most think there’s a bit of gut instinct to finding something such as the best market category — that you’ll “just know.” If you want to differentiate yourself, you first have to accept that specificity is key to better positioning.
”This is why we suck at it, because we think it comes to us in a dream. And it doesn’t. That is no way to do anything in marketing.” — April Dunford
Next time that someone tells you to go with the first option that pops into your head with regards to marketing, turn and run the other way. Otherwise, when you finally are asked the question of which market category is best, you’ll be embarrassed when the answer doesn’t magically come to you.
Deciding between an existing market category or creating a new one
The whole purpose of a market category is to help people make sense of what you do, according to April.
So, when deciding whether to place your product or service into an existing category or a brand new one, you have to ask the question: Will settling into an existing category produce incorrect assumptions about your product? If so, it’s a bad market category. If you can exist within a category and make your number for the year, go with it.
A key takeaway
”Everybody in the company has something to add to your positioning; but alone, they cannot figure this out.” — April Dunford
Positioning is not something to be overlooked in a successful business. While many will tell you to go with your gut when positioning, not taking the time to use a methodology that your whole team is invested in will leave you with a soft position that puts your organization in jeopardy.
Check out this additional resource mentioned during the episode:
This post is based on an episode of the #FlipMyFunnel podcast. Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or here.
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