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How to position in the category
All businesses seek "brand awareness" in order to position themselves prominently in a given category. Salespeople often complain about how poor the marketing department is at positioning the qualities of their products and services relative to competitors.
While getting your image right sounds like the over-riding priority, the issue for many businesses is to have their brand considered by buyers at all, let alone worry about how their brand is considered.
Even large companies already dominant in their category may not be positioned at all in some of the sub-categories in which they intend participating.
This is an aspect of marketing where business marketers need to adopt a decidedly different approach to that of their consumer cousins. In consumer marketing, the challenge is often to convey the "right" impressions about the brand. The challenge for many business marketers is just to be in the pack at all.
It doesn't matter what they think about you, if they don't think about you at all.
The first task for a business marketer is therefore to ensure the brand is firmly positioned in each of the categories they seek to occupy. This means that buyers always consider the brand among the others when making purchasing decisions.
Only when this position has been fully achieved - and is defendable - should any thought be given to how the brand is perceived.
There are two broad approaches to positioning that a business can take:
positioning as an end in itself, or
positioning as a part of getting buyers troubled
Communication that is clear, frequent, consistent, and credible is necessary to position effectively with business buyers. And it takes time.
Remember that your buyers are being subjected to messaging from your competitors as well, so your consistency, clarity, frequency and credibility needs to be at least as good as theirs.
Some other tactics might be used for some purpose other than positioning, but still play a role in positioning your brand in a business market and need to be managed carefully as a result. These include:
These should all be tailored to position your brand. If done poorly, they will undo all the good work of your marketing communications.
You should ensure your buyers hear this consistent message from multiple sources.
The other approach a business can take is to 'hijack' tactics designed to trouble buyers about an issue, and use these to position as well.
For example, a white paper may be carefully crafted to trouble buyers about a problem of which they were not previously aware. But if the potential buyer receives an invitation to download this white paper and does not download it, they will receive only the barest essence of the argument and will therefore not be troubled.
The download invitation therefore needs to be designed with a first prize and a second prize in mind. First prize for you is buyers who download the white paper. Second prize is buyers who don't download it, but at least say to themselves: "I understand that you solve this problem - which I don't have. But if I ever do, I'll be sure to get in touch."
While this second positioning approach is clearly more efficient (two birds with one stone), it is not universally suitable. Sometimes it makes sense to invest in communication that positions the brand and does nothing else.
Whatever you do, remember to focus on getting considered at all, and only think about how you are considered once this has been achieved.