Companies that think not only about today but also about what will happen tomorrow will survive. Those who remain in the market will become even stronger, and competition will intensify.
Competitive advantages – this is what sets your company apart in the eyes of potential buyers. They are operational, that is, easy to copy and strategic, difficult to replicate.
You can rely on pricing strategy competition. And if the company knows how to manage its costs very well, then this is a possible option. Real practice shows that there is always someone who sells cheaper. So, another option to consider – do sales analytics and discover the most disruptive growth points to focus on.
Another way is to look for non-price competitive advantages. They are much more difficult to copy.
And one such long-term competitive advantage is the brand of the company.
A brand is an image that includes a unique set of sustainable rational and emotional associations associated with a company/product/service and existing in the client’s head.
I want to note right away that a brand always exists, even if you have never thought about it. This is the image that appears in the head of the buyer after contacting your company.
A position is an imaginary place that an image (brand) (of a company/product) occupies in the “head” of the target audience concerning certain life situations (in the “binding” to them).
The brand is “tied” to particular problems or tasks.
As soon as the buyer realizes this problem or task, the image of the brand immediately arises as to the carrier of the solution. This place in the head of a potential buyer is exceptionally scarce. There can fit 2-3 images, as carriers of the most appropriate solutions.
The brand is associated with specific problems and tasks, but this is a fragile connection.
These brands can be contacted if, for some reason, the brands from option 1 are not available. And the choice from this list will be affected by additional benefits in the form of promotions, sales, discounts or bonuses.
Key question: What position does your company take in the consumer’s head, and in what place?
Positioning is the action that leads to the fact that the connection of the brand image with specific life situations is sustainable.
Five steps or how to get to the right position?
Step 1. Define your target audience.
- Whom are you promoting your product for anyone willing to buy or a specific audience?
- What problems/needs can you realize using your products?
- How do your customers perceive your brand: what associations do they have when they hear the name of the company?
- Does their perception correspond to the image that you want to form with them?
- What factors do your customers focus on when choosing your company?
Defining your audience means finding those for whom the value created is most relevant.
Necessary: Once you identify your audience, it will be easier for you to understand what language they speak. It is essential to use their words and not those that are familiar to you.
Find out who your desired audience is and use the language it speaks.
Step 2. Identify and analyze your competitors.
- By what criteria will you choose your competitors: those who offer similar products or solve the same problems?
- What do selected competitors focus on?
- What sets your competitors apart regarding your company and the products you offer?
Possible steps to identify competitors:
- Search by keywords. When typing these words, companies are offered by search engines.
- When interacting with customers during the sales process, specify whose proposals they are also considering.
- On social networks, companies from your sphere are more often told.
- Are there any differences in characteristics between your products and competitors’ products? What are they?
- How do competitor sellers interact with potential buyers? (you can use the service “mystery shopper”)
- When promoting your products on the website and in advertising, what do the potential buyers’ attention fix on?
- Are you offering products or solutions?
- What language is used for promotion: rational arguments or emotional feelings?
By comparing your product or that of competitors, you can compare your strengths and weaknesses.
It is possible that the product itself will not differ much from similar products of competitors. However, there is a customer service process, and by analyzing this process, you will surely be able to find differences in it.
At this point, you already have an idea of your target audience and competitors.
It’s time to start thinking about your position and positioning.
Step 3. Your differences from competitors.
- What will your products/company be different from competitors?
- What will highlight your company in your service process?
- Regarding the solution of what problems/tasks do you want to take a position/place in the “heads” of the target audience?
- How do you want your company or set of desired associations to be perceived?
- In what situations can potential clients turn to you? You want them to contact you in these situations.
Step 4. Positioning.
Positioning is a set of actions that helps your company to take the desired position in the “head” of the target audience.
- In which channels do I want to promote my products and company?
- What exactly needs to be reported/done in each channel to create the right image of the company and take the correct position?
- What actions should employees perform when interacting with customers (sellers, front-office), what was the desired image formed?
Important: promotion channels allow you to create the desired image and attract the target audience. The time has come “X” – a test of how your promises when promoting correspond to reality.
Many companies do not pay enough attention to this and therefore fail. All efforts at the stage of brand development and its positioning are in vain.
It will be enough for the client to face the company 1-2 times and find out that all the promises are just a decoy. He will not come again.
Or it may be back, but the company will have to pay him in the form of discounts and bonuses for his return.
Step 5. Verification.
At this stage, you begin to collect information from clients to understand how much what you have in mind – your idea of the position and image of the brand corresponds to their real perception.
One of the criteria is the number of regular customers and their willingness to share their impressions of the company.
It is vital to try, experiment, and actively collect (real) feedback from target consumers about whether your positioning gives the desired effect.
The crisis will end sooner or later. Some companies will leave the market, consumer demand will decrease. Nevertheless, the market itself will remain because there will remain needs. Necessarily there will be new needs that arose during the crisis.
What will change in your industry / in your market segments?
And it would be best if you thought about it now because “tomorrow” will be too late to think. It is highly likely that one of your competitors is thinking about it today. The time to operational competitive advantage is running out. Especially when the business is financially depleted, and the ability to provide discounts and give additional bonuses has significantly decreased.