Why your clients don’t care about your positioning strategy

When Shopify launched its disruptive shopping cart services back in 2006, it was a story born out of frustration, rather than a well-defined positioning strategy that led to its success. In 2006 the online retail space hadn’t been prepped by era defining brands like Airbnb, Uber and Etsy (all catering for a marketplace where everyday people can start their own or contribute to businesses easily).

In 2006 Shopify’s co-founder Tobias Lutke was running his own surfer shop and he was disappointed with the e-shopping functionality available via mainstream web developers.

Fast forward twelve years and you can see how Shopify’s initial take off was not as a result of a boardroom plan to solve the business worlds online shopping functionality problem but rather a business being unable to solve its online shopping problem which evolved into a self-starting and easy-to-use platform that allowed others, not just a surf shop to branch into the world of e-commerce.

As Shopify grew through the years, so did the market – with digitalisation on the rise and an uptake in aspirational self-employment, more and more people were looking to start their own e-commerce businesses; naturally gravitating towards an easy to use shopping platform that required minimal investment.

With a positioning strategy somewhat of an afterthought, Shopify grew like wildfire throughout the small ecommerce community. They say that the best way to sell your product is to give your clients what they really need and as such without intentionally starting out on a path to dominate online ecommerce, from humble origins, quite by accident Shopify took flight.

The truth is that in their droves small businesses and aspirational entrepreneurs found in Shopify a way to solve their everyday problems, achieve their goals, aspirations and ultimately transform their lives and businesses.

Of course a positioning strategy is a great tool to have, but ultimately it’s a resource for you to build upon rather than a reason why your clients should care about your business; it will help to grow your business but on its own it won’t build your brand nor be the reason you were successful.

So before you start putting the building blocks together for a positioning strategy and then filter those thoughts down to your marketing messages, SEO, Content and Adwords, you need to understand your client’s needs. The truth is, the very best positioning strategy won’t save a business that at its heart doesn’t resonate with the client.

Shopify is a testament to this as it succeeded at least initially without an intentional positioning statement. From this perspective, a positioning strategy is less about how a company positions itself in their market or industry, than how it positions itself in relation to its customers.

If you want your business to succeed and even excel, you may it’s still a good idea to have a positioning strategy. But rather than just focusing your strategy on outshining the competition and highlighting your USP, think about creating a distinctive profile that conveys the ethos, products and services that will resonate with the end consumer and their ultimate problem – stop worrying about your competitors latest advert and ask yourself why do you solve their problem better than anyone else?

What happens if I don’t have a positioning strategy for my business?

Understanding who you are and what your business offers is the first step to communicating your values and services to potential customers.

Usually businesses that don’t have a strategy in place will have to compete solely on price and they will find it hard to meet profit goals or grow as a result. If you don’t position yourself within your industry, it can result in your business being described and viewed in many different ways that are out of your control – your overall brand image might even merge with those of your competitors.

If you don’t spend your time, money and resources on building a beneficial positioning strategy and as such build a strong reputation in the market you will be left reaching out to clients who are not ready to purchase from you, have to spend increasing amounts of money on educating people who you are and why you’re great during a potential sale and ultimately open yourself up to lowering your prices even if you have a great product in order to win the sale.

What will a positioning strategy offer my business?

  • Your brand identity, ethos and values will be clear and concise
  • Potential clients will know about your purpose and mission
  • Your product or service will stand out amongst a sea of competitors as your customers will know the value you bring
  • It will present your brands unique qualities in a way that attracts customers and meets their needs and demands
  • Your USPs will be obvious, memorable and engaging to customers

positioning strategy

What steps should I take to develop a positioning strategy?

Identify the core benefits of your business

What is the focal point of your business and key message to your customers? Give yourself and your team time to reflect on these questions and be prepared to tweak it from the first version you settle on. Listing all the benefits of your business and looking at the responses they receive is essential to understanding the inner workings of your business and what you stand for.

Know your business inside out and search for your perfect position

List your USPs and what makes you stand out from your competitors. You need to look for any missed opportunities or areas your competition may be vulnerable in to see if you can mould your business into them.

Analyse and assess your market

You must know your market inside out to position yourself well. Determine the competitors within your market and how they are positioned and look at any problems they face. You need to be aware of the pitfalls within your industry so you can gauge how to avoid them

Deliver something different and creative

If you want to be at the forefront of your customer’s mind when they think about your industry, you need to be unique, approachable and creative. You should never blend in, whether that is your product, message or website, you need to create a story or a must-have feel that potential customers just can’t say no to.

To do this, you need to play on your strengths whether that is customer satisfaction, smooth operation, design or the product itself.

Set KPIs and have achievable goals in place

What do you want to achieve from your positioning strategy? It’s important to think about what you expect to achieve and put plans and goals in place. These can be measured and changed accordingly as you create and execute the strategy. It’s necessary to have these in place so you can see if the strategy is succeeding or if there are areas you need to improve upon.

Continually monitor and test your position

This is not something that you only do once. You need to continually monitor your position, your competitor’s position and how reactive it is. To do this, you can carry out surveys and polls, or it may be obvious by looking at your statistics, profits or website traffic.

From the initial development to the maintenance of your positioning strategy, this type of marketing can completely change your business and its reputation. Rather than sitting in the shadows, with a great strategy, your business can shine and be a driving force in your industry or market.

When you’re positioned well, maintaining your strategy will only become easier as you will already have customer evangelists who want to shout about you to their friends. After all, a positioning strategy is an essential building block for any business.

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